— The Preaching and Teaching Ministry of Kevin A. Pierpont

Teach the Truth – 1 Timothy 4:1-6

John MacArthur tells of a “pastor of a very well-known Bible church, one that taught the Word of God. Today he is a denier of the deity of Jesus Christ. He is a professor at USC, one who does everything he can to turn young people away from Christianity. He also falls into the category of an apostate, someone who knows the truth, has all the information about the truth, and willfully turns his back on the truth for his own pursuit.” 1

It is rather disturbing to think that someone who once professed Christ could turn His back on the truth and lead others astray. While apostasy should disturb us it should not surprise us. In the passage we will look at today Paul warns of false teachers who will lead others astray. Let’s look at 1 Timothy 4:1-6,

4:1  Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

2  speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

3  forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

4  For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;

5  for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

6  If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

We notice first of all that in latter times some will abandon the faith.  When exactly are these latter times Paul is referring to here?

We first need to understand that the first coming of Christ began the latter or last times.

Ray Stedman points out that this is “more properly understood when it is translated ‘in succeeding seasons there will be many departing from the faith’ ” This is something that would take place throughout history and was even taking place in the early church. 1 John 2:18 says,

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

MacArthur says, “From the first coming of our Lord to His return, through all this age of the church, apostasy will occur and escalate toward the end when “most people’s love will grow cold” ( Matt. 24:12 ).” 2

John points out that though there will one day be the antichrist who will come, that antichrists were already present. False teachers have been around since the beginning of the church and today they still plague us.

Notice in verse 1 of 1 Timothy 4 Paul points out that the Holy Spirit had clearly spoken about the false teachers that would arise. When Paul states some will depart from the faith, he’s addressing the fact that apostasy will occur. It is significant that Paul says some will depart from the faith. These are not simply those who have rejected the faith, rather it is referring to those who have professed faith but now have departed from it. It is rather sobering to think of those within the church, professing to know Christ, actually being used by Satan.

We find an example of this in Matthew 16:21-23 where Satan was attempting to use someone very close to Christ.

21  From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

22  Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”

23  But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Peter, one of Christ’s disciples was vulnerable to Satan’s schemes. We too are vulnerable. That is why it is so important that we are on guard in our own lives. We also must guard against false teachers and not be deceived by them. In Acts 20:30 Paul warns that false teachers would arise from within the church:

30  “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

Clearly we need to be on our guard. We must be students of the Word not students or followers of men. We need to be committed to sound teaching of the Word of God and beware of those, even in the church, who would distort Scripture.

Notice in the latter part of verse one that those who abandon the faith are following, deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.

One commentator points out that,

“Spiritual error is seldom due to innocent mistakes. It is more often due to the conscious strategies of God’s spiritual enemies. The teachings of demons are false doctrines taught by errorists whose views are instigated by demons.” 3

Keep in mind. It is usually Satan, the father of lies, who is behind false teaching. John 8:44 reminds us that Satan,

“was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

Back in 1 Timothy 4:2 it describes the false teachers who are spreading the demonic teachings as speaking lies in hypocrisy.

Notice that Paul says the false teachers are hypocritical liars. Warren Wiersbe explains it this way:

“These false teachers preach one thing but practice another. They tell their disciples what to do, but they do not do it themselves. Satan works “by means of the hypocrisy of liars” (1 Tim. 4:2, literal translation). One of the marks of a true servant of God is his honesty and integrity: He practices what he preaches. This does not mean he is sinlessly perfect, but that he sincerely seeks to obey the Word of God. He tries to maintain a good conscience.”

Many years ago there was a well-known leader who “made free use of Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government. He assumed the earnestness of a man weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Indeed, Adolf Hitler was a master of outward religiosity—with no inward reality!” 4

Many were lead astray by Hitler. Unfortunately many are led astray within the church when false teachers arise and people are deceived and follow their teachings.

Something that will speak volumes about a teacher is whether or not he lives what he teaches? Is his life marked by obedience to God’s Word or by hypocrisy?

In verse 2, Paul goes on to say that false teachers’ consciences have been seared with a hot iron. These false teachers are not sensitive to their own sin. Think about the image Paul is depicting for us. If you were to take a hot branding iron to your skin, you would feel pain at first but it would soon become hard and callused and the feeling for pain for a while would be lost.

The story is told of a little girl in London who 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. 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.

As a teenager, she became much more careful, but would occasionally look at blisters and burns on her hands and wonder how it happened. She was insensitive to pain! Medical specialists were baffled by her condition. It is called ganglion uropathy. 5

There is another insensitivity, which is deadlier and more dangerous— insensitivity to sin! Paul said of this malady: having their own conscience seared with a hot iron (1 Tim. 4:2).

