[Biblemat] A) TEACHERS AFTER THEIR OWN LUSTS
J5827Sasser at wmconnect.com
Fri Sep 2 07:16:29 CDT 2005
Brethren and Friends, Jim Sasser here. A very good Friday morn-
ing to each and everyone. May God bless you and yours. Here is
a study from my files:
TEACHERS AFTER THEIR OWN LUSTS
Controversy billowed upward along with the white smoke from
the Sistine Chapel signifying that Joseph Ratzinger of Germany
had been selected pope of the Catholic Church under the chosen
name of Benedict XVI. Along with this choice comes the concern
and the debade over whether the new leader will be conservative
or liberal -- terms that seem to frame most debates in political as
well as religious circles.
The label conservative generally applies to those who are intent
on "conserving" or "preserving" the status quo or the old order. The term
liberal usually denotes a progressive spirit that seeks
change into a newer order -- a departure from the existing norms.
Neither term of itself is definitive nor descriptive of truth. Truth must
always be measured against the backdrop of some standard,
and must be stated by specific positions or propositions.
A biblical conservative, for example, is intent on teaching and
defending Christianity as it is revealed in the Bible. This demands
an examination of Scripture to see what Jesus taught, what the
apostles revealed, what the first century church believed and prac-
ticed. Those who wish to take liberties with those positions and
propositions and update the Lord's teaching to satisfy cultural
change and meet the demands of modern society are accurately
This was not unheard of even in the days of the apostles. On
moral issues some believers sought to turn the grace of God in
lasciviousness to satisfy the demands of those who longed to fulfill
the lusts of the flesh and the lusts of the eyes. They either believ-
ed that grace would cover whatever they practiced of that defile-
ments of the body did not affect the eternal spirit (see Jude 4; Rom. 6:1,2).
The standard to determine right from wrong, truth from error in
the first century was the "sound doctrine" of the gospel -- the
"sound words" of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:10,11; 6:3). With that
understanding Timothy was sent to the church at Ephesus to "charge certain men not
to teach a different doctrine,"
(1 Tim. 1:3). He was commanded to "preach the word" in view of
a time when men would not "endure sound doctrine," but having
itching ears would "heap unto themselves teachers after their own
lusts" (2 Tim. 4:2,3).
Timothy was a "conservative" who was determined to preserve
and keep the faith that had once been delivered to the saints. His
goal was to rebuke and stop the mouths of liberals who sought to
go beyond the faith, make shipwreck of it, and turn aside unto fab-
les and questions that minister strife (1 Tim. 1:19,20; 2 Tim. 1:16-
18; Ti. 1:10,11). That is still the goal of faithful evangelists today.
Anyone who goes beyond the teaching of Christ hath not God (2
When "conservative" or "liberal" is used with reference to Cath-
olicism, the application is to either preserving or going beyond Cat-
holic doctrine -- not the gospel of Jesus Christ. The anomaly of it
is that there should be no such problem among them. The claim
the pope is the head of the Catholic church, that he is infallibly
guided by the Holy Spirit, and that he has the authority when speak-
ing ex cathedra (from the chair) to define matters of "faith and
morals" to be received by the whole church.
Why should there be an issue in the Catholic church over whet-
her women can be priests, whether Catholics can use birth control,
whether priests can marry, or whether abortion or homosexuality
is sinful? For the same reason apostasy occurred at the beginning
of the second century: parishioners are determined to find teach-
ers who will give them what they want to hear. Pope Benedict XVI
will soon find out that American Catholics are in no mood to be told
what they can and cannot do. They are determined to define the
beliefs of their church and stiff-necked about their rights. They are
willing to defy the very authority of the church -- the pope himself.
And what the pope will find is that if he meets these demands,
others will follow and new ones will be championed.
This, we believe, is in part a result of American culture. We are a
society that more and more demands rights and repudiates
duty. As Americans we are weak on principles: We cry out for
abortion on demand, freedom of press for pornographers and filth
purveyors, co-ed dormitories where teenagers openly live together
rights of homosexuals to display their perverted lifestyle publicly,
easy divorce that permits parents to walk off from family responsi-
bilities, legalizing drugs that destroy the lives and minds, murder of
old folks who are not longer deemed useful to society -- and who
knows what's next.
Somewhere in the scramble for rights and freedom, the idea of
authority and responsibility has been lost and fewer and fewer
Americans are inclined to search for them. What affected the church at
Ephesus and what is affecting Catholicism is also affect-
ing the Lord's church today: modern man is looking for teachers
and preachers who meet his demands.
The answer to the problem is exactly what Paul told Timothy:
"Preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, re-
buke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (2 Tim. 4:2). This
is what Ephesus needed, what Catholicism needs, and what the
Lord's church today needs. It won't end the search of hearers for
teachres after their own lusts, but it will preserve a few believers
who are determined to walk in truth. ----- L.A. Stauffer in Biblical
Insights, Vol. 5, No. 6, June, 2005.
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