"What the Spirit Says"
The Spirit of God told Paul, who told Timothy, about what the future holds. When would these things happen? Are we living in those times now?
The Spirit Says
(1 Tim. 4:1-5)
A. I am amazed at advertising. One advertisement states that their food is made with real ingredients. Now, I have always assumed that if I am putting it into my mouth that I am putting real ingredients in there. I wasn’t picking up an apple from the grocery store and expecting to bite into plastic. Now, I know that is not there point.
B. Their point is that in other foods there are processed ingredients and even imitation ingredients that look like the real thing. Every knows about “imitation crab meat.” The thing is, it looks like real crab meat, and is made to taste similar to real crab meat, but the truth is, it is NOT real crab meat! It is imitation, don’t think you’re eating Alaskan King crab legs out of a bag that cost you $4.99.
C. Why the love of imitation? Why would someone even buy imitation? Because is cheaper than the real. Because it can look like, and to some degree taste like, the real thing without the cost of the real thing.
I. The Spirit Express Says
A. As we continue to dig deeply into this letter from Paul to Timothy, we see the continual thought process. Paul has just told Timothy how the church is the pillar and foundation of truth and sang this song of praise concerning Jesus, and immediately we get these verses about what the Spirit expressly is saying. The very first word of verse one connects the thought of what he was just saying concerning the church and truth to what is about to take place.
B. While the NIV doesn’t translate the connecting word, the idea is that of contrast. As the church is the pillar of truth there are some, the Spirit tells us, that are going to spread that which is false.
C. The Spirit expressly says. It is a phrase used no other time in the NT. What Paul is writing is not a matter of interpretation; it is expressly stated by the Holy Spirit.
II. A Falling Away
A. What is it that the Spirit so expressly is telling Paul? That in some later time (which could be months, years, decades, etc.) the church will see something counter to what it is seeing right now. Paul doesn’t use the idea of “end times” but simply “later times.” It could well have been, and probably was, even during Paul’s lifetime that the church would see this prophesy come true.
B. The Spirit says that some will “depart from the faith.” In the past we would simply transliterate this word “depart” and say in English “apostasies.” There is coming a time, the Spirit says, in which people who call themselves Christians will depart from the faith (meaning the doctrines of Christ) and will do so by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.
C. Keep this in the context of the letter. Paul is telling Timothy that the church must be the pillar of truth when it comes to Jesus, yet there is coming a time when the imitation of truth will be desired over real truth. These people, who depart, these apostates, have an agenda. It is not that they are sucked in to a false understanding; it is that they turn to falsehood willingly.
D. Let’s make this personal. You have to decide who you are going to listen to. The world today is filled with this “departure of the faith” that calls itself Christian. There are many who lead religious faiths that call themselves Christians that do so listening to something other than the Spirit of God and people are following them. Your very role within this church is to be so deeply engrained in truth that you recognize this apostate teaching for what it is. The higher burden put upon me as the preacher to teach and preach only truth may be greater; the burden of the elders to be able to stop the mouth of those who teach lies may be greater, but in the end YOU have to know truth well enough not fall away.
E. The NT is filled with this warning (see slide for passages). Matt. 7:15-16 and 24:4-5; 2 Thes. 2:3-9, 2 Tim. 3:1 all teach about false teacher and a falling away. You must dig deeply into God’s word so that you will not fall prey to this.
III. Their Teachings
A. Paul gives Timothy something to look out for, a type of teaching that is the imitation not the real faith of Christ. There are many who have tried to define this as the Gnostics of the first and second century, but that is far to limiting of an understanding. These false teachers, these fallen away people have given themselves over so far that they seared their own conscience. It is as though the Spirit of God was pulling at them, but they were giving themselves over to this deceitfulness and demons that they quenched the Spirit’s fire within.
B. Look at some of what these people would teach. Paul says two “good things” that God has done and shows that they were teaching them as evil. The first was that of marriage. God created Eve as helpmate for Adam, that the two would become one flesh, that they would deeply connect in a way that nothing in this world could ever do. God created marriage as something good, holy, and pure. These people were teaching that God’s design was wrong. They forbid marriage. The idea is that you are more holy as celibate and single. That it makes you a more righteous person, separating you from the cares of this world and others. It was a twisting of the teachings of God but it looks and sounds right.
C. The second revolved around food. What food, it doesn’t say. Were they using teaching from the OT, were they talking about foods sacrificed to idols of that day? We don’t know. What we know is that they took something that God made good and rejected it – what Paul is saying is that these people were rejecting God’s way and choosing another.
A. You have a choice. Right now you have decide to whom you will listen. The world is simply an imitation, a fake, something that might look good and even sound righteous, but the teaching is self-serving and counter to God’s word. You can follow that, but you won’t make it to heaven. It will destroy you. It will kill you spiritually.
B. Or you can give yourself over to the care and will of God; listening to the sound doctrine of Jesus given to us through the writers of the NT point us home and helping us to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. That choice is yours. The church is to be a pillar and foundation of the truth. If we can help you, encourage you, pray for you, lift you up before God so that you together we can journey home, then come as we stand and sing.