Warning dark days ahead!
When we move to chapter four the mood of the epistle changes. Paul is warning Timothy about apostasy that is coming to the church. The word “apostasy” means a willful turning away from the faith. Apostasy is not something new that is taking over the church in her last days. Apostasy began while Paul was still living. He warned the Ephesian church just before he left that once he departed wicked men (Paul called them wolves) would enter into the church and lead people astray. The apostle John wrote that in his day there were already “many antichrists.”
Apostasy is not new, but I believe it has progressively gotten worse. The words of Paul ring true today. False teachers and preachers have entered the church and are leading multitudes astray. In fact the goal of every apostate is to get people to follow after them instead of following Christ. They don’t win new converts they just steal someone else’s. This will continue to get worse until the day the Lord comes and calls the true church away. At this time the “fake” church that is left behind will enter into total apostasy.
In verses 3-5 Paul tells us two ways that a false teacher will try to control its members. The first way is to control their diet and the second way is to control their marital status. For a church to condemn marriage or to say that being unmarried is more spiritual than being married is a false doctrine. Why would God himself say “It is not good that a man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him” if it was more holy to be unmarried? The answer is that He wouldn’t. It has always amused me that the Catholic Church will not permit their priest to marry when the man they consider to be the first Pope (Peter) had a mother-in-law.
Next the false teacher or false church will try to control your diet. Certain foods are considered to be taboo and are said to affect your spiritual life. How silly! Jesus stated in Mark 7 that all food is clean and He reaffirmed it to Peter in Acts 10. If you can eat something and be thankful for it, then go ahead.
Next Paul warns about the false doctrine these men will teach. In verse seven we are warned against “old wives fables”. This means to attribute something to the Bible that actually is not found in the Bible. People seem to enjoy talking about traditions and preferences instead of studying the Bible. A study group is great as long as your goal is to discover what the Bible teaches, not to get others opinions.
In verse 10 Paul warns Timothy that if he stands up to these false teachers it may cost him something. When we are willing to stand for the truth there will be some who will not like it. In verse 11 the church was saying that Timothy was not qualified to pastor, because of his youth. The only way to deal with opposition is to continue to stand for what is right. Be an example, was Paul’s advise.
So the question is raised “What are we to do in these dark days?” Beginning in verse 13 Paul answers this question. The first thing he says to do is read the scriptures. “Give attendance to” means to devote yourself to something. It was said of D. L. Moody by one of his neighbors, “Every time Mr. Moody comes home, you can just tell how much he’s grown spiritually.” I wonder how many of our neighbors could say that of us.
Don’t neglect the gift God has given to you. I am a firm believer that every saved child of God is given a gift to perform for God’s glory. Do you know what God wants you to do? You should.
Lastly, Paul tells Timothy in verse 15 to meditate on the things he has said. Meditation is a lost art of the church. I don’t mean to sit with your legs crossed and hum to yourself. This word means to be diligent in study, to give yourself wholly to it. Don’t just read the Bible for the sake of reading it. Let it sink in. Take time to see what God is trying to show you.
As I have said, we are living in dark days. Kids are carrying guns to school, our prisons are overflowing, homes are falling apart and people are giving their lives to vices like drugs and alcohol. They are dark days indeed. One of the most frightening things happening today is that many are being lead astray and into apostasy. God help us to know the truth and stand up for it. Please take the time to know what the Bible teaches, its doctrines, its themes and thoughts. If we know right we will be less likely to be lead astray when faced with that which is false.