Under Gods Command
(False Teaching)

1 Timothy 4:1-5  1The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3They 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. 4For everything God created is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 

 The “later times” began with Christ’s resurrection and will continue until his return when he will set up his kingdom and judge all humanity. 4:1, 2 False teachers were and still are a threat to the church. Jesus and the apostles repeatedly warned against them (see, for example, Mark 13:21–23; Acts 20:28–31; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12; 2 Peter 3:3–7). It is not enough that a teacher appears to know what he is talking about, is disciplined and moral, or says that he is speaking for God. If his words contradict the Bible, his teaching is false.

Paul said the false teachers were hypocritical liars who encouraged people to follow “deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” The danger that Timothy faced in Ephesus seems to have come from certain people in the church who were following some Greek philosophers who taught that the body was evil and that only the soul mattered. The false teachers refused to believe that the God of creation was good, because his very contact with the physical world would have soiled him. Though these Greek-influenced church members honored Jesus, they could not believe he was truly human. Paul knew that their teachings, if left unchecked, would greatly distort Christian truth.

Satan deceives people by offering a clever imitation of the real thing. The false teachers gave stringent rules (such as forbidding people to marry or to eat certain foods). This made them appear self-disciplined and righteous. Their strict disciplines for the body, however, could not remove sin (see Colossians 2:20–23). We must not be unduly impressed by a teacher’s style or credentials; we must look to his teaching about Jesus Christ. His conclusions about Christ show the source of his message.

In opposition to the false teachers, Paul affirmed that everything God created is good (see Genesis 1). We should ask for God’s blessing on his created gifts that give us pleasure and thank him for them. This doesn’t mean that we should abuse what God has made (for example, gluttony abuses God’s gift of good food, lust abuses God’s gift of love, and murder abuses God’s gift of life). Instead of abusing, we should enjoy these gifts by using them to serve and honor God. Have you thanked God for the good gifts he has given? Are you using the gifts in ways pleasing to you and to God?

Lets Bring it Home:  Like Timothy, we must guard against any teaching that causes believers to dilute or reject any aspect of their faith. Such false teaching can be very direct or extremely subtle. Believers ought to respond quickly when they sense false teaching being promoted. The truth does not mind honest questions. Sometimes the source may prove to be ignorant of the error and appreciate the correction. But a firm warning may at least keep potential victims from the disastrous results of apostasy that Paul described. (For how to spot false teaching, see Spiritual Training 16 August 2013).

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