Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Falling Away Because of Bad Doctrines – 1 Tim 4:1-5

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (ESV)
The Elect Don’t Fall Away
What does it mean when Paul says that some will depart from the faith in the end times? Does this mean they lose their salvation? I’ll have to go back to some things that Jesus said about the last times to understand it. Matt 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect — if that were possible. (NIV) While Jesus may have been talking about a time that is even closer to the end than Paul, the principle is applicable. These great signs and miracle will attempt to deceive the ones that God has chosen, but the wording is clear that it is impossible. The NIV and KJV both insert the words “that were” between “if” and “possible” to make sure that we understand that it isn’t possible. English is an interesting language; using the plural “were” instead of the singular “was” is a technique that writers use to convey that it is not true or possible. As an example, I could make as statement like this, “if I were a lion, I would not eat zebras, only antelope.” The reader automatically understands that I am not a lion and can’t be a lion. That is an extreme example but it points out that the translators understand that the elect can’t be deceived.

Applying Jesus’ principle to Paul’s statement, I can say that the elect can’t or won’t be deceived to the point of departing from the faith. So those who do depart are not those who are elected or chosen by Jesus. They may have rubbed elbows with true Christians when they went to church with them. They may have sung along with the rest of the congregation, they may have danced and raised their hands as well. When they departed, they showed that they were not true believers. See also 1 John 2:19.
The book of Daniel has much to say about the end times and how people will be drawn away from the faith. Dan 11:32-35 "And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. And those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder, for many days. Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy. "And some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge, and make them pure, until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.” (NASB)

The chief of deceitful spirits will use smooth talk to lure people away from God. The angel tells Daniel that the ones who are deceived are people who are not acting in agreement with the covenant. This would describe people who claim to be Christians but violate the New Covenant by their actions. In other words, their walk doesn’t match their talk. They say they believe in Jesus but their lives are just like people who don’t. Jesus hasn’t made a difference in their lives. When faithful Christians, those who know God, take action to expose these lies and false teaching, they will be physically opposed and persecuted. Some of the pretenders will also join with them until they see Christians being killed for their faith. As unbelievers distant themselves to avoid persecution, the Church will refined.
Bad Doctrines

People eventually depart from the faith for various reasons, however the ones in this passage end up giving themselves over to teaching that they think is correct because they can follow them and thereby earn their way to heaven. Paul probably had some specific cults in mind when he wrote this. They believed that by not marrying, they could avoid sexual sins and be super spiritual. In addition, by maintaining strict diets, whether it was rigid adherence to the Jewish dietary law, becoming vegetarians, or adhering to some other diet, they believed that they would become pure enough to get into heaven.
Any doctrines that contain these kinds of restrictions are from demons. I’ve heard them called the “Jesus plus doctrines.” They want to sound Christian in order to deceive people so they say that you need Jesus for salvation then add on something else. They tell us that in order to get to heaven, we need to believe in Jesus AND obey their dietary laws or some other thing or person. When these people come knocking on your door, ask them exactly what you must do to be saved. If they add joining their church, believing in their prophet, making pilgrimages to a certain place, giving money, or anything else other than faith in and obedience to Jesus, beware.

One of the biggest demonic lies and one that most of the world believes is that we can do something to earn our salvation. Satan told Eve that if she ate of the fruit she would become like God. Her action would enable her to be on the same level as God. Now, the demons tell us that if you refrain from certain food you will be able to obtain this same position.
Paul makes it clear that food isn’t the issue. Neither is the health aspect of the food. He isn’t advocating that we should eat anything we want when he said that nothing is to be rejected. Otherwise, we would be able to eat poisonous foods and have no ill effects. He is talking about the spiritual effects of food. Any healthy food, whether pork, which would be a sin for a Jew to eat, or any other forbidden food in the Jewish dietary laws are now available for us to each without any sin.

Peter had a big problem getting this through his head until God spoke directly to him. Acts 10:15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." (NKJV ) This was why God showed him all sorts of animals including things that the Law of Moses declared unclean or sinful to eat. He told Peter to kill them and eat but Peter was stuck in his Jewish tradition and wouldn’t do it.  He should have already known this since Jesus declared all food spiritually clean (holy) in Mark 7:19. When we pray and receive the food with thanksgiving we confirm that what God has provided is good and can eat it with a clear conscience.
God gave the dietary laws of Moses to help distinguish Israel from the other nations who slaughtered and sacrificed many of the specific animals in their pagan rituals. Some claim it was only for health reason but that doesn’t stand up otherwise God would not have told Peter that everything was now OK to eat. It would also not stand up to the fact that God had declared all animals fit for consumption before the Law of Moses. Gen 9:3-4 I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables. But you must never eat any meat that still has the lifeblood in it. (NLT) God’s only restriction was not to eat the meat with blood in it. This restriction is still in effect as it was confirmed by the Jerusalem council in the letter they sent to the Gentiles (Acts Acts 15:29).

These liars who try to distract and turn people from the faith always have at the heart of their lies the goal of discrediting God. God gave marriage as the foundation of the family and these tried to distort that by forbidding marriage. Today they try to distort marriage and God’s Word by advocating living together without marriage or same sex marriage. Both of these are abundantly condemned in God’s Word. Only liars can read His Word and come up with anything different.
Whether it is food, marriage, or any other doctrine of demons, knowing God’s Word will always steer you in the right direction as long as you are willing to be submissive to God.

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