Cure for Itching Ears

Sermon for the Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost based on II Timothy 3:14-4:5

Dear people with ears to hear: Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Holy Spirit prophesied through the Apostle Paul saying, “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 into myths.”

That time has come. People do not endure sound teaching. Every excuse is made to ignore what the Bible says. They say that society is so different now, what the Bible says doesn’t apply any more today. They say that you can pick and choose what you want to believe from the Bible. They say that God forgives my sin so I can do whatever I want to do.

If they have a pastor who follows Scripture and says it does still apply today, they leave the church. If they have a pastor who says you cannot pick and choose what you like and dislike in the Bible, they go find a new pastor. If they have a pastor who says they cannot do whatever their sinful flesh wants to do, they go find someone who tells them what they want to hear.

This is what the Holy Spirit is talking about in saying “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 into myths.”

Whatever passion they pursue, they can find someone to say what their itching ears want to hear. Is their passion to pursue after wealth? Then they find a preacher who says God wants them to be rich and he’s going to give them lots of money. Is their passion to pursue sex outside of marriage? Then they find a preacher who tells them marriage was not instituted by God in Paradise but is rather a social construct that they can ignore as they like. Is their passion to pursue feminist desires of women teaching and exercising authority over men? Then they find a preacher who tells them that patriarchy is oppressive to women and God’s designed order of creation means nothing today.

The Bible meanwhile says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” Scripture cannot be profitable for teaching if it doesn’t apply any more today. Scripture cannot be profitable for reproof and correction if we’re supposed to follow society instead of God’s Word. Scripture cannot be profitable for training in righteousness if we can choose for ourselves what is right and what is wrong.

Contrary to what some might say, the Word of the Lord endures forever. Isaiah writes that the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord endures forever (Is. 40:8). Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matt 24:35) Jesus also says, “not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:18)

The Word of the Lord endures forever. It doesn’t change with the seasons or with the earthly kingdoms that rise and fall. It will not bend to the whims of society or the passions of man. God’s Word doesn’t change according to the passions and desires of man.

What God says is what goes, regardless of what anyone thinks of it. What does Scripture say of those who oppose God and His Word? What does Scripture say concerning those who think they can throw away God’s Word as if it is shackles from which they must free themselves? Scripture says, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them with His fury.” (Ps. 2:4-5)

It doesn’t matter how great the nations and the numbers of those who reject God’s Word. It doesn’t matter if all the nations of the earth rage and plot against God. It doesn’t matter if the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together to overthrow God’s Word. It will come to nothing it will not come to pass. They will be broken with a rod of iron and dashed into pieces like a potter’s vessel (Ps. 2:9). God’s Word will not be overthrown. God’s Word will endure forever.

The fact that God promises that His Word endures forever is actually of great comfort to you. It means that despite the changes in society, God’s promises to you stand fast. It means that despite others chasing what their itching ears want to hear, you hear the Word of God that gives you life.

Because the Word of the Lord endures forever, Christ’s death in your place still stands and will stand forever. Because the Word of the Lord endures forever, your Baptism does not wear out or lose its power, but it also stands forever. Because the Word of the Lord endures forever, He still gives us the true body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins because His institution of the Lord’s Supper still stands.

Only the Word of the Lord is able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Without God’s Word, you would not know of Jesus death for you. Whatever you can learn about God from creation, from your conscience, or through your thinking, the only place you can learn of God’s love for you in Christ Jesus our Lord is the Bible. There is no other place.

That is the primary reason why we treasure God’s precious Word. It is our only hope of salvation. It is the only way we know that the price of our sins has been paid and that we stand as forgiven saints because we are covered by the blood of the Lamb. It is the only way we know that we are adopted children of God through Baptism. It is the only way we know that we are joined in communion with Christ and all the saints of all time and all places as we celebrate the most holy of Suppers.

Sometimes God’s Word might feel like a knock upside the head when it cuts us deep by condemning our sinful passions. It may feel more like shackles than freedom. But God condemns our sins so that we would turn away from them and receive forgiveness. God condemns our sins so that He might rescue us from death and bring us to life. God condemns our sins which are the actual chains and shackles that try to hold us imprisoned.

The world can and does rebel against God. The people can follow their itching ears. But may God keep us in the faith so that we would not rebel against Him. May God strengthen our faith in His Word which endures forever. May God grant us faith to cling to the cross of Christ for mercy, that mercy which is promised us in His Word, which endures forever.

The Word of the Lord endures forever. That means that God’s promises to you endure forever. No matter what the world’s itching ears are listening to today, our ears hear that our sins are forgiven. No matter what the latest trending false teacher is saying, our eternal Saviour gives us His eternal promise of eternal life. No matter the clutter of things to listen to, our ears hear the eternal truth of God’s eternal Word. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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