Welcome to Friday’s podcast. Thank you for journeying with us this week. Next week my colleague Helen Ward will lead us on through Paul’s letter to Timothy.
Our reading today is 1 Timothy 4: 1-5 but today we’ll focus on verse 2:
Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
In chapter 4:1 Paul says ‘The Spirit says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.’ People interpret Paul’s idea that we’re in the ‘later times’ as now. And there are numerous scriptures which define the ‘later times’ – too much to unpack here but one such factor are false teachers who will deceive people through their dodgy teaching. The influence behind their teaching – Paul is at pains to make clear – is the devil himself. Who not only tempts us away from Jesus but will also do his level best to undermine faith. The very first words the devil speaks (we read in Genesis) is ‘Did God really say…’ – he’ll use every trick in the book to undermine us.
The apostle Paul offers various reasons why this is the case but there’s one point that I’d love us to think about today. He says in verse 2 that such ‘teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences been seared as with a hot iron…’
Here’s the thing: Corruption starts with compromise. Very rarely do people ever set out and think “today is a good day to start a really dodgy, flaky and downright heretical teaching ministry”. But it can start, if one is not careful, with simple compromises, which if unchecked, grow over time.
Paul’s point is that some of these dangerous teachers have become flaky on certain issues because they’ve been corrupted in their own personal lives. Their consciences, he says, have become seared – burned – therefore no longer sensitive to God’s spirit.
As with most of Paul’s letter to Timothy there’s so much to say which falls outside the brief of a short podcast. However, how can we practically guard against compromise in our lives? Both in terms of how we live and what we believe?
Whether you’re a leader or not – get accountable to someone.
For the last 7 years I have developed a really positive accountability relationship. It’s been a lifeline. He’s someone who asks me deep, searching and often tricky questions and who offers genuine feedback. Sometimes it’s annoyed me as it’s got under my skin but I honestly think it has been such a growing and learning experience.
I’ve come to learn this – you have to really respect the person you’re accountable to. For example, the way my friend lives, honestly it challenges me. This is really important because I think a lot of accountability relationships degenerate into either a supporting relationship which can become one sided – with one person always giving out or a kind of generic friendship where you ‘catch up’ over a beer and just talk life: football, family and what you’re watching on Netflix. You have to respect the person or you won’t take their input. The reason you have to have respect is that you have to feel safe enough to do what Paul says in Ephesians 5: 21 ‘submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ’ – it’s about bringing your life – and sharing your challenges.
I know he’s for me and got my back but I also know he will ask me tricky and challenging questions which is what I need but it’s also clear – he’s keeping me on track. Do you have someone who can hold you to account?
Father thank you for Paul’s wisdom to Timothy. Help us to be people who are accountable – who open up our lives to others and ask for input.
BIBLE READING: 1 Timothy 4:1-5
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.