“For the time will come when people 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” (2 Timothy 4:3).

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Paul warned Timothy, “For the time will come when people 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” (2 Timothy 4:3). I wonder how much more depraved must the hearts of mankind grow for Paul’s warning to come to pass, because offense to sound doctrine was nothing new even then. “For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!’” (Isaiah 30:9-11). Some may suggest that the time foretold is already upon us.

“When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray” (Galatians 2:10-13). Originally named Simon, Cephas is more popularly known to us as Peter. I wonder how we might react to Paul’s opposition to Peter today. Would we not recognize the Holy Spirit working through Paul to restore Peter, or would we accuse Paul of judging or being intolerant? I wonder how we might react to Paul’s directions about immorality, among believers, in 1 Corinthians 5. Again, would we fail to recognize the Holy Spirit working to bring restoration and repentance to the man as well as to the Body of Christ at Corinth? Or would we knowingly, or even unknowingly, circle our wagons to conceal our own guilty consciences?

To what extent will rebellion multiply? To what extent will deception permeate? I shudder to think. Not only for our culture, but for myself as well. I’d at best be naive, and at worst be arrogant, to think I’m somehow immune; the Church is in Satan’s crosshairs. Consider Jesus’ warning, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22). Then Jesus goes on to say, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). I’m sure glad Jesus warned us ahead of time, so we wouldn’t be caught off guard when the bridegroom returns. Of course, Jesus’ words did lend to getting him killed, and his prophets tend to meet similar ends. Christians, we have much to pray about; let us take everything we thought we knew before the throne of glory.

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