By Grant Phillips

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

“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 – NASB)

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 – NLT)

In order to clarify the meaning of these verses in the King James translation, I have also provided the same verses in two other translations. Please note that it is not the teachers with the itching ears, but the listeners.

Jesus says in John 12:48, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” People as a whole, are rejecting God’s Word today, just as Paul warned Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4. However, the same Word that they reject will judge them on judgment day. The sad and frightening thing is that many of those who claim to be Christians are among those who these verses are referring. These are those who Jesus spoke of in Mark 4:18-19 saying, “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” 

If I say the sun and moon do not exist. They are figments of our imagination. Does that make it so? Are they not still looking down upon us? If I say the Bible is just an old book with antiquated ideas and not appropriate for today, does that make it so? Of course not. Our Lord says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  The word “quick” in this passage means “alive”. The Holy Word of God, the Bible, in its entirety, is the living Word of God, directly from God Himself, regardless of what anyone says otherwise. You can discount it and criticize it all you want, but you will be judged by that very Word on judgment day. Also, your own words of denial will add to your downfall.

I believe that Christian laziness is the key to the Church having fallen asleep over the past many years. I’ll never forget hearing a new Christian, who was a deacon, speak once when I was a teenager, who took his message from a magazine article that he basically read to the congregation, stating that he did so because he had run out of material from the Bible. (Even at that young age I was reminded of 1 Timothy 3:6.) That has stayed with me all these years. Even as a teenager, who loved to study the Bible, I was astounded, thinking how could anyone run out of material from the Bible?! My conclusion at that time? … laziness. I knew better. Could this be why many have itching ears, drawing to themselves teachers who will tickle them under the chin, pat them on the back and kiss their little pink cheeks on the way out the door? I think so. Following Christ and doing what He wants of us takes work. Studying the Bible takes work. God does not look fondly upon laziness. Do a concordance search in your Bible and check it out.

Obeying our Lord’s commands takes faith (trust). To roll up your sleeves and get to work for Christ takes work and faith on our part. I believe some Christians think that when we get to Heaven, we will just sit around on the clouds and listen to the angels sing. Maybe we will just stroll leisurely down the golden streets holding hands while singing Kumbaya. Don’t hold your breath. Everything in the Bible shows me that we will be busy … working.

What on earth has gotten us to this point? I know I’m hard on preachers, so here I go again. Could it have something to do with the sugar-coated “sermons” coming from the pulpits? Yes, we have fulfilled 2 Timothy 4:3-4. A good friend of mine used to call these “sermonettes for christianettes”. Most “sermons” coming from the pulpits anymore are all the same “let me make you feel good” dribble that our itching ears prefer. The only thing different about each one, is that a different title is used each time. Exegetical preaching is long gone, except in a very few rare instances. Gone are the great preachers and expositors of yesteryear.

I shudder to think how many people have been led to Hell from the pulpits of this country. Those who have been fed a lie (from the seminaries to the pulpits) are now teaching a lie. (Matthew 15:14) Worse yet, those who know the truth, are not conveying the truth, because they don’t want to offend anyone (or lose their job). Sin is no longer called sin. It isn’t even addressed. If the unbeliever does not know that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Romans 6:23), how are they going to know that they need salvation? How are they going to know that salvation only comes through Jesus Christ, the Son of God? (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

Let us not forgot those of us in the pews who say we are Christians. What are we doing for Christ? I have heard the following statement so many times, I’ve lost count, “that’s the preacher’s job”. It seems that far too many Christians think that if they do not pastor a church, or are not an evangelist, or a Bible teacher, then “that isn’t my job”, usually referring to witnessing to the lost about Jesus. How many times have I heard Christians ask the pastor to witness to their loved one? How many times have I heard Christians request prayer for a loved one who is lost? Then it is found out, when digging a little deeper, they haven’t taken the first step to witness to their loved ones themselves.

Our itching ears are building a house on sand. (Matthew 7:26) The voice of the Church has nearly been silenced because we prefer to listen to those who will tickle our itching ears. Yes, there are still those who faithfully keep pressing on toward the mark that Paul spoke of (Philippians 3:14), but they are becoming fewer each day. I have actually heard ministers say that they will not approach certain subjects because it would cause them problems within the church they pastor.

Laziness … cowardice … lack of faith in Christ … itching ears. No wonder there are so few who are willing. (Luke 18:8) No wonder there are so few who will stay the course (2 Timothy 4:7).

My intention is not to offend, but to give a wake up call. However, I can and must speak the truth. I ask the Lord’s guidance before each article, praying that each and every word I write is in God’s will, and being so will help some wounded soul come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and help a fellow brother and/or sister in Christ in their Christian need(s). Most responses I receive are very positive, but I have received a very few (so far) that are filled with anger, antagonism, ignorance, arrogance, and vileness. What amazes me about these very few is that they say anything at all. (I am not referring to those who may have a difference of opinion, and wish to address it in a Christ-like manner.) There are some people who I am vehemently against everything they stand for, but my approach is to just stay away and have nothing to do with them. Therefore, it only makes sense to me that these “very few” I mentioned earlier just want to fight (verbally). They obviously do not want to give up their sins. That certainly is not a Christ-like attitude, so therefore they must be from the other camp. Jesus tells His own that, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you”. (John 15:18) As the time is quickly approaching for Jesus to return, Satan seems to be throwing every weapon he can at the Church that Jesus bought and paid for on the cross and the empty grave. The hate and wretchedness that comes from some people is amazing. If you are not aware of it, read some of the “cons” under “The Most Active Pages”, “Interesting E-mail”. These people can vent their blasphemies by spewing their venom all they want, but God’s Word will not come back to Him void. (Isaiah 55:11).  Jesus called them “blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24). Our Lord also says in Proverbs 23:9, “Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.”

