Have you ever met anyone in a church context who suffers from IE syndrome? I’m not sure they would have been diagnosed correctly, but 2 Timothy 4:3-4 would greatly assist in this process. I’m speaking of ‘itchy ear syndrome,’ a condition whereby the sufferers become intolerant of sound doctrine and opt to listen and respond only to those who ‘scratch’ where they itch, who adjust their teaching to make it more palatable.
“For the time will come when men 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. They will turn their ears way from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3,4)
Paul was one of the ‘foundation layers’ for the church. Ephesians 2:20 speaks of being built ‘on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with JESUS CHRIST as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 4 reminds us that ‘apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers” are Christ’s gifted leaders for the strengthening of His body the church.
As an apostle, Paul was led by the Spirit of God to set the boundaries of doctrine and practice for the church. There is only one true church, and though languages and cultures differ around the globe, all must follow precisely the pattern established by these Spirit selected apostolic leaders. Through their God-breathed writings, the OT and NT authors provide written direct instruction revealing various theological truths designed by God for our edification.
Here in 2 Timothy, Paul is warning Timothy of an impending shift among ‘professsed believers.’ A growing intolerance for ‘sound doctrine’ will be evident, and a growing tolerance for ‘unsound doctrine’ will prevail. Timothy as a teacher of truth may well be pushed to the margins while false teachers with their false doctrines occupy centre stage.
Are you watching the ‘trends’ in North America? What teaching is gaining in popularity? Having a book on the New York Times bestseller list does not guarantee the author promotes sound teaching. Some of the most useful books I’ve discovered are ‘hidden gems’ penned in obscurity by some of God’s choice servants. Perhaps IE syndrome is more widespread than we care to admit.
I am looking forward to my home church’s ‘sound doctrine’ series coming up soon. I wonder how many people will discover they are infected with IE syndrome, as they engage in these doctrinal sermons and studies. Turning away from the truth is a turning away from The Truth. Read John 14:6 where Jesus, in answer to a question by one of his early followers clearly declares, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”