Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #256 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 1 Timothy 4 today and our focus is on What Do Demons Teach? + The Dangers of Christians Propagating Myths, Fake News and False Conspiracy Theories. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Tel-Aviv, Israel, Phitsanulok, Thailand, parts unknown, Russia, Gujarat, India, Kiev,Ukraine, Saskatchewan, Canada, parts unknown, Luxembourg, New Orleans, Louisiana, New York, New York, Greensboro, North Carolina, and Paducah, Kentucky. Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Today’s passage, though short, is quite deep, and even difficult to understand. There are several statements made in 1 Timothy 4 that could all be turned into a whole podcast or more, trying to pin down exactly what Paul is teaching. We won’t attempt to explain everything in the chapter today, but will seek to focus on two things. First – a provocative question. What do demons teach? The answer is really quite surprising, but before we get to it, let’s consider something Paul tells us here that is echoed all throughout the New Testament:
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 1 Timothy 4:1-2
Compare what Paul says there about false teaching in the last days with these passages:
3 Above all, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires, 2nd Peter 3:3
But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. 2nd Timothy 3:1
18 They told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers living according to their own ungodly desires.” Jude 18
4 Jesus replied to them, “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many….11 Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many….24 For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:4,-5, 11, 24
In other words, there are an alarming number of Scriptures that indicate the last days will be characterized by great deception, false teachers, false prophets, and deceptive signs and wonders. In our passage today, Paul indicates some of the things that will be taught – taught by hypocritical liars with seared consciences – meaning they don’t feel bad about doing wrong things – but inspired by deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, who are apparently influencing these hypocritical liars/false teachers. And what sort of doctrines do they teach? Blood sacrifice? The carving of 666 tattoos on your arm? Biting the heads off of bats? Actually no, not all. Something seemingly much more mundane:
3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer. 1 Timothy 4:3-4
This tells us something – false teachings, and teachings that are demonic are not always obviously twisted and hideous. Sometimes false teaching inspired by demons looks legalistic, and is a twisting of the Scripture, or adding commands where God doesn’t command. As Jesus challenged the Pharisees:
2 “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. 3 Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. Matthew 23:2-3
Adding to God’s commands that which He hasn’t commanded can be just as demonic and dark and deceitful as things we would consider more obviously evil – it is worth remembering that. We must take care to never add to nor subtract from God’s Word, lest we be part of the elaborate end-times deception that is to come.
Second topic. I have noticed something over the past few years. More and more and more Christians are online posting about unproven conspiracy theories and claims with the same amount of passion and confidence that they share about the good news. I believe that our passage today challenges that sort of behavior:
7 But have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness. 1 Timothy 4:7
I fear Christians have done much damage to their reputation by posting and writing about so many unverifiable myths with incredible confidence. I place much of the QAnon movement in this category, because much of what has so confidently been predicted by QAnon has proven to be verifiably false, and yet many Christians have shared Q related conspiracies and other similar things with great passion and belief. Is the whole basis of QAnon false? I honestly have no idea, and chances are that 99.9 percent, or greater, of the people reading/listening to this don’t know either. The fact is that the vast majority of us simply aren’t that well connected, and thus we must be very, very careful to have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths. When we post false things, it detracts from our credibility. Shouldn’t followers of Jesus be far more concerned with training in godliness, rather than understanding the deepest and darkest inner-workings of our government? Brothers and sisters: May we have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths! As Spurgeon says:
In these times there are tendencies to absurdities of the same kind, and we should be upon our guard against them. That which pretends to be wiser, deeper, or holier than the word of God must come from the father of lies
C. H. Spurgeon, The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 724.
Let’s read our passage.
Bible Memory verses for the month of September: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
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