1 Timothy 4:1-5
“Now the Spirit clearly says that in the last times some will depart from the faith and pay attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their consciences seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and not to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
The “last times” began with Christ’s resurrection and will continue until His return, when He will set up His Kingdom and judge all mankind.
Why did Paul say the false teachers taught “doctrines of devils”? Satan deceives people by offering a clever imitation of the real thing. The false teachers gave stringent rules, such as forbidding people to marry or eat meat (Who does that sound like?) and this made them appear self-disciplined and righteous. Their strict disciplines for the body, however, could not remove sin, as it tells us in:
20 Therefore, if you died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you subject yourself to legalistic rules? 21 “Do not touch! Do not taste! Do not handle!” 22 These all are to perish with use and are aligned with the commandments and doctrines of men. 23 These things have indeed a show of wisdom in self-imposed worship and humility and neglecting of the body, but are worthless against the indulgence of the flesh.
We must look beyond a teacher’s methods and disciplines to his or her teaching about Jesus Christ. His attitude toward Christ shows the source of his or her message.
1 Timothy 4:3 “…commanding to abstain from foods” In opposition to this type of false teaching Paul affirmed the everything God made is good. We should ask His blessing on His created gifts that give us pleasure and thank Him for them. This doesn’t mean we should abuse what God has made. For example, gluttony abuses God’s gift of good food, lust abuses God’s gift of love, and murder abuses God’s gift of life. Instead of abusing, we should enjoy these gifts by using them to serve and honor God.
False teachers are alive and well today. Paul warned us about them.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
“For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.”
“Having itching ears” means hearing only what you want to hear.
There are many preachers, pastors, so called evangelists that only preach the good things in life. “You don’t need to hear all the bad stuff.” “You should concern yourself with yourself.”
“Life’s too short to spend it trying to keep others happy. You can’t please everyone. To fulfill your destiny, stay true to your heart.” (actual quote)
“Don’t waste your energy trying to convince people to understand you. Your time is too valuable to try to prove yourself to people.” (actual quote)
Comments like those above are heard from the pulpit and on TV ministries all the time and they are so not biblical.
2 Timothy 4:1
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching.”
Paul was saying that it was important for Timothy to preach the Gospel so that the Christian faith could spread throughout the world. He is telling him to “reprove” and “rebuke” or scold and reprimand. It is difficult to accept correction, to be told we have to change, but it can also be difficult to tell others to do it as well. But no matter how much the truth hurts, we must be willing to listen and to tell so we can more fully obey God.
We believe in Christ today because people like Timothy were faithful to their mission. It is still vitally important for believers to spread the Gospel. All of it, both good and bad. Praises and warnings. Don’t sugar coat life. Be real!
Half the people who have ever lived are alive today, and most of them do not know Jesus. He is coming soon, and He wants to find His faithful believers ready for him.
It may be inconvenient to take a stand for Christ or to tell others about His love, but preaching the Word of God is the most important responsibility the church and its members have been given. Be prepared, courageous, and sensitive to God-given opportunities to tell the Good News.
We all need to speak up. Take a stand for Jesus! We need to do this to counteract these “feel good preachers”, counteract these false teachers, counteract the “Doctrine of the Devil.”
“He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets bear witness that whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins through His name.”