Summary: To establish that the Holy Spirit predicted a “departure from the faith” that resulted in religious apostasy and the rise of denominational institutions throughout the world. This lesson describes the failures of the Reformation Movement, and the successes of the Restoration Movement.
1. The Retraction Movement
1. This is lesson one, in our series of the theme: “The Departure from the Faith.” It should be noted that Paul begins our lesson by describing “the retraction movement” or “the departure from the faith!” It should also be noted, that, before there could be a “departure from the faith”; there must have been first, an “establishment of the faith.” One must belong before they could departure. It should also be understood – that Paul called this movement, “the faith.”
2. First, we will consider the “retraction movement” or the “departure from the faith.” The word “retraction” means to depart, retreat or leave behind.” The Spirit predicts a “departure from the faith.” Let’s be clear here, the prediction is a “departure from the faith.” The idea here is leaving the “One Faith,” Ephesians 4:4-6. This “retraction” will be the desertion from the “truth”; to embrace the “doctrines of devils; lies and hypocrisy” that are opposed to “the faith.” This departure would be led by men whose “consciences have been sheered with a hot iron.” Lead by teachers, preachers, and leaders whose minds “have been branded by the evil one.” With this introduction let’s discussed the “retraction or departure”; in this three-lesson series.
BODY OF LESSON
I THE RETRACTION MOVEMENT
A. The mystery of Godliness. The apostle Paul begins his discussion of this “retraction” or “departure” after defining the “mystery of godliness.” Notice: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory,” 1 Timothy 3:16.
1. Here he speaks of the unifying teaching of the Spirit concerning the “mystery of godliness.” The Holy Spirit which revealed the truth, speaks now of a departure from the faith, John 16:13.
2. He then notes this same Spirit that “justified Christ” now speaks of this “departure from the faith.” The word departure, in Gr: “aphistemi” means “a falling away, to apostatize,” Luke 8:13; 1 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 3:12.
3. Paul had warned the Galatians of such a departure, Galatians 1:6-12. He thought it very strange that these “new babies” in Christ were on the immediate verge of “departing from the grace of God; unto another gospel, which is not another.”
4. He admonished the elders at Miletus to be on guard for this departure, Acts 20:17-32. Paul instructs them that some: “shall arise from among them to draw away disciples unto themselves.”
5. Paul repeats this “warning” in his Second Letter to Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:1-5. He charges the young evangelist to:
a. Preach the word “in and out of seasons;” when they want it and when they don’t want it.
b. That the “time will come they (the church) will not endure sound doctrine, or they will no longer desire ‘sound doctrine’ or the ‘truth’ to be preached unto them.”
c. But after their own lust “they shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” they will search for the doctrines that satisfy the lust of the flesh and not the spirit.
d. They shall “turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables;” they will choose error in place of truth.
e. But “watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” But you must be on guard, to stand and preach against these heresies. You must endure afflictions; do the work of an evangelist and make full proof of thy ministry.
f. Conclusion: In these verses, Paul reminds the preach that a “falling away” a “departure from the faith” or the church “will not endure sound doctrine.” They shall “turn away their ears from the truth,” as a result of preachers that have “itching ears.” The church shall “turn away their ears from the truth and be turned unto fables.” The church must remain on guard for such departures even in our day and times.
B. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly. The Spirit clearly spoke in revelations to Paul and other inspired men regarding this departure, 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:3. This will occur in the latter times; in the not so distant future. He doesn’t suggest how far away this departure lurks; he merely states it will come. Paul affirms: “some shall depart from the faith.” There shall be a “great apostasy.” Paul in this Letter notes some signs or teachings of this great apostasy. Notice:
1. First, they are giving heed to seducing spirits. The apostle seems to recognize a supernatural element which speaks by false prophets, in false utterances which claim to be from God. These seducing spirits might work through hierarchs, who claimed to speak for God, or through councils which claimed to make infallible utterances.