1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
Last week we began looking at this awful truth that some will depart from the faith in the later days. It is sad but it is true. It is hard to hear but it should not surprise us when we see it happen, when we see people around us who decide to leave the faith for the pursuit of something else. We see examples of this happening in the New Testament and we see it happening still today.
Those who walk away from the faith are those who have never truly been saved. They know the truth, they understand the gospel, they are aware of their own sin, they have all the knowledge it takes to embrace Christ and to live for Him, but they have not ever truly, honestly received Him by faith, they have not truly embraced Him as Lord and Savior. They have always been on the sideline, but never in the game. They are those that Jesus described in the parable of the soils, like the seed that fell on rocky ground and sprung up but didn’t survive because they did not take root. They were not rooted. They have surface level things going on that make them look like believers, but they were not believers at all. So the question I left us with last time is this: “Are you rooted in Christ? Are you a true believer?”
How can we deal with that question, how do we know? Well, where are your desires? What do you want in life? Where are you devotions? What are you pursuing? Are you willing to suffer for Him? Where are your treasures? What do you love? Are you willing to give all? Does this describe you? This statement: “for me, to live is Christ.” With all the junk and chatter and distractions and sin and pain, and available pleasures, can you say, can I say, for me to live is Christ? Do you desire Him, do you want Him, is your devotion to Him, are you pursuing Him, will you suffer for Him, is your treasure Him, do you love Him, will you give all to Him? Is your life rooted in Him? Is your worship directed to Him?
If our answer to these things is, “Well, I go to church, I pray before I eat, and sometimes I read my Bible,” well those are not the questions that we need to answer. Yes those are good things and should be a part of the believer’s life, but they can also be a part of one’s life who is not rooted in Christ Jesus.
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
God, through His Word, goes deep in our lives. He does not just look at our deeds, no, He goes deeper, all the way to what cannot be seen. He goes to our thoughts and intentions, to the core of our being, which is said here to be our hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him. All is exposed to Him in our inner being.
True Christianity goes deep. It is not about what we do, it is about who we are. Do you see that? You may say, “Why are you pressing this? Are you accusing us of not being saved?” No, I am not accusing anyone, I just don’t want to look up one day and see that you are not here. Not just not here, but not in any body of believers, that you have left the faith. I don’t want your son or daughter to leave the faith, your mom or dad, your brother or sister, your friend. I don’t want to learn that you or any of them have walked away from the faith.
If you examine your life and find that you really do not belong to Him, then cry out to Him for salvation. Psalm 34 says He is near the broken-hearted. He is near those who know of their spiritual poverty and He hears them. He will hear you, He will hear your cry. If you need help understanding this more, understanding salvation through Christ, then ask someone here your questions – me, your Sunday school teacher, someone here, someone around you, any of us would love to talk with you.
Now, after Paul tells us that some will depart from the truth of the faith he begins describing some of the process of apostasy. He gives us insight into how this begins to happen in one’s life.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1)
Some of this departing will come as a result of a devotion not to God, not to Christ, not to God’s Word, but a devotion to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.
Well, that sounds bad. I mean who among us is going to follow deceitful spirits and demons? But God’s Word is clear that some will.
When Paul in Ephesians 6 talks about putting on, the necessity that we put on the armor of God, he tells us that we need to because of what? Because of the enemy. We need sufficient armor to face a terrible enemy. Who is the enemy?
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:11-12)
Our enemy is not even flesh and blood, but spirits and power, or as Paul says, “the schemes of the devil.” What are these schemes of the devil? Well, my favorite preacher, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, wrote an eight-volume commentary series on the book of Ephesians, and when he got to this verse, Ephesians 6:11 on the schemes of the devil, he spent, I think, one whole volume on just that. You‘d have to check me on this, but I think he preached for nearly one year on that one phrase, “the schemes of the devil.”
The devil is a schemer. He is crafty, he is relentless, and he is a liar. He cares not for your soul or mine, only for himself and wreaking havoc on all that he can. He is the enemy and his followers, demonic forces, are the enemy.
Now, I am not one to say that the devil is everywhere and necessarily involved with any one of us, but he is busy setting up false teaching that we may hear, false ideas that we might buy into. He is influencing people and institutions and so on. He is doing his work, and if we are not holding on to Christ and fully devoted to the truth of God’s Word then we can easily walk right into one of his schemes.
14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
This is so true. Satan doesn’t look bad and his servants don’t look bad. They are disguised as messengers of good, of righteousness. So how do we know the difference? Only through the Bible.
When sitting with a group of people, and someone asks a spiritual question, what happens? Everyone starts saying, “Well I believe this,” and another “I believe this or that.” Everyone gives an answer and the one who is the most persuasive is often the most believed. Maybe the most eloquent, maybe the best trained debater. Maybe the one with the most sophisticated vocabulary. This is not good. It doesn’t matter, really, what everyone’s opinion is. What does God say in His Word? This is how we don’t fall for what is false, no matter who is saying it.
The spirits of darkness are deceitful. This means to be led astray or to be seduced. These deceitful spirits will work in whomever they can to influence as many as they can. Do you know that they are all over the place? Do we go through life aware of that, careful with what we hear and believe, knowing that there is a realm out there that is trying to trip us up and lead us away from the faith? We need to be careful who we listen to, what we read, what we watch. Are we testing all this against the Word of God?
I am glad we have places in the Bible that show us this plainly. We have Genesis. We see Satan in the form of a serpent. We see there his cunning ability to deceive Eve and to influence her to sin. You and I, we don’t see serpents talking, we don’t hear serpents talking to us, but we hear people talking who are nonetheless influenced by Satan to speak lies and to lead astray.
Why do people fall into error and leave the faith? Because they are listening to what is not true. When we start hearing of all that will make us happy and fulfilled and joyful and give us peace and change our lives for the best and make us whole, then be very, very careful. If all of these things, all of these promises are discussed apart from the finished work of Christ and His life in us then be very, very careful. And we hear these things all the time. Don’t fall for what is false, don’t be taken down by a lie. Don’t believe all the promises of a fulfilled life apart from Christ. That may be the enemy talking, and he has one desire, and that is to destroy you and your faith.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:7-10)
The enemy has a goal, and it is to steal, kill, and destroy. And the enemy is discussed as a worker of righteousness. Again, all looks good, but it is not good, it is meant not for our good but for our harm. That is what the enemy does.
God has made a way for us to know the difference in truth and lies, and it is all, all that we need, it is here in His Word. That is why the Psalmist could say in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Apostasy begins by believing a lie. God is a God of truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
Are we believing what is true, are we committed to what is true, are we convinced that God has given us truth?
I pray that we will walk in God’s stated truths, in the power of His Spirit, until our time to go and be with Him forever in eternity!
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. (1 Timothy 4:1)