2 Timothy 3:1-9
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

It’s easy to hold to an “us vs. them” mentality in regard to the world outside the church. We could look at the moral standards of our culture and complain about the lack of godliness around us — while forgetting that we as Christians are called to be shining lights for Christ. Too often, the trouble comes from within; the focus in 2 Timothy seems to be primarily on people from within the church who oppose the truth. This is one of the devil’s favorite tactics — to divide congregations, each man against his brother (Ephesians 4:25-27). Often these divisions are avoidable, sometimes they are necessary, but always they are tragic. One important thing I’ve learned as part of a pastoral staff and as a pastor’s son is that the most dangerous enemy of sound doctrine and church unity usually comes not from outside, but from inside the church. So we must always be on guard for the souls of others, teaching, encouraging, and confronting in love; moreover, we need to keep watch on our own souls as well, so no “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:7) develops within us.