Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Proverbs 21:17 He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.

Ecclesiastes 2:1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.

I Timothy 5:6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

II Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

MEMORY VERSE: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. —I John 2:15-16

CENTRAL THOUGHT: Closely related to earthly cares and deceptive riches are worldly pleasures which captivate the affections and desires and choke the love for the Lord right out of the heart.


Proverbs 21:17 “Pleasure”: foolish joy, gaiety, mirth. “Wine”: that which intoxicates. “Oil”: figuratively, richness or luxury. “’Wine’ and ‘oil’ are put for high living, luxurious feasts, costly entertainments; which being so, and continually made, will not suffer a man to be rich” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible).

I Timothy 5:6 “She that liveth in pleasure”: gives herself to pleasure; to be wanton; live luxuriously, voluptuously. “Is dead while she liveth”: dead to God; dead in trespasses and sins; no longer a living member of the church of God. This was in reference to young women in the congregations who were being troublemakers and leaving their homes and children to pursue idle gossip and sensual pleasures (I Timothy 5:11-15; II Timothy 3:6-7).

II Timothy 3:1 “Perilous”: terrible; dangerous; furious; difficult; reducing the strength.

II Timothy 3:2 “Lovers of their own selves”: “Self-loving, selfish. From philos and autos; fond of self” (Strong’s Concordance). “Covetous”: money-loving, avaricious, covetous. From philos and arguros; fond of silver” (Strong’s Concordance). “Boasters”: one who gives one’s self airs in a loud and flaunting way; braggart” (Strong’s Concordance). “Proud”: “Proud, arrogant, disdainful. From huper and phaino; appearing above others, i.e. haughty” (Strong’s Concordance). “They who contemptuously look down on others beneath them, either in social position or wealth, or perhaps in natural gifts” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers). “Blasphemers”: railers; insolent and abusive in thought and word toward God. This refers to evil speaking against God and holy things; or generally, evil speaking. “Disobedient to parents”: unbelieving; disobedient; those who will not be persuaded. “Unthankful”: ungrateful for good received from both God and man. “Unholy”: profane; wicked because of an impure heart.

II Timothy 3:3 “Without natural affection”: hard-hearted toward kindred; careless and regardless of the welfare of those connected with them by ties of blood. “Trucebreakers”: not bound by truce. “One who violates a truce, covenant or engagement” (Webster’s). It is also interpreted as implacable; not appeasable; one who will make no truce or treaty with his enemy. “False accusers”: slanderer; from a word that means satan, the arch-accuser. “Incontinent”: literally, no power; without self-control; no control over the passions; intemperate in the pursuit or use of anything—money, pleasure, the tongue, the appetite. “Fierce”: brutal; not tame; savage; merciless. “Despisers of those that are good”: no lovers of good; hostile to virtue and every good thought or work.

II Timothy 3:4 “Traitors”: betrayers; to surrender into the enemy’s hands. “Heady”: from a word meaning falling forward; reckless; impulsive; rash. “Highminded”: inflated by self -conceit; blinded by pride. “Lovers of pleasures”: fond of pleasure.

Titus 3:3 “Divers”: various; diverse; different; of all sorts.

I John 2:16 “The lust of the flesh”: “Sensual and impure desires which seek their gratification in women, strong drink, delicious viands [food], and the like” (Clarke’s Commentary). “The lust of the eyes”: “Inordinate desires after finery of every kind, gaudy dress, splendid houses, superb furniture, expensive equipage, trappings, and decorations of all sorts” (Clarke’s Commentary). “The pride of life”: “Hunting after honors, titles, and pedigrees; boasting of ancestry, family connections, great offices, honorable acquaintance, and the like” (Clarke’s Commentary). “A vain man craves the grandeur and pomp of a vain- glorious life; this includes thirst after honour and applause” (Matthew Henry Commentary).


The words of Solomon from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes show us the folly of a life spent in pursuit of physical pleasure. “Vanity,” he sighed, implicating the short-term gratification which ends in emptiness of soul, frustration of mind, and nothing to show of any eternal or lasting value. Solomon actually acquired the pleasures whereof he spoke: wives and exotic, foreign, female companions; beautiful zoological and botanical gardens, vineyards and forests with state-of-the-art irrigation systems, the finest orchestras and choirs, entertainment to make him laugh, and luxurious, palatial estates. He dealt in cattle, silver, gold and rare royal treasures from all over the world. He had many servants to do his bidding. Yet he “hated life” (Ecclesiastes 2:17). How telling!

Paul wrote two epistles to Timothy, the pastor of the church in Ephesus. We have shared in a previous lesson series about this wealthy center of education and culture. Paul gave many warnings of its powerful influence against godliness. His message of the danger of the “last days” have applied to every generation since then—have you noticed? The saints in that time thought it would just be a few years until Jesus would return. God began to give warnings to them of the scoffers who would arise when He failed to appear. He gave prophecies of the different heresies which would arise—the anti-christ doctrines; the gnostics, the antinomians; the great falling away; the apostasy. This entire period, from Jesus’ ascension until His second coming, then, is called “the last days.”

