itchy ears

Posted: March 14th, 2011 | Filed under: life | Tags: , | 21 Comments »

…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, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” – 1 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV

I don’t understand the controversy surrounding the message of grace. It’s the best news I’ve heard in my life, but my eyes were opened to it when I was depraved. Is that what you must be to see the hope of grace?

Your understanding of light is relative to your understanding of dark. The worst thing a person can do is stand in the darkness while claiming and cursing the light simultaneously. It’s especially damaging when done with the language of those who understand the light because the ignorance is obvious. It’s the man who was scheduled for surgery, but shows up with a scalpel. Instead of being cut open and rebuilt, he wants to cut someone else.

Scripture is to be used to build up the faith, not dismantle it. Faith is built on the hope of the resurrection of Jesus. Anything that you can do in and of yourself to add to that is a subtraction to the absolute dependance on the only message that saves. Those who know this do not focus on religion. Religion is for those who don’t know that righteous and holy living are the effects of grace, not the license. Yet, you must be careful of the message that dismantles because those who live under the slavery of anything but Love will claim that they are empowered by God. …claiming and cursing light simultaneously.

For there are a lot of rebels out there, full of loose, confusing, and deceiving talk. Those who were brought up religious and ought to know better are the worst. They’ve got to be shut up. – Titus 1:10-11

‘The loose, confusing, and deceiving talk’ is the message that condemns others with no hope. The message that is confusing is the one that puts the responsibility for right-living on the person while still claiming that right-living is a gift from God. They talk out of both sides of their mouth, preaching salvation through faith to one group and slanderous judgment to another. Sin uses what is good as a mask to destroy people. The ‘good’ is God’s law, the destruction is evident when you face the impossibility of obeying it (Romans 7). That’s what sin does. It uses what is good to condemn. That’s what people do, they use the scriptures to cut others to pieces.

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. -2 Peter 1:3

Itchy ears want to hear the message that gives them an edge in a competition they should have no part in. Itchy ears are aching to hear a message that gives them hope in themselves and elevates them above those who they think are less moral. Itchy ears want to know how to live in assurance of salvation without having to rely on grace. Grace is viewed as weak.

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence. It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. – 1 Timothy 1:5-8

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully… 1 Timothy 1:5-8 ESV (Same passage, different translation.)

If you are not a slave to grace, then you are a slave to law (1 Timothy 1:9. Romans 6:14). You cannot be both. …claiming and cursing light simultaneously. Asserting religion while having no idea what they’re talking about.

Anyone who actually knows Jesus knows that righteousness comes by faith. Grace not only frees a person from their sin, but it transforms them into someone who does not want to sin. This is not something you have to do, it is something that is done. If the message of grace and love seem to be a departure from doctrine, to water it down, you must question what doctrine you are trying to hold on to. The resurrection of Jesus is the most powerful message that you can send. It’s the message that hopeless hearts and tormented spirits are dying to hear.

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. – 1 Timothy 6:3-5 ESV (emphasis mine)

People will try to dispute the motives of anyone who teaches that grace and love, the results produced by Jesus, are the only way to live. They will say that the message seems too inclusive and sets too many people free. That’s the point. The fear is that if people are free from condemnation, then there is nothing keeping them from repeating their sinful behavior. These are the people who have not experienced the transformation power of grace. They fight about terminology, cause divisions, assassinate characters, live in suspicion, and cause fights. People who thrive on debates are corrupt and stripped of Truth (see the above verse for how I came to this conclusion.)

Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. -1 Timothy 6:11-12

Bend your ears toward love. Listen for the message that brings salvation, not condemnation. Decide to know nothing but Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross.

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV



21 Comments on “itchy ears”

  1. 1 you know who said at 5:17 am on March 14th, 2011:

    This is so awesome! Is it ok if I copy a few of your latest posts to send to my dad? I would love for him to take the message of grace into his spirit. I think he is allowed to receive these things in jail.

  2. 2 Serena Woods said at 5:25 am on March 14th, 2011:

    Thanks! 🙂 Yes, please do pass this along.

  3. 3 Mama of 4 said at 5:42 am on March 14th, 2011:

    Maybe I am misunderstanding your posts. I am fully willing to accept that if I am. What I wonder about is the message of grace only seems to be applied to those who agree with you. Some of the messages don't feel full of grace and love, they feel condemning of other groups of Christians who may not have the same exact ideas as you. Are you being gracious to those other Christians who love Christ but perhaps have a different conviction than you? I personally believe that Christ is the center. Not grace. Not personal convictions.

    Shouldn't grace cover everyone? Preach grace and then condemn those who don't see it as you do? I am certain those other groups think they have it right too.

    If you preach grace and then don't give it and condemn other believers, you are also speaking out both sides of your mouth.

