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2 Timothy 4:1-4
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
As a preacher and teacher of the word of God I can tell you with absolute certainty that the time Paul was speaking about is no longer a matter of “will come” but “has come.” We are living in those days now.
Something I don’t have to tell you though is that any preacher trying to point to Jesus and His word is going to have a hard time with this. I can think of several people in the Bible that dealt with people who refused to endure sound doctrine.
Moses dealt with it and said the following:
10 Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased. 11 And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? 12 Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers? 13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat. 14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. 15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.
And lets not forget Jeremiah in:
7 O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. 8 For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. 9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. 10 For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.
And I myself can testify that there have been times when I cried out to God to kill me so that I didn’t have to speak His word any longer. The pain of this fire shut up in the bones of the preacher is so intense that it can not be stopped, but the reality of it falling on deaf ears is a pain in itself. And the sometimes the only relief we may see is in death.
So I want to encourage the preachers out there who feel the pain of both being unable to withhold from delivering the word and at the same time seeing how that same word is treated by those who would refuse to listen to it. You are not alone.
But we are given instruction in 2 Timothy about what we should do about this. Paul tells us to preach the word in season and out of season with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Preachers, you and I both know that the word of God is spoken of as seed. Would you plant a seed outside of the proper season? Would you plant in winter? Of course not! It would never take root!
But Paul says this particular seed needs to be planted no matter what season it is. In other words it needs to be planted when people will and when people will not listen to it.
We are now in the season of winter when the ground is cold in the hearts of many people. They have itching ears, but can not endure the word of God. So preachers…our task is to preach it anyway!
Now there is something else I want to speak with you about. The first part of this message was directed at the preachers and teachers of the word of God because I believe we are in great need of knowing that we are not alone. But the next part of this message applies to everyone.
How do you know if you have itching ears that will not endure sound doctrine?
You see, the problem isn’t that people have itching ears wanting to hear something. The problem is that they will not endure sound doctrine.
If you had a hunger to hear the word of God then that would be great! There would be no problem with having an ear that wanted to hear that.
But when we have itching ears that refuse to listen to the word of God…we start trying to find something else to listen to. We do not endure sound doctrine anymore and only listen to what we want to listen to.
Here are some examples of statements made by people who are not enduring sound doctrine but having itching ears. Ask yourself if you have ever said any of this:
I only listen to (insert favorite preachers name here).
You don’t have a degree and are not a pastor so you are not qualified to teach me?
We need to find a pastor that believes what we do.
I have heard these kinds of things all the time. And here are some examples of the actions of people who are not enduring sound doctrine but having itching ears. Ask yourself if you do any of these:
Instead of listening to someone teach they will try to be the teacher themselves. So what they do is speak before listening. Their ears itch for their own teaching.
They will try to find a reason not to listen to a message. So they will find fault with the personal life of the messenger or look for ways to refute them without giving the first thought to the messenger actually being right…because they have already made up their mind before the messenger even spoke.
Basically people with itching ears want to hear something…but they ONLY want to hear what they want to hear. Which normally is someone either teaching something they already believe, or someone teaching them something that they enjoy.
But the Bible is not a book that will always agree with you and tell you that you are right. It isn’t even a book that will tell you that you understand it already. It will however challenge your views, even about itself.
It will not tell you to listen only to preacher so and so.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
It will not tell you that you should only listen to those accepted by men as being educated. Consider what was said about the education of Peter and John:
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
It will not tell you to find a pastor that believes what you do.
15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
It will not tell you to speak before listening or teach before being taught.
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
It will not tell you to shut your ears and only listen to what you already believe even if it isn’t true.
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
So the next time you find yourself doing these things it would be good to understand that you are at that point being one of these people who have itching ears but will not endure sound doctrine.
Of course I know there may be some who will see this video and despite the warning and the exposing of the truth they will also not endure this doctrine as well. But again, I am willing to sow into the frozen ground.