The Signs of the Times: Lesson Four, Part II – Doctrinal Laxity

For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. II Timothy 4:3, 4

The signs of the times arc seen both within and without the church. In the unbelieving world lawlessness will finally lead to a complete collapse of the social structure. But within the church the signs will also be unmistakable.

Paul exhorts Timothy to preach the Word of God in all its fulness at every opportunity. He was still able to do so at that time. Every opportunity must be used to do it today because the time is coming when it will no longer be received. Then it will fall on deaf ears.

During the last days men will not endure sound doctrine. By this sound doctrine Paul means the healthy diet of the believing soul. That is the doctrine which the soul needs to live and grow. The days are coming when confessing Christians will not desire this doctrine because their souls are sick. They cannot stand this diet. Therefore, feed and nourish them while you can. Those who receive it now will be fortified against the epidemic when it makes its appearance.

At that time men will have itching ears. They themselves will determine what they wish to hear. They will desire to be entertained—even in worship! The whole man will not be involved any more. Just so preaching is pleasing to the senses. Here is the mark of superficiality. The mind must not be challenged; the heart must not be affected; only the senses must be “tickled.”

To obtain what they desire, they will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts. They will need many -they will accumulate teachers. Why? Because they will soon tire of each one. Timothy must preach the Word and he is capable of doing so and can go on doing so. But people soon tire of entertainers1 Popularity wanes. These so-called teachers must measure up to the standards set by those who desire to be entertained. Their own tastes choose the “teachers.”

When people cannot endure sound doctrine, they turn away from the truth because the sound doctrine is the truth. However, man has an inborn need for religion. How will this need be satisfied? They turn away from the truth and turn to…fables! There are plenty of these. The false teachers have always come with fables. This is false religion and the enemy of true religion.

These phenomena have been seen in the history of the church again and again. Sound doctrine was being neglected even in the later days of the Apostles. Think also of the time preceding the Reformation. Various other periods of history might be cited. Let no one say that our day is free from this evil!

This evil grows. It becomes more widespread. Certainly, there are still many who feed on the “strong meat” of Scripture, but their number is decreasing. Doctrinal purity does not have a “popular” appeal! In how far we have succumbed to the desire for religious entertainment is difficult to gauge.

Those who proclaim “fables” can claim more success, a larger number of followers than those who proclaim the “everlasting gospel.” The sects and cults are growing by leaps and bounds. What is their appeal? This: They still seek to satisfy man’s religious needs but they base their appeal on the doctrine of man’s innate goodness and dignity. No need of rebirth. No need of self-denial. N0 need of belonging to Another in body and soul for time and eternity.




1. Does “sound doctrine” mean deep, involved doctrinal truths? Can “sound doctrine” also be very practical?

2. What are some modern-day indications of “itching ears”? Is this already a problem in the Christian Reformed Church?

3. Do you think it would still be possible to have a doctrinal controversy in the Christian Reformed Church?

4. Why do people turn from the church to sects?