April 10, 2015
This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.
When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.
Let’s start in verse one of the fourth chapter of First Timothy.
Some Will Depart from the Faith
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.
Even although Paul wrote this to Timothy nearly 2000 years ago, this letter is as relevant today as it was when the ink was still wet. I can’t switch on a computer (A lot of the news groups I subscribe to on Facebook and Twitter are Christian) without seeing some of what Paul mentions here, today!
Paul advises that “in later times some will depart from the faith,” much like we did in chapter three, lets break this down as Paul states in the verses…
1) Devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons – The people who are leaving will be deceived, much like Eve was in the Garden of Eden. They will follow their own way rather than God’s way.
Demons are very powerful and as we mentioned Eve was tripped up by someone who knew exactly what God said and knew that that person did not have their theology straight. The deceit will start with a very small percentage of a lie with a large portion of the truth (could be 99% true and 1% twisted) and that small dilution of what is pure will be enough to steer someone’s faith off course.
An example of this would be a tracker who is not using GPS and is reliant on basic navigational tools such as a compass. If he was set to go on a journey at 0 degrees North and misreads the compass and sets off at 1 degree North, when he travels 5 miles he will be far away from where he is seeking to go. That is how important that 1% is.
They will give themselves away from the faith of Jesus Christ and follow the teaching of demons. They will go from a backsliding state into a full rebellion of God. They will follow those who have already rebelled against God on that oft trodden path to an eternity without God. How tragic.
We have to be alert to not fall into the snare of false teaching. Doctrines that do not recognize Jesus as the messiah, doctrines that state that Jesus is not the messiah or that there are many ways to heaven. False religions, cults, and anything else that is a lie from the pit of hell, we cannot be involved in it!
Please take it from me, one who has left the faith and I am in the low percentage. I am one who came back after sampling the world! Once they leave the church and decide that the church has nothing for them and they decide not to believe the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ then they will continue to follow their own path. (I know I did for about a decade – for more information check out my “testimony” page)
2) Through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared – Paul tells it how it is, once they leave they will use the insincerity of their own lies to justify their new lifestyle. As the standards slip and they take a slow fade (some slower than others) into sin, they will embrace all manner of contortions in order to justify their actions.
In my case I tried to lead a double life, I lived the church life on a Sunday and even hung out with folks in the fellowship as occasion demanded. But my real self was living a party life and I reconciled that by keeping in with God on a Sunday. I tried to do a weird balancing act which simply was not doing anyone any favors.
Eventually I stopped reading the bible, threw out the theology and went my own way. As Paul states here when he speaks of the conscience, there would have been a time when I would have had a theological check that I was doing something in error, I had seared my conscience to a point that I had justified “my version of the truth” and was dead to feeling what the living word had to say to me.
Paul knew all about this, I bet that before Damascus he had justified in his own heart that what he was doing to the Christians was correct, the persecution, torture and death of these people that once his eyes had been opened, he realized how much he had grieved the LORD. He was also grateful for God’s mercy that he was counted able to be used.
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 – You will remember in a previous article I spoke on those who would try to convert the Gentiles into Jews by have them follow the Law in addition to their Christian faith, Paul touches on this as an example to Timothy here.
Paul always will maintain the truth, which it is the grace of God and not the rules we keep that will make us righteous with God. What the legalists forget is that their Savior when he was on this earth had most to say about the ones who thought they were holier than God. Here is the deal! We need God more than he needs us.
God will never owe us anything and we can’t work our way to “out holy” God. We will never be like the LDS church claims and be Gods. That lie is the very reason why Lucifer is no longer leading worship in the heavenly choir, he knew he was beautiful and wanted to be God.
V3b) that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth
The fact that they will depart does not mean that they will leave that assembly and go elsewhere. Paul is stating that they will depart and not return to any assembly, that they will depart from the faith and slide into apostasy. Many will meet on their own, some will not meet at all and it will be a rainbow of unbelief and false religion all stemming from that 1% lie. (See how dangerous this is?)
Unfriendly fire from the outside
Even although these people will not wish to be part of the assembly, this will not stop them commenting about things that still go on in the assembly that they wished not to be a part of. They will be the legalists, they will be the mockers. I know it sounds like I am talking about both groups in the same way, but I am mentioning two opposite ends of a spectrum based on people who leave. They will either leave to their own sins, or leave to pursue their own doctrine and their own version of religious extremism.
V4) 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.
Paul flips the last point made (Point # 3) around by giving the truth, that what we eat is not what makes us holy. It is the heart behind how we receive them. In modern day Christianity we say grace before every meal, but I challenge you, how grateful are you for that meal that was put down in front of you? Are you grateful for the clothes you wear, the roof over your head, the vehicle you drive and even the device you are reading this article on.
Please be careful that it does not get ritualistic a kind of “Dear Jesus, thanks for this food, please let it bless our bodies” (Let me cover all the holy bases before I say Amen) Jesus warns about this in Matthew 6, especially in verse 5 and 7…
Matthew 6:5 (ESV) “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Basically search your heart, talk to God, and tell him what’s on your heart and what you are grateful for. (Might get a bit awkward if you have guests over!) Paul states that the food is holy due to the word of God and prayer, so let’s bless the food. Don’t make a show and go too far the other way, but be grateful to God for all he has provided for us.
We have liberty in what we eat
We are told that nothing is to be rejected on the grounds of religious curtail, we are not limited by diet, God will see us no more righteous if we eat fish on a Friday or Steak pie! This is in line with Acts 10 which reads….
Acts 10:9 (ESV) The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
That is not to say that if we eat fast food 24/7 and drink soda instead of water that we won’t have health issues. God has given us license to make our own decisions regarding our food and drink but we also have a responsibility to ourselves to eat in a balanced fashion.
Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.