Our study today is in 1 Timothy, chapter 4. This text discusses individuals who turn away from the church and their faith in God. As we study this, we discover that those who are truly following Christ are not these people. True followers of Christ love Him and His Word with all of their hearts. People who depart from the church will have many reasons or excuses as to why they are not active in a church or in ministry. To love Christ and to live for Christ requires much more that just looking at people, situations and circumstances when interacting with others within the church. The message of the gospel and the teachings of Christ are of the utmost importance within the church. Everything else is secondary. The Word and the church are inseperable. This is difficult for some people to accept. Some people, in their own way of thinking, have difficulty with faith matters presented in Scripture. For example, the virgin birth of Christ, angels speaking to people, man (Peter) walking on water, or the resurrection of Christ (someone dead coming to life). The real issue is the ongoing development of your own faith and the understanding that God’s purpose in your life is for you to know the true value of His saving grace in your life. The obstacle to our obedience to the truth is Satan and those who are not following Christ. They try to prevent you from the greater understanding of Christ (Galatians 5:4-8; Galatians 1:7). It is ultimately the demonic influences that keep people out of Chirch and prevent us from knowing more about God and acquiring greater understanding. The bible does not directly address the reasons why people leave the church. It does address the influence that is far greater than just people making choices to go to church or to not go to church. The Holy Spirit brings us to Jesus and His church by faith. Satan and demonic influence wants to keep us away from Jesus, His church, and the faith. Paul, in 1 Timothy, declares that the Holy Spirit is making the declaration that some will depart from the faith (2 Peter 1:21). Peter was clear that he was not speaking on his own accord. The Spirit was speaking on its own accord and on its own authority (Deuteronomy 18:21-22; John 14:17). The Spirit of truth is speaking in 1 Timothy on what was taking place in the church at that time and as time progresses it will become even greater than in previous days. “Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared (1 Timothy 4:1-2).” Here, the word “faith” is not the same word as referenced in James 2:17. The word “faith” refers to the doctrine (teaching) of the church and Jesus Christ. People will make the choice to abandon the faith because they cannot or will not accept the true teaching. They are leaving the doctrine or teaching which forms the foundational basis on what a Christian believes. Scripture warns us to not be swept away in this manner. “Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception (Hebrews 3:12-13).”
Please note that some, not all, people will depart from the faith. The church wil remain intact in spite of those who walk away. The people who choose to abandon the faith allow themselves to be deceived, and choose not to be a workman of the Word (1 Timothy 2:15). They allow themselves to be taught by false teachers (1 Timothy 4:1-2). It is not the church, but its people that allow themselves to be corrupted.
Unfortunately, the church has a history of false teaching. Thankfully, there is good teaching taking place at the same time. Scripture accurately points this out.
1. Sowing of the tares as well as sowing good seed (Matthew 13:24)
2. Seducing spirits (1 Timothy 4:1)
3. Truth and error at the same time
4. God and Satan were both in the Garden of Eden
5. Good and evil are present at the same time (Romans 7:21)
6. The Old Testament reveals both godly and false prophets occur concurrently
Jesus warns us in Matthew 24:4 not to be deceived. To be deceived is to be tricked, and all of us are capable of being deceived by Satan and false prophets, hence the warning (Matthew 24:11). Satan is out to deceive those who already believe in Christ. He can render believers useless because of his deception and disrupt believers even within the church membership (Acts 20:29-30).
Those that will hold to the truth:
1. They are grounded and rooted in the faith.
2. They are not caught up with every new teaching (Ephesians 4:14).
3. They hear the Word and understand it (Matthew 13:23).
4. They are not deceived about marriage and food (1 Timothy 4:3-4).
Who will you choose to believe? Will you be the one that seeks truth and sound biblical teaching? Always ask if the teaching is God’s truth. God’s Word is written and provided to us for our good and for our benefit. Challenge yourself by claiming God’s Word as truth and have the faith that He will work through you and within you. His Word is a living and active Word.