Tag Archives: 2 Timothy

Itching Ears

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, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.  2 Timothy 4:3-4

The last days.  Have you heard of them?    Those are the times before Jesus returns to the earth.  It sure feels like the last days, doesn’t it? The last days are what Paul described in 2 Timothy 3-4.  In Matthew 24, Jesus talked about wars and rumors of war, lawlessness increasing and peoples’ love growing cold.  He said that was just the beginning of birth pangs.  In other words, this could go on for awhile and get much worse.

George Barna, a Christian researcher and pastor, published a book in Sept. of 2016 called America at the Crossroads.  In it he explained the difference between fads and trends.  A fad is something that comes and goes in popularity, like leg warmers or Cabbage Patch Dolls.  A trend is something that impacts the culture and causes a shift that lasts.  I would say a recent cultural trend, or shift, came about when Bruce Jenner launched the headline, “Call Me Kaitlyn.”  That was an event that swung many other cultural pieces into motion.

itching2.jpgMoving away from God and toward evil is a trend that will only continue. It is interesting that the reason Paul gave for this trend is because people will have itching ears and will act to suit their passions.   It’s already happening.  People with itching ears don’t want to hear Biblical truth because it might pinpoint a sin habit that they either haven’t come face to face with, or one that they are currently engaged in and don’t want to quit.  They find a different place to go that suits their passions.  Or, as statistics show us, they stop going to church all together.

Part of our itching ears has to do with short attention spans, a consumer based view of what people want in a church, and a make-your-own-sundae approach to belief systems. Barna wrote about how people aren’t just picking and choosing from Biblical truths to form their worldview, but they are gleaning things from the Koran, some from Buddhism, others from New Age principles.  That’s called syncretism.

At least we’ve been warned, so as to not be surprised by any of it.   That’s one of the reasons why Paul wrote what he did to Timothy and to us.  Another purpose is so that we stand firm and not water down the truth to make it easier to handle.  Stand firm in what you firmly believe and have been taught, and don’t let your ears itch.  In the next verses in 2 Timothy 4, Paul admonishes: “Be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

We may or may not be in the last days.  But we can be in our own last days, recognizing that our own lifespan is just a vapor and a mist.  Make the most of them.


The Charge

righteous

I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom; Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not.   2 Timothy 4:1-2 HCSB

Paul was on the home stretch of his life as he wrote these words.  He was imprisoned in Rome and he knew that he was soon going to be executed.  He was writing to Timothy, a follower of Jesus that was at least 25 years younger than Paul.  Paul had discipled him and now he was passing the baton on to Timothy and he wanted to ensure that the Gospel message wouldn’t be lost, watered down, or changed in any way.

Paul was  giving Timothy the charge of maintaining the most important things because he knew he was soon to be executed.   Timothy was to carry on the torch that has been eventually passed on to us, almost 2000 years later.  Why was Timothy to keep the Gospel message going?   Paul gave Timothy three reasons why he should take the baton and run with it, and those reasons apply to us today.

  1. Because of the judgment that awaits all of us.  2 Corinthians 5:10 states, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”  Paul included the judgment in his presentation of the Gospel.  In Acts 24:25 we find that for two years Paul shared with Felix the governor while imprisoned, reasoning about righteousness, self-control and the coming judgment.
  2. Because of Christ’s appearing.  Jesus is coming back, this we know for sure.  In the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25, Jesus told about how five were foolish and five were wise.  The wise ones were ready for the Bridegroom’s returning.  The foolish ones slept and the groom said, “I don’t know you.”    In 2 Timothy 4 Paul talked about receiving the crown of righteousness, not just for him, but “for all those who have loved His appearing.”
  3. Because of Christ’s kingdom.  Most of the parables that Jesus told, especially toward the end of His ministry, were about the kingdom of God.  After Jesus returns and defeats Satan, He will establish an 1000 year actual physical kingdom here on earth.  According to Luke 19 and the parable of the ten minas, what we do during our lives determines our lot in His kingdom.

All three of the things that motivated Paul to proclaim the message of the Gospel must motivate us.  We don’t want to get to the end of our lives and find that we had wasted our words on things that have absolutely no eternal value.  We aren’t all called to be pastors and teachers, but we are all commanded  to proclaim the good news of Jesus in our own way, using the gifts that God has given us–whether convenient or not, in season and out.  


Are you a “good” person, or a Godly person?

good personHaving the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.  2 Timothy 3:5

The verses before this one in 2 Timothy don’t paint a good picture.  Paul wrote that in the last days difficult times would come.  He said that people would be lovers of self and lovers of money, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, amongst other descriptors.  Well that pretty much describes our “selfie” culture, doesn’t it?

Then Paul  said that people would have an appearance of godliness, but deny its power. People who consider themselves to be atheists or nonreligious wouldn’t have an appearance of godliness, nor would they attempt to do so.  It is Christians that would consider themselves godly.   But Paul wrote that many will deny the power that comes through godliness.

I’ve always taken this verse as meaning that we deny God’s power, like the power that comes from accessing the Holy Spirit, the power of the Bible, and the power of prayer.  So many people that are Christians don’t put their money where their mouth is when it comes to those three areas.  They say they believe in prayer, but don’t come to prayer meetings.  They say that the Word is able to change lives and equip us for every good work, but they don’t really read and study it much.  And they may or may not say that they have a relationship with the Holy Spirit.  Many people I know would shy away from that topic.

Lately I’ve been thinking about people I know who say they don’t read the Bible, but call themselves Christians.  I would describe them as “good” people, but not godly people.  There isn’t much power in being a good person, but there is in being godly.   It is making every effort to be diligent, kind, gentle, honest, filled with integrity in everything you do.  It means keeping a clean conscience before God and before others.  We would call that holiness, and that’s something we don’t emphasize much these days.  I guess people think that’s old school or legalistic in this day of grace.  But yet, there is power in it.

Don’t deny the power that comes from godliness.  Positively stated, if you make godliness a priority, you will be fruitful and effective in your Christian life, as 2 Peter 1:8 promises.  It will also keep you from being a lover of self, of money and of pleasure, rather than a love of God.

“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”  2 Timothy 3:2-5

 

*Image from walkingchristian.com