Here in the United States, we are in the midst of a moral revolution. The prevailing cultural view is that truth and morality are individually and socially determined. We have unashamedly rejected God from the moral equation. Biblical morality has not only been rejected, but is openly mocked. As a result, Biblical notions of right and wrong, truth and error have come under open attack. If truth is relative, as society assumes it is, then you can’t say with any true moral authority that anyone is wrong, or that anything is immoral. All you can say is, “I don’t like it.” So how do we determine is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil?
In the opening five verses of chapter 4, Paul is trying to drive home one simple point to Timothy and his first century readers: Don’t allow your thinking to be compromised by unbiblical notions (vv.1-6). Much of what passes as “truth” or “moral and right” today is actually demonic in origin (v. 1). Satan’s strategy from the very beginning has been to persuade us to doubt what God has said (Genesis 3:1). Satan does more than just create doubt in Eve’s mind concerning God’s command; he intentionally misrepresents what God has said. Satan loves to negatively portray the biblical boundaries God has wisely set for us. By listening to Satan’s lie, Adam and Eve sowed the seeds for all the evil we see in the world today. It all began when our first parents rejected God’s good and perfect commandments. We have been following their lead ever since. Those who propagate unbiblical teaching serve as Satan’s unwitting pawns (v. 2). Paul called these teachings the doctrines of demons, because that is their source. Satan is the god of this world, and he propagates his agenda through human agents whose consciences have been seared to Biblical truth.
Satan’s lies manifest themselves in our world in many ways (v. 3). In 1 Timothy 6:3, Paul is battling an error called “asceticism”: The idea that abstinence from physical things is essential to spiritual purity. If at any time, for spiritual reasons, we legalistically draw boundaries that are more confining than what God has drawn, we are guilty of asceticism. In Ephesus where Timothy was ministering, these false teachers were teaching that if you want to be truly spiritual, you will abstain from sex and limit yourself to eating certain foods, perhaps vegetables only. Satan traffics in the unbalanced Christian life. He tends to urge us toward polar extremes.
Satan is a liar and a deceiver—and he seeks to propagate his lies and deceptions throughout human society through his unwitting followers. Perhaps the biggest lie Satan has successfully promulgated is that we are alone in the universe, and that man, rather than God, is the center of all things. Once that lie has been accepted, God’s good moral boundaries begin to fall, one by one. In a world without a divine moral lawgiver, man decides what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and immoral. We presume to arrogantly act as though we answer to no one but ourselves. Right and wrong is whatever we say it is. When you take God out of the world, it leads to moral confusion and chaos. Our selfish desires, rather than a biblically- informed conscience, become our moral guide. And because the human heart is easily inclined toward evil, it is not leading society to a good place. We are merely reaping what we have sown. This prevailing mindset poses a great challenge to the Christian church as we seek to speak truth to our culture. What is the remedy to this demonically-inspired, dangerous, and defective world view? The gospel! It is the truth that is there is a God who loves the world so much that he sent his only Son to reveal himself to us and to bear the guilt of our sin on a Roman cross.
This same God has given us a divinely-inspired book called the Bible, in which he reveals his divine will for mankind. It is a blueprint for successful living in God’s world. The truths revealed in this book are God’s answer to Satan’s lies. False teaching can only be identified and corrected by an appeal to the Scriptures (vv. 4-5). If you don’t have a good biblical grid, you will be susceptible to embracing and propagating Satan’s lies. You will become part of the problem rather than part of the solution! How do you detect a lie? You compare it to what the Scripture says. It is not that difficult. You need to become familiar with the Scriptures. When you hear something that differs from the Scriptures, you will know it is wrong. If we are to become astute at detecting error, we need to constantly be growing in our familiarity with the Scriptures. As Paul states, if we want to be “good servants of Christ Jesus,” we must “constantly nourish ourselves on the words of the faith and of sound doctrine” (v. 6).
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Become a student of the Bible by using Talking Points, Walking Points.
- Buy and read a good doctrine survey, such as: A Survey of Bible Doctrine by Charles C. Ryrie (ISBN: 978-0802484383, Check search link on Amazon.) Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem (ISBN: 978-0310255994, Check search link on Amazon.) – (TCC doesn’t manage links to external site resources so if link is broken we apologize but, please feel free to let us know: email@example.com)
- If you would like to know God personally, contact us here (connect.tcc.org) Scroll down to the Ministry Information Request section and mark the first or second checkbox. We look forward to helping!