Jump Start # 2640
1 Timothy 4:1 “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”
I wonder how these words fell upon the young preacher Timothy? Instead of things getting better, he is warned that things will get worse. Some will walk away from the faith. It will not be lustful sins that pulls them away but rather the allurement of deceit, false doctrine and myths. The course that these will follow will not end well. Unless they come back to the Lord, they would die in error and their souls would be lost.
There are some lessons to be learned here:
First, some are just not satisfied with the grace, blessings and hope that is found in the Lord. What more could people want? What could be better than the Lord as a Savior and Heaven as a home. Adopted into the family of God. Entrusted with the kingdom of God. It seems that nothing ought to top this. But for some, back then, and even today, this isn’t enough. They want to dapple into the unknown. They want to play God. They want to chase the superstitious. They want to mingle the world with faith. The Gospel way is too simplistic for some. God’s pattern is too boring for some. They would rather chase the lights and the thrills of error than to stay with truth.
Second, it’s easy for shepherds and preachers to beat themselves up when someone chases after error. The thought is, “I should have preached harder on this.” Or, “I should have seen this coming.” Truth is, the hearts of these people were not stable. Rather than paying attention to God’s word, they were paying attention to wrong things. Rather than fellowshipping those who love truth, they were being influenced by those who believe in the crooked and wrong. There comes a point when each person must take ownership of his faith. The church can do so much. The sermons, classes can do so much. But if we continue to chase wild ideas on Facebook, listen to podcasts that are saturated with error, hang out with those who do not respect the authority of God, it won’t be long until we leave the people of God for those who chase error. Fingers can be pointed to the church, the preaching, the leadership, but what one did on his own is the biggest factor here. If we feed our hearts and minds with things that are not true, then that steady diet will fill our veins and destroy our hearts spiritually.
Third, lurking around the people of God has always been error. Some never recognize it. Some are so naïve that they wouldn’t believe a family member or a friend, or a favorite website is totally off center and is dangerous. They listen. They engage in conversation. They never seek independent proof of these false claims. Passages taken out of context, vague historical references and a picture is drawn that leads away from the faith that the apostles preached and taught. Satan is always trying to trip us up. He is always trying to discourage you. He is always putting before your eyes the accounts of disgruntled Christians who happily walk away from the Lord and down the path of error. Happy, free, and having a time of their lives, these folks have deceived themselves into believing that they are more spiritual, more right and more Heaven bound than anyone else. They love to trash talk God’s people and God’s way. Their arrogance makes them above the law. And, their voice pulls others away to follow them. Deceived, fooled, blinded, they do not realize where they are going or what the outcome will be.
Fourth, there is hope in what can be done. Following our verse today, Paul leaves Timothy with two prescriptions that will help the situation. First, “point these things out to the brethren.” Let them know about the deceitful doctrines and the deceivers who spread this stuff. Timothy wasn’t to sit back and watch these things take place. There was an action plan. It always involves teaching God’s word. That is always the solution. Get the book open and see what God says. Truth destroys error, every time. Second, “have nothing to do with worldly fables.” Stay clear of this stuff. Don’t dive in and become an expert in these things. You don’t have to know how crooked something is. Just lay a straight stick beside it and you’ll see that it is crooked. Spend your time with God’s word. Stay clear of these things and stay clear of those who are not interested in God’s way.
Finally, there will always be some who do not want to do what is right. Presented with all the facts in love and gentleness, some will still turn it down and walk away. The pleasure of sin, the comfortableness of where one is, and the commitment necessary to walk with God is enough for some to turn down the hope and promises of God. Some would rather take their chances, even though they really have no chance, than to do what God says. Some of the seed that the sower scattered didn’t produce. Birds, weeds, rocks, shallow depth, is all it takes for some to not become what they could. Deception is powerful. So deceived are some that they are convinced that their choices and their lives are better than that of Christians. That deception has gone so deep into their hearts that they are convinced that they are right. Deceived and not even realizing it, is one of the worst things that can happen.
The words of this verse are so true today. All it takes is for a pandemic, some liberal theology, agitated voices and some will fall away from the Lord. I think so much of this comes down to that one statement in our passage, “paying attention.” What are you paying attention to? Are you giving a platform for error? Are you giving myths, speculations and doubt room in your heart? Are you looking at these things? Or, as we ought to be, are you focusing upon the word of God? Paying attention to God or paying attention to error? That’s what this really comes down to. And, error can look right and still be wrong.
So, what are you paying attention to? What are you allowing to enter into your heart?