5 Distinguishing Characteristics of Ear-Tickling Preachers

Do you only listen to sermons that scratch your itching ears? (Flickr/Travis Isaacs)
Do you only listen to sermons that scratch your itching ears? (Flickr/Travis Isaacs)

Paul warned Timothy that 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” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

That warning proved true in Timothy’s day, and it has proved true many times since, especially today, when we have a multitude of ear-tickling preachers. How can we recognize them?

We know that deception is very deceiving and that no one is willingly duped. And we know that no one stands up and says, “What I’m teaching is false doctrine meant to deceive and destroy you!”

We also know that it is arrogant for any one of us to think that we alone have sound doctrine while everyone else is in error.

Yet Paul did not warn Timothy in vain, nor is he warning us in vain, and so we must ask ourselves what, exactly, are the distinguishing characteristics of ear-tickling preachers.

1. Ear-tickling preachers bypass self-denial and the cross. Jesus told His disciples that if anyone wanted to follow Him, they had to deny themselves and take up the cross (see Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; in Luke 9:23 He says we must take up our cross daily). And Paul taught that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).

Saying no to self and taking up the cross – meaning, giving up the claim to our own lives, dying to this sinful world and renouncing its claims – is a fundamental part of discipleship. Yet ear-tickling preachers will not talk about it.

The reason is obvious: It is not what our flesh wants to hear.

2. Ear-ticking preachers go light on sin. Throughout the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New Testament, including the Gospels, Acts, the Letters, and Revelation, there are warnings about the dangers of sin and calls to turn away from sin.

Of course, it is absolutely true that through the death and resurrection of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit we have been given victory over sin. And it is absolutely true that the message of grace, rightly understood, turns us away from sin (see Titus 2:11-14).

But that doesn’t mean that as leaders, we no longer need to warn our hearers about the deceitfulness of sin or urge them to vigilant against sin. To the contrary, because so much grace has been given to us, our responsibility before God is even greater (see Hebrew 2:1-4; 10:26-31; 12:25-29).

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SOURCE: Charisma News
Michael Brown

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