Idolatry, murder, sorceries, sexual immorality, and thefts. The sins listed are a pretty accurate description of our own nation today. Idolatry occurs when something, regardless of what form it may take, is allowed to assume God's rightful place in our hearts. It can be money, power, fame, hobbies, children, a profession, etc. Murder, sexual immorality (which includes any and all forms of sexual perversion including promiscuity, adultery, pornography, and homosexuality), and thefts require no explanation; but the word sorceries is an interesting one. It is a word translated from the Greek word (the language in which the New Testament was written) pharmakoeia (pronounced farm-uh-KEE-uh). If you look at the word, you will immediately recognize a common English word: pharmacy, or pharmaceuticals. It means drugs.
I was the pastor of a church in western Michigan for many years, and had frequent contact and interaction with Satanists. I realize many people roll their eyes when they hear any reference to Satanism, but let me assure you it is very real to those who are involved. (Note the reference in the scripture passage above to the worship of demons. The first summer when my family and I moved there, a young girl--Shannon Siders--was killed in a ritualistic sacrifice to the devil. She had been stabbed multiple times, and then most of her skin was stripped from her body. Oh, it's very real). As I became more knowledgeable about Satanism, I discovered there are two things that almost always played an important role in their ceremonies: drugs, and certain of the more extreme forms of rock music. I remember spending time with a young man--his name was Keith--who was struggling with his involvement in Satanism. He wanted out, but he and his family were being threatened by the coven in which he was involved. His favorite singer was Ozzy Osbourne. His favorite song? Osbourne's Suicide Solution. I advised him he was playing with fire. His response was, "Hey, I can't give up the Oz." He didn't; and a month later he committed suicide by placing the barrel of a 12-gauge shotgun under his chin. I have long been convinced that psychotropic and hallucinogenic drugs provide an opening into the demonic realm, giving Satan control over the drug user.
The passage I cited from the book of Revelation is part of a larger passage that describes events that will occur prior to Christ's return when He will destroy His enemies and assume His earthly throne. One of the characteristics of that period will be the widespread abuse of drugs. Drugs have been around almost as long as man has been on the earth, but what we are seeing today--not only in the United States, but around the world--is unprecedented. Had someone told me even fifteen years ago that we would be facing the epidemic (for lack of a better word) of drug usage, and heroin in particular, that we are seeing today, I wouldn't have believed him.
We know that the end times will be characterized by a number of things: "Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." - 2 Timothy 3:1-4. One of the things that will flow from those attitudes will apparently be the use of drugs by large numbers of people--the phenomenon we are presently seeing played out before us. I think it is a consequence of being "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." As one young man, a husband and father of two, who used heroin said to me, "You can't believe how good it makes you feel!" He was willing to throw away everything--a good job, a sweet, attractive wife, and two cute children--just so he could feel good. A life with no higher purpose than that is hardly worth living.
I think it is very evident we are living in a time that bears all the earmarks of the last days as described in the Bible. I can look forward to the wonderful things the Lord has in store for us, but there is a dangerous and tumultuous period that must precede that time, and I think we have already entered it. Where we are on the timeline, I don't know, although I'm certain the countdown has begun. Regardless, I think it's very important that as Christians we are living our lives in anticipation of the Lord's rapidly approaching return. Consider the words of the Lord Jesus: "Who then is that faithful and wise servant, whom his master will make ruler over his household...blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes" - Luke 12:42-43. Are you ready?