â€œNow the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.â€ (1 Timothy 4:1)
These â€œlatter daysâ€ are surely characterized by the tragic departure from the faith on the part of many. Unfortunately, even many of our churches have followed what should certainly be exposed as â€œseducing spirits,â€ embracing lies taught under the influence of Satan. A list of such false teachings and practices within the church would surely implicate many. Let us look at the examples Paul gives in the next few verses.
First, he identifies the leaders and teachers of these errors as hypocritical liars who intentionally deceive their prey. They have deadened any possibility of right attitude by hardening their minds and searing their consciences (v. 2).
Next, we are given examples of their heresy: â€œForbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgivingâ€ (v. 3).
Many cults and pseudo-Christian groups have fallen into these traps, but both the institution of marriage and the provision of foods were specifically created by God for manâ€™s enjoyment and blessing (marriage: see Genesis 1:28, 2:18, 24; foods: Genesis 1:29, 9:3). They are to be â€œreceived with thanksgivingâ€ to a loving Creator, â€œsanctified by the word of God and prayerâ€ (1Â Timothy 4:4-5). Each of these and all of Godâ€™s creation are â€œvery goodâ€ (Genesis 1:31), if used properly.
But the main point of this passage is that we should guard against the heresy of false teachers and from imposing on ourselves and our fellow Christians a false pietyâ€”practices which may make us feel â€œholier than thouâ€ but which, in reality, impugn God and His creation. Rather, let us be among those â€œwhich believe and know the truthâ€ (1 Timothy 4:3) of Godâ€™s loving provision of creation. JDM