  4. 4 Stace said at 7:06 am on March 14th, 2011:

    Serena, thank you for this message. I'm not the best at remembering grace, but I'm working on it. I'm learning so much.

  5. 5 Rachel Nash said at 9:22 am on March 14th, 2011:

    Mom of 4: (what blessed Mama!) I think you have misunderstood what Serena is saying. What I take from it is that when someone preaches against grace, they condemn themselves. She doesn't have to. Also, she uses so many scriptures to support her message, it's not really *her* that is being disagreed with. It's challenging, but I do understand her goal is not to condemn but to teach through scrpture so that people can find and offer freedom.

    I hope that helped! Have a blessed day! 🙂

  6. 6 Serena Woods said at 10:42 am on March 14th, 2011:

    Thanks, ladies. 🙂

    Rachel you summed it up really well. "…when someone preaches against grace, they condemn themselves."

    Also, I like what Autumn says here: "If you don’t emphasize the transforming power of Christ and the work of sanctification that he PROMISES to complete for every believer then you “cheapen” the POWERFUL message of Grace!"

  7. 7 Michelle said at 9:58 am on March 14th, 2011:

    "Anyone who actually knows Jesus knows that righteousness comes by faith. Grace not only frees a person from their sin, but it transforms them into someone who does not want to sin. This is not something you have to do, it is something that is done."

  8. 8 Michelle said at 10:04 am on March 14th, 2011:

    Well, shoot.

    I think I hit the return button a bit too soon…

    I meant to say…

    I love these sentences to succinctly describe the work of faith in the believer. I thought I had to make myself righteous and that would prove my faith. But, no. I was still only trusting in me.

    I did need to see the depth of my depravity to understand I could do NOTHING to save myself.

    And now, He works in me to transform me into someone who does not want to sin. Although I do…the work of faith within and the gift of grace I've accepted, bring me to my knees in gratefulness to Him.

    I think that's called worship.

    Thank you, Serena. 🙂

  9. 9 Autumn said at 10:32 am on March 14th, 2011:

    I am curious where you draw your conclusions from? Do you seek any wisdom for interpreting scripture besides your own understanding?

    "Itching ears" refers to people who believe they can earn their Salvation? Hmm….I have never heard that interpretation before! Who would want to believe that THEY were responsible for making themselves righteous before God? Of course Grace is a free gift…which we do nothing to earn on our own….. But after the grace comes holy living…a dying to ones self, a forsaking of sin …..a MARKED change!

    Jesus said "Take up your CROSS and follow me"….doesn't sound like it will be easy!

    If you don't emphasize the transforming power of Christ and the work of sanctification that he PROMISES to complete for every believer then you "cheapen" the POWERFUL message of Grace! And it is being done everywhere…. …. People line up to hear that God loves all no matter what they do or how many times they mess up! They don't examine their hearts or lives under a microscope….why should they?? They will never be good enough…..WELL we are to examine ourselves for evidence of our faith….GOOD WORKS!

    It is so easy to blur the lines…..I fear that is what you and so many others with influential voices are doing!

  10. 10 Jess said at 12:07 pm on March 14th, 2011:

    "The fear is that if people are free from condemnation, then there is nothing keeping them from repeating their sinful behavior. These are the people who have not experienced the transformation power of grace. "

    Amen! I was one of those people. Grace transformed me!

    Thank you, Serena, for showing me that grace is even for me. You make it so easy to understand. Now I get to offer grace to others. REAL grace filled with assurance in hope and faith in God's transforming love and mercy.

    I love what Rachel said. That's what I got, too.

    Don't stop, you're making a difference!!

  11. 11 Stephanie Weaver said at 12:22 pm on March 14th, 2011:

    Michelle, I just have to echo your post. I understood grace when I understood my own depravity, too. My faith in my own righteousness made me a cinical critic of others. Then I saw my own "plank" and it was a crushing realization to see that all my efforts were not enough. I needed Jesus! I believe it! Serena, you are such a huge part of me having the strength to keep moving forward in faith because I know God will never give up on me.

    Autumn, God will never stop loving us. His love is relentless. No matter what.


  12. 12 Serena Woods said at 12:34 pm on March 14th, 2011:

    Michelle: Worship! yes. 🙂

    Jess: Thank you. 🙂

    Stephanie: That's awesome.

    "I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." – Romans 8:38-39

  13. 13 Juliet deWal said at 3:53 pm on March 14th, 2011:

    Thanks, again, Serena for sharing your thoughts and your heart.

    I have delighted in the fact that I could throw myself on the mercy of Jesus, and that he looked upon me with great tenderness and grace, and always will.

    I also delight in the fact that his holiness means that he is big enough to never, ever be blinded or manipulated into letting me away with things that were damaging to myself or others.

