Sunday, December 10, 2017

Paul's Epistles – I Timothy – Part 7: Truth Versus Apostasy

Paul's Epistles – I Timothy – Part 7:
Truth Versus Apostasy
Pastor Bruce A. Shields

This letter from Paul to Timothy will be the next “epistle” examine.

Immediately on his release from his first imprisonment before he visited Spain (Romans 15:24; Philemon 22), Paul more than likely visited Macedonia, Ephesus, etc. Not being able to stay long at Ephesus, he left Timothy to take charge of the work.

This parting was a tough trial to Timothy (I Timothy 1:3; II Timothy 1:4).

To encourage and instruct Timothy (who was sensitive and timid, and not strong (II Timothy 5:23 frequently upset stomach because of nerves), Paul wrote and forwarded this letter from Corinth.

Introduction of I Timothy
False Doctrine and the Law
The Lord’s Grace and Timothy’s Charge
Pray for All
Requirements for Elders and Deacons
Paul’s Reason for writing Timothy this letter

Truth Versus Apostasy

I Timothy 4 (65 AD)
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
The overall message of this epistle to the church is;

We are designed to accomplish” - I Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

The purpose of this letter is given in I Timothy 3:15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

a. In later times (near end times) some will abandon faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons

                                                                 i. Deceiving spirits, i.e. seducing spirits or religious spirits

                                                              ii. who make thing seem like what it isn’t

1. The Heretic - a person who teaches what blatantly contradicts an essential teaching of the Christian faith. He is a gregarious figure, a natural leader teaching just enough truth to mask his deadly error. Yet in denying the faith and celebrating what is false, he leads his followers from the safety of orthodoxy to the peril of heresy.

a. “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).

b. The Heretic continues his evil work today, sometimes by contradicting the truth and sometimes by adding to it. He may reframe the doctrine of the Trinity, as Arius did in the third century and as Oneness Pentecostals do today. He may, like Marcus Borg and other prominent scholars, deny the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like Jehovah’s Witnesses, he may alter God’s finished word, or like Mormons, he may add to it. Always, he boldly tampers with “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3)

2. The Charlatan - a person who uses Christianity as a means of personal enrichment.

a. “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

b. Simon the sorcerer was motivated by the love of money when he tried to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9-24)

c. The Charlatan has appeared in many forms, always seeking prominence in the church so that he can live in extravagance. When Pope Leo X famously commissioned Tetzel to sell indulgences, the profits not only funded the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica, but also his luxurious lifestyle. In the 1990s, televangelist Robert Tilton brought in tens of millions of dollars each year by exploiting the vulnerable and gullible. Today Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, and a host of others peddle the prosperity gospel to enrich themselves from their followers’ gifts.

3. The Prophet - Claiming to be gifted by God to speak fresh revelation outside of Scripture—new, authoritative words of prediction, teaching, rebuke, or encouragement. In reality, though, he is commissioned and empowered by Satan for the purpose of misleading and disrupting Christ’s church.

a. John offered an urgent warning about him. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

b. John declared that God has spoken fully and finally in Scripture and offered the most solemn warning against anyone who claims to bring revelation equal or contrary to Scripture. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19)

c. The Prophet appears throughout the history of the church. As early as the second century, Montanus and his disciples claimed to speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit. In the nineteenth century, Joseph Smith claimed to receive The Book of Mormon from the angel Moroni. Today the airwaves are chock-full of people claiming to speak in the name of God through the power of the Spirit. Personal prophecies are just a phone call away. Sarah Young, author of the top Christian bestseller of the decade, boldly claims that her book contains the very words of Jesus. The Prophet continues to speak, to lead astray.

4. The Abuser -  uses his position of leadership to take advantage of other people. Usually, he takes advantage of them to feed his sexual lust, though he may also desire power.

a. Both Peter and Jude were aware of the Abuser’s lechery: “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:2).

b. “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4)

5. The Tickler - is the false teacher who cares nothing for what God wants and everything for what men want. He is the man-pleaser rather than the God-pleaser. Paul thought of him as the ear-tickler:

a. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

b. The Tickler is as old as the church itself. In the nineteenth century he was Henry Ward Beecher, and in the twentieth he was Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. Today he is Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest church in America, who is known equally for his toothy smile and his vacuous content. He preaches an empty gospel to a packed out church. Like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day, he and the thousands like him say, “‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

b. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars
                                                                 i. Designed by Satan to draw believers away from God

                                                              ii. Whose consciences have been seared with a hot iron
1. They (hypocritical liars) are NOT acting under delusion, but deliberately and against conscience

c. They (deceiving spirits and demons teaching through liars)
                                                                 i. Forbid people to marry
1. This is an attack against the home

2. Even an attack against God’s original plan for a husband and wife as the foundation of His society (Genesis 2:23-24)

                                                              ii. Order people to abstain from eating certain foods

1. They taught keeping some man-made laws would bring about holiness

                                                           iii. Of which God created to be received with Thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the Truth

                                                            iv. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with Thanksgiving because it is consecrated (set apart, sacred, sanctified, made holy) by the Word of God and Prayer

a. Point these things out to the brothers and sisters
                                                                 i. You are nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed

b. Have nothing to do with
                                                                 i. Godless myths
                                                              ii. Old wives tales
                                                           iii. Train yourself to be Godly

c. This is a trustworthy saying and deserves full acceptance
                                                                 i. Physical training is of some (LIT. profitable for a little) value to the body

                                                              ii. But godliness have value both to the present life as well as the life to come

                                                           iii. That is why we labor and strive because our hope is in the living God

a. Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young

b. BUT, set an example for the believers
                                                                 i. in speech (things you say in general conversation)
                                                              ii. in conduct (lifestyle)
                                                           iii. in love (I Corinthians 13)
                                                            iv. in faith
                                                               v. and in purity

c. Until I arrive
                                                                 i. Devote yourself to
1. the public reading of scripture
2. and to preaching
3. and teaching

CONCLUSION – do not neglect your gift

Which was given you through the prophecy when the Body of Elders laid their hands on you
Be diligent in these matters
Give yourself wholly to them so that everyone may see your progress
Watch your life and doctrine closely
Preserve them
Because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers!

 Next Paul will address Widows, Elders and Slaves

Want to learn more about Salvation and Getting Saved?   

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