2 Timothy 4:3-4
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.
I want to apologize to all who follow this post. Time got away from me and it has now been over two months since I posted anything. I really need to dedicate the time each day, or at least each week, to get a post out there that can express what the Lord is showing me in His word. His word is so rich, and is so easy to understand. We make it too hard by reading into it what is really not there. This is exactly what Paul is talking about in this section of his letter to Timothy. People making God’s word into something it isn’t.
I know I have a catholic friend out there who will have a very different look at this portion of scripture than I do. I believe he will say that the Protestant reformation fulfilled this portion of scripture pretty well. People wanted a voice against the Catholic church and Martin Luther became the first voice to challenge the established order. He wrote his 95 theses as a rebuke against the corruption that was going on in the Catholic church. Priests were taking indulgences, or payment, to have their sins forgiven. Luther realized, by his own reading of scripture, that Paul wrote “The just shall live by faith” for a reason. It is not in getting forgiveness from the priests, but by going right to Jesus to get that forgiveness. That is why he died on the cross in the first place! But the Catholic church renounced Luther’s ideas and have regarded the Protestant reformation as a revolt by those who have “itching ears.” I do not agree with that assessment, although I will agree that many Protestant doctrines have come ever since that were created to tickle those itching ears.
The Protestant Reformation was a move to accept the fact that we are saved by faith coupled with grace. These two are shown to be key ingredients of salvation in Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by faith are you saved, by grace, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Paul is very clear here that works do not save a person. When I say save a person, I mean the initial acceptance of Jesus Christs atonement for our sin on the cross. This act of Christ saves us from our sin, and accepting His resurrection in our place gives us the eternal life and heavenly home that Jesus talks about. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, we can do to earn these two things. They have been bought and paid for by Jesus. If this is not true, then he shed His blood in vain. If we can buy our way into heaven by our actions, then Christ did not have to die. The Catholic priests in Luther’s day were taking money, called indulgences, from people and telling them that this money would absolve them from their sins to an extent. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is Christ’s blood, and only Christ’s blood, that can absolve sin.
Today, we have many. Many denominations of Protestants, and this was surely not Luther’s intent. I think he saw one protestant church, separate from the Catholic church. Through the years, men have come up with various translations, interpretations and modern versions of the Bible and this has muddied the waters on a grand scale. I can see why the Catholic Church looks on Protestantism with skepticism. Some believe you must be baptized to be saved, others believe you must speak in tongues, others wear strict dress codes, others allow near-nakedness. Some say abortion is OK, LGBTQ can be behind the pulpit, you can live anyway you want to after accepting Christ, and so on. There are so many “itching ear” doctrines out there it is sad. I truly believe this is why the moral compass in our societies has declined. The church is divided on all moral issues, and our opposition stands united behind their cause. As long as this is true, morality will continue to slip farther and farther away from a Biblical basis. They will turn away from the truth and turn to fables.
Here is the simple truth I believe we must all stand behind. I don’t want to complicate things with the doctrines that are out there. I just go by the words of Jesus and Paul, if that’s OK. Jesus says if a man is born of water and spirit, or born from above, he shall be born again. Jesus said He is the way. There is no other way to the Father but by Him. That whosever believes in Him shall have eternal life. Paul backs this up in Eph 2:8-9 and Romans 10:9-10, 13. That is what we call getting saved or born again. This is when we enter into His salvation. But that is not where our journey ends. Jesus tells us that many will call Him Lord, but only those who do the will of the Father will enter into heaven (Matthew 7:21), and Paul reiterates this when he says that we all must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). This tells us that we must stay in the Word and do what Christ commands or we could lose that heavenly home.
To me, that is the simple truth. We have made it way to complicated. Paul explains in the end of 1 Corinthians chapter 1 that God uses the seeming foolishness of preaching to confound the wise. It becomes a stumbling block to the Jews because they think they have to obey the law. It is foolishness to the Greeks because they are high thinkers and doers. But God has used this simple message down through the corridors of time to change the heart of man, so that no man may glory except in the Lord.
Examine where you re today. Are you in a place that requires certain other things to be saved, or that preaches pretty words to keep you happy, or that says God must do one thing or another? All of these things, and many more, are there to appeal to itching eras, to draw you into a place of comfort that is not necessarily a place of salvation. Be careful. Make sure your salvation is sure.