II Timothy 4:3-5 “Be watchful!”
We must be earnest at all times, because in every age there will people who “will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers” (v. 3). For some people it is their desires that drive their theology (Cf. I Tim. 1:10). “Some people have an endless fascination with everything but the truth” (NGSB p. 1922). Some are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (3:7). Furthermore, it has always been true that people will seek to entrench such aberrant doctrine by seeking majority rule. There are people in every age who will seek out teachers who will scratch the itch in their ears, and they will heap up for themselves teachers who will teach what they want to hear. Sometimes the lone voice, who is preaching the truth, often loses the democratic vote. However, the truth is never the truth because the majority says it is.
When one turns their ears to false teachers who address the itch of sinful motivations, they are also turning “their ears away from the truth” (v. 4a). There are not multiple versions of the truth. What those who are motivated by their desires seek are “fables” (v. 4b). In this context Paul wanted Timothy to “be watchful in all things” (v. 5). Every minister of the word, and indeed every Christian, needs to examine themselves that we are not simply seeking teachers who will support doctrine which is motivated by our own desires, instead of seeking the truth. Furthermore, these false teachers must be opposed, even if they are in the majority. We are to be watchful not just in some things, but “in all things.” Afflictions in this work, must be endured, because they will come. The work of an evangelist is a constant one, for there are always those who need to be converted. This is all part and parcel of fulfilling the pastoral ministry of the word.