The Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy 4 (1)
Pray Psalm 12.1, 2.
Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases!
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 4.1-3.
1. To what does Paul say departing from the faith can lead?
2. This passage begins with faith and ends with believe and know the truth. What’s the connection between these?
It’s very important that pastors and church leaders follow Paul’s teaching about the manner in which it is necessary to conduct the ministry of the local church (1 Tim. 3.15). The church is the pillar and ground of truth, but it always exists in times when spiritual forces are working against it, and the conscience of many is opposed to the truth of Jesus.
Paul’s mention of “latter times” refers to the times in which we live, the times when the Spirit of God has been poured out into the Church, and God’s Kingdom is advancing on earth as it is in heaven (cf. Mic. 4.1-8; Joel 2.28; Acts 2.14-17). So we should expect to see “some” departing from the faith of Christ and turning to all manner of demon-inspired false teachings (v. 1). Many of them will not renounce their faith; they’ll keep using the terminology and trappings of Christianity, but their doctrines will not be those which, grounded in the mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3.16), lead to sincere love (1 Tim. 1.5).
How does this happen? How do some pastors, teachers, and theologians – not to mention many other putative believers – turn from the truth that is in Jesus to teach doctrines which are designed more to create, by their rigor or peculiarity (v. 2), a following, rather than disciples of the Lord? Some of these will be honestly misled, and can be recovered by loving confrontation and teaching (cf. Gal. 2). Others are simply demonstrating that they never really had faith in Christ, and that they were only acting as if they did to gain a following or gratify some selfish interest (cf. 2 Pet. 2.1-22).
Such turning from the Lord begins in the conscience (v. 3), when someone doubts the Word of God, or thinks they can use God and His Word for their own purposes. This plays right into the hands of demons, who know every trick in the book to help wayward-leaning believers justify their views and conduct, and still believe they can bear the name of Jesus.
This is why it is so important that all believers, but especially pastors and teachers, stay grounded in the Word of truth. How can we expect to know false teaching, errant instruction, or deceitful doctrine if we don’t hold fast to Scripture, always going deeper and deeper in it, and growing more and more in the Lord?
1. What is the role of truth in the life of faith? How can we increase faith, so as to keep from being drawn away by false teaching?
2. What are some examples of lies that have been or are being spoken in the name of truth, even in the Name of Jesus? What makes these lies?
3. All lies are the work of demons, because they are in the employ of the father of lies (Jn. 8.44). Why should this motivate us to hate and expose all lies?
These are “the doctrines” of men and “of demons” that produce for itching ears of the spirit this world’s wisdom. This is what the Lord called “foolishness.”God “chose the foolish things of the world” to confound even philosophy itself. For philosophy is the material of the world’s wisdom, the rash interpreter of the nature and the providence (dispensations) of God. Tertullian (155-250), On Prescriptions against Heretics 7
Lord, I know I must go out into a world rife with lies today, so help me to stand firm for Jesus as I…
Pray Psalm 12.1, 2.
Pray that God will make you alert to the lies, flatteries, and deceptions that are everywhere circulating in our society. Ask Him to arm you with His truth, so that you might serve Him faithfully.
Sing Psalm 12.1, 2.
Psalm 12.1.2 (Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Help, Lord! The godly cease to be!
They who believe in Christ are few.
Falsely the wicked confidently
flatter, deceive, and mock Your truth.
T. M. Moore
Men, we encourage you to follow Paul’s exhortation and to join our Men’s Prayer Movement. Watch this brief video (click here), then download the brochure that accompanies it. Get started praying more consistently, and enlisting other men to pray, by ordering two copies of If Men Will Pray, a fuller exposition of 1 Timothy 2. 1-8, by clicking here.
If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).