Paul wants Timothy to think of God’s people as “the household of God” and “a pillar and buttress of the truth”(1 Tim 3:15). Christians are the people who confess the great mystery of godliness: “He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory”(1 Tim 3:16). This poetic description of salvation from the human perspective is part of what we believe and follow.
But God’s people must uphold the truth because some will reject it. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared”(1 Tim 4:1-2). The Holy Spirit prophesies departures from the faith (apostasies) that will originate with Christians listening to the wrong voices—deceitful spirits, demons, and conscience-seared liars. What form will this apostasy take? “who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth”(1 Tim 4:3). It is apostasy by “over-holiness”—forbidding as spiritually dangerous things that God has given and approved (1 Tim 4:4-5). The attraction of this religion is that we want to feel closer to God by denying ourselves things—and perhaps we want to feel better than others who indulge. The Christian desire for holiness is perverted by new rules God has not given.
Apostasy can happen in different ways. Sometimes it occurs by teaching that God will forgive anything, so we can live however we choose. Apostasy by over-holiness takes the opposite form: we believe that God will not accept us unless we hold to even more stringent rules. It is not spirituality to make long lists of things we are forbidden to do—especially when God has approved of them.
------------- One Thing to Think About: What kind of apostasy is the greater danger for me personally?
One Thing to Pray For: Strength, awareness, and discernment to never “depart from the faith”