    What's that saying? Jesus loves me just as I am, but he loves me enough to not let me stay this way.

    There is good reason why Scripture warns us that we are not to sin so that grace may abound. Because we ought not think of God as a kindly old half-deaf grandpa who just wants us all to have fun while we do exactly what we know we shouldn't, and laugh in his face.

    He is a good parent, a holy God, who has paid a tremendous cost to restore us in relationship back to himself. I don't think anyone here takes that lightly.

    I can understand Mama of Four's concern that people whose experience of Christ's grace isn't the same as those of us who are able to share our stories of brokeness and failure/loss here. It's not our place to judge everyone for the actions of some.

    However, it isn't fair to suggest that the gospel of grace is anything BUT the gospel of Jesus.

    It's true—he whipped up things at the temple. He's come with a sword and he's come to defend the lost, the broken, the defenseless and the poor.

    The itching ears passage, both here, and in Ezekiel's day or Jeremiah's or even ours, is about people wanting to feel better. They want to be told "it's okay, it's not your fault".

    There is nothing in Serena's story that is her saying that or asking to hear it. In fact, my experience with her has been quite the opposite. She has claimed every single place where her failure was her own. She has claimed her sin. Her failure. Her brokenness. Her shame. Her selfishness.

    And then, with great relief and a thankfulness that led to being willing to do whatever he ever, ever called her to, Serena was met with the grace of Jesus as he said, "Okay, child, now let it go. It's mine now. I paid for it. Up you get, let's bandage you up and keep going."

    The Bible tells us that it's God's kindness that leads us to repentance. Out of that kindness (grace/mercy) we then come to love him and to seek to honour him.

    Not one of us can do that on our own. We need him even to help us want to stop sinning.

    That's what grace is about.

    For all of us.

    It's about recognizing that we all fall down and that when we do, Jesus is faithful to help us back up and to help us find what it is that trips us up (ourselves, our wounding, others, sin, selfishness) and then he, by his spirit, can clean us up. From the inside out.

    That goes not only for those of us "bad girls" who have had affairs or abortions or addictions (the great As of shocking sin) but those who are gossips. Those with anger issues. Those who judge and bully and hate. Those who are suspicious. Those who lie. Those who secretly hate.

    The list goes on.

    I, for one, am glad his grace covers my sin.

  14. 14 Juliet deWal said at 3:53 pm on March 14th, 2011:

    (Serena, you've got to put some sort of Juliet-editor on here to shut me up after 1000 characters!)

  15. 15 Serena Woods said at 4:09 pm on March 14th, 2011:

    "Serena was met with the grace of Jesus as he said, 'Okay, child, now let it go. It’s mine now. I paid for it. Up you get, let’s bandage you up and keep going.'"

    That made me cry.

    I'll add…

    "Go, be done with your sin. Tell them what you saw. Tell them about me. …Tell them my name."

    That's my life…

  16. 16 Juliet deWal said at 4:10 pm on March 14th, 2011:

    Amen, sister.


    (only we can be having conversations on blogs, facebook and message at once!)

  17. 17 Serena Woods said at 4:21 pm on March 14th, 2011:

    it's because we have MAC's. 😉

  18. 18 eileen said at 2:31 am on March 15th, 2011:

    Love that 1 Timothy verse! "Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith." -1 Timothy 6:11-12

    I spent years running in the wrong direction. When we discover the answer and the truth we just want to run for dear life away from the hopelessness we once pursued.

    Great post! Thank you.

  19. 19 Mrs. C said at 7:14 am on March 15th, 2011:

    It's because we have a mac's 😉 lov that, Miss Juliet deWal . the last part: That goes not only for us bad girls ………. written words that i have been trying to express with out sounding judgemental myself, or justifying my wrongs: reading this blog has help me get over many hurts: the part i am having trouble with is being able to share my story to tell of the thinks that happened without hurting others. i can talk about what i have done wrong but when i take about my childhood and the abuse it come of as a excuses, yet it is what molded me, we can only change what we understand! Enjoying reading thank you.

  20. 20 robyn said at 3:21 pm on March 15th, 2011:

    Someone has been praying for me and my situation…. prayer works…miracles happen even today… it is "felt."

    Thank you (((( hug ))))-

  21. 21 Juliet deWal said at 4:47 pm on March 15th, 2011:

    Mrs. C,

    I think that's what we all struggle with—finding the balance between taking responsibility for our own failures and sin, but also being honest about the fact that part of the equation very much IS that something deep inside, further tucked away than even we knew, was broken.

    Sharing our stories and being honest about what caused chinks in our armor isn't what we're often accused of—a blame game. It's about owning only what is legitimately ours and not carrying the weight of someone else's' sin.

    *written on a Mac

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