Saturday, December 17, 2011

1 Timothy 4:1-5 Spirit Warns of Apostasy

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."

Vs. 1 With a solid confession of faith given the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul now warns about a coming apostasy.“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”

Thus the Holy Spirit is telling of an apostasy (lit. a falling away) from the true faith in latter times. Now the latter times is a phrase that appears in both the Old and New Testaments. But as it relates to humanities redemption from sin and death sees actuation with the Incarnation, Life, crucifixion death, resurrection from the dead, then ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ back to heaven as the pivotal opening event (Heb. 9:26). However the latter times will not be brought to completion until Christ's return for His bride the church, before He makes war against Satan and those who follow him to perdition (Rev. 19:1-21). Everything in between then (as it relates to age of redemption) could rightly be said to fall into the time-line of the latter days. That is why Jesus commands everyone to repent and believe in Him now so that they might enter the Kingdom of heaven while they can (Mark 1:15). Now for those who do there is both salvation here and now (Eph. 1:13-14), but also the future promise of resurrection glory in the Kingdom of heaven with Christ and God (John 6:40; 1 Cor. 15:20-25; 50-55; 2 Tim. 2:12). However for everyone who does not, but continues on in their sins, there will be a terrible day of judgment and eternal perdition for those who do not believe, nor obey the gospel (Rom. 2; Rev. 20:11-15). That said the latter days are an unfolding reality. As the Apostle Peter clearly saw them unfolding beginning with the Holy Spirit's outpouring quoting from the prophet Joel regarding this (See Acts 2:14-21). Similarly the Apostles Paul and John viewed the latter days as both unfolding in their day; yet declaring events still to come as the Spirit of God gave them revelation of the things that were still to be (Consider 2 Thess. 2; 1 John 2:18-23; 4:1-6; 2 John 7-9; Book of Revelations etc.). And that is what Jesus taught in the gospels, that the end would come over a period of time, with many troubling events unfolding leading up to His return, which will be a distinct and sudden event (Matt 24). Therefore Jesus commands our readiness and preparedness here and now (Matt. 25:1-30) by first making a decision for Him (John 1:12) then following Him in discipleship by keeping His and the Biblical Apostle commandments (John 15:10; Acts 1:1-3; 2:42) which must always be distinguished from the commandments of men who turn from truth (Isaiah 29:13; Matt. 15:1-9; Col. 2:20-22; 1 Tim. 1:3; 4:6; Titus 1:14). That some will depart from the faith during the latter times, and give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, is then a warning for all believers to heed whenever they are illuminated to the danger (Consider Heb 3:12-19).

Vs. 2 Having departed from the faith and giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons the Holy Spirit says these will be “speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron”. These then will become agents for Satan; he will work his agenda through them, by sending and proliferating doctrines of demons through them (Consider 2 Cor. 11:5-15; vs. 13-15). Now the word translated seared appears only here in the N.T. it means to literally have ones conscience cauterized. It is then a conscience that is calloused over to the truth, and thus is utterly incapable of Spirit discernment. In 1 Cor. 2:10-16 the Apostle Paul addressees the unbeliever’s inability to interpret or render right spiritual judgments about the Word of God; here he addresses the apostate (Heb. 6:4-8). Therefore these are those who having heard the truth, at some point rejected it, and thus it is through such people that doctrines of demons will be proliferated in, and amongst, and sadly through the professing church. And thus it is through such diabolical means that the church often finds both factions within (1 Cor. 11:18-19), but also an abandonment or refutation of God's clear moral absolutes. Such as those in the Scriptures that clearly condemn homosexuality as an abomination in the eyes of God (Lev. 18). Yet this sin now finds justification and favor in segments of Christendom through what would otherwise be some well educated and or Biblically informed men and women. And so it is that some of these will be hypocritical preachers and teachers of the truth (or semblances of it). Yet they themselves will live (or justify) lives that are living contrary to it. Outwardly appearing like their in the faith, and thus likely saying many things that are relevant to the faith, but inwardly having departed from the faith, they will manifest by their lives, or by their spirit, a disposition that is hostile to the true faith and the children redeemed by God's grace (Gal. 4:21-31). In time excusing, justifying, or partaking in all manner of moral and spiritual abominations (Consider Matt. 7:15-20; 2 Peter 2; 1 John 3:15; Jude 3-19; Rev. 18:3-4 etc.).

