“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…” – 2 Timothy 4:3 ESV
I’ve not been able to shake the above verse for some time now because it scares me.
It really, really scares me.
If we take a serious look at 2 Timothy 4 and consider it in context of 2014, I think we could easily see a connection.
I’m guilty at times of doing what Paul says, and I’m sure you have been too.
You know how it goes. You’re on the Book of Faces and someone shares a blog post that they either really like or they really hate. You then go read the article and you decide for yourself if you agree or disagree with the writer’s words.
That’s somewhat the beauty of the internet.
We all have a voice. We all have something to say. And we always pretty much think we’re right.
So when someone says something we disagree with, we’re provided opportunities to “correct”, and sometimes bully the individual (via comments, replies, passive aggressive tweets). But when we think the author is correct, we share it and proclaim it’s truth and importance for all the world to see.
But what if by doing the above we actually are engaging in what Paul warned us about? What if we’re using the internet to gather around us teaching that we like or that is bent towards our own standards or philosophies?
What if we’re wrong and we’re just feeding the fallacy that we’ve been deceived by?
This is what scares me.
When it comes to theology or Church or sin or the Christian life, we’ve got to be very, very careful what we agree or disagree with. It seems it’s easy to fall into the trap of changing the Word to our fit own desires instead of letting the Word mold and shape us.
And with the internets, this is very easy to do. If we don’t like it or it makes us uncomfortable, we dismiss it. If we do like it or it helps us justify our own self-centered philosophies, then we’re good with it.
The irony is, we won’t necessarily immediately like what we read in Scripture. Truth SHOULD have a pruning affect in our lives.
The Word has been described as a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) not a fluffy bag of cotton candy. And sometimes, we need to be rebuked and reproved (2 Timothy 4:2). So guess what: we’re not going to always agree with or necessarily like what someone is teaching from it.
That means we will hear/read teaching that will hurt.
Are there those that misuse the Word and teach false things? Sure there are. Are there those that abuse people with the Word? Yep. But that doesn’t mean that everything we disagree with or that makes us squirm in our chair is wrong and should make us cry foul.
If we are not careful, we can easily throw the baby out with the bath water and say ALL teaching that
convicts hurts us is wrong and bad. By doing so, we’ve taken part in the deception that Paul said would occur.
So what do we do to make sure that we don’t fall prey to becoming deceived?
Here are some suggestions to guard yourself:
- Be careful who you let “in” your mind/heart. We should guard ourselves from things we know are clearly wrong according to Scripture.
- Don’t take everything you read as truth, especially if you easily and quickly agree with it. We should always ask ourselves: does this line up with what we see in Scripture? Also ask: why do you agree with it? Does it justify your own sin or desires?
- If you disagree with it, ask yourself WHY. Do you disagree with it because you know the Bible disagrees with it? Or do you disagree because it actually convicts you and calls you to account?
- Another very important suggestion is that we remain faithfully a part of a community of believers (aka a local church) so that if we do begin to get off, we have help. We are not islands unto ourselves. Our faith was not intended to be and can not be solely individual.
Paul’s challenge to Timothy was serious so we should take it seriously as well.
I leave you with the context of Paul’s above words (2 Timothy 4:1-5 via the Message translation):
I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.
You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.