The itching ears of this Godless age are bringing from the shadows the evil that lurks within. The world’s philosophy (political correctness) has seeped into the churches. Instead of the Church going out witnessing to the world, the world has come into the church weakening its witness. We have made gods of our luxuries and have no desire to be inspired from the pulpits of our necessity to put God first in our lives. As the Ephesians, in the book of Revelation, we have lost our first love and replaced it with our own selfish desires.

Jesus said, “…to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) However, to do that, we would need to spend our money for Christ, spend our time for Christ, get off the couch, turn the television off, do without luxuries we don’t really need, and put others before ourselves. To follow Him, we would have to do this daily, taking up our cross and following Him that is. But that isn’t what we want to hear. We want to hear that we are okay doing just what we are doing …nothing. We don’t want to be too committed to Christ, we might be called a religious nut. However, Jesus said, “…No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) I don’t see many ploughs in the church gatherings today. Most church gatherings today are involved in entertainment, sports activities, studying books from apostate authors instead of God’s book (the Bible), and other feel-good activities. As seen in Romans 1:25 we have “…changed the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever…”  In Jeremiah 2:11, 13 God tells Israel, which applies to us too, that we have forsaken Him and gone after other gods.

I would like to provide the following quote, “Instead of believers coming together to fellowship around the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, without all the extraneous paraphernalia, and just to feed on His Word, we have too often turned our services into a carnival. The Word has been pushed aside into a secondary place. Instead, we have an hour and a half of preliminaries, with singing of silly choruses and empty spirituals, and joking and laughing and horseplay. Entertainment has taken the place of worship; singing and music instead of preaching; and then a fifteen-minute sermonette, highly spiced and sensational, in order to keep people awake after all of the wearying entertainment. And then we wonder at the worldliness and the shallowness of Christians today. We have substituted or added pickles, olives, radishes, and highly seasoned extras, and have relegated the Word of Life to a side dish, which few will touch.


The assembly of the saints should be first of all a time of worship and devotion and feeding and feasting upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and not a matter of shallow entertainment. It is a sad thing indeed when a Bible-teaching service or prayer meeting is attended by only a handful of worshipers, while a high-powered entertainer, a musical night, or moving pictures will draw packed houses. Instead of gathering around the person of Christ and feeding upon His Word, we are today regaled by cowboy stunts, ventriloquism, magic tricks, and western movies. Oh, for a return to the good old days when folks went to church not to be entertained and amused and tickled, but to worship the Lord, and to feed upon His Word, and prepare for service through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.” This quote is taken from a book written by M.R. DeHaan, M.D., called “The Tabernacle”. He wrote it 56 years ago. Sounds familiar doesn’t it, except that it is far worse today than 56 years ago? He is speaking of the Table of Showbread in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. The only thing on the Table of Showbread were twelve loaves of bread flavored with frankincense. The bread speaks of Christ, the living Bread (John 6:35, 48, 51), and the table represents the center of fellowship with Him. Nothing else is on the table, such as pickles, olives, radishes, and highly seasoned extras that Dr. DeHaan mentioned. Also, we should take note that the priests ate the bread standing up, just as Moses and the children of Israel did at the first Passover when preparing to leave Egypt. There were no chairs in the Tabernacle. This is a message to the Church that we should fellowship with Jesus Christ by eating the Bread of Life, being prepared for service and also ready to be delivered from captivity (the Rapture of the Church in our case).

The itching ears of the apostate church have brought us deeply into the Laodicean age. This church condones and even ordains homosexual leadership. It has made a farce out of real worship, thinking it is rich and holy, when it is actually poor and wretched. Every sin imaginable is winked at by this so-called church. God judged the people of Noah’s day, Sodom and Gomorrah, and other civilizations that went after other gods, which were no gods at all. You can bet that this country and this Laodicean church will be judged too, and probably sooner than we think.

My dear friends, if you are in a spiritual battle against God, you will lose. The last chapter has already been written. God is not like the soft court systems of today who will just give you a slap on the wrist and make an exception in your case. He means exactly what He says. Maybe you don’t want to hear it, but I pray your conscience is telling to you listen to Him … and you do so. Don’t let the sun go down without your having been reconciled to Him. Are you ready? Will you listen? Would you like to know where to get the truth? God is Truth, and He has everything we need to know compiled in a book we call the Bible. Don’t let a deceptive heart and itching ears dupe you into the greatest mistake you will ever make for all eternity.

I would like to close by addressing those, again, who speak from the pulpits. You need to burn your feel-good-prosperity gospel books along with your notes taken from the liberal professors in college and seminary, and ask the Lord’s forgiveness for the poison you have been handing out. Souls are going to Hell because of it, thinking all the time that they were “okay” with God. Christians have become fat and lazy because you have no spiritual backbone. Speak from the book that counts, the Bible, with every word soaked in prayer. Lastly, keep this verse in mind, “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.” (Ezekiel 33:6)


Grant Phillips