We need to guard against false teachers and the hypocrisy in their lives and teaching. We also need to be on guard in our own lives as well.

Have you ever found you’ve grown insensitive to sin in your life? It’s easy to drop your guard. Something may bother you greatly at first that if you continue to expose yourself to, you will gradually lose your sensitivity to it.

Here’s an experiment you can try at home to demonstrate this truth. If you are in the habit of watching television regularly try turning it off for one week, seven days. After that week is up turn the television back on. I believe what you will discover is that in the previous week you will have missed a steady diet of shows that make sin a joke or frequently use our Lord’s name in vain and you will have become more sensitive to the depravity of man and the wickedness that so easy to get used to when you constantly saturate your mind with those kinds of things. Not everything on television can be construed as evil but far too much of it can be.

The same can be said for the company we keep, the books and magazines we read and the places we go. Be on guard against hypocrisy in your own life!

Verse 3 says these false teachers are,

3  forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Note that they forbid people to marry. Who ordained marriage? Genesis 2:18 tells us God did.

18  And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Here are false teachers forbidding people to marry when God in His Word has said, it isn’t good for man to be alone. Why should man forbid something that God has declared good? It is not more holy or spiritual to be either married or unmarried. It’s easy for us to get caught up in a list of things to do or not to do thinking we will be made more holy by keeping our list. But it is the heart God is concerned with. When our hearts are right with Him the right conduct will follow. So often we are guilty of reversing the process and thinking that by following a certain lists of “do’s or don’ts” our hearts will be right with God. We must concentrate first on our hearts. Right actions will flow.

Notice the false teachers also ordered their followers to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. Beware of those who have a list of do’s and don’ts.

This is what Jesus said in Mark 7:14-23.

14  When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand:

15  “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.

16  “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

17  When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable.

18  So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him,

19  “because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”

20  And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.

21  “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22  “thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.

23  “All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Here we have teachers convincing their followers to be careful what they put in their mouths. But what did Jesus say? He said the food we take in doesn’t make us unclean. Verse 19 in Mark states that Jesus, thus declared all foods clean (NASB). For a teacher to command his followers to abstain from certain foods when Jesus has clearly stated that all foods are clean is to disregard the Word of God. Check everything by the book. See for yourself how a given teaching compares to the Bible.

Verses 4 and 5 go on to say,

4  For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;

5  for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Many of us probably pray and give thanks to the Lord before we eat. Have you ever wondered why we do this? Is this just a meaningless tradition that has evolved and we continue to follow? No. Deuteronomy 8:10 gives an example of the Israelites thanking God for their food.

10  “When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.

John Gill, who preached in the same church as C. H. Spurgeon over one hundred years earlier, wrote a verse by verse commentary of the New Testament. Listen to his comment on 1 Timothy 4:4.

“And thus our Lord Jesus Christ, at meals, used to take the food, and bless it or ask a blessing on it, Matthew 14:19. And so did the Essenes among the Jews, and the Christians in Tertullian’s time; and the practice is highly necessary and commendable, nor ought it to be disused.”

Note what Matthew 14:19 says,

19  Then He (Jesus) commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.

Jesus set the example for us. He gave thanks for food before it was eaten. It’s a good thing for us to do as well, to stop and take a few moments to give thanks to the One who has provided our every need.

Everything God created is good. It is our responsibility to accept what He has given to us with thanksgiving.

Stedman says…

“See everything coming to you as a gift that you have no right to, but it is yours by the grace and mercy of God. Thanksgiving is a recognition that you do not possess anything in yourself, that everything comes as a gift from a loving God. When you do that you recognize two wonderful things: First, that God gave these things to our race for our enjoyment and enrichment. He did not give them that we might practice denial of them; he wanted us to have them.

When you take everything as a gift of God — your life, your breath, your family, your friends, your clothing, your food, your circumstances, your trials, your pressures, your problems– and thank God for them, then they are rendered safe. You no longer are the king on the throne, dictating to the rest of the world how to behave; you are a humble recipient of the gift from the Father’s hand.”

Thanksgiving should be a regular part of our lives.

Look again at verse 6,

6  If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

Notice that Paul points out that Timothy will be a good minister by pointing out the errors of false teachers. A good pastor will point out erroneous teaching so that the people are not led astray.

In the last part of verse 6, Paul mentions that Timothy has been brought up in the truths of the faith and has followed good teaching. It is vitally important for a pastor to be grounded in the Word of God. In fact it is important that all of us as believers are firmly grounded in the Word.

