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::Devotional:: ‘An Itch We Just Can’t Scratch”

July 16, 2009

CB006514I am easily overwhelmed and excited with the variety of books and information on the shelves at my local Christian bookstore.  I often avoid visiting it because I know that I can’t walk out of the store without at least a couple new books and resources, and they cost money!  Of course, books are just one of the many ways we can digest Christian information in the Information Age today.  Websites, Youtube videos, podcasts, radio stations, TV, and Christian music are very common sources of information for the Christian of the 21st century.  However, not all sources of Christian information are sources of Truth.  In fact, there is only one source of truth and that is God’s Word. But how can we make sure we are being taught the truth of God’s word amidst all of this other information?

Perhaps some of you are already tracking with me on this point.  Is it important to be able to tell if someone you are listening to is teaching the truth from the word of God?  That answer probably goes without saying right?  But how can we make sure?

As I thought about this question over the past few days the Lord led me to the book of 2 Timothy, in particular chapters 3 & 4.  If we will have ears to hear, I believe God has laid out a very practical way to guard what we are learning.

Paul Mentions The Teachers

Paul warns Timothy of a time in the last days where there will be teachers, what we’d call pastors or preachers today, who are a dangerous threat to Christians.  Dangerous not because they come with guns blazing but because they come with selfish motives and a slick tongue and do not teach the truth of God’s word.  Dangerous because they are not easily distinguishable as a threat.  Regardless of how they appear, Paul warns Timothy that these men are dangerous because they will lead people away from the truth of God’s word.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.  Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth – men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.  2 Timothy 3:6-8 NIV

These men are not motivated by the guidance of the Holy Spirit but rather the love of themselves and pleasure.  Notice what Paul wrote about some of the motives of these teachers in 2 Timothy 3:2-4

  • lovers of themselves, lovers of money
  • boastful, proud, conceited
  • unholy, unforgiving, ungrateful
  • without self-control
  • having a form of godliness but denying its power

Paul was not giving Timothy a warning about false teachers outside the church, he was warning him about the ones on the inside.  In Matthew Henry’s commentary on this passage, he wrote

Two traitors within the garrison may do more hurt to it than two thousand besiegers without.

“Have nothing to do with them” Paul wrote in v. 5  Today these men could be as close as the next preaching program on the radio, TV, or podcast; the next Christian music CD you purchase; perhaps even the next #1 best seller at the Christian bookstore.  They appear to be Christians – having a form of godliness – but do not teach or adhere to the truth of God’s Word – denying its power.  These are very dangerous men.

Paul Mentions The Word

In addition to his warning, Paul reminded Timothy of the truth of God’s Word and its purpose.  The Word is what Timothy needed to guard himself and his congregation (remember Timothy was a pastor) against the dangerous teachings of these men.

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 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

Preach, the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.  2 Timothy 4:2 NIV

Let’s take another look at what Paul wrote.  God’s Word is useful for:

  • Teaching – meaning to teach the precepts (principles) or doctrines
  • Rebuking – meaning to charge sharply
  • Correcting/Reproving – meaning to change by conviction
  • Training – meaning to correct mistakes and curb passions
  • Encourage – meaning to come alongside and help/comfort

God’s Word was given with purpose in these areas “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  Paul urged Timothy to make sure he was using the Word for all its intended purposes.

Paul Mentions The Listeners

Just as Paul warned about the teachers, he also warned Timothy about the listeners.  These listeners would be members of church congregations, professing Christians, perhaps even members of Timothy’s church.  They would be like minded with the teachers he had previously warned about. Men of depraved minds who would not tolerate sound doctrine from God’s Word.

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 4:3-5 NIV

These were listeners who would not come, would not listen, and would not care about the truth of God’s Word.  Instead, they would find someone who told them the things they wanted to hear.  Paul refers to them as having itching ears and says they will make the decision to turn away from the truth and turn towards that which was not true.  Their search would lead them to wicked counsel, and as we saw in the ‘Slow Fade’ devotional, it’s a downward spiral from there.  Paul’s charge to Timothy was to make sure he didn’t get caught up in the hype created by these teachers and listeners and be influenced by them; to stay grounded in the word, and to teach those who would listen.

Making Sure You Are Being Taught The Truth Of God’s Word

So now we come full circle back to the original question – How can we make sure we are being taught the truth of God’s Word?  I believe the Lord has provided a way to evaluate those who teach us as well as what we attempt to teach ourselves, right here in the passages we’ve studied.   If we will evaluate what we are being taught or are teaching ourselves (through what we take in – read, listen to, watch, etc) in light of these purposes, I believe we will see rather quickly if we are being taught the Truth of God’s Word or not.

  • Teaching – Am I being taught true doctrine and precepts from God’s Word?
  • Rebuking – Am I being warned about getting off track with God in the way I think or behave?
  • Correcting/Reproving – Am I being shown what sin looks like and where to find it in my life so that I can confess it and ask for God’s forgiveness?
  • Training – Am I being taught about what God’s word says about self-control and obedience?
  • Encourage – Am I being comforted by what I am learning?

If we find ourselves somewhere receiving only encouragement, we are not being “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  What about all the other areas?  If any of those other areas offend us because they are pointing out something we don’t like and we would rather hear another message on encouragement, our ears are beginning to itch.  We will be tempted to seek out people who will tell us what we want to hear about ourselves; the good parts only.  My friends, that is an itch we can not scratch.  Instead, we need to study God’s Word daily so that the Holy Spirit can reveal spiritual truths to us.  We must seek teachers who will use the Word of God, as it was intended, so that we can be thoroughly equipped Christians.

-Stay Rooted Col. 2:7-

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. PastorTerry permalink
    July 16, 2009 7:43 am

    Very good and very true. Thanks Tony!

  2. July 16, 2009 7:45 am

    Thanks Pastor Terry!

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