Against a Tickling of Ears (cf 2 Tim. 3:1-9 re last days)
I listened to another famous preacher, today, per the recommendation of a friend. The man was very zealous about his particular end-times interpretations, and clearly believed most of the pastors/preachers in our generation are ignoring the signs of the times, and preaching only to “tickle the ears” of their listeners. Then he spent about half his show castigating one other preacher in particular for the way it appeared this other man was handling himself. By the end of the half hour program, I found myself frustrated, tempted to fear, and somewhat indignant as if I needed to defend this other preacher (with whom I don’t even particularly agree) against the onslaught, as none of this really directed the viewers’/listeners’ gaze to the face of Christ and the truth of the Gospel.
It seemed like so much more separatist junk – and yet, Christians ARE to be a separate people. Just had an excellent sermon delivered at my church, yesterday morning, on the “separateness” or “peculiarity” of what it means to be a holy people, characterized by the righteousness of Christ (how we hate even the garment stained by sin, and how we are a people of whom it is evident we are QUICK to repent, turn from sin and turn to God in Christ)…..
Then again, just cuz his appeals didn’t sit well with me doesn’t mean I can say he wasn’t anointed of God to preach this specific message. It was (to the best I could tell) biblically based – and perhaps the “purpose” of his passion was to address those who particularly AREN’T biblically based (and though I was so aware of a lack of anything winsome, here, I yet know there are MANY preachers who fall into a 2 Tim. 3 or Jude or 2 Peter [false/licentious teacher/prophet] type category). But what saddens me most is that this friend and relatively new Believer ONLY listens to this TV preacher, and isn’t part of a vibrant, Christ-filled community of believers, and he seems only to pick up on the most divisive and vitriolic, and not that which should otherwise fix our gaze and dependence on JESUS.
*sigh* ….So now what?
There is, I admit, a time for the seemingly “vitriolic” – The apostles, themselves, minced no words when it came to Gospel compromise! – and there is a time for being winsome….Shall I take my example from the Word? 🙂
Please read on ….
2 Timothy 3
Difficult Times Ahead
3 1-5 Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.
6-9 These are the kind of people who smooth-talk themselves into the homes of unstable and needy women and take advantage of them; women who, depressed by their sinfulness, take up with every new religious fad that calls itself “truth.” They get exploited every time and never really learn. These men are like those old Egyptian frauds Jannes and Jambres, who challenged Moses. They were rejects from the faith, twisted in their thinking, defying truth itself. But nothing will come of these latest impostors. Everyone will see through them, just as people saw through that Egyptian hoax.
2 Peter 2
Lying Religious Leaders
2 1-2 But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They’ll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They’ve put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can’t tell right from wrong.
2-3 They give the way of truth a bad name. They’re only out for themselves. They’ll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. They won’t, of course, get by with it. They’ll come to a bad end, for God has never just stood by and let that kind of thing go on.
Predators on the Prowl
10-11 God is especially incensed against these “teachers” who live by lust, addicted to a filthy existence. They despise interference from true authority, preferring to indulge in self-rule. Insolent egotists, they don’t hesitate to speak evil against the most splendid of creatures. Even angels, their superiors in every way, wouldn’t think of throwing their weight around like that, trying to slander others before God.
12-14 These people are nothing but brute beasts, born in the wild, predators on the prowl. In the very act of bringing down others with their ignorant blasphemies, they themselves will be brought down, losers in the end. Their evil will boomerang on them. They’re so despicable and addicted to pleasure that they indulge in wild parties, carousing in broad daylight. They’re obsessed with adultery, compulsive in sin, seducing every vulnerable soul they come upon. Their specialty is greed, and they’re experts at it. Dead souls!
15-16 They’ve left the main road and are directionless, having taken the way of Balaam, son of Beor, the prophet who turned profiteer, a connoisseur of evil. But Balaam was stopped in his wayward tracks: A dumb animal spoke in a human voice and prevented the prophet’s craziness.
17-19 There’s nothing to these people—they’re dried-up fountains, storm-scattered clouds, headed for a black hole in hell. They are loudmouths, full of hot air, but still they’re dangerous. Men and women who have recently escaped from a deviant life are most susceptible to their brand of seduction. They promise these newcomers freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, for if they’re addicted to corruption—and they are—they’re enslaved.
20-22 If they’ve escaped from the slum of sin by experiencing our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ, and then slid back into that same old life again, they’re worse than if they had never left. Better not to have started out on the straight road to God than to start out and then turn back, repudiating the experience and the holy command. They prove the point of the proverbs, “A dog goes back to its own vomit” and “A scrubbed-up pig heads for the mud.”
16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Maintain Your Life with God
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Glory to God
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you[f] from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior,[g] Who alone is wise,[h] Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power,[i] Both now and forever. Amen.