Growing in Faith
Posted: October 30, 2021
Author: Kerry Lytle
2 Timothy 4:3-4, New King James Version
"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; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
We all know the dangers of a physical diet containing too many sweets: diabetes, obesity, heart disease, hyperactivity, anxiety, depression. We should equally recognize the dangers of having our spiritual stomachs filled with junk-food. Nevertheless, the enemy of our souls has entered into the pulpits of our day and is serving up a diet void of any nutritional spiritual value—and many are consuming it. The negative results of slipping away from proclaiming fundamental spiritual truths are already evident in our society. It is essential that we teach the whole counsel of God.
For too long, the church has been feeding believers a sugar-sweet message that tastes good but has no substance. Let's get back to preaching the cross of Christ.
I believe we are living in the last days which are also proving to be the most dangerous times, and a large number of believers are not equipped to face them. Why? Because the church is falling down on its job. The word coming from the pulpits is weakening rather than empowering God's people.
Think of the phrase “eye candy”. It describes what is attractive and pleasant to the sight- lots of lights, lots of spectacle, lots of fun. Appealing to the eyes. Additionally, I feel there is a trend of teaching that is coming from pulpits called “ear candy.” Just as Tootsie Rolls taste sweet to the lips, these gospel messages are sweet to the ears. The messages cause the hearers to feel good and want more, but they don't challenge them or cause them to grow. They have become the main course of our spiritual diets....but they don't sustain or strengthen.
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy warning him to do the things that will avoid the trend we are now seeing in the church:
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching. 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; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." (2 Timothy 4: 1-4)
You may remember the movie Mary Poppins and a song she sang with the line, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down". But today, in the spiritual sense, there is no medicine coming behind the ear candy. It just ends there. Many that speak and teach the Word of God are afraid to prescribe the spiritual medicine that was made available to us two thousand years ago. They see the disease but are afraid to properly treat it for fear of offending.
From God's perspective, the diagnosis and treatment have always been clear: sin is the disease and the blood of Jesus is the cure. Repentance is God's method for putting the two together. Plain and simple.....no sugar-coating.
Think about it; it's not a sweet message. For Jesus, it was a bitter cup. It wasn't sweet when the crown of thorns was pressed upon His head and blood spilled into His eyes. It wasn't sweet when they took a whip of leather holding pieces of glass or stone and shredded His back. It wasn't sweet when they blindfolded Him, slapped His face, and mocked who He was. It wasn't sweet when they placed a beam of wood on His shoulders and forced Him to carry His own cross. It wasn't sweet when He fell under the load.
It wasn't sweet when they laid His body on the cross and pierced His hands and feet with nails. It wasn't sweet when the cross dropped in the hole and ripped even further the flesh that had just been pierced. It wasn't sweet when He lifted His voice and said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” It wasn't sweet when He pierced the heavens with these words: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Unfortunately, many are attracted to the glossed over version of the Gospel story.
The “sound” doctrine Paul referred to in 2 Timothy is healthy, wholesome doctrine. He was not talking about sugar. He was talking about what encourages and contributes to the health of the soul. Paul said the time would come when some would not endure or put up with it. That time is now! Churches today are filled with people who seek instruction that is more in line with their lifestyles, their wishes, and their desires than with the good of their own souls. If it's uncomfortable or hard to digest, then it gets dismissed. But some of the best teaching is that which takes time to "chew on" and digest.
What's happening is that spiritual leaders are allowing the people to decide what to eat for their spiritual dinner. Rather than encouraging them to prepare some fresh bread from heaven and offering them a clean, cool cup of water from God's fountain, they are letting their desires determine the meals they serve. What parent would allow their children to decide the evening's menu? Their plates would be full of cookies, cake, and candy!
Most church-goers expect a fifty-minute service in which the sermon is barely twenty minutes long. They have a “religious itch” and the pastor will scratch it by saying, “You are fine. Everything is wonderful. Everything is Okay.” Then they will walk out feeling good about themselves. All the while, they are living in sin and thinking nothing of it. The people are never confronted—never challenged with a heart-to-heart, riveting message spoken in love that can change their lives. Rather, they receive some sugar-coated message that doesn't sustain.
There are hungry souls both inside and outside the church who need a fresh, sharp word from God. Let's stop giving them a soft, sweet substitute. No more sugar!