Being Holy in an Unholy World
2 Tim 2:15 "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."
Only God can see and know the heart of a professed believer in Christ. As Paul tells us in the above text He "knoweth them that are His". He reads the motives of the heart and knows who is of faith and who is not of faith. The Spirit of God takes the word of God, the Gospel, and presents it to the world through the foolishness of preaching. On some the seed of the word falls on the heart and it brings forth faith in Christ's word of forgiveness and call to begin to live a life of holiness and obedience to His commandments. But on others the Word is met with indifference and neglect. The love of the world and worldly gain and popularity crowd out faith in Christ's cross, the call to repentance, and the call to obedience and submission to God's word.
There are many examples of those who have a seemingly outward love of the truth but their works reveal that they have not submitted to the Truth of the word of God as revealed and taught by the Spirit. The above text mentions two such persons, Hymeneaus and Philetus. There are many others mentioned in scripture such as the "judaising party"; Ananias and Sapphira; the Pharisees and the Sadducees; Simon the magician; the false teachers in Colosaea, and the false teachers of whom Peter, James, Jude, and John warn us in their epistles. These rejecters of the word of God were in the Christian church and were professing the Truth but denying the true Christ who bought them. They were actually making war with Christ and believing in a false or Anti-Christ. And so we can plainly see that Anti-Christ can be in the midst of the church of Christ or Anti-Christ can be any religion that is outside of the church of Christ and teaching salvation by a false system of a false god.
But God will not always allow these false believers and teachers, called Babylon in the Bible, to continue to blaspheme the name of God. God has given the world and the "sons of men" all of nearly 6,000 years of historical time to repent, but He has declared that in the final hours of history He will judge those individuals and powers who seek to destroy God's "temple", the church.
The Antichrist and those who follow him make war against the Everlasting Covenant of Christ and think they can change the covenant which God has made with His people. Satan wars against God with a two edged sword, legalism and antinomianism. Either of these "abominations" cause the ruin of one who falls into either of these two errors. All false religion falls into either Legalism or Antinomianism. Legalism is to seek to earn justification and acceptance before God by ones obedience to God's holy Law and good works. Antinomianism is to profess to be justified while willfully disregarding God's holy Law or any portion thereof.
God knows them that are His and He shall sift the nations as fine wheat. He shall separate the precious wheat from the tares in the judgment. He knows already those who are trusting in the blood of Christ and who have sent their sins on beforehand to judgment. But that all the world and even the angels may see the justice of God, God tests His people to reveal them who love Him and them who make a false profession.
God has always revealed and brought out the faith of those who serve Him. Noah revealed his faith by his works in building an ark. Rahab hid the spies, Abraham was willing to offer up his son Isaac, Abel offered a lamb, Jacob wrestled with the Angel, Jeremiah was cast in a well, Daniel faced the lions. And we could go on and on about the servants of the Most High God who gave evidence of their faith in the blood of the everlasting covenant by their works of obedience even unto death if need be.
So it is that God will bring the hour of test to all the world, believers and unbelievers, to reveal the fruit of their faith. God's final test will concern obedience to God's holy Law and His right to call all the world to obedience to His commandments. No one is justified by one's obedience to God's Law but no one will be justified who willfully disregards God's Law and tramples upon any one of its Holy precepts. Thus we have the final test of all the world to see who will receive the seal of God or the "mark" of the Antichrist.
God's repentant people will be justified in the judgment by faith alone in the imputed righteousness of Jesus, but their faith will be that which works by love and obedience. All things are ready come unto the marriage. Amen