Series on I Timothy, IV Witness, A Apostasy Acknowledged, Text: 4:1-6, Title: The Cauterized Conscience.

Introduction

We learned in chapter one that Timothy had to command the false teachers in Ephesus to cease. Their fanciful speculations did not promote righteousness. Their meaningless conjectures merely entertained the curious. And, in addition, such neglect of sin, repentance, and ignoring personal moral responsibility, became a fertile seed bed for the development of further false teachings and practices. A failure to see that the goal of the law and the gospel was love for God opened the way to other heresies, among which was gnosticism. It is an ancient word, seemingly unimportant except for two reasons. First it played a big role in the early Church, and secondly its still here today. Although we don't call it gnosticism now. Timothy certainly had a daunting task before him, but so do we. The very things he was to oppose according to these verses are present today in one form or another. There is a devastating departure from the Christian faith. There are doctrines of demons abounding. Timothy's duty and ours are the same as Paul points out in verse 6. Let us consider then: the devastating departure from the faith in Paul's time, the doctrines of demons in our own time,  and the solution in a dedicated direction.

I The Devastating Departure

The Spirit is speaking clearly says Paul because this is a prediction in verses 1-3, The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. What does the Spirit say? The falsehood and errors already present in incipient form in the church will grow and develop. The source of this falsehood is demonic. Now people can make mistakes in what they believe and those mistakes can be corrected if there is humility. but when men zealously pursue a philosophy and a lifestyle that is clearly contrary to the Bible, you can be sure that its coming from the devil. I John 4:1-3 says, Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the anti-christ, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. The human agents of these demonic doctrines are called hypocritical liars. You remember that satan lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden saying she would be like God. This was an hypocritical lie and satan is the father of lies, but more important is the nature of that lie. God's commandment not to eat of the tree of knowledge was a moral commandment. It had to do with righteousness and life or sin and death, but satan's version is not moral but metaphysical, that is, satan says this command has nothing to do with morality. It has to do with being God instead of being man. The story has not changed. The myths, genealogies, and old wives tales of Paul's day, the prohibitions in this passage about marriage and diet, much of modern day liberalism, and the teaching of the new age all have one thing in common, they ignore the moral issue. They talk about knowing God without dealing with our sin. They teach that the knowledge of God can be attained apart from righteousness or holiness. So let's look at the teachings more carefully.

II The Doctrines of Demons

What are these teachings? Specifically forbidding to marry and dietary regulations which forbid the eating of many different foods. What is in view here is a denial of the importance of the body. This can be done in two ways. On the one hand one may become an ascetic saying the body is unimportant so i will ignore it or hurt it or make it suffer. On the other hand one can say the body is unimportant so i can indulge it and engage in licentious behavior. Both of these are mentioned in the New Testament. Paul mentions the first way here, the other is mentioned by Paul in II Timothy 3:1-5, But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. Now one may choose not to be married or one may choose not to eat certain foods and this is good and acceptable with God, but when such practices are commanded as if the physical side of our lives was evil, then we are no longer talking about Christianity but some other religion. It is just another way of saying that we are spiritual without considering sin and repentance. It is as old as the tower of Babel. it is the idea we can climb up to God or even be God and we don't have to worry about morality because morality has to do with the body, but the spirit is free from all of that. This is gnosticism and it is also the new age philosophy, but if you told these modern heretics that they were gnostics, they wouldn’t know what you are talking about. For example if there is a form of meditation by which I can make contact with another world, or if there is a near death experience which will bring me into contact with that other world, or if I can attend a seance and contact long dead relatives from that other world, or if because of reincarnation I can relive a life I lived in another world and time, or if I can know the truth and know the future world through psychics and tarot cards and crystal balls then what does it matter if I sin. Sin is of no consequence. Life goes on in the future anyway. What makes these teachings doctrines of demons is that they go back to the devil's first lie which is that you can know God without obeying him. Thus these religious views suggest that I have no sin, I need no Savior, and I have nothing to worry about.

III The Dedicated Direction

Paul's immediate answer to all this false teaching in verses 4-6 is to recognize God for who He is, For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Paul described God in 1:17, Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. The only God. We cannot be like Him, or know Him or worship Him in any other way than obedience to His commands. We depend on Him and therefore we must obey Him. We must recognize that He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. What He has given is to be used with thanksgiving, as long as He has not forbidden it. God created it and God consecrated it. He made it and said it was good. We recognize this in prayers of thanksgiving in which we dedicate ourselves and God's gifts to Him. If God has created it and consecrated it then we must not pretend to be spiritual by not using it. To do so is to evade the real issue of our relationship to God which is obedience. This obedience is possible only through Jesus Christ who redeems both body and spirit. I am neither to torture my body nor indulge in intemperance and gluttony, for I, both body and soul, belong to my Savior who has redeemed me. Those only can be thankful for their families and their food who are first thankful for the forgiveness of God in Christ.