Study Notes

1Timothy 4:1-5


Chapter four begins with the word "but." What he is about to say is in contrast to what he has just said. What has he just said? He has just explained how people should conduct themselves. He has just said that the church is the pillar and support of the truth. He has just spoken the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

But now, he says, "but..."

4:1-2 Fall Away From The Faith

Christians should conduct themselves in a certain way. The church should be the pillar and support of the truth. The gospel is awesome. But, people are falling away from the faith.

The word translated "falling away" is used to describe a departure, a relocation from the place you were, a leaving. People who had faith can fall away from that faith into unbelief. The Scripture clearly warns,

Hebr. 3:12-15 Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is {still} called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end; while it is said, TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME."

There are people whose hearts are hardened into unbelief because of sin. Continual, habitual, unrepentant sin will harden your heart to the point of unbelief. As the writer says here, you are certainly a partaker of Christ IF you hold firm until the end. If you walk the Christian walk and live the Christian life for awhile, and then abandon it, you are not a partaker of Jesus Christ.

If you live in sin for so long that you find it is easier to stop believing in God rather than to live under conviction, you are not a partaker of Jesus Christ. You are not saved.

And while it is unfortunate, it is true that people leave the faith. They fall away.

How does this happen? As we said, it is caused by a sinful heart that hardens into unbelief. And one process by which that happens is people paying attention to deceitful spirits. It happens when people pay attention to doctrines of demons.

Deceitful Spirits

Make no mistake about it - there are demonic forces whose desire it is to cause you to believe a lie. Thus, they cook up all sorts of deceptions to lead you away from the truth of God.

Paul warned that deception could come through spiritual means. He said,

Gal. 1:8 But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

Angels can appear with different "gospels," and they do, for...

2Cor. 11:14 ...even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

The Mormon Church is founded on just such a different gospel. In the 1820's, Joseph Smith claimed that the angel Moroni directed him to the golden tablets, on which was written the Book of Mormon in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Of course, Joseph Smith couldn't read them, so Moroni was nice enough to provide him with some miraculous spectacles that enabled him to translate the plates into English.

There are other deceitful spirits at work today, proclaiming different gospels. The majority of people who claim to have been abducted by UFOs and communicated to by aliens are returning with surprisingly similar messages: not the technical specifications and scientific advances that we might expect from races with inter-planetary and inter-dimensional travel ability, but religious and philosophical dogma.

These extraterrestrials are giving one unified message: That what mankind has perceived as God is "not one being at all, but a combination of very powerful, extraterrestrial light-being energies." That we must realize our godhood. That all the religions of the world will become one. That the true god deserving our worship is our goddess, Mother Earth. That Jesus was simply an enlightened human that evolved into humanity's next step before others did, and thus we have misunderstood his teachings."

Yes, deceitful spirits are hard at work, deceiving the world into believing that they are not accountable to a creator God, that they do not need to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Doctrines Of Demons

Now, doctrines of demons infiltrate the church as well, in the form of false teachings. There are, of course, too many false teachings that have spread in today's church to even begin to address even a fraction of them. They come from all sides, in every area of Christianity.

1) Do people want to know how much sin they can get away with, yet still go to heaven? Here's a doctrine which says, "You don't have to worry about ceasing your sin - Jesus saved you by grace! All things are lawful! It's all forgiven!"

2) Do people want to prove their sincerity to God by living a holy life? Here's a doctrine which gives you rules and regulations. A Christianity of legalism that forbids anything fun. A stiff, dry, dead religion that is guaranteed to rob you of any joy you might receive from being saved.

3) Do people want to experience the thrill of the supernatural? Here's a doctrine that teaches you to live in fear of demons and spirits. Pray the right prayer to have victory, and don't leave any part of the incantation out!

4) Do people want to be able to explain everything that happens in this life very simply? Here's a doctrine which teaches that every good thing that happens to you is a reward for your great faith, and every bad thing that happens to you is because you didn't have enough faith.

5) Do people want to be excited, to relive the nonsensical playground behavior of their youth? Here's a doctrine which claims that when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, anything goes! Go crazy, and blame your erratic and psychotic behavior on the Lord!

I could spend the rest of our time this morning illustrating hundreds of these doctrines of demons. But the point is, demons have cooked up so many of these false doctrines that the only way to have a true, Biblical Christianity is to stick to the true Christianity taught in the Bible!

How are people drawn into the web of falling away? By PAYING ATTENTION to these deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. Let's instead pay attention to the Word of God, which teaches us the only true gospel.

Hypocrisy Of Liars

These things are propagated by hypocritical liars whose own consciences have been seared. The word "seared" is the Greek word, "kow-tay-ree-AD-zo," where we get our word "cauterized." Their inner voice that tells them right from wrong has been burned up by their hypocrisy.

The word hypocrite means "an actor, a pretender." Jesus called people hypocrites for doing the following:

- Claiming to be offering their money to God, when in reality they just wanted to be seen as giving.

- Claiming to be praying to God or fasting for God, when in reality they just wanted to be seen as spiritual.

- Claiming to help someone out of their sin, when in reality the sin that they had not repented of was much bigger.

