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Days Of Trouble - 1 Timothy 4:1-5

1 Timothy - Order in the Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Paul describes the nature and origin of false teaching that will permeate the last days and how Christians should respond

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Introduction:
Teaching that distracts our focus away from the finished work of Christ and his gospel is destructive and must be confronted.
Word of Faith or Prosperity Gospel:
This quote from prosperity gospel teacher Kenneth Hagin would have been right at home with the Corinthians:

1. A Prophesied Departure (v.1)

“I believe that it is the plan of God our Father that no believer should ever be sick…It is not—I state boldly—it is not the will of God my Father that we should suffer with cancer and other dread diseases which bring pain and anguish. No! It is God’s will that we be healed.”

1. A Prophesied Departure (v.1)

1 Timothy 4:1-5

I. A Prophesied Departure (v.1)

The scripture makes clear in verse 1, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”
We are living in a day just like the days of Timothy and Paul. In fact, false teaching has been around since the beginnings of the church age. The early church wrestled and stood against many heresies and dealt with professing believers ultimately departing the faith. This is happening today as well. But we should not be surprised by it. Apostasy, or falling away from the faith, has been predicted throughout scripture. We also should not despair, the church is still triumphant. What we must do is remain faithful and not search for “silver bullets” to increase numbers at the expense of being faithful to the word of God. Pragmatism is dangerous to the church. What may work in the eyes of men to increase a following or congregation may only result in false professions and a watering down of the gospel that leads to only temporary mushroom like growth. What is needed now more than ever is a return to robust doctrine and theology that grounds people in the faith. A shallow, watered down and false presentation of the gospel does the world no good.
The phrase “Now the Spirit expressly says” refers to a past message, like saying “The bible says.” Paul is indicating divine authority as he prepares to denounce the false teaching by some of the Ephesians.

2. A Polluted Doctrine (v.1b)

“the latter times” or “last days” refers to the time of Christ’s 1st advent and will culminate with his second advent. Paul’s readers believed that they were living in the last days.

A. A Present Day Reality

We are living in a day just like the days of Timothy and Paul. In fact, false teaching has been around since the beginnings of the church age. The early church wrestled and stood against many heresies and dealt with professing believers ultimately departing the faith. This is happening today as well. But we should not be surprised by it.
Apostasy, or falling away from the faith, has been predicted throughout scripture. We also should not despair, the church is still triumphant.
What we must do is remain faithful and not search for “silver bullets” to increase numbers at the expense of being faithful to the word of God. Pragmatism is dangerous to the church. What may work in the eyes of men to increase a following or congregation may only result in false professions and a watering down of the gospel that leads to only temporary mushroom like growth. What is needed now more than ever is a return to robust doctrine and theology that grounds people in the faith. A shallow, watered down and false presentation of the gospel does the world no good.

B. A Subtle and Dangerous Drift

As Christians, we must give attention to the essentials of the faith and not be drawn into deceptive or questionable practices or doctrines.
The phrase “Now the Spirit expressly says” refers to a past message, like saying “The bible says.” Paul is indicating divine authority as he prepares to denounce the false teaching by some of the Ephesians.

