1 TIMOTHY 4
The Apostasy (4:1-5)
Chapter 3 ended with Paul’s description of the church as the pillar of the truth. In Chapter 4, in contrast, Paul said that, in later times, some will leave the faith because they would devote themselves to false teaching. He was empthatic. He said “the Spirit expressly says” some will leave. Paul warned the church several times of false teachers causing people to fall away.
Later times (or last days) means all the time of the church age, not some time far in the future.
In Acts 20:29, he warned the overseers of this very church that from within the church would come men who twisted the truth and draw away disciples.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, he said Christ would not return until the rebellion occurred and the man of lawlessness is revealed.
Peter wrote that scoffers would come in the last days, following their sinful desires and doubting Christ’s return. Peter 3:3
Our Lord himself taught that weeds would grow up among the wheat. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, sowed by the devil into the world. Matthew 13:38. In Matthew 24:10-11, he said many will fall away and false teachers will come.
So we should not be surprised that people leave the truth. The Lord clearly reveals that it will happen.
Here Paul said they would leave the truth to devote themselves to the false teaching from deceitful spirits. It is demonically driven, just as Jesus said. Paul demonstrated the spiritual nature of the conflict by contrasting “the Spirit expressly says” with “the teachings of demons”. Although the battle is fought through human beings, the underlying battle is still between spiritual forces. Remember that in Ephesians 6:10, Paul said to put on the whole armor of God so that we maybe be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. He has distorted the truth all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Jesus called him the father of lies. John 8:44.
It is important that we stand for the truth. We must preach and teach the gospel. We must be faithful to the Bible. For, even among us, are those who would pervert the truth. Jesus said we must worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:24.
Paul gave two examples: (1) forbidding marriage and (2) forbidding certain foods. Both of these teachings have surfaced many times in church history.
You cannot despise marriage because God created it and everything he created is good. It is interesting how often Paul goes to the creation story for the foundation of his teaching.
Paul showed that some are called to be single. But they are exceptions. It does not mean that marriage is bad or to be avoided. Baptists have probably gone to the other extreme, often ostracizing single people in their churches.
Paul said no food was forbidden. God made all food, so it was good. He gave it to us. We should receive it with thanksgiving. Our food is made holy by the word of God and prayer. God’s word in Genesis 1 is that all he created is good. All food that is thankfully received is holy for us, not just certain foods. James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is o variation or shadow due to change.”
We are saved by grace through faith. We are preserved in the faith by God’s grace. He transforms us by his Spirit. This transformation is manifested by our works and behavior. For example, humility speaks of conversion, arrogance does not.
But the temptation often is to say I can prove I am holy by what I give up. This is asceticism. Monks gave up bathing. They ate only a little, maybe only bread and water. Paul said this is artificial piety, much like the Pharisee who broadcasted his fasting by painting his face white and looking unkempt as if he were really suffering. It becomes a life of work instead of a life of grace. If I give up enough stuff, God has to see that I am holy.
Paul says we may not condemn what God says is good. The Lord said this very thing to Peter in his vision in Acts 10. The Lord said “what God has made clean do not call common (or unclean)”.