1 Timothy 4:16 (KJV)
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
A Love for Truth
As time passes and we become further removed in time from the historic beginning of the apostolic church, the assault upon its foundational truths and principles becomes more intense. In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he warned against false teachers and false doctrines that would inevitably threaten the very character and nature of the apostolic church.
Satan’s assault on the church of this present day is his final attempt to weaken and immobilize the church, and prevent it from accomplishing its mission of world evangelism. If we are to take a stand against false doctrine and false teachers, we first must come to know and cherish the apostolic doctrines and truths as they are set forth in the Word of God.
As we near the end of the age and the culmination of the battle between good and evil, false prophets and false teaching will abound more and more. Knowledge shall increase, yet people will continue in error and fulfill the Scripture:
2 Timothy 3:7 (KJV)
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Although the truth of God’s Word will shine brighter as we near the dawning of a new day, gross darkness shall cover the people who choose to walk in iniquity. (See John 3:19-20.)
A. The Spiritual Conflict
In an attempt to confuse and delude the Church, Satan has crafted a world view that seeks to obscure the clear distinctions that separate right from wrong and good from evil. Today we live in a world culture that acknowledges no moral or spiritual absolutes. Rather, society lives within the gray shadows of relativism. Satan knows that if he can blur the distinctions between holiness and unrighteousness – between right and wrong – it will become easier to cause God’s people to stray from the path of righteousness and truth.
1 Timothy 4:1 (KJV)
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
The word “expressly” in I Timothy 4:1 translates from the Greek word rhetos, which means “clearly” or “distinctly.” The voice of the Spirit, the Word of God, speaks clearly and distinctly for fear that there should be confusion and misunderstanding with regard to spiritual conditions in the latter days. The Word of God warns us that sin will abound in the latter times and that it will separate mankind from God further than ever before. The war for the souls of mankind will increase as every facet of man’s existence comes under strong attack.
Times like these, compel us to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ clearly and distinctly so that as many as possible might come to a fuller understanding and reception of God’s grace. The message of repentance of sins, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and receiving the Holy Ghost is more important than ever before!
Joel 2 clearly points to a future fulfillment “in the last days” (Acts 2:17). This outpouring of the Spirit will follow a time of national repentance upon the part of Israel just prior to Israel’s complete regathering and restoration. Israel will be exhorted by the sound of the trumpet in Zion to repent with fasting, weeping, and mourning for “the day of the LORD” will be near (Joel 2:1).
Joel continued, and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come… ” (Joel 2:29-31; 3:1-2).
Concerning the outpouring of God’s spirit on the day of Pentecost, Peter said:
Acts 2:16 (KJV)
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
B. The Great Apostasy
Apostasy, or departure from the faith, translates from the Greek word aphistemi and indicates an instigation to revolt or remove oneself from apostolic doctrine and principles. Similarly, Israel will abandon the promises that God gave to Abraham to possess the land of Palestine by compromising its inheritance and making peace with the Antichrist.
A similar Greek word, apostasia, occurs in II Thessalonians 2:3 and is translated “falling away.” It carries the meaning of defecting from or forsaking the truth. As we draw nearer to the coming of Jesus Christ, many who once professed apostolic truth will compromise their faith in order to be at peace with the world.
Declining moral and spiritual values will engulf these compromisers of the faith that they will become indistinguishable from the world. A subtle spirit will seduce those who compromise truth, and it will cause them to accept clever imitations of the master deceiver, Satan himself. These deceptions and false doctrines will be disguised in language and appearance that will appeal to those who seek self-justification. We should beware! (See I John 4:1-5.)
The term “seducing spirits” translates from the Greek word planos, which implies going astray or wandering out of the way; it is to be erratic or to mislead as an imposter. Even now there are many false prophets and false teachers who lead many astray by imitating the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit while abandoning the admonition to walk before God in holiness of mind and body.
C. The Corrupt Generation
The unrighteous living of this generation is predicated upon pleasure. The prevailing adage of this age is “if it feels good, do it.” Nothing is considered bad that satisfies the appetite of the flesh. But the Scriptures declare that in the last days individuals would love pleasure more than God (II Timothy 3: 1-4).
How easy it is for them to rationalize their sins, believing that the end justifies the means. Iniquity and deceit abound in every area of life as a testimony that we are living in the last days. Isaiah’s admonition to Israel is as relevant in our day as it was then.
Isaiah 5:18-20 (KJV)
18 Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:
19 That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!
20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
This generation has been victimized by the doctrines of easy believism and once saved always saved. Preachers of perverted pulpits preaching a message that suggests that a person can be saved by only a simple confession of faith. This “gospel” of easy believism requires no repentance and makes water baptism an unnecessary option to be administered at the convenience of the “believer.”
There is no record in the New Testament where anyone “accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior” by a mere profession of faith. But in all instances where men and women accepted the gospel, their response of faith prompted them to repent of their sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Mark 16:16 (KJV)
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Luke testified of the Samaritan believers,
Acts 8:12 (KJV)
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 8:14-17 (KJV)
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
This scripture passage clearly identifies the baptism of the Spirit to be different than the baptism of water. We need both. We can be saved only through the transforming power of the Holy Ghost; Jesus alone can save us from our sins. (See Acts 5:3 1-32.)
If we are to escape the delusions and ungodly lifestyles of the last days, we must renew our love and appreciation for the truth. The surest way to recognize the counterfeit doctrines of evil seducers is to familiarize ourselves with the apostolic doctrines of the New Testament church. By following after the apostles’ doctrine, we can avoid the perilous paths of compromise and human reasoning that pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is not enough to know the truth, but we must cling to it with our whole heart:
2 Thessalonians 2:7 (KJV)
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
2 Thessalonians 2:10 (KJV)
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
William Penn made this statement: “Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
We need to get a love for the truth.