The End Time Apostasy: 1 Timothy 4:1-5
“1) But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2) by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3) men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5) for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:1-5
Caution: You are about to wrestle with some deep truth. Proceed only if you are not weak of heart or mind!
This chapter opens with a contrast and a warning. Note, “in the latter days some will fall away from the faith.” This is often called the apostasy. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 issues the same warning.
In the later times, many will claim to be Christians but will abandon biblical truth and live as they please in accordance with their own passions and desires. They will “fall away” from the truth.
Notice there will be two voices speaking. First will be the Spirit of God. He is often referred to as the Spirit of truth. (See John 14:16-18; 16:13) His role is to guide believers into all truth.
Second, Paul warns the later times will be accompanied by many deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. Like the serpent in Eden, they will twist the truth and distort the clear teaching of Gods Word.
Jesus warned in John 8:44 that Satan is the father of lies. He seeks to lead people into bondage, corruption and death. Colossians 2:8 issues the warning of being looted and led captive through philosophy and empty worldly deception rather than according to Christ. The enemy always uses lies and deceptions to promote his evil schemes.
Paul used a graphic word picture in verse 2 to illustrate how these deceitful spirits will work. They will use lies and deception like a hot branding iron to sear or burn the human conscience. It leaves the smell of flesh burning as a permanent scar is formed. The red hot branding iron was used to mark slaves in Pauls day.
But in this text it is not skin burning, it is the human conscience. They will no longer be able to distinguish good from bad, right from wrong or truth from lies. The inner guide of human conscience will be left hard, callused and scared. As a result, people will become slaves to immoral passions.
Ephesians 4:17-19 documents the tail spin into the resulting callused condition and hard heart. Because of the constant bombardment of lies and deception, people will be given over to a futile mind. Their understanding will be darkened and their heart will become hard. Soon they will be given over to sensuality and embrace and defend every form of impurity. Romans 1:18-32 presents the same decline into human depravity but with more vivid step by step detail.
Paul then warns Timothy that there will be two immediate outcomes of the doctrines of demons. First, the sanctity of marriage as defined in the Bible will be abandoned. Instead of saving intimacy for the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman in covenant relationship with God, marriage will be replaced with open immorality of every kind. Society will be full of fornication, adultery, pornography, self stimulation, incest, pedophilia, rape, homosexuality, bisexuality, lesbianism, sexual exploitation, orgies, prostitution, and human trafficking. (This is a compilation of numerous texts defining sexual sins in the New Testament.) Let me summarize, Paul was saying in the later times the institution of marriage will be under attack and the nuclear family will deteriorate.
But second, Paul notes that in later times the conclusions and designs of Creation will be distorted and changed. Romans 1:25 explains this phenomenon; “25) For they exchanged to truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
This will show up in human diet, but the motivation behind certain diets is the issue in this text. For example, Hinduism excludes eating many animals because it worships them. Modern environmentalism abstains from numerous meats for similar reasons. It is influenced by evolution, naturalism and the desire to be one with nature. This is also a form of worship.
Modern activists want to grant human rights to all animals because humans are merely part of the animal kingdom. This is the natural outcome of evolutionary thinking.
Therefore, the concluding logic is that eating meat is a kind of cannibalism. The problem is that the truth of a Creator is absent from the picture. Truth has been displaced by deception. As a result, human reason is distorted.
In some cases, the fines are now more severe for killing an animal than killing a human. If you doubt this, compare the penalties for stealing an eagle egg to aborting a human baby!
This text is not condemning a vegetarian diet so long as God is honored as Creator and Provider. Plants were given by God as a primary food source. They are very healthy. (See Genesis 1:29-31) Daniel and others were vegetarians, however they did not condemn others for eating meats. There is great latitude for personal diet in the Bible.
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 puts the hammer to the nail. It says that God designed everything for a purpose. Verse 13 says He designed the stomach for food and food for the stomach, but the human body was not designed for immorality, but for the Lord.
The modern lie is that people are primarily sexual creatures driven with animal like instincts. The biblical truth is that people were created in the image of God to be spiritual beings and their bodies can become a temple of the Holy Spirit.
The humanistic lie is that people are free to indulge in the flesh and are excused if they loose control in the process. The biblical truth is that we should believe in Jesus Christ, walk in the Spirit and live by the grace and power of God.
We are now living in the apostasy of the later times that Paul warned about. You and I have a choice. We can either embrace the lies and live in bondage with a seared conscience and moral defeat; or we can embrace Jesus Christ and biblical truth and live in freedom.
I know where I stand and why! You also have the freedom of choice. Either way, your basic life philosophy, personal identity, primary motivations, world view, key decisions and life experiences will be radically affected. I point you to Jesus Christ, the Bible as the foundation of truth and a growing walk with God. But please take your life seriously. Don’t join the apostasy by mindless default.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global
The End Time Apostasy: 1 Timothy 4:1-5