1 & 2 Timothyby Robert M. Solomon
The ungodliness of the world can easily creep into the church. All that is needed are ungodly false teachers and ungodly listeners.
Paul was aware that false teachers who shared the ungodliness of the last days were worming their way into homes and winning over “gullible women” (2 Timothy 3:6; see Genesis 3:1–7). The false teachers knew the weak spots and vulnerabilities of these women, who were “loaded down with sins and [were] swayed by all kinds of evil desires” (2 Timothy 3:6).
False teaching cashes in on sinful desires such as pride, greed, and lust, being attractive to those who love their sins more than their salvation; it also looks for knowledge without seeking to know God (Genesis 3:5–6). False teachers love perpetual students for the financial rewards they bring. They keep teaching their students, who do not learn anything of value. These students are “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Such false worldly knowledge may promise to teach us about something but can never introduce us to the Someone (Jesus) we must know in order to be saved.
To ignorant and deceived people, false teachers may appear attractive and persuasive. Such was the case with the Egyptian magicians Jannes and Jambres, who were able to reproduce Moses’ miracle of turning a staff into a snake (Exodus 7:8–12). Such superficial success can lull people into deception. But when Aaron’s staff swallowed up those of the magicians’, the deception was clearly exposed. All deceptions will eventually be exposed. Therefore, Paul is confident that the folly of the false teachers (and their students) “will be clear to everyone” (2 Timothy 3:9). Their “depraved minds” (3:8) will be evident.
Today, false teachers and deceptive teachings can easily enter homes through the Internet and other mass media. The challenges for the church are enormous. Never has there been a greater need for the faithful teaching of God’s Word than in our modern day. It is so easy for Christians who are exposed to the many influences of the world, to fall into serious errors in belief and lifestyle. With the erosion of the authority of the pulpit and the profusion of false teachings, there is much need for fervent praying and faithful preaching.
Why is false teaching attractive to many people? What does it say about them and the false teachers? How can we know if a teaching is false?
In what ways is Satan worming his way into people’s hearts and homes today? What can the church do to counter this? What confidence can we have amid this struggle?