2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
Not long after Paul issued this warning to Timothy, it became a reality, and, sadly, the same warning has been necessary in every part of the Church’s history for the two millennia since. In particular, our own culture has been, and is being, influenced by man-centred worldviews so subtly and so much that even professing ‘christian’ teachers are allowing their ‘itching ears’ to be more open to man’s ‘wisdom’ than to God’s revealed, unchanging truth in his Word.
Paul even anticipates that there will be a ‘great number’ who will encourage each other (‘gather around them’) in wrong thinking that leads to wrong teaching. It is interesting that he describes ‘sound doctrine’ as something that these people will not ‘put up with’ or ‘endure’! Is it not true that God’s revealed truth, especially today, is so contrary to what human ‘wisdom’ deems to be ‘right’ and ‘acceptable’ and ‘good’ that it cannot be ‘put up with’?
This will ALWAYS be a problem; it was a problem for all the faithful Old Testament prophets, it was a problem for the Lord Jesus himself, and it will continue to be a problem for everyone who dares to speak out to a culture that rejects the Bible, especially the unpalatable parts, as God’s infallible revealed truth. And the task is made even harder when teachers claim to be accepting the Bible as God’s truth, while at the same time distorting its clear message to accommodate current popular ideological trends. It seems that this is the very thing the Apostle Paul is warning Timothy against.
Are we prepared to stand with Paul and say, “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4) and to ‘put up with’ the rejection and opposition that such a stand might entail? Let us remember, and be encouraged by, what God said to Isaiah: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:7-11).
– Bruce Christian