Vs. 3-5 Now the Holy Spirit warns they will expound two errors: “forbidding to marry,and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”

That they forbid marriage is to be a clear mark of their apostasy from the faith. Something that existed in segments of ancient Judaism, but here the clear reference is to the the professing church. Something which started to take root earlier on in in the monastic and priestly systems of Christendom and remains there unrefuted and unrepentant off till this day. Make no mistakes about it those who forbid marriage and or the freedom to partake of all foods are hypocrites and liars and are proliferating doctrines of demons. Imposing on themselves or others ideals that God does not. Whether as a means to salvation and thus works (Rom. 4:4-5) or as a means to so called sanctification (and thus it is legalism, not sanctification) for true sanctification only comes through the Spirit of God and obedience to the Word of God given by Him. It does not come by obeying the doctrines and commandments of men (Titus 1:14). For heterosexual marriage was sanctified by God in the beginning as an integral part of God’s Divine plan for humanity (Gen. 2:18-25). So that through it both man and woman could find relational/sexual fulfillment as unique, yet complementary individuals. And thus the human race could be propagated and greater society established through it. Heterosexual monogamous marriage then is to be the basis of every stable home and healthy society. Something which the Lord Jesus Himself reaffirmed in the face of the Pharisees laxity towards their own marriage vows; another serious error (Matt. 19:1-9). And thus in forbidding marriage, as if that would make one more "spiritual" or "holy" or "consecrated"; they only undermine God's plans to create stability and joy in the individual, family, church and or greater society. And thus true to the devil's nature which is to steal, kill and destroy, so they forward his doctrines of demons that do likewise (consider Jesus' Words in John 10:10). Placing individuals under law (and a man made "law" at that) they only incite all manner of evil within them (consider Rom. 7:8; 1 Cor. 15:56) clearing a path for all moral corruption and hypocrisy to take its root.
That's natural and straightforward and obvious to all who retain their sensibilities. Now on the Spiritual side of the coin (if I can use that as a metaphor) So consecrated is marriage that both the nation of Israel and the church itself are portrayed in this type of relationship with God Himself (Isaiah 62:5; Hosea 2:19-20). Therefore to forbid it, moves way beyond just legalism, it is a heresy that is fully demonic in origins. For it literally denies Jesus Christ’s covenantal relationship with His bride, the church (Rev. 21:9-14). For heterosexual monogamous marriage in many ways is to reflect that loving and sanctified relationship Christ has with the church (Eph. 5:30-32).

