1 Timothy 4:1-6 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,” When we, as North American Evangelicals, hear these words, our minds seem to want to go immediately into some kind of “Left Behind mode. We begin to look to some great falling away that will mark the coming of the Anti-Christ and signal the return of Jesus. However, as we take this passage in its proper context, we will see that to do so is to color the Apostle’s words with unwarranted modern contextualization based on some key phrases that are used (or abused) by the prophecy pundits.
Doctrines of Demons – AUDIO
The “latter times” that the Apostle speaks of is the “Church age” or the times from the Messiah to the end of the world. This is apparent from texts like, Acts 2:14-17, 23; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 1:1-2. We are now in the “latter times” or the “last days” or the “ends of the ages.” This is something that takes place in the Church and something that Timothy had to be aware of in the church at Ephesus that he was pastoring. We too need to be on the look out for this kind of departure from the faith in our own churches and in our own lives! To get a good idea of what he was dealing with see what Paul says next.
1 Timothy 4:3-5 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. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
It is a religion of external rules that God has not prescribed. It is legalism. It is a religion that says “look at me!” rather than “look to Christ!” The departure from the faith is really pretending to be (or even believing that you are) a Christian, while you are counting on your performance rather than on the righteousness of Christ credited to your account by faith. John Calvin put it this way in his commentary on the passage at hand, “All who assume a pretneded sanctimoniousness are led by the instigation of the devil; because God is never worshipped aright by outward ceremonies.”
This is vital to our faith because it is the nature of fallen human beings to play down our faults and pretend that we are better than we really are! When we do, we are not trusting Christ, but looking to self. Therefore, Paul encourages Timothy to the task of dealing with this in his own church:
1 Timothy 4:6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.
What about you? Is there room in your religion for the truth about who you are? or Do you feel the need to put on airs?
Is your satisfaction in your religion based on the list of things you do or don’t do? or Is it rooted in the grace of God in spite of your performance?
Any time our religion is a “look what I can do” religion, it is demonically driven.
Doctrines of Demons – AUDIO