Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

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Counterfeit Theology

1Timothy 4

In this chapter Paul reveals the source behind the false doctrine that was spreading around Ephesus - commands Timothy to point them out, then encourages him to keep doing the things a pastor does, even if people put him down.\r
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As a pastor in this role Timothy needed:\r
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- A strong sense of the opposition\r
- Strong convictions of what was true\r
- Strong leadership skills\r
- A Strong calling\r
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Not with arrogance and self seeking but self sacrificing and a strong personal integrity. \r
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Here we learn by contrast (the false teachers and some of the church members) and by example (Timothy).\r
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1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. \r
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Jesus predicted this:\r
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Mark 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect - if that were possible.\r
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How does this work? In 2 Chronicles 18 Ahab and Jehoshaphat got together to find out information about a battle they were planning. And the prophet Micaiah told these kings why their prophets were all saying that they would win.\r
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2 Chron 18:18-21 I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing on his right and on his left. 19 And the LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?' \r
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"One suggested this, and another that. 20 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.' \r
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"'By what means?' the LORD asked. 21 "'I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. \r
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"'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.' \r
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Paul also predicted that many would "abandon the faith." \r
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2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. \r
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"Abandon" is from the word where we get "apostasy" and means to depart from the teachings of the Christian community. Today we find this rampant - people deciding that what the church has believed for thousands of years based on clearly expressed doctrine from the Scriptures is not valid for today. They claim to be Christians but if they depart from the gospel of Jesus they are NOT believers.\r
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Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! \r
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Look at the source of the lie: "deceiving spirits" and "demons" \r
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Alternate translation: 1 Timothy 4:1 God's Spirit clearly says (or, states) that in these last days some people will stop believing the Christian teachings; they will instead obey false teachings inspired by lying evil (or, dirty) spirits (or, demons).\r
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So we have two parts - first doubt and then rejection of the gospel, then that opens them up to listen to, heed, and then follow teachings that are inspired by demons. Satan wants people to follow ANY way other than Jesus and has sprouted countless counterfeit religions to hopefully confuse people by shear numbers. \r
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Look now how Paul describes the bearers of this false doctrine:\r
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2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. \r
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They are hypocrites because they don't realize that while they on the outside want to be seen as teachers in the Christian church they are actually teaching the lies of Satan.\r
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How this happens is through the "searing" of the conscience. Our conscience is a leftover from the creation - our moral compass to know right from wrong. In a fallen world it is not perfect - it can be overly sensitive (you think things are wrong that aren't, like eating certain foods) or it can be "seared."\r
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To "sear" is where get the word "cauterize" and it means to "brand" like a cattle or a hot steak on the barbeque. If you ignore your conscience long enough it loses sensitivity - like a scar caused by a hot brand. \r
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The word to us is: don't ignore your conscience, but let it be informed by God's Word. So here are some of the results of the doctrine taught by these men:\r
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3 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. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. \r
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This type of teaching eventually became Gnosticism - the belief that anything physical (like sex and eating) is bad - and to be more spiritual you abstain from these things. Clearly Paul says that food and marriage are both given to us by God and we should just be thankful for them. (Mark 7:19, Acts 10:15 for food) And if God declared them to be good then as Christians we can use them as God intended for good or "consecrated" purposes.\r
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So now Paul turns to encouraging Timothy in his role as a pastor: It's broken up into three sections: 6-10 be proactive in addressing the controversy and make sure you know the truth from the lie, 11-14 be personally accountable to what God has called you to do, and then 15-16 don't waver in the face of opposition.\r
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6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. \r
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9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. \r
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Paul is saying: "Timothy, you got a good spiritual education, now apply and communicate it to your people - steering away from sugary sweet made-up lies - and focus on spiritual training." His people are going to need it. Notice that he says "physical training is of some value" - like an "in your face" slam at the proto-Gnostics who believed that only spiritual things are of value. \r
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But it's not just spiritual things that we need to focus on but becoming "like God" or "godliness." Don't put your hope in physical exercise or in spiritual mumbo-jumbo - put your hope in a real living God - labor to know Him and become like Him!\r
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11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. \r
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Paul didn't want Timothy to stop just because of opposition or because he was young. Age has nothing to do with serving the Lord - it is maturity and the anointing of the Spirit that matters. \r
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Not only was Timothy to read and teach the Word - but let his life speak as well - everything he said, what he did, and how he relied on the Lord.\r
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When you have a gift from God you need to use it. There have been times in my life when through opposition I have been tempted to just hang it all up. But we are not our own - we belong to God and we have a responsibility to use those gifts He has given us.\r
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15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. \r
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If you are on the front lines - dealing with deception and false teaching - it is important to watch yourself - that you don't get bitter or get pulled off the mark.\r
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Timothy was doing more than just holding his own - he was an example to the rest of the body.\r
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Conclusions\r
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How does a chapter like this affect our lives as Christians?\r
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1. Be aware that false teaching is out there, and it's demonic\r
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Don't just soak up everything you hear - be like the Berean's who "searched the Scriptures daily to see if the things Paul said were true."\r
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Be like the Apostle John who said in 1 John 1: "test the spirits to see whether they are from God." \r
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The best way to tell a counterfeit is to be very knowledgeable about the real thing. \r
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Ask questions, pray, watch out for "fad" theology. The point will always be to draw you away from the Lordship of Jesus Christ.\r
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2. Don't encourage bad doctrine\r
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Paul tells Timothy "have nothing to do" with that garbage. Don't attack people - but also don't let anyone say anything unchallenged. Maybe you don't have all the answers but you can say "you know, I don't buy what you're saying and I think you ought to check it out in the Word."\r
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3. Go into training\r
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At the same time we need to be training ourselves in God's Word. If you are here or listening to this message you are taking a good step. Encourage others to do the same. Become a student of the Word, devoted to a conversation with God in prayer, lifting up thanksgiving to Him in worship, and regularly give Him access to your life to change you and use you to teach out to others.\r
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