- Claiming to be righteous, when they were wicked on the inside.

- Honoring God with their lips, when in reality, their hearts were far from Him.

Have you ever been hypocritical in your Christianity? Have you ever proclaimed one message while living another? While we may be fooling our coworkers, friends, and families, one thing is sure... We're burning up our consciences. And like a frog that is slowly boiled to death, we don't even realize what is happening to us. Day by day, our conscience is being burned alive by means of our hypocrisy.

4:3-5 Spiritual Dogmas

Now, hypocritical liars that are presenting doctrines of demons to the church always have spiritual-sounding dogma. There's always some new teaching that you must believe, some new practice that you must observe.

Paul uses two examples of this: forbidding marriage, and abstaining from foods.

Forbidding Marriage

It is widely believed even today, that a truly righteous person is unmarried. One woman in our church told me that her mother asked her, "Your pastor is married? How in the world can he be spiritual enough to teach the church if he's married?" True, Paul did acknowledge the advantages of being single, saying,

1Cor. 7:32-35 ...I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and {his interests} are divided. And the woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly, and {to secure} undistracted devotion to the Lord.

1Cor. 7:8-9 ...I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn.

To remain unmarried can be advantageous for those who want to be devoted to the Lord. But not everyone is cut out for that. Paul said, "I don't want to put a restraint on you. It's better to be married than to burn with lust all the time."

One day, some Pharisees came to Jesus and asked about the law regarding divorce. Jesus told them that God made a man and woman so that they became one flesh when they married. He talked about the hardness of men's hearts in divorcing their wives.

Matt. 19:9-12 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery." The disciples said to Him, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry." But He said to them, "Not all men {can} accept this statement, but {only} those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are {also} eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept {this,} let him accept {it."}

In other words, if you can manage in your singleness, praise God. But if you know you need to get married, then get married. There's no law of God saying that you must be single.

Abstaining From Foods

Another dogma that is frequently propagated under the guise of spirituality is in regard to food. Abstaining from certain foods is viewed by many to be the more holy thing to do.

One thing that has just recently gotten my goat is a billboard sponsored by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Emblazoned on the billboard is the statement, "Jesus was a vegetarian. Follow Him." Next to it is a portrait of Jesus with, instead of a glowing halo, a slice of orange!

Sorry, but Jesus was not a vegetarian, and was not opposed to people eating animals. A good example is to remember that Jesus oversaw at least two wildly successful fishing trips (Luke 5, John 21):

Luke 5:4-7 And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your bidding I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets {began} to break; and they signaled to their partners in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came, and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.

Sorry, but Jesus was not a card-carrying member of PETA.

But of course, there are many groups that have dietary laws under the guise of religion. There are several who believe that you must adhere to the Old Testament dietary laws. The book of Leviticus details many do's and dont's of eating. What animals were clean, and which were unclean.

Lev. 11:4 ‘Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these, among those which chew the cud, or among those which divide the hoof: the camel, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you.

Lev. 11:20-23 ‘All the winged insects that walk on {all} fours are detestable to you. Yet these you may eat among all the winged insects which walk on {all} fours: those which have above their feet jointed legs with which to jump on the earth. These of them you may eat: the locust in its kinds, and the devastating locust in its kinds, and the cricket in its kinds, and the grasshopper in its kinds. But all other winged insects which are four-footed are detestable to you.

Incidentally, both camels and winged insects were unclean, not to be eaten. Remember in Matthew 23, when Jesus was rebuking the Scribes and Pharisees, He said,

Matt. 23:24 "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

Those ultra-religious hypocrites, if a gnat flew into their mouth, would stick their finger down their throats, causing themselves to vomit, so as not to have ingested anything unclean. But Jesus was pointing out that they paid attention to the smallest, minutest details of the Law, while neglecting the most major and important principles of it - like love and mercy. So in effect, they would strain at a gnat, yet swallow a camel - one of the largest unclean animals.

The question has been debated, "Should we in the church be bound by those dietary laws today?" Jesus taught,

Mark 7:18-19 "...Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" ( {Thus He} declared all foods clean.)

Mark tells us that He declared all foods clean. Of course, we're a little dense, and need to be told things more than once. So, in the book of Acts,

Acts 10:9-16 ...Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry, and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he beheld the sky opened up, and a certain object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all {kinds of} four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, "Arise, Peter, kill and eat!" But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean." And again a voice {came} to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no {longer} consider unholy." And this happened three times; and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.

God has cleansed all things. We are not to be placed under the yoke of Old Testament dietary laws.

Received With Gratitude

The key to food is to receive it with gratitude. Do you give thanks to the Lord when you eat? Jesus did.

Mark 8:6 And He directed the multitude to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the multitude.

Paul did also.

Acts 27:35 And having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all; and he broke it and began to eat.

No one can condemn you for violating religious rules regarding food, if you give thanks to God, if you give Him the glory. Paul said,

1Cor. 10:30-31 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks? Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Whatever you eat for lunch this afternoon, whatever your plans are for the rest of your Sunday, no one can condemn you if you do it all to the glory of God!

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