He said, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." (2Ti 4:3-4)
Rather than endure sound doctrine, most Christians these days want to have their ears tickled. In other words, they have their own desires, lusts, and passions that they want to fulfill. They love their sin too much to part with it. So in order to suit their desires, they accumulate for themselves teachers, who will say what their itching ears want to hear. Since they have turned aside from the truth, they surround themselves with teachers who do not preach against sin or offend them, but tickle their ears with myths.
They listen to these teachers in their church, on the TV, the internet, and the radio. Any time they want to be soothed, comforted, or made to feel good, they listen to one of their favorite teachers. They also read the books and online articles of these teachers, too. They buy their DVDs or watch them online.
These are the teachers that have departed from sound doctrine and rather than teach the truth, they say what is popular with people. Their teachings include things like the following: once you are saved, you are always saved (eternal security); prosperity messages; antinomian messages; grace (as a license); freedom (from the moral laws of God); self-help messages; no-hell messages; social action; equality; human rights; social justice; world peace; being relevant to the world; adopting the world's cultures; tolerance; acceptance of all lifestyles, orientations, and religions; New Age; one-world religion; and ecumenism. There are many more myths they teach, but this list will suffice to give you the basic idea.
Not only do they fail to preach against sin, they fail to emphasize holiness, righteousness, and truth. They defile the Lord's pulpit by no longer carrying their Bible but using a phone instead. They no longer uphold the Word of God as supreme. Popular opinions and feelings have taken a much greater place of importance. It's no wonder the Church has gone astray with teachers like that.
The remedy to all this is Paul's solemn charge to Timothy in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus to "preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." (2Ti 4:2). We need to return once again to preaching the Word. We need to reprove as necessary, which is to express disapproval. We need to once again rebuke those who need it, who are practicing sin in the house of God. We need to exhort the Body. And we need to do all of these things with great patience and instruction.
In order for teachers and preachers to do these things, we must watch our lives and doctrine closely. Keep your doctrine accurate and true to the Word. Keep your life pure and free from sin. This will save both you and your hearers, too (1 Tim 4:16). There are two aspects to this, one being your life, and the other being your doctrine.
This will require diligence on your part. As Paul said, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." (2Ti 2:15). You don't want to be ashamed when you stand before God, but approved as a workman who accurately handles the Word of truth. Learn to rightly divide the Word of truth. Preach it just as it is without adding to it or taking away from it.
And as you watch your life, in order to keep it pure, here is an important admonition. "Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and, 'Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.'" (2Ti 2:19). You personally need to abstain from wickedness. That means you need to revolt against sin. You need to remove it from your life, withdraw yourself from it, depart from it, cease and desist from it, and refrain from it (Strongs). And that is what you need to teach your hearers to do, so that they can reach heaven.
You need to become a vessel for honor that is holy and useful to the Master. Paul said, "Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." (2Ti 2:20-21). In order to become a holy vessel of honor for the Lord, you need to cleanse yourself from everything in your life that dishonors Him. And then you need to teach your hearers to do the same.
I am not going to deceive you and tell you that this is going to make you very popular or attract crowds. This is not by any means a popular message. It is not a recipe for developing a mega church. In fact, it may bring suffering and persecution into your life. But as Paul said, "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." (2Ti 2:3)
Becoming this kind of preacher may bring persecution into your life. But after all, that's expected if you desire to live godly in Christ. As Paul said, "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2Ti 3:12)
While others are being foolish, silly, and taking everything in the Word lightly, you need to be serious in all things. You need to do the unpopular work of an evangelist. Paul said, "But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2Ti 4:5). If you have been called to teach or preach, you will need to endure hardship for the King. You and I must fulfill our ministries. Discharge all the duties of your ministry.
As we do so, our hope and prayer for those to whom we minister is that "they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will." (2Ti 2:26).
So although we live in a day when people will not endure sound doctrine, there is hope as long as there are still those ministers who will do these things. As long as the servants of the Lord live like this, and conduct their ministries this way, there is great hope. While most people will rebel and not listen to you, that is not what determines your success or failure. Your success will be determined by whether you do the will of God.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "Deception" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm all rights reserved by the artist. Please view it on his official website, Inspired Art.
Author's note: I also recommend reading Ask for the Ancient Paths, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?, The Law of Christ, Deleted Scriptures in the Bible?, Costly Grace, Is Obedience Optional?, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Practicing Your Righteousness, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Faith Works!, The Ways of Life, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Scripture Alone, Accurately Handling the Word of Truth, Exposing Heresy, Are We Really Little gods?, The Rise of Antichrists, The Origin of Sin, Satan, and Secular Music, The Rise and Fall of Lucifer the Musician, Michael Thomas Sambo's Revelation of Heaven and Hell, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, The Cult of Mormonism, and Righteousness by Faith not Law. You can access the Home page of this blog for more articles on Truth and heresy, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org