1 Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons,
1 Timothy 4:1
Have you been surprised to learn that someone you know has joined a group or church that doesn’t accept a normal understanding of Biblical truth? Have you heard from a friend about a son or daughter leaving the church to follow a cult or cultural/political movement where Christian beliefs are either subverted, twisted, or forsaken? This is nothing new. During these “last days,” which span the time from Christ’s resurrection to His second coming, we are warned by the Holy Spirit to expect this would happen.
Paul’s first letter to Timothy is filled with admonitions regarding those who abandon true faith in favor of false doctrines and practices. In chapter four, verse one, false teachers (apostates and heretics) were infiltrating the church at Ephesus and corrupting truth, such as forbidding the eating of meat or marrying. They were promoting an artificial holiness by abstaining from these God-given pleasures, rather than encouraging people to enjoy a deep relationship with Christ.
Why were some people paying attention to these teachings? They were being deceived by spirits and demons, led by Satan himself. He is the driving force behind all efforts to destroy the church and wreck the faith of believers. It is a war that has existed ever since Satan’s rebellion and mankind’s creation. Ephesians 6:12 clearly states the spiritual nature of our struggle. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
So how can you defeat this constant attack on your faith? How can you resist the subtle temptation to twist truth and doctrine to justify a behavior or decision? Are your ears “itching” to hear an alternative (2 Timothy 4:3)? Don’t disparage the spiritual nature of the battle for truth and purity in your life as something of no great importance.
Instead, be a student of the word of truth, the Bible. Allow the Holy Spirit to energize the gospel in your life and stamp it upon your heart and mind. Become so familiar with gospel truth that you recognize false teachers and their subtle lies when you hear them. By doing this, you will not only prevent yourself from walking down a false path, you will be able to help others do the same.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Memorize 2 Timothy 2:15, which says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Why? Because you need to know truth in order to refute untruth. If you do not know truth, you will be easily swayed and pulled away.
- One of the ways to grow in your knowledge of truth is to nourish yourself by “feeding” on the Word of God.
- Read the Bible regularly, perhaps with the goal of going through it once a year.
- Memorize scripture, hiding the Word in your mind and heart.
- Begin a personal Bible study by focusing on one of the Gospels or epistles, or commit to participating in a small Bible study group.
- Listen to audio sermons a few times a week. This can be done on your television, on your mobile device, or on the radio while driving.
Pray for churches in Brazil planted by Ray and Sharon Fairchild (our Mission Journey Minister) during their 27 years as missionaries. Our journey teams have served alongside many of these churches; pray for their pastors, leaders, and the ministry to their communities.