“3For 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. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
Throughout First and Second Timothy false teachers and false teaching is a constantly reoccurring issue. Paul urged Timothy to Ephesus to command certain men not to teach false doctrines (I Timothy 1:3) men who desired to teach the law but lacked understanding (I Timothy 1:7). Paul warns Timothy of Hymenaeus and Alexander whom Paul handed over to Satan (I Timothy 1:19-20). Similar to the passage above Paul warns, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (I Timothy 4:1-2). False teachers know nothing (I Timothy 6:3-5). Paul exhorts, “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith” (I Timothy 6:20-21). False teachings spread quickly like gangrene and cancer (II Timothy 2:17). Paul warns of Hymenaeus and Philetus who have abandoned the Truth (II Timothy 2:17-18). False teachers perform the will of Satan (II Timothy 2:26). Paul warns that in the last days false teachers will arise and oppose the truth (II Timothy 3:1-9). False teachers and teachings will only increase and become worse over time (II Timothy 3:13). This all builds into Paul’s final exhortation of Timothy and this passage records Paul’s final warning of false teachers and teachings.
v.3 Paul does not specifically say that these false teachers arose within the church, however, speaking of a coming time “when people will not endure” means that at one point they did endure sound teaching, which means Paul is speaking of apostate church members. These individuals represent the seed, which landed on the rocky places and sprang up quickly but eventually died (Matthew 13:1-23). Paul is warning Timothy of a coming time when people will not endure, or tolerate, sound teaching. Because of this, “they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” This bears a striking resemblance to Hosea 4:8-9 where the priests are like the people and they are all insatiably seeking sin. They are just like the Athenians who waste all of their time hearing and teaching new things (Acts 17:21). Men are surrounding themselves with, and surrounding, false teachers who teach new and increasingly sensual teachings that promote their sinful desires.
v.4 They have willingly abandoned the truth, which causes them to turn aside to lies. This is the exact same sequence of events spoken of in Romans 1:18-25. When you abandon the truth the only thing left to hold is a lie; that is what Paul is describing by their actively choosing to abandon truth and their passively being turned aside to lies.
Here are two very simple ways to easily recognize false teaching. First, if it is new then it is false, Paul commanded Timothy saying, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (II timothy 2:2). There has and continues to be a long line of faithful men who have contended for the Truth and entrusted it to other faithful men. Second, if it suits man’s desires then it is false, man loves evil and not the Truth (John 3:19). Biblical teaching should stand in direct conflict with everything sinful man desires. False teaching is spreading like cancer throughout the modern church and nominal Christians are embracing these lies as Truth as they accumulate false teachers to promote their evil lusts. Those outside the church have never tolerated the Truth and the church itself is becoming increasingly intolerant of the Truth.