For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires.
I. THE REASON OF THE APOSTASY. "For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine."
1. The gospel doctrine is sound, because it necessitates a holy life, and holds the gratification of sinful passions to be inconsistent with the hopes of salvation.
2. Evil men cannot endure it, because it is so opposed to the corruption of human nature, and therefore treat it with neglect, if not with contempt.
3. The apostle foresees the growth of evil in the Church, and therefore seeks to prepare ministers to war against it.
II. THE EFFECT OF THIS MORAL DISGUST AT THE GOSPEL. "But, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts."
1. They will not discard the ministry absolutely. They will only exchange one class of ministers for another. But they will vastly multiply the number of their religious guides.
2. The itch for novelty led to the multiplication of teachers. They were fickle, unsettled, and uneasy. They wanted to hear new things or smooth things, such as would reflect the caprices of a corrupt nature.
3. The reason for the whole rabble of teachers that they gathered to themselves is to be found in their wish to have their fancies gratified - "after their own lusts." They wanted indulgent guides, who would flatter the pride of human nature, and not lay too great a stress upon the importance of a holy life. The sound doctrine was necessarily allied to a pure morality.
III. THE RETRIBUTION THAT AWAITS ON SUCH A PERVERSION OF JUDGMENT. "And will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables."
1. It is a solemn fact in Divine providence, that when men do not like to return to the knowledge of the truth, God gives them up to a reprobate mind, so that they lose all relish for sound doctrine.
2. It is an equally solemn fact that, if the truth is repudiated, the heart will not therefore cease to exercise itself about religious concerns. The heart cannot long remain empty. Fables rush in to occupy the place which denies a footing to truth, just as infidelity has a vacuum-creating power, which superstition immediately rushes in to fill up. What a waste of soul! - profitless fables taken in exchange for soul-saving truth! - T.C.
They will not endure sound doctrine.
(J. G. Butler, D. D.)
(J. Trapp.)1. The grounds of their apostasy — viz., their hatred of the truth; they will not endure sound doctrine; they will reject it and cast it behind their backs; they hate and abhor it. They look upon it as a grievous burden, as Israel did upon the doctrine and visions of the prophets (Jeremiah 13:34, 36). It is not so much they cannot, but they will not endure sound doctrine; they love their lusts above the law, and therefore they hate him that reproves in the gates. Errors they can tolerate, and superstition they can tolerate, but the truth they cannot hear.
2. A second ground of their apostasy is their delight in false teachers; they so dote on them, that one or two will not content them, they must have heaps of them. They love their lusts, and therefore they seek out for such teachers as may not disquiet them. They wittingly and willingly suffer themselves to be deluded by them. The word signifies —(1) An earnest desire of getting such teachers.(2) It notes an indiscreet and confused gathering together of such a multitude of teachers without wit or reason, without any respect either to their life or learning, head nor tail. The disciples create their doctors, the lusts of their followers are their call.
3. A third cause of their apostasy is that innate malice and inbred concupiscence which is in the hearts of men. But the word in the original is "lusts," which implies, not a simple desire or sudden motion, but a vehement, ardent, earnest desire and pursuit of a thing.
4. They have itching ears; this is another reason why they seek out for false teachers; they love not such as deal plainly and faithfully with them, they must have such as please their humours, tickle their fancies with novelties and curiosities, but they must in no wise touch their vices.
5. Here is the issue and consequences of their contempt of the truth — viz., the loss of truth, and following fables.This is the devil's method. First he stops the ear against sound doctrine, and then he opens it to error. Like a cruel thief, he draws the soul out of the right road into some wood, by-lane or corner, and there binds, robs, and rifles it.
1. God not only knoweth what men do at present, and what they have done, but what they will do in time to come. He tells Timothy here what will be done many years after he is dead and gone.
2. The more perfidious the world is, and the more false teachers abound, the more careful must Christ's ministers be to oppose them by preaching sound doctrine. The badness of the times approaching must make us to redeem the present season. The sun will not always shine; tempests will arise, and the night will come when no man can work. Those that reverence Moses to-day, to-morrow are murmuring against him (Exodus 14. ult., and Exodus 15:14).
3. Saving doctrine is sound doctrine.
4. Unsound persons cannot endure sound doc trine. It is salt which searcheth men's sores and puts them to pain. It is light which these sore eyes cannot endure, nor these thieves abide. They do evil, and therefore they hate the light (John 3:20). They do not only fear, but hate the light. They cannot endure to have the law preached, their consciences searched, nor their sins discovered. But as for sound men, they love sound doctrine; they desire it (Psalm 43:3). They come to it (John 3:21), and bless God for it (1 Samuel 25:32, 33).
5. In the last days there will be many false teachers. There will not be one or two, but there will be heaps of them, the world will swarm with them. Men will have variety of lusts, and those call for variety of teachers to uphold them. Good men, and especially good ministers, are rare, they are one of a thousand (Job 33:23), but wicked ones abound; there is much dross, but little gold; much chaff, but little wheat; many weeds, few good flowers. If the devil have any work to do, he wants no agents to effect it. If men once set open their doors, they shall not want deceivers. When men slight truth they shall have teachers which shall be God's executioners to bind them and blind them, and lead them into error.
6. Observe, as all other parts of man, so amongst the rest the ear hath its diseases. Salt is fitter for such than oil: though it be more searching, yet it is more sovereign. This itching disease was never so common as in our days. There is a sinful spiritual itch upon the soul which is sevenfold — viz., an itch of —
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (T. Hall, B. D.) (Preacher's Lantern.) (T. Watson.)
(2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (T. Hall, B. D.) (Preacher's Lantern.) (T. Watson.)
(3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (T. Hall, B. D.) (Preacher's Lantern.) (T. Watson.)
(T. Hall, B. D.) (Preacher's Lantern.) (T. Watson.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)