Those who worship God in spirit and in truth have the inward witness to the scripture admonition that we are living in perilous times. Fear abounds in the lives of those around us, whether they are driving down a highway with us or sitting next to us in church. Fear generates from things that are not known or things that cannot be controlled. No one would dispute the fact that we are surrounded by terrors unknown and terrors that cannot be controlled. For this reason we are encouraged to not forsake coming together with fellow believers, to encourage each other in the faith. This means to speak the truth of God's word to one another. And when someone is being terrorized in their thoughts, to plant the peace of God through truth that will immediately set them free. This message today deals with an end time issue in the body of Christ. It is a warning that needs to be on the lips of every Christian leader ~ not to spread fear but rather to inform and establish peace in the hearts of those that God has entrusted to our care. To love people is to guard them. The way a mother hen spreads her wings to hide her baby chicks from threats and dangers. So too we in leadership need to be alert to the dangers of the day and rather than ignore them and tremble in fear ourselves, we must boldly and courageously face the facts and bring the good news of the gospel to our people. This is the protection and covering that we receive from our heavenly Father, through the blood that was shed for us on Calvary . We must relay the knowledge that comes from revelation to keep our people ~ God's people ~ from perishing.
II Timothy 4:3-5 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine..." This is Paul writing a letter to his understudy in the church, young Timothy. Timothy has been given an assignment by God and is placed under the mentoring of Paul. Paul is sending Timothy out to preach. When Paul writes "they", he is referring to the believers in the church. The "they" of yesterday remains the "they" of today. We must acknowledge that the tendency of many is to "not endure sound doctrine". Enduring sound doctrine is not automatic nor is it accomplished nonchalantly. The message here is that we as leaders are to protect or preserve the sound doctrine. Meaning to keep off something that threatens sound doctrine. To bear up against that which would take away from sound doctrine. And to hold out against any and all attempts to steal it.
What is sound doctrine? God's Word. The living Word as lived and taught by Jesus. The Word that was written from the beginning of time to the end of time. God's Word is truth and God's Word is to be honored for it's holiness. We cannot afford to be casual about the Word of God! We must personally "study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth." What is our assurance and guarantee that we are able to do this? It is the Holy Spirit Who comes along side of us, revealing the mysteries of the Word, leading and guiding us into all the truths therein. By the standard of God's Word alone, do we discern right from wrong. Even the 'still small voice' of God within our spirit must be held accountable to the written Word of God. God is ever faithful. He changes not. God is not changing His mind about that which He has previously taught. It is man and the spirit of the anti-christ (anti-anointing) that changes the sound doctrine of truth into fables. "...but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables." Distorting the truth with fables and their own desires. Making God's holy Word say what they want it to say and need it to say to satisfy their own lusts.
'Itching ears' is used metaphorically to show those who are eager to hear doctrine that is more comfortable and desirable to them, than to fight and walk in faith as taught in God's Word. Many soldiers today have laid down the weapons of their warfare and are having tea parties and balls, choosing to ignore the signs of the times and the call of the Spirit to be on guard. They are like the foolish virgins in the bible, who neglected their duties and the pleasures of waiting for the bridegroom, to indulge in waste of time, energy and resources. The only truth that will set us free comes only from the Word of God. By using the whole Word, from Genesis to Revelation we stay in balance and have the perfect standard by which to judge ourselves.
"Heaping up for themselves teachers ..." increased knowledge abounds today and we praise God for all that He is doing by His Spirit, to cleanse and clothe His church! But with the increase by the Spirit of God comes the perverted and distorted teachings from the enemy. Doctrines of men, doctrines of demons, doctrines of angels. We have been warned that the pure Word would be attacked by the adulterated, watered-down and counterfeit word. Bookstores today carry popular titles and authors that Christians eagerly embrace just because they ignorantly trust those who own the bookstores and truth the 'christian' publishers to protect them from deception. People surround themselves with books, teachings and teachers who support and encourage them to follow after their own desires. This is of course, the trend of the world and the popular philosophy of the day. "If it feels good, do it!" In the church it is religionized to "If it feels peaceful, do it!" Sometimes this is the only measure by which we can make decisions, but the emphasis of this message is to live a balanced life, free from the wishy-washy trends of popular doctrines.
Accountability in the church of God today is just as effective as when Paul wrote this letter to Timothy. Few people are confident enough to stand alone and most of us want accountability. Most people need others ... those who think, affirm and act like themselves. Even if it is wrong. Even if the flock they are following is headed in the wrong direction, most people will go along with the crowd. Peer pressure is not a teenage problem. Peer pressure is rampant in the adult church community. People believe what the Pastors' teach, they believe what the bible study Teacher says and believe what their friends say around the dinner table. This is why God calls His people "sheep". Sheep don't think for themselves- they follow. This is of course, the exact nature that God intends for us in following Jesus, our Shepherd. God wants us to trust Him in all decisions and to submit to His leadership and protection. But many people ignorantly think God wants this same nature used to follow the crowd even if the one they follow is truly a wolf dressed as a sheep and leading the entire herd away from the Shepherd. We must not be ignorant of this nature. This is how cults and sects are so successful. Whenever a sheep strays from the Shepherd (Jesus) and starts wandering with the flock, ignorant and careless of the hidden dangers, they put themselves in a position to be devoured by the wolf.
"But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." 'Watchful in all things' means literally that. Watch where the flock is headed. Watch who you are following. Don't follow someone who looks good, sounds good and is saying what you want to hear. Watch Jesus, watch His Word, watch the inward counsel that the Spirit of God inside of you is saying. 'Enduring afflictions' means to bear up under, to bear up courageously in, with patience and waiting. "Enduring hardship like a good soldier" is the message of God's Word. Denying the flesh and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and vigilant, for the devil goes about as a roaring lion, seeking those whom he may devour." Satan's number one disguise is as one who mingles with us. One who looks like us but is among us for one purpose alone - to destroy sound doctrine.
We need to protect the sound doctrine of God's Word as attentively as a secret serviceman protects the President; as fiercely as a guard protects the King; and diligently as a bodyguard protects his assignment. Don't go along with popular opinion. It does not matter if every church in your circle is having a popular guest speaker if that man or woman is not preaching and teaching sound doctrine, don't lead your fellow sheep to their watering hole! Take a stand for that which is right. Be watchful. Carefully guard that which God has entrusted to your care.
Go before Him and ask Him to reveal anything in your heart that is not sound doctrine and to purge it from you. Take the Word of God and judge yourself by it's standard. Hide it in your heart so you will never be accused of sinning against it and God.
And warn your people about the temptations they face. Warn them from these scriptures. To walk in the light and in truth causes darkness to flee. We have no fear in this life nor of the future when we are informed!
May you take these words to heart and meditate on them, searching the scriptures to judge the truths herein. Allowing the Holy Spirit to work truth in you, to the renewing of your mind. Rest for your soul. Have a light and easy week as you accomplish great things for His Kingdom!