Having then reaffirmed that to forbid marriage is a blatant apostasy from the faith; I must now state that neither is marriage to be commanded of us. Again marriage exists and is a wonderful expression of a unique human relationship of the genders that can help meet the needs of both. In terms of physical as well as emotional needs. But believers are not to think that marriage itself can provide what only God through His salvation in Christ can, and that is fullness of life within us, both new and everlasting. Our relationship then with Jesus Christ must supplant all others in terms of priority. Not that we abandon our unbelieving spouses (if that is case with us) and our responsibilities to them; or our families and extended families, but we keep these in perspective to our relationship with Christ (Matt. 10:34-39; Luke 14:25-33). Looking then at 1 Corinthians 7 where the Apostle Paul addresses marriage amongst believers. There he taught because of the current distress the church was under being single was preferred, but not commanded (1 Cor. 7:1; 7). For marriage is good in preventing sexual immorality (1 Cor. 7:2-5). Yet Marriage has many aspects which can distract one from serving the Lord devotedly (1 Cor. 7:35). For the married person is generally concerned with the things of the world, seeking to please their spouse, while the single person is freer to fully seek to please the Lord (1 Cor. 7:32-33). However, and I want to emphasize this point again; the Apostle Paul never forbids marriage he only advises that there are troubles that come with it (1 Cor. 7:28). In fact Paul makes the point that if a person cannot live single without burning in lust it is better for them to marry (1 Cor. 7:8-9). For not all are made in such a way as to be able to live single. As well many come into the faith already married, and in no way is destroying ones home and family in accord with the gospel. Marriage then is neither forbidden, nor is it commanded (Matt. 19:1-12). It is a free choice to marry or not to marry, to have children or not to have children. Commanding one or the other is to move outside of N.T. teachings authority and into ones own authority. Therefore being married does not make you less spiritual, just as being single does not make you more. Many of the Biblical Apostles were married, (though Paul was not) not the least of which were the Lord’s brothers and the Apostle Peter (1 Cor. 9:3-6). Again the Apostle Paul commends both Pastoral and deacon candidates to be husbands of one wife. Though this does not mean they must be married, just that if married or previously married, they are to have been a husband of one wife. Later Paul commands Timothy that young widows seeking church support should marry and manage the home rather then burden the church. Since such were likely to become gossips and busy bodies (1 Tim. 5:14). Only in regards serving Jesus Christ without distractions does the Apostle Paul commend singleness as a better choice (1 Cor. 7:7) and he conditions that by saying if you cannot control your passions your far better married then single and burning in lust, which is not serving the Lord without being distracted (1 Cor. 7:32-38). Finally the N.T. attests to some exemplary Spirit filled married couples who served the Lord very well, in particular Priscilla and Aquila, converts and co-workers of the Apostle Paul (Acts 18). “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Heb. 13:4

The second heresy the Holy Spirit warns against is that they will command believers “…to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” Therefore the individual believer who trusts in Jesus Christ as Lord of everything is not under any sort of dietary restrictions. For God has given every herb and every moving thing for mans food; only blood is to be abstained from, for it is the beings life (See Gen. 9:4; Acts 15:28-29; and Rom. 14 for principals of eating and living by faith). Now as with voluntarily abstaining from marriage there is nothing wrong with voluntarily abstinence from food. The problem is that in both these instances someone is forbidding marriage and or commanding abstinence from certain types of food. Which the Holy Spirit warns is demonic in origins. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” Vs. 4-5 Therefore the Holy Spirit warns us not to heed nor submit to anyone who commands abstinence from foods or marriage; whether this comes through the miss use of the law, or some other rational. The warning is clear. Those who do so have departed from the faith and we are not to heed them at all (Titus 1:15-16).

Beware then of anyone who forbids marriage or commands that you must abstain from enjoying whatever types of food you enjoy, whether meats, or vegetables, or fruits or any combination of them anytime you want to enjoy them. For you are at liberty to do so, as you see fit (Deut. 12:20-25; 1 Cor. 10:23-33). Know for certain then that you will get no closer to God by obeying the doctrines and commandments of men rather than the grace of God (Gal. 2:3-5; 4:9-11; Col. 2:20-22; Titus 1:14-16). For where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). Therefore decide for yourself whether you will marry (1 Cor. 7:9, 36) or not (Matt. 19:11-12). Or whatever kinds of foods you will eat (Deut. 12:20-23; Acts 15:29; Rom. 14:14) or not (Rom. 14:1-2). For that is apart of glorious liberty the Lord Jesus Christ gives us all. “Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Rom 14:16-18

Again“…food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.” 1 Cor. 8:8 Only in regards to another’s conscience does one sin if they eat knowingly giving offence to another person (Rom. 14:15, 21; 1 Cor. 8:9-13; 10:27-33). Or if they eat believing it is wrong for them to do so. Since whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). Again the Scripture says “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” 1 Cor. 10:23-24 So then do not destroy with your personal convictions about food; or anything else the one for whom Christ died. And do not judge His servants for exercising the glorious liberty the Lord Jesus Christ has given to us all.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

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