II. A Demonic Influence (v.1b-2)

“paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons..”
The false teaching in Paul’s crosshairs in this passage is that of asceticism . But many false ideas can grab the attention of us. Humans are spiritual beings, and all false teaching drives at this part of us, appealing to that inclination.
Examples:
Mysticism -
Legalism - Rule or law keeping as a means of salvation. I earn my favor with God by performing good works and keeping rules; looking away from the finished work of Christ on my behalf.
People are always attracted to rules and human effort to achieve, often carrying this over into their practice of religion.
Asceticism - A form of Christian discipline. In radical form it is a practice which seeks to remove oneself from the influences of the physical world.
It is easier to follow strict rules and feel we have contributed to our own salvation than it is to admit our helplessness and inability to gain God’s approval
Asceticism - A form of Christian discipline. In radical form it is a practice which seeks to remove oneself from the influences of the physical world.
The false teaching Paul is addressing contains elements of both legalism and asceticism, which are closely related. Gnostic teaching, which would have been in its early forms at this time alluded to the wickedness of the physical world and body. Thus, this false teaching sough to assert that rules and a denial of the physical body and its desires along with the influences of the physical world were necessary to achieve righteousness.
“Rules are good when used to maintain proper boundaries in life and to create a harmonious and orderly existence. But when adherence to rules becomes an attempt to placate God or to earn righteousness or salvation, they become deadly. Rules elevate human achievement and devalue the goodness of God. There is only one way to restore and maintain relationship with the holy God—trust in his Son, Jesus Christ.” (Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 204.)
The origin of this false teaching is ultimately demonic and is promoted by individuals who believe and practice it. The enemy of men’s souls influences them to believe and behave in error. The word of God has much to say concerning false teachers and teaching:
Rules are good when used to maintain proper boundaries in life and to create a harmonious and orderly existence. But when adherence to rules becomes an attempt to placate God or to earn righteousness or salvation, they become deadly. Rules elevate human achievement and devalue the goodness of God. There is only one way to restore and maintain relationship with the holy God—trust in his Son, Jesus Christ.”Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 204.The origin of this false teaching is ultimately demonic and is promoted by individuals who believe and practice it. The enemy of men’s souls influences them to believe and behave in error. The word of God has much to say concerning false teachers and teaching:
The origin of this false teaching is ultimately demonic and is promoted by individuals who believe and practice it.
Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 204.The origin of this false teaching is ultimately demonic and is promoted by individuals who believe and practice it. The enemy of men’s souls influences them to believe and behave in error. The word of God has much to say concerning false teachers and teaching:
The enemy of men’s souls influences them to believe and behave in error. The word of God has much to say concerning false teachers and teaching:
, “There were indeed false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved ways, and the way of truth will be maligned because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with made-up stories. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.”

They Present a False Holiness

Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), .They Present a False Holiness
, “ “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.
These false teachers may appear to behave as devoted followers of Christ, but in reality they are enemy tools used to confuse, distract and deceive God’s people.
These false teachers may appear to behave as devoted followers of Christ, but in reality they are enemy tools used to confuse, distract and deceive God’s people.

A. False Teachers Are Liars

The truth eludes these individuals. Lies are the smoke screen they use to cover up their true motivations.

B. Their Conscience is Seared

They are lacking in feelings of remorse or guilt concerning their actions. They are not humble, unable to be taught.

C. They Distort The Grace of God

The false teachers strip away the grace of God as exemplified thru the finished work of Christ on the cross. Thus, they cheapen the work of Christ on our behalf and put the focus on joyless rule-keeping effort which leads to confusion and frustration. Two rules are mentioned in the text:
By adding rules or restrictions that God has not given:

1. You Must Not Marry

This could have originated in teaching that Jesus had given concerning marriage in the perfected kingdom of heaven, when marriage would be no more. As such they twisted it to apply to life today. Nothing wrong with being single, but singleness is not a requirement for salvation. It is not a demand to be met in order to keep favor with God. Of course Catholics for centuries have forbidden their priests from marriage, although there are some loopholes and discussions are being had now concerning a change to the rule.

2. Abstaining from Certain Foods

Restrictions concerning diet was a long held Jewish practice. But we know that in Peter’s vision of , God opened up diet to all of creation. That which comes from God is to be received with thanksgiving and with an appreciation for his truth.
The goal of ascetic and legalistic practices is to try and soothe the conscience by outward observances or denials. It is another way men try to hide their inner wickedness and ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

3. What Place Does Discipline Have?

Note 1 Timothy 4:7
Definition of Spiritual Disciplines: Practices found in Scripture that promote growth in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Spiritual disciplines, when practiced holistically and biblically, guide us and grow us; but they are never to become a law that must be kept in order to maintain my salvation or favor with God.
This is a place of tension for us as we walk in this world. The law has been fulfilled in Christ, we rest knowing our righteousness has been achieved by him, and we abide in him for spiritual growth.
This is a place of tension for us as we walk in this world. The law has been fulfilled in Christ, we rest knowing our righteousness has been achieved by him, and we abide in him for spiritual growth.

