Do You Have “Itching Ears?”

Originally published November 21, 2010. 

No, I’m not asking you if you have some sort of parasite in your ears, but do you have ears that “itch” to be affirmed in your sin? This was the warning that the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about what would take place in the Last Days (we are in the Last Days). Men would set up for themselves preachers that would affirm them in their sin instead of preaching the truth of the gospel showing the need for repentance from sin.

Here are the Apostle’s words:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Paul is telling us that men will turn away from the soundness and truth of the gospel.

I like what John Sartelle writes in Tabletalk Magazine about this:

“We live in an age when being politically correct is more important than being truthful. The college student engaged in casual sex wants to hear that promiscuity is a practice an understanding God condones. The materialist wants to hear a preacher tell him that his money is primarily for his pleasure. The homosexual wants a deity that will baptize and sanctify his sin. The student in her first year of college who has discovered she is eight weeks pregnant wants a Jesus who will recommend a doctor to deal with that inconvenience. We have the nature to create gods that will protect our pet sins. The alcoholic’s classic characteristic is to deny his addiction. That is symbolic of the characteristic we all have in our resistance to genuine confession of personal sin.”

“The sinner is faced with two options. He can submit to the authority of God’s Word, confess his sin, repent, and throw himself upon God’s grace. Or, he can change the message to commend his lifestyle so that the ‘sin’ actually becomes a virtue. If one chooses the latter, he must then find a church that will alter the message from God to fit the culture. Paul was warning Timothy that he would encounter people wanting him to be a preacher who would accommodate their passions. The phrase ‘itching ears’ graphically describes them. Their ears ‘itch’ to hear something pleasant — words that will soothe them in their cocoons of transgression rather than convict of wrong and warn of danger.”

This topic came up recently when I was discussing Joel Osteen. He is a classic example of those who give people what they want to hear. He even said he doesn’t want to deal with sin or the cross in its fullness on 60 Minutes. He said he leaves that to others. My question then: how are the 45,000 that listen to Osteen going to hear it if they spend all their time at his church? Who is going to tell them the truth of the gospel?

As a preacher, Osteen has a responsibility to preach the full counsel of God’s Word as well as sound doctrine. This is at the heart of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. This is why these books are called the “pastoral epistles.” They were written to young pastors who needed the advice from Paul on the importance of sound doctrine in ministry. If Osteen refuses to preach the gospel, then he needs to quit calling himself a Christian and just say he is a motivational speaker, for that truly what he is.

As for you, dear reader, do you sit week after week under men who only skirt around the truth of the gospel? Do they just use the Bible as a platform to jump off into their hobby horse topics? Do they truly confront real sin, not only pointing out the evilness of the world for we know that, but the evilness of their own hearts as well?

I hope not. We all need the gospel, every day for the rest of our lives. We are sinners even though we may be justified. We need the constant proclamation of God’s truth in our lives for us to remain or even come close to being healthy believers. We cannot get that where pulpits have been suplanted by men who only want to tickle our ears with a form of godliness but denying its power.

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3 thoughts on “Do You Have “Itching Ears?”

  1. Timothy, I enjoyed reading this! I think that most if not all Christians are saddened by the extreme examples of both liberalism and legalism in the modern church.

    “preach the full counsel of God’s Word as well as sound doctrine.”

    I believe this statement speaks to the need for balance between them…GBU Brother!

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  2. When I search for a church home, I look for the preacher who makes me squirm in my seat and feel guilty. If he won’t speak the truth that hurts, I have no use for him. Nor for the church he pastors.

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