Paul instructed Titus, who was a Greek Christian, probably a convert of Paul (Titus 1:4), to be very gentle in dealing with souls because, he said, before Christ’s kindness and love to us appeared, we also served various lusts and pleasures. The epistle to Titus was most likely written at the same time he wrote the first epistle to Timothy, around A. D. 65-67. They are very similar in warnings and instructions about establishing the congregations, and use the same salutations and phrases. Titus is not named in the book of Acts, although he is most certainly the unnamed “certain other” disciple mentioned in Acts 15:2. In the same event described in Galatians 2, Paul refused to have Titus circumcised and the disciples decided upon what particular stand was to be taken concerning the Gentile Christians. A companion on several of Paul’s journeys, Titus was sent to Corinth to see about the troubling affairs for which Paul had written the first epistle to the Corinthians, and to oversee the collection that church was gathering to send to the poor saints in Judea. His ministry there was successful, and he later brought Paul comforting, positive reports about the Corinthian congregation. Paul sent him back with two other companions to share the second epistle and complete the mission of sending funds to Judea (II Corinthians 8). Some time later, after Paul left Titus in Crete to establish the work there, he sent him the epistle. Titus possibly joined Apostle Paul in his final imprisonment in Rome, but there is no further history of Titus recorded in Scripture after Paul spoke in II Timothy 4 of Titus being in Dalmatia. According to tradition, he was the pastor in Crete until his death.

John warned about the different sects that would arise, including the anti-christ spirit and the Nicolaitanes who felt that sensual pleasures were an indifferent matter and did not affect the spirit, much like the “grace” heresy propagated today. John clearly established that a love for the world and love for the Father do not coexist.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. List three “thorns” mentioned in the lessons so far.
  2. List the three pursuits mentioned in Proverbs that bring physical, moral and spiritual poverty.
  3. What was the result of Solomon’s pursuit of pleasure and mirth?
  4. Who was Paul describing when he wrote of “She who liveth in pleasure?”
  5. What is the meaning of the “last days”?
  6. “Serving…lusts and pleasures” implies bondage. Describe how earthly pleasures produce that.
  7. Describe the three pleasures mentioned by the Apostle John. How do they affect the spiritual life?


Make no mistake: the scriptures do not teach that living for God means living without pleasure. Rather, God created many pleasures for mankind to enjoy! The pure pleasure He placed within the bounds of holy matrimony, the pleasure of childhood, the social pleasures of having family and friends, wholesome pleasures of seeing the beauties of His creation, the pleasures of good food, work, relaxation, humor, exercise, discovery, excitement—all of these are His gifts to us, along with the many responsibilities of life. How grateful we should be and how joyously we are permitted to partake of these pleasures without guilt or regret!

It is when pleasure, or the pursuit of it, becomes the most important thing in our lives, overtaking obedience to God’s Word, dutiful service to family, or responsibilities as a friend, employee or community member, that it becomes selfish and sinful.

It is important to note that our memory verse warns against the pleasures of this world: the lusts or desires of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life. These things were what drew Eve’s desire away from obeying God. Remember? The tree was “pleasant” to the eyes, looked like good eating, and promised a heightened sense of being “wise.” Satan also tempted Jesus with these three things. He preyed upon Jesus’ forty days’ worth of hunger, tempted Him with the baubles and glories of earthly kingdoms, and promised Him a glorious rescue by angels, as proof to the world that He was the Son of God, if he would jump off the temple pinnacle. Jesus triumphed because He cut through all of satan’s lies with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

We are fighting some real battles against the pleasures of food and drink, because that is the craze of popular culture. How soon the flesh becomes addicted and consumed by this pleasure—so much so that it can become an idol! Glamour and fashion have choked out real spiritual life in both younger and older women, and porn is wiping out thousands of soldiers of the cross. Brother and sister! Wake up and fight for your precious soul!

Either we chop away the deadly shoots of worldly pleasures with the Word of God, or we allow pleasure to choke the powerful Word of God out of our lives like kudzu in the hills of Tennessee—it’s our choice.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


Mankind has been enthralled with the prospect of pursuing pleasure instead of prioritizing obedience to God ever since Eve first rationalized that the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was pleasant to the eyes and partook of it. Since then, the excesses of man have been evident. The Caesars and societal elites of ancient Rome revealed their hedonistic tendencies through gluttony and illicit sensual perversions. The decadence of the French Monarchy was on full display via the ostentatious construction of the royal palace at Versailles, with its more than 700 rooms and 1,200 fireplaces, helping lead to the bankruptcy of the country and the resulting French Revolution.

History is full of other examples as well, and we often tend to look at these cases as outliers, clearly in the extreme. Yet, in our own modern society we can see the profligacy to which many are turning. The phrase “He who dies with the most toys wins,” which I first saw on a bumper sticker, has been attributed to multi-millionaire Malcolm S. Forbes Sr., the one- time publisher of Forbes magazine, who certainly pursued all the “toys” he could accumulate. Another phrase, “work hard, play hard,” derived from a quote by Teddy Roosevelt, has often been used to justify long hours in pursuit of the American Dream and all the partying and carousing one can handle when a break is needed. Finally, a 21st century acronym, YOLO, for “you only live once,” often seems to give license to pursue whatever one wants selfishly without regard for the consequences or risks involved.

Ultimately, to quote a phrase from a song my father wrote, many have come to realize, like Solomon, that “this earth’s fleeting pleasures gave me no lasting treasure.” We must be sure to pursue God and His Will as our most important endeavor, and in obeying Him, the things He puts in our lives to enjoy will supersede any pleasures the world can offer.

—Bro. Fari Matthews