III. The Cure For Error (v.4-5)

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, since it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
- Peter’s vision and God’s statement, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

A. Recognize God’s Good Gifts

We are to rejoice in God’s creation and his gifts to us.
The mountains, the birds, the fish in the lakes, rivers and oceans and the stars in the sky. The beauty of marriage, relationships with friends and family and good food.
We serve a big and a great God who has created everything.
“Leave it to a children’s book to help us see how big our universe is. In a book entitled Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? Robert Wells takes us from a size we can grasp to one we can’t.
Leave it to a children’s book to help us see how big our universe is. In a book entitled Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? Robert Wells takes us from a size we can grasp to one we can’t.
The largest animal on earth is the blue whale. Just the flippers on its tail are bigger than most animals on earth.
But a blue whale isn’t anywhere near as big as a mountain. If you put one hundred blue whales in a huge jar, you could put millions of whale jars inside a hollowed-out Mount Everest.
But Mount Everest isn’t anywhere near as big as the earth. If you stacked one hundred Mount Everests on top of one another, it would be just a whisker on the face of the earth.
And the earth isn’t anywhere near as big as the sun. You could fit one million earths inside of the sun.
But the sun, which is a medium-size star, isn’t anywhere near as big as a red supergiant star called Antares. Fifty million of our suns could fit inside of Antares.
But Antares isn’t anywhere near as big as the Milky Way galaxy. Billions of stars, including supergiants like Antares, as well as countless comets and asteroids, make up the Milky Way galaxy.
But the Milky Way galaxy isn’t anywhere near as big as the universe. There are billions of other galaxies in the universe.
And yet, filled with billions of galaxies, the universe is almost totally empty. The distances from one galaxy to another are beyond our imagination.
And the Creator of this universe is God, who with a Word spoke it all into being, who is present everywhere in this universe and beyond, who upholds it all with his mighty power. Great is our God and greatly to be praised!” (Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002, 201.)

B. Receive God’s Gifts Properly

Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 201.

1. With Gratitude

Giving thanks for the provision of daily food. Jesus practiced this (before he fed the multitude in and )
Those who were concerned only about keeping strict dietary rules actually were ungrateful in their heart over what they considered to be proper food.
Those who seek to justify gluttony or drunkenness with this passage due violence to the word of God because they fail to interpret the text here in light of the whole of scripture. In other passages, the word of God clearly forbids drunkenness and warns of excesses in general.

2. With a Knowledge of the Truth and Prayer

Knowing the gospel and responding with prayerful thanksgiving recognizes God’s work in meeting the needs we have, both physical thru food and spiritual in Christ.
Because the food is blessed does not make it essentially more holy, it simply puts it in its proper place in our lives as a blessing from God, as all things are.
G.K Chesterton: “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the play and the opera, And grace before I open a book, And grace before sketching, painting, Swimming, fencing, walking, playing, dancing; And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”
Conclusion:
Are there times for self-denial? Yes. There are things we should not engage in and do because we are Christians. But to teach that certain things God has created such as marriage and food are evil is to drift from the truth.
Legalism and asceticism cause people to drift from the truth. Drifting is often slow and unnoticed. Therefore, it can feel harmless but the end result is destructive or deadly.
Christianity is not to be lived in the negative, but the positive.
Christians must devote themselves to the orthodox beliefs and observances which the Scriptures promote and the Holy Spirit empowers.
Questions:
Do you see any connection between Paul’s warnings about the last days and what is happening around us today? Give some examples
What are some rules we make that God did not make?
“the latter times” or “last days” refers to the time of Christ’s 1st advent and will culminate with his second advent. Paul’s readers believed that they were living in the last days.
Professors But Not Posessors
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