Matthew 24:12-13 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Vs. 12, NASB Most people’s love will grow cold.
• This is a warning from Jesus for the end times. That’s the primary context of chapter 24. And it’s a warning for believers, because unbelievers don’t have any love for the Lord in the first place (if they did, they would be believers!).
• I want each of us here today to “stand firm to the end.” Stand firm against what?
• (1) Firm against the increase of wickedness in the end times. Things that were unimaginable in the USA just 50 years ago are now commonplace in our culture — for example, gay marriage and abortion on demand. In many American cities there are more children born to unmarried women than to married women. The nuclear family has broken down, and a “love-‘em-and-leave-‘em” mentality has taken its place in a large segment of our society. Jesus calls us to “stand firm” in these latter-day times of increasing iniquity.
• (2) As this rampant wickedness grows, Jesus warned that the love of most will grow cold (NIV). Some translations say “many” and some say “most.” In either case, we are talking about millions of believers’ love for the Lord going into decline in the latter days.
• I want to share with you today some warnings and some encouragement from the Scriptures that will help you keep your love for God burning brightly in your hearts.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
• Recall the apostle John’s words (1 John 2:15): “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” Or the apostle James’s warning (James 4:4): “Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
• This world, with its evil ways, is not your friend! In many ways it is attractive, seductive, and always calling for your attention. It wants to pull you into habits and ways of thinking that are contrary to God’s ways.
• Take a moment and ask yourself: do you dress according to the current fashions of our culture? Do you go to vulgar, indecent movies because “everybody does”? Have you let your language get a little bit borderline, with a few mild cuss words, sexual innuendos, and the like?
• Here’s a simple way to find out if you’re becoming conformed to this world? Ask yourself: would I be pleased to have Jesus see what I choose to wear? Would I invite Jesus to go to this movie with me? Would I speak to Jesus with the same language I use with my coworkers on the job? If yes, then that’s excellent! If not, then you’ve become conformed to some patterns of the world, not of the Lord. And that is one of the fast tracks to your love for the Lord growing cold.
1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
• This is a prophecy for those living in the latter days. And we are 2,000 years closer to them than Paul’s hearers were.
• The apostle tells us by the Holy Spirit that some believers in later times will abandon the faith. I have seen it happen. I’m thinking of a successful pastor friend from years ago who more recently admitted he was unsure about believing in God. I think of another anointed minister of God’s word whom I knew well who turned away from walking with the Lord in his later years and became deeply embittered.
• “Deceiving spirits … things taught by demons” — Satan and his evil demons are out to rob, kill, and destroy your Christian walk (John 10:10). They are at work 24/7 trying to turn you aside from a close, personal, fresh daily walk with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
KJV: …so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
• “Led astray from … corrupted from” — here again, just as in the Garden of Eden, Satan uses his cunning, his wiles, to try to turn you away from Jesus Christ.
• How can the devil succeed in damaging our walk with the Lord? By using every trick in his book to cause us to lose focus on our “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (NIV). By working to corrupt us from the “simplicity that is in Christ” (KJV).
• It’s so easy to get caught up in the world’s stressful pace and lose sight of a simple, direct, daily communication with Jesus. I encourage you to think often of the words of the great hymn: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
Psalm 119:105, 130, KJV Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path…  The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
• We need the Lord’s light for our path and our life. You and I need understanding, wisdom, and knowledge of the things of God. Where will we find them? In His word!
• His Word the bible lights our path, is a lamp by which we see, and gives us understanding of Him and His greatness.
• Regular time in His word will enhance your love for Him. The more you get to know Him through the Scriptures, the greater your appreciation of His magnificence. Our hearts are stirred as we “see how very much our heavenly Father loves us” (1 John 3:1, Living Bible). And in turn, “our love for Him comes as a result of His loving us first” (1 John 4:19, Living Bible). In the Scriptures we see the revelation of His great love for us, and that stimulates more and more love in our hearts for Him.
• By contrast, let the word of God drift to a place of unimportance in your life and thoughts, and you will gradually find the world taking up a greater portion of your attention, and love for the Lord will become increasingly just an intellectual thing, not a heartfelt relationship.
1 Samuel 12:23a, NASB Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.
• The context was Samuel exhorting Israel to serve the Lord with all their hearts (vs. 20). And he was interceding regularly in prayer for them.
• The prophet considered it a sin if he were to cease praying for them.
• Prayer helps us stay in communion with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. And that fellowship in prayer helps to kindle the fire of our love for the Lord. Think of your spouse, or someone you’re dating. It’s hard to maintain a vibrant love relationship if you never see each other! It’s the same with prayer, where we either find ourselves regularly in the company of the God of heaven, or we rarely check in with Him, and the fervor of our love for Him is diminished.
Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
• There’s the danger. We can find our hearts becoming “hardened.” By what? By “sin’s deceitfulness.” Sin doesn’t usually just come suddenly out of the blue and consume your life. More often, there is a gradual loosening of our standards, a relaxing of our defenses. It becomes easier and easier to justify “little” sins. And the next thing you know, sin has deceived you, your heart has become hardened, and your love for the Lord has grown cold.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
• Don’t back off on your faithfulness to church services! Already in the first century the writer to the Hebrews had to warn Christians who had become slack in their church attendance.
• We need “church”! In the gathered assembly of believers we worship God, we hear anointed preaching and teaching of the word of God, and we experience that manifestation of the supernatural gifts of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 14:26). I find that these things keep the flame burning in my heart. In the church service I have an encounter with God Almighty in worship of Him, in the revelation of Him in His word, and in His touching and blessing our lives through the spiritual gifts. How can that do anything but cause our love for Him to grow!
James 4:8aCome near to God and he will come near to you.
• I’ll close with the solution I promised at the beginning. How can we avoid our love growing cold? How can we stir up our love for the Lord God and for His Son Jesus? Quite simply. A very respected minister of the Gospel once told me this profound wisdom: “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8, KJV).
• Draw close to Him in prayer, in His word, in praise and worship, in sincere and pure devotion, in quiet fellowship, in the gathered church service. You will see the grip and lure of the world, the flesh, and the devil lose its hold on you. That closeness to Him will fill your heart with His love and will increase the fervor of your love for Him.
• Yes, Jesus prophesied that the love of many/most will grow cold. But it does not need to happen to you! Draw near to Him in simple, pure devotion. And the first-listed fruit of the Spirit — love! (Galatians 5:22) — will fill your hearts and minds and will push out everything that tries to come between you and your Lord. Your love will not grow cold; it will burn brighter and brighter.