Playing With Fire
When I was a kid, there was a moment when I had some Mike & Ike and Hot Tamales candies. The red ones are identical… except in taste. Mike & Ike’s are fruit flavored and Hot Tamales are cinnamon flavored. My father hates anything hot, including Hot Tamales. Knowing all of these details, you may be able to guess what I did as a kid. I attempted to deceive my father into eating Hot Tamales by giving him several of them and leading on that they were red Mike & Ike’s. I tried to make it sound like something that he would want, even if it was something that was not in his best interest. It did not work. However, I believe that principle of deception is running rampant in the religious world today.
Paul warned Timothy about it by saying,
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths”
2 Timothy 4.3-4
There are people who do not want to hear the truth. Often they simply want sounds pleasing to their ears. They will listen and partake in what sounds good to them without considering if it’s the truth or what is best for them.
Why would people listen to what tickles their ears and isn’t true? One reason is people do not want to be told they’re wrong. People do not want to change the way they are living. Another reason is people do not want to follow what is hard. Being a disciple of Christ is not easy. People try to make it easier by picking and choosing, or by practicing “Buffet-style Christianity.”
Why would people teach what tickles the listeners’ ears and isn’t true (or at least all the truth)? One reason is it is certainly a more popular message. The numbers of listeners will increase significantly. Often people do not want to hear about sin or hell; that doesn’t make it any less true or needed. Paul encourages Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4.2). Another reason is they might be deceived themselves. We have to ensure that we are not deceived, but clinging to the word of God. All of it!
Deceivers will package their message nicely and it will sound appealing. Unfortunately, many will accept gladly, not knowing the fire they are messing with. We must follow what is true and from God because that is what we need and that is how we can decipher what is error.