Something Worse Than Poison Ivy – II Tim. 4:3

Approximately 85 percent of Americans are allergic to poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, with 10 to 15% of those being severely allergic. Now I don’t know the exact numbers, but there’s a large percentage of Christians today that are infected with a problem much worse than poison ivy. It is an itching ear!!

I. The Diagnosis of Itching Ears

I love how Paul doesn’t beat around the bush about what their problem is.
They are diagnosed immediately with having “an itching ear”.
He doesn’t say they aren’t used to it.
He doesn’t say they haven’t been exposed to that kind of truth before.
He doesn’t blame the preacher, or the text, or the times, or the day and age in which they live; HE BLAMES THEM.
They have an itching ear!!

A. It becomes evident eventually – for the time will come (the time fluctuates)
It can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours for the rash from poison ivy to appear.
Just like poison ivy, it might take a while for the itching ear to become evident, but give it time. It will show up.
Just like poison ivy, the itch and the rash doesn’t happen where the poison was. It shows up much later.
If you get offended at the message, your itching ear didn’t just start itching. It has been a problem for a while!

B. Sound doctrine is something that is endured rather than enjoyed – vs. 3
Even Herod could endure the preaching of John the Baptist.
· Mark 6:20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
The Bible says he heard him gladly. That was in verse 20; he had him beheaded in verse 27.
A lot of people like their preacher until he nails their sin.
Many church members will brag on their pastor and commend their pastor as long as the preaching is not too personal.

C. Their own lusts becomes their standard for acceptable and unacceptable preaching
· Isaiah 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
Their lusts was their itch. It needed scratching.
Their lusts was what demanded attention and defined what they would and would not listen to.

D. They overcompensate to soothe the itch (heap to themselves teachers)

II. The Danger of Itching Ears

Itching ears is far more of a danger to a person than poison ivy.
1. Poison ivy affects the body; itching ears affects the spirit.
2. Poison ivy can only hurt you if you come in contact with it; itching ears can happen anywhere.
3. Poison ivy causes discomfort to you; your itching ears can hurt many people around you.
4. Poison ivy is temporary; itching ears can have a lifetime effect on you and your family.

III. The Deliverance from Itching Ears

A. Recognize the seriousness of the Judgment – vs. 1
This is a very real and motivating element.
This is one of the main issues that motivate men of God to preach; it should motivate us to listen!

B. Rekindle a respect for the Word of God
The preaching of God’s word will not always be warm and fuzzy.
God’s man is not commanded to make you feel better.
· Job 17:5 He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail.
· Proverbs 26:28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.

Look at verse 4 – they shall turn their ears away from the truth and shall be turned unto fables.

C. Resist the urge to allow your feelings to be your standard for truth (own lusts)
Our flesh is at enmity with God.
When we are wrong, our flesh wants to defend itself and make excuses.
When we are wrong, our flesh wants to defy God and His word.
Let God’s word reprove, rebuke and exhort us through the preaching!