By Eric Taylor
Pastor, Cedar Hill Baptist Church, Cedar Hill
Focal Passage: 1 Timothy 4:1-10
While our text for this week contains Paul’s pastoral admonitions and instructions for young pastor Timothy, they should not be viewed as irrelevant to those of us not in vocational, gospel ministry.
The Apostle Paul delivers some sound spiritual advice for all who are living in the “latter times” (1 Timothy 4:1). And while we know that the “latter times,” is a reference to the period between Christ’s ascension (Acts 1:9-11) and His promised return, it sure seems like the Day of His return is drawing near!
Therefore, as we look for the “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13), there are some things we need to be doing. Matter of fact, our text tells us three major disciplines we need.
First, we need to be able to detect apostasy (I Timothy 4:1-3). Now Paul makes it clear that this was not his opinion, but it was a Word from God, as he says, “Now the Spirit explicitly says . . .” There is no denying that the Holy Spirit is still addressing this subject because the church is still filled with those who profess Christ but do not possess Him, nor He them. Matter of fact, the word for “depart” is where we get our word “apostasy.”
Paul gives us two signs of apostasy in the church. There is demonic teaching and deceptive teachers. And what we need to understand is that the false teachers and false teaching Paul describes are not just “mistakes” made by “misinformed,” “well-meaning” teachers, but something that comes from the pit of hell.
These people have had their hearts “seared,” making them unfeeling to the Spirit of truth. In other words, the origin of apostate teaching is hell, and its author is the devil.
Paul addressed this in Acts 20, when he warned the Ephesian elders that “savage wolves” (Acts 20:28) would come from within the church with false teaching with the intention of “drawing disciples away.” (v. 30). Now, here in 1 Timothy 4:2-3, the apostle gives a small sampling of the problems false teachers and their teaching bring to the body.
In other words, we need to be on guard against teachers and teaching that lead people astray and cause others to depart from the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). And Southern Baptists are not immune from this danger.
Next, we must discern the truth (1 Timothy 4:4-5). In other words, we have no right or privilege to add to, or take away from what God says. Apparently, there were some in Paul’s day that added to the Word of God, declaring that marriage was bad, and certain foods were not sinful. Yet Paul says, if God has sanctified it, who are you to say otherwise?
Third, we are to disciple the brethren (vv. 6-8). That is what these last verses are about. The Word of God admonishes us to teach sound doctrine in order that the brethren would also be able to identify error in the church. In verse 7, we are told to reject unsound doctrine, because it is “pointless,” and “silly” (CSB). Other translations say unsound doctrine is “profane,” “useless,” or “godless.”
Finally, we disciple the brethren, to train them for eternity. Whereas it is good to keep physically fit, spiritual health is even more important because the benefits reap eternal blessings.