This verse today just grabbed me.
2 Timothy 4:3-5
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Paul is writing near the end of his life, seeking to pour every last ounce of wisdom into his disciple, almost an adopted son, Timothy. And near the end of his last letter, he warns him that people will actually seek out ‘teachers to suit their own passions’. We see this in every walk of life, not just spiritual. People stop listening to ‘sound teaching’ and common sense and start only responding to ‘teachers’ that reflect what they want. Afterall, if the person teaching is confirming what I already “know” to be true, then that just confirms that I was right. This is a powerful feeling and can be very dangerous.
I believe this is something that has driven more people out of the church than any one issue. They hear things that are challenging to “their own passions” and instead of seeking the truth, they run away. Then when they find other who teach things that “suit their own passions”, they latch on to that comfort. This new ‘teacher’ is confirming I’m right instead of challenging me.
When people find themselves falling into a worldly pattern, a lifestyle not accepted by their church, they have a choice. Either accept the “sound teaching” and face their own sin, or they run away from the church and seek teaching that will simply confirm that their lifestyle choices are acceptable. Probably the most common in our day and age right now is that of any form of homosexuality. Someone has temptations and urges that don’t fit the expected lifestyle of the church. Instead of holding fast to the truth that these are simple flesh temptations and seeking help in coping or dealing with that temptation, they latch on to this temptation as being “how they are just wired”.
They say things like, “If God made me this way, it must be OK”. Then they seek out other “teachers to suit their own passions”. This is then followed up by a belief that the church they just left was “judgmental” towards them and just wouldn’t accept them as Jesus does. This is such a horrific lie they have bought into, they have “wandered into the myths” that this ‘lifestyle’ is natural and acceptable.
We shouldn’t be surprised when this happens, as Paul warned Timothy almost 2000 years ago. It happens daily, then and now. So what do we do about it?
Love the sinner, hate the sin. Seek every opportunity to educate the person that their temptations are just that, Satan’s attempt to distract them from the truth. Point out that their temptation is not any better or worse that other temptations. And acknowledge that having a personal relationship with Jesus does not mean that He will remove those temptations, they may be the ‘thorn in your side’ for the rest of your life. But Jesus DOES promise to give you the strength, through the Holy Spirit to fight those temptations. He also DOES forgive you when you fall to those temptations. However He DOES NOT say, that’s OK, go ahead and live that lifestyle, accept the temptations as normal and continue to sin.
For anyone dealing with such temptations, please know that yes, Jesus DOES still love you and always will. However He expects you to turn TOWARDS Him and not towards the sin. Continue to seek Him and call out to Him for strength.