1I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For 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; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
When Paul talks about "itching ears", what does he mean?
He is referring to teachings that appeal to man's lusts. Yet the flesh lusts against the spirit (Galatians 5: 17), and the doctrine of grace, which makes nothing of man and everything of God, excites more upset than praise from many.
There is indeed a terrible movement afoot in the Body of Christ . . .
Members are going from one teacher to the next, one seminar after another, getting more knowledge, but coming no closer to the truth:
"Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge.
Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." (1 Corinthians 8: 1)
"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3: 7)
It's not about gaining knowledge, but rather meeting the Person of Jesus Christ:
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3: 18)
We need to receive more grace and a greater revelation of Jesus, who is made to us righteousness and redemption and wisdom (1 Corinthians 1: 30)
Teaching which appeals to "itching ears" has more to do with teaching that makes the most of man, rather than expounding Christ and Him Crucified:
"And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution?
then is the offence of the cross ceased." (Galatians 5: 11)
"The offense of the Cross" is not just whether Jesus really existed or not, or whether He died or not; but also whether the work was truly Finished at the Cross or not. Those who are offended by the Cross also refuse to rest on the Finished Work, but rather insist on adding something to it.
Hence, the "itching ears" of men who gladly receive the idea that "heaping teachers" in a show of knowledge makes them righteous or accepted, thus in truth precipitating a fall from grace and trust in oneself, instead.