By Bob Hoekstra
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
As we continue to alternate between "precious promises" and "unpopular" promises, we come to a prophetic promise of apostasy. Among those who are actually drifting into apostasy, this promise is certainly "unpopular." Additionally, in a church world that wrongly accepts what sounds positive and rejects what sounds negative (instead of rejecting error and accepting truth), this promise is often met with disinterest or, worse, disdain.
"The faith" is the message of the word of God. It is the divine truth in which we are to place our faith, our trust. It especially includes the good news of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our present promise forewarns that there will be those who fall away from "the faith" as the days press closer and closer to the end of the church era. "In latter times some will depart from the faith." Since this is a departure, they seemed to adhere to the word of God for a season. Then, they turned away from it. If they remain active in the church world, their message will no longer reflect the true content of the scriptures. Peter gave a similar warning. "There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them" (2 Peter 2:1). As sure as Israel had false prophets, the church would have false teachers.
Paul provided some insights into their path of apostasy. They would be " giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." Their errors would result from paying attention to concepts that were perpetrated by demonic deception. The devil and his army of evil spirits are intent on confusing and distorting the teaching of the word of God. Typically, such errors feed man's fleshly desires to glorify self.
These apostates would also be "speaking lies in hypocrisy." Not only would their teaching be erroneous, their lives would be marked by falsehoods related to pretense. They would add untrue testimony to their inaccurate message. Perhaps, the reports of their ministerial prowess would be grossly exaggerated.
They would also be "having their own conscience seared with a hot iron." They would teach errors and live lies until their consciences were no longer convicted of sin. Be forewarned. Such apostates undoubtedly abound in these last days.
Lord God of truth, thank You for lovingly warning me of the danger of apostasy. Enlarge my appreciation of such "unpopular" promises. Please help me to cherish the truth of Your word. Give me a heart to know Your word. Sharpen my discernment concerning error. Keep my heart and my message anchored in the truth of scripture, Amen.