False Teachers & Itchy Ears
“¶ I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
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.
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
(2 Timothy 4:1–5 ESV)
“¶ But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
(2 Peter 2:1–3 ESV)
These two verses are the banners that the online discernment ministries fight under.
The question before the house this morning is… who are they really talking about?
I suggest we look at them more closely.
The commonalities between the two passages are:
1. The false teachers mentioned prey on the listeners passions and sensuality.
This is actually the major point as I see it…read the little book of Jude and you’ll see the same pattern.
Peter goes on in the same chapter to condemn those who “indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.”
(2 Peter 2:10 ESV)
The main characteristic of the false teachers we’re warned about is a sensual, carnal teaching that allows the listener to indulge their passions without conviction.
“They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.
They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin.”
(2 Peter 2:13–14 ESV)
“They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.””
(Jude 1:18 ESV)
2. They traffic in greed.
“They have hearts trained in greed.”
(2 Peter 2:14 ESV)
Follow the money…
3. They preach doctrines that deny Christ, explicitly or behaviorally.
“Though Christ may be denied in various ways, yet Peter, as I think, refers here to what is expressed by Jude, that is, when the grace of God is turned into lasciviousness; for Christ redeemed us, that he might have a people separated from all the pollutions of the world, and devoted to holiness and innocency. They, then, who throw off the bridle, and give themselves up to all kinds of licentiousness, are not unjustly said to deny Christ by whom they have been redeemed. Hence, that the doctrine of the gospel may remain whole and complete among us, let this be fixed in our minds, that we have been redeemed by Christ, that he may be the Lord of our life and of our death, and that our main object ought to be, to live to him and to die to him.”
John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries (Complete) (trans. John King; Accordance electronic ed. Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1847), n.p.
Obviously, I could write a very long exposition of these passages, but I think our point is clear.
None of these warnings point to people like Rick Warren, Leonard Sweet, Eugene Peterson or any other of the targets of the ODM’s.
Who do you think they are talking about?