Summary: # 8 in a series on 1 Timothy this message deals with Timothy’s charge to stand for the truth.
“Living For Christ In A Confused and Confusing World”
A Study of Paul’s Letters to Timothy
“The Responsibility for the Truth!”
Chapter three ends with a reference to the church as “pillar and foundation of truth.” The preoccupation of chapter four is a warning against the dangers of false teaching and denial the truth of the gospel. According to verse one, in spite of the church’s role as a guardian of the truth, “some will depart from the faith.”
In his responsibility to the truth Timothy is to carry out three duties.
First, He is To Stand For the Truth
In verse one Paul warns Timothy about the causes of error and how to detect it. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”
First, Paul begins by stating that authority for his statement about this false teaching is the Holy Spirit “now the spirit expressly says.” The expression “the spirit says” is much like saying “the scripture says.” Paul here claims explicit divine authorization for his denunciation of the false teachers.
Secondly the timing is expressly stated as “in the latter times.” This is not necessarily a reference to “the Last Days” but to some time after it was written. Like many Bible prophecies it will have a near fulfillment (among the Ephesian believers) and a later fulfillment which will happen many times throughout Church history.
Third, he deals with causes of this false teaching. John Stott in his commentary outlines three causes of this false teaching. The causes of this error are three-fold. First, we are told that it is diabolical in it source. Those who introduce a contrived holiness (asceticism) are acting under the instigation of the Devil. Behind the false teachers is the activity of demonic forces. The Bible reveals that the Satan is not only as a tempter, enticing people into sin, but as a deceiver seducing people into error. This is why otherwise intelligent and educated people can swallow fantastic speculations of cults and the New Age movement. (reincarnation, channeling, harmonic convergence and spirit guides).
One example is a cult called “Heaven’s Gate” headed by a man named Marshall Applegate and Heaven’s Gate Cult. In March of 1997 Applegate and 38 other members of the cult committed suicide in the belief that in so doing they could join members of “the next level above human” on a UFO supposedly hidden behind the Hale-Bopp Comet. What other explanation besides demonic deception could account for otherwise rational people believing such drivel.
Secondly, there is a human cause. This demon inspired doctrines require human involvement to gain entry into the church. Verse two says that this individuals “speaking lies in hypocrisy.” If we are not careful we will pass over this phrase without realizing what a horrible condition is suggests. Their “hypocrisy” is a deliberate pretense and a “lie” is a deliberate falsehood thus they are double liars! These false teachers do not even believe themselves what they are teaching!
Third, the cause is a moral failure. The second portion of verse two says, “having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” The phrase in verse two translated “seared with a hot iron” translate the Gr. Word (kausteriazo) from which we get the medical term cauterize. When skin, nerve or superficial tumor is cauterized, it is destroyed by burning and so rendered insensitive.
“A little girl in London held up her broken wrist and said, “Look, Mommy, my hand is bent the wrong way!” There were no tears in her eyes. She felt no pain whatever. That was when she was four years old.
When she was six, her parents noticed that she was walking with a limp. A doctor discovered that the girl had a fractured thigh. Still she felt no pain.
The girl is now fourteen years old. She is careful now, but occasionally looks at blisters and burns on her hands and wonders, “How did this happen?” She is insensitive to pain! Medical specialists are baffled by the case. It is called ganglineuropathy.
There is another insensitiveness which is deadlier and more dangerous—insensitive-ness to sin! Paul said of this malady: “Having their consciences seared as with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:2). Just as a cauterized conscience has been ‘anaesthetized’ or deadened. [Free Will Baptist - www.bible.org/illus/1Tim]
“Yet, in order for our conscience to be a truly safe guide, it is of equal importance that we allow it to be educated by the infallible standard of God’s word. In 1 Cor 4:4, Paul says, ‘My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me’ (NIV). The Lord judges us by the infallible standard of His word (John 12:48). In order for our conscience, then, to function as God intended, we must allow it to be educated by the word of God. We must not intentionally or persistently violate it by doing what we believe is wrong. Finally, when we do violate it and thus fell guilty, we must correct our actions by repentance, confession and prayer.” [Joe L. Norton Ed. Contending for the Faith: A Commentary ON 1 & 2 Tim, Titus, Philemon. (Irving, TX: Contending for the Faith Pub., 1990) p. 63]