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.
2 timothy 4:3-4
Recently, I finished reading the latest book from a well known author.
Previous titles by this best-selling scribe have been released from various Christian publishers. I won't name his or her name, but if you've spent any time in the Christian bubble in the last 10 or so years, then you've most likely heard it.
I had high hopes when reading the title in question, but by its end I must say that I was rather disappointed in the bland taste left in my mouth. Definitely more humanistic than God-centric. Sure, there was a mention of the Creator here and there and a reference to Scripture in occasional places. But in terms of a substantive, meaty Christian worldview—in terms of who or what should be guiding our lives—I could not find it and felt like I'd only had a small salad for dinner. Bleh.
At the same time, I have been studying in 2 Timothy—a letter written by Paul (to Timothy) while he was imprisoned under Emperor Nero (approx. A.D. 67). The overall theme? Faithfulness in hard times and taking care to root out errant messages disguised as Truth.
But what kind of hard times were going on in that day? And what kind of messages were being communicated?
… People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power … (2 tim. 3:1-5).
Oh. So, kind of like … today?
That's right. In some ways, the world hasn't changed too much since the New Testament times (on one hand that's a little shocking, isn't it?). And the fact of the matter is—if you're paying attention—the times are only getting worse.
But we are not surprised. Because "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 tim. 3:12); as heirs we will suffer for the cause of Christ (rom. 8:17); and we, like sheep, are still easily led astray (prov. 10:17, 1 peter 2:25). And anyone—even faith-friendly, self-help speakers or all-positive-all-the-time evangelists—who tells you otherwise is not preaching the whole Gospel but a false idea.
As believers, we should be concerned about what is going on around us. We should carefully consider anything we read or hear. We must distinguish between Truth and heresy. And how we do that? By measuring everything … everything … against God's Word.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 tim. 3:16-17).
And now, truth time. When's the last time you were taught, rebuked, corrected or trained by something you heard? By something you read? Are you drawing from the Well of Truth or are you sipping from the Spring of Feel-Good or the Fount of What-I-Want-to-Hear? Take a moment to think about that. (I will, too.)
It's easy for any of us to get caught up in what our "itching ears want to hear." But we must remember to consider the source—its trustworthiness and its credibility—as well as the reliability and infallibility of God's Word. By doing due diligence in this way and making much ado about something, we can help safeguard our lives against falling away from Truth.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Take some time for personal inventory today. What are you listening to? What are you reading? Who or what is informing your faith? How much time are you spending meditating on Scripture? Consider your intake and measure it against biblical Truth. Are you being deceived? Or is it time to make some changes?