The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness
Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
But the legacy of Balaam lives on. His sins are described by three different authors of the New Testament in three different ways:
2 Peter 2:15 speaks of the way of Balaam, that is, the way of the hireling prophet anxious to turn a buck.
Jude 11 speaks of the error of Balaam, that is, reasoning of natural morality being blind to the higher spiritual morality of God.
Revelation 2:14 speaks of the doctrine of Balaam, that is, the union of world and church, the teaching of following temptation to loose one's separation from God.
Paul talks about people having "itchy ears" in the last days. He means that people will seek and out follow those who teach and preach things the people want to hear, not the truths of the Bible. How much is the world today like this?
2 Timothy 4:2-4 (NKJV)
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Consider the same verses in a different translation:
2 Timothy 4:2-4 (NLT)
2 Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and follow strange myths.
They will follow strange myths and fables. They will make the Word of God the equivalent of myths and fables. Jesus did not feed 5,000 men supernaturally! Rather the young boy was not the only one with a lunch - he was just the only one unselfish enough to come forward. Once he offered his food, the rest were shamed into sharing their lunches as well. Or, a huge fish did not swallow Jonah it is just an allegory. Or, Jesus was not born of a virgin - or, there is no resurrection. Or, more subtle, the church will cause the world to become better and better and Christ will not truly physically return to earth - it will all be spiritual!
Each of these, in their own way, is the error of Balaam, a perversion of sound doctrine, created because men do not want to face the truth of Scripture. They desire God to become one with them, on their level! They place God in a box of their own making! They have itchy ears!