John Gill says that…
“a minister of Jesus Christ is one of His making, qualifying, calling, and sending; and who makes Christ, the doctrines respecting His person and offices, His grace, righteousness, and salvation, the subject of his ministry; and he is a good one, who, besides having a good work of grace wrought in him, has good gifts and abilities from Christ, and who makes a good use of them, and freely and fully imparts them for the good of others; and being employed in a good work, he abides in it, and nothing can deter or remove him from it; and such an one was Timothy, and so would it be manifest by doing what the apostle hints unto him; as well as he would appear to be “

A good minister is nourished by the words of faith and of good doctrine and he is faithful to pass that nourishment on to others.

Paul has warned us that false teachers can arise in the church. We need to be on guard against false teaching. We have examples of this in our day just as Paul and Timothy had it in theirs. Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Scientists are just a few examples of the deception around us. One very clear test of whether or not a teacher or teaching is false is to ask, “How do they view Jesus?”  John points this out clearly in 1 John 4:1-3,

4:1  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

2  By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,

3  and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

Examine carefully what is being taught about Christ. All of the major cults have distorted Jesus and the Christ they preach is not the Christ of the Scriptures.

Ron Hutchcraft says something that closely relates to what we’ve been learning today. He says…

“I remember that one time years ago that our area had a garbage strike. I think we’ve finally gotten rid of the special aroma in our garage after all these years. See, the garage It just piled up while the sanitation folks figured out their deal – and it took a while. Since I know how nasty the garbage can get, I’m sympathetic to the man I heard about recently. There was a garbage strike in his area, and he came up with a creative way to get rid of all that accumulating junk. He simply took some of his garbage each day, put it in a box, and gift wrapped it. Then he left that little gift each day on the bus or the subway as he commented. I’m not sure what happened to any of the lucky recipients of all those packages, . . . but you have to admit – if you’ve got garbage to move, it’s pretty smart to gift wrap it.

That man was not the first to think of that idea. Satan thought of it a long time ago. He’s got garbage he wants you to pick up. And he knows you won’t take it unless it’s gift-wrapped. He has no product to give you except pain and disappointment, slavery, death. But he does know how to create a package that will get things into your life you would never let in if you knew what it was. Satan never starts with where he wants to take you – you don’t find that out until it’s too late.

It’s because the devil gift wraps his junk that Paul tells us in II Corinthians 2:11 to not let Satan “outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” Like gift-wrapping death. Like the man with pretty garbage, making it look like something it isn’t.

What kind of gift-wrapping does he use? Well, your enemy sometimes puts his garbage in an ENTERTAINING package. His goal is to get you to just THINK IT . . . then to WANT what he got you thinking about . . . then to DO what he got you to want . . . . and finally to PAY FOR IT. And the easiest way to plant sin in your heart is when your guard is down – in music you love, a movie you really wanted to see, a clever or popular TV show, a book. But inside what may be a very entertaining package may be images and ideas and values Satan wants to use to ruin you.

Your enemy also puts his garbage in a PERSONAL package – he gets it into your life through a person you really like or respect. He sends the garbage through a teacher you really respect . . . . or someone of the opposite sex you’re attracted to . . . or friends you really don’t want to lose. Satan knows that if he has his sinful idea delivered to you by the right person, you might fall for his lie.

And the devil sometimes even gift-wraps his lies in a SPIRITUAL package – getting you to wander away from Jesus into something that sounds very spiritual but is very wrong. Dead wrong. They may talk about God, about spirituality, about meditation, about the Bible – anything that sounds almost Christian – but is a deadly detour from the truth.

You can just assume that the enemy is trying to wear you down right now in some area – by offering you garbage in a package that really disarms you. That’s why God wants you to know who you really are. In II Corinthians 6:16ff., He says, “We are the temple of the living God. As God has said, ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. . . Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.” Don’t even touch the package – God lives in you . . . you are God’s blood-bought child . . . don’t pollute yourself with the devil’s stinking garbage – no matter how irresistible the wrapping paper. It’s trash, no matter how good it looks!6

There is a lot of gift-wrapped garbage in these days. We need to be on our guard that false teaching does not take place in God’s church.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you need to take care that you are not led astray and deceived by those who are teaching things contrary to the Word of God. You need to be sure you aren’t hypocritical in your own life.

The only way we can stand firm is to be students of God’s Word.

Are you a student of God’s Word?

1 Cited by John MacArthur, Sermon on Jude 8-13

2 MacArthur NT Commentary on 1 Timothy

3 Bible Knowledge Commentary

4 Today in the Word, June 3, 1989

5 Source Unkonwn

6 Copyright © Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc. Permission to reproduce this material is automatically granted on the condition it will be used for non-commercial purposes, will not be sold, and will be distributed for the sole purpose of expanding the Gospel.