2 Timothy 3:7
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
This is one of the features of the "perilous times" of the "last days." "Men shall be selfish." This lies at the root of all. Self enthroned where God ought to be — self pampered, to the neglect alike of duty and charity — this will explain anything in the longest and blackest list of vices. The text presents another characteristic of the perilous times. These selfish men, without natural affection, despisers of all that is good, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, yet tenacious of the form of that godliness of which they have utterly set at nought the power, shall exercise a strange empire, none the less, over the homes and over the lives and over the consciences of women. Professing themselves religious, calling themselves teachers of truth, they will insinuate themselves into houses, and captivate by their offers of an indulgent and accommodating Christianity, just those who need above all others a discipline of plain speaking — silly women laden with sins, led this way and that way by divers lusts. It is of these captives, these victims, of a debased and degenerate teaching, that the words of the text were written. There are those who, though they are ever learning, are never able to arrive at this sort of knowledge of truth. They are not careless hearers, they are not inattentive readers, they are not uninterested inquirers. If they were this, the wonder of the non-attainment would be at an end. But there is a wonder. The cry and the complaint is, "I am always learning. I never allow a new book, which promises light upon some part of the truth, to escape my notice. I am athirst for knowledge; I would give all I possess to be quite sure."
1. There is in some minds an impatience of process and progress, fatal of itself to safe and solid attainment. "By little and little" is the motto of the spiritual dealing, whether it be in the "putting out of enemies" or in the discovery of truth.
2. Another cause of disappointment lies in confusion of thought as to the nature of spiritual certainty. If God speaks, certainly He will give me proof of it; but a proof in the same region and in the like material with the thing to be proved; not an evidence of sight, touch, or smell, as to things which, by their very hypothesis, lie outside it, but an evidence appealing to conscience, heart, and soul, as He made each; satisfying the whole (not one part) of me, that the thing of which He gives me the information is beneficial, is wholesome, is good for me — and, because good, therefore also true.
3. A further error contributes, in many, to this defeat of knowing, and it is the want of instant action on the footing of the thing learned. Many men listen to a sermon without the slightest intention of doing any one single thing in consequence. A man has been interested in a treatise upon Prayer, upon Inspiration, upon the Atonement. He closes the book with a feeling of satisfaction — now he can give a reason for the hope that is in him. Yet he feels that he has not "come to the knowledge" of that truth. It is not a part of him. It does not enter into his thought, mind, and life. It does not influence him; it has not flowed into him — for that is influence; it will not flow out from him into any one else. Why is this? Because he has not acted upon the thing learned. He has not carried out the acquisition of the head into the heart, if that is its province; or into the conduct, if its region of operation is there. A man powerfully impressed with the reasonableness of prayer will instantly set himself to pray with a new stimulus and a new intensity. If he does not he may have "learned" — as St. Paul would have us distinguish — but he cannot be said to "know." A man who has received a new instruction on the subject of inspiration, forthwith opens his Bible, kneels on his knees with it, feels the breath of God in it all as he reads, and echoes each sentence of it in earnest prayer.
Parallel VersesKJV: Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.