I TIMOTHY 4:1-5: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Are we witnessing the great falling away from the faith? As we look at our world, do we see a greater demarcation between light and darkness, truth and lies, life, and death? As a culture, are we slowing being seduced by deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons?
Wow! This is some pretty heavy stuff! I would rather write a reflection on faith, joy, hope, and love. Yet, there is something to be said about reading the Bible through in its entirety. As you do, you are forced to deal with all the verses of Scripture, even the ones that one would prefer to skip. We live in a culture that likes to skip the difficult truths. This is one that we cannot skip!
One important thing to note in this section of Scripture is the opening words of Paul to Timothy. This is not an opinion piece by Paul. He writes – “Now the Spirit expressly says…”. These are the words of God spoken by the Spirit of God. They are not opinion. They are truth, and they are truths to be reckoned with. So let’s break down the opening verses.
- “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons…”
Ultimately there are only two voices in the world. There is the Spirit of God – and everything else. However, it becomes even more striking when we peel back the curtain to see who is behind the two. The first, the words of the Spirit, come from the God of all creation. The latter, everything else, ultimately comes from deceiving spirits and doctrines (teaching, positions, opinions) of demons. So, the first thing we must grasp is that, in life, we are either walking under the influence of the Holy Spirit – or the devil!
The warning by the Spirit is that the pull of deception will be so strong that many who name the name of Jesus Christ will depart from the faith. They will depart from words of sound doctrine. They will take positions and endorse teachings that run counter to the written and eternal Word of God. And, they will align themselves, knowingly or unknowingly, with the doctrines of demons. As we read the news and internet postings each day, we can clearly see that this is happening.
- “…speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”
The next warning is about how those who depart from the faith will act. They will speak lies in hypocrisy. The sad reality is that many will not even know they are speaking lies. They will speak in hypocrisy because what they now proclaim they cannot even follow. They proclaim tolerance, yet they show intolerance to anyone who disagrees with them. They proclaim freedom, yet they themselves are bound in brokenness and sin. They replace a call to inner transformation with a call to outward compliance. They focus on the externals and dismiss the call to true faith, hope, and love.
- “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
In all of this confusion, like Samson, they are bound and blind. Forsaking the way of truth, embracing the doctrines of demons, they proclaim life as they are led further into spiritual and emotional darkness. They forget that Jesus Christ came to set men free and to live life abundantly. The call of God to truth and moral purity is not the cord that binds us. Rather, they are the means to live in liberty. God’s Word comes to set us apart and escape the brokenness of sin, our old nature, and the power of death!
- “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” II Peter 1:2-4 NKJV
As I reflect on these verses I feel impelled to cry out – “Return to the Lord!” If you have found yourself drifting, if you have felt pulled by ideas and teachings that you know deep in your heart are wrong, if your joy has diminished and you feel your peace slipping away – “Return to the Lord!”
When you turn to the Lord, you will not find Him standing there in judgment. Rather, you will find Jesus with arms open wide, with a heart filled with forgiveness, and with grace to receive you and restore you. You are not destined to be part of the great falling away. You are a child of God! You are chosen, loved, and destined to become like Jesus Christ. His Word lives within you and you can be fully restored!
Dear one, I implore you – “Return to the Lord!”
In Jesus Name!