Twisted Gospel and Doctrines: 2 Timothy 4:3-5
“3) 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, 4) and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5) But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭4:3-5‬
Paul is staying with his theme from 2 Timothy 3:1 that “in the last days difficult times will come.” This has a prophetic tone. He is explaining why human civilization will deteriorate in the last days even though Christianity might become a major world religion.
In the days of the early church, the gospel came into Gentile culture as a new message. It was a message that God had an answer for human sin, despair and hopelessness. The response to Pauls message in Athens captures their intrigue with the gospel. He was proclaiming something new. It included a call to repentance. (See Acts 17:16-34)
By contrast, in the last days the Christian message would become common. In the latter days, they will not endure sound doctrine. It could better be translated “healthy doctrine.” The meaning is “that which brings health to the human soul and spirit.” Sanctification and personal holiness was the primary focus of the early Christian message. It included a call to repentance from sin and the need to crucify the flesh. (See Acts 26:19-20; Galatians 5:24)
But Paul saw a time coming when the Christian message would change from being “Christ centered” to being “Man centered.” The flesh would begin to itch for attention and affirmation. This fleshly void would be filled by liberal teachers who would invent new doctrines under the banner of Christianity which would embrace and endorse all sorts of carnal values.
This movement would love pleasure more than God and hold to a form of godliness, but deny its power. (2 Timothy 3:4-5) The true gospel that teaches that Jesus died for our sin and that we need to repentant and align our lives with the ways of God as defined in the Bible would be marginalized and obscured.
The concept of waking in the spirit, personal freedom from sin and a new life “in Christ” would be replaced by personal affirmation and an emphasis that God loves and accepts everyone. This twisted Christian message puts self on the throne in place of Jesus Christ and focuses on the flesh rather than the spirit.
This movement was already starting in Pauls day. There were already teachers who were turning the message of grace into a ticket for sinning with Gods approval. So what hope and recourse do we have?
This is where the context of 2 Timothy 4:1-5 is so crucial for our day. Two major things stand out. First, preach the uncompromising Word of God no matter the opposition. Second, embrace the pure gospel while doing the work of an evangelist.
Refuse to water down the gospel message. Explain that people are sinful and lost apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ and that salvation is accompanied by repentance and a new life in the Spirit.
It is amazing how many “religious Christians” get offended today when I say that people are sinners and lost and need to repent and trust in Jesus Christ to save them. They respond with something like; “Jesus loves, accepts and affirms all people just as they are, don’t be so judgmental.”
My response has become; “Go read John 3:16-21 in its full context. Your argument is not with me, it is with God. Make sure you get the gospel message right. Your eternal destiny depends on it!”
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global