Beware of False Teachers

Apple Education

Reading the Word

1 Timothy 4:1–5 (ESV)

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Bible warns of false teaching in many places. In our passage for today, Paul tells us that false teaching will be a mark of the end times. He tells us that false teaching is ultimately the product of demonic influence and liars whose consciences are seared. These are people who do not care about their wrong-doing because they benefit from it in some way. Paul gives two specific examples of false teaching: forbidding marriage and requiring abstinence from food. The reason that Paul gave these two specific examples is because they were likely things that were being taught in the church in Ephesus, where this letter went.

We need to beware of any and all false teaching that may try to creep into our lives and churches. This is why training in doctrine is so vital to our Christian walk. A strong doctrinal foundation shields us from the demonic attack of false teaching. Many churches and Christians have drifted away from doctrinal training in favor of more practical lessons and sermons, but this is problematic in the long run. Doctrinal training may not seem exciting or practical at times, but it is essential for our Christian growth. What does your church do to train believers in correct doctrine?

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Run the Race

Hebrews 121 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish additional material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Hebrews 12:1–2 (ESV)

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 522–23 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Galatians 5:16–24 (ESV)

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul gives us a contrast between living life according to the “flesh” and living life according to the ‘Spirit”. The word flesh in this passage refers to our natural or worldly way of life. It is the life of sin that all people live before they are born again through faith in Jesus Christ. When we come to saving faith in Christ, we are given new life through the power of the Holy Spirit. That new life is a life of holiness and obedience to the word of God. When Paul speaks here of the Spirit, he is referring to the Holy Spirit and the life we live under his direction.

What does new life through the Holy Spirit look like? We are given a list of characteristics beginning in verse 22. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we grow in our Christian lives, these characteristics should become more and more the defining markers of our character. Our old way of life should fade away as the work of the Spirit grows and grows. Lord, let your Spirit continue to work in us and let our lives be a wonderful display of the fruit of your work in our hearts!

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The Grace of God Keeps Us

Jude 24–25 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Jude 24–25 (ESV)

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The gospel teaches us that we are all sinners and in need of a Savior. It tells us that we cannot save ourselves, but God sent his Son into the world to die for the sins of mankind and redeem all who repent and trust in him. Our salvation comes not through what we can earn through good works, but through the love and grace of God.

Today, we read that it is also by God’s grace that believers will one day stand before God blameless. God’s grace not only saves us, but keeps us to the end. He is a wonderful God and worthy of all praise and honor and glory! Jude closes by describing God as our great King who deserves our worship now and forever.

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Submission and Honor in a Pandemic

1 Peter 213–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 13:1–7 (ESV)

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we are living through the Coronavirus pandemic there are going to be many challenges along the way. One of those is deciding how we will respond to the daily changes in restrictions that are being placed on us. I have heard and read much complaining about these things and I understand the reason for some of the complaints, but how should we respond? What is the proper Christian response to what we are facing right now?

The Apostles Paul and Peter are helpful to us. In Romans, Paul tells us that those in authority over us are there because God placed them in their positions. Therefore, we should submit to our leaders. After all, they are working for our good (Romans 13:4). Peter tells us in his letter that we are to submit to our leaders and honor them. Not only should we obey, but we should not be whiners and complainers. We should be the best citizens there are!

As we face each day of this outbreak and as we are asked to self-quarantine or any number of further restrictions, let us remember that our leaders are trying very hard to do what is right and they are working for our good. We may not agree with every decision, but we are called to submit to their authority and we are called to honor them. We do that by not constantly complaining and arguing about the decisions. And we can also do that by praying for our leaders. They have much on their plates right now and need all of the support they can get, especially our prayers.

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Peace Surpassing All Understanding

Philippians 46 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Philippians 4:4–7 (ESV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We are living through circumstances right now that are unprecedented in our lifetimes. The whole world is facing the rapid spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as Coronavirus. Many people are afraid because there are so many questions right now and very few answers. So how should we respond?

In our reading for today, we are told that we do not need to be anxious about anything. We can go to the Lord in prayer about the things that are troubling us. He hears us and he cares for us. When we pray to God, we pray to the Creator of all things and the One who is sovereign over all things. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for the good of those who love him. So, while the world seems like it is in turmoil, we have a God we can talk to and we can have peace knowing he is in control that he is working for our good.

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Avoid Irreverant Babble

argue

Reading the Word

2 Timothy 2:14–19 (ESV)

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

One of the greatest challenges of the Christian life and in the life of the local church is to avoid fighting over things that are meaningless. It causes great harm to personal relationships and can destroy the unity and witness of a church in the community. No one wants to be a part of a church that is tearing itself apart from the inside out. This is why Paul tells Timothy to charge the church to not “quarrel about words” and to “avoid irreverent babble.” Paul was not saying that there is never a time to take a stand. He had no problem correcting Peter (cf. Galatians 2:11). Paul was telling Timothy that some things are not worth it.

Have you ever experienced this in your own life or church? I have heard many pastors and church leaders say that the things that cause the most division in their churches are the little things, not the central doctrines of the Christian faith that must be defended. Would you agree? What types of things should be thought of as “minor”? What are the major things?

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The Lord Is My Shepherd

Psalm 231 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 23:1–6 (ESV)

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm uses the imagery of a shepherd to tell us things about God. He is the one who takes care of his sheep. He leads them and guides them. He protects them from harm. And he makes sure they have all they need to live and thrive. This is what God does for us throughout our lives. And, even when we draw near to the end, when we are in the valley of the shadow of death, we have no reason to fear because we know that God is with us and will guide us even then.

As a pastor, I have found this passage of Scripture to be an all-time favorite of so many. When I visit friends in the hospital or in their homes, especially those dealing with serious health issues, they often ask to hear Psalm 23. It is a great comfort to hear these words and be reminded that God is with us throughout our lives. If you have not already done so, take the time to commit this psalm to memory. It will prove to be a great comfort and encouragement to you throughout your life.

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Love One Another

John 1512–13 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not include supplemental material on Sundays, but I do post a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 15:12–17 (ESV)

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

The Lord Sustains Us

woman lying on couch

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Psalm 3:1–8 (ESV)

1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah

3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.

7 Arise, O LORD!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.

8 Salvation belongs to the LORD;
your blessing be on your people! Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

In Psalm 3, we read the words of David. At the time, he was being pursued by enemies who wanted to take his life. If we use our imaginations, we can picture David on the run and hiding out to preserve his life. We can also imagine what his thoughts and feelings might have been. It seems he would have been a nervous wreck!

In verse 5, David tells us that he “lay down and slept” and “woke again”. In the midst of all that was going on and the constant dangers he faced, David was able to lay down and rest his head peacefully. Why? He was able to do this because he knew that he was in the Lord’s hands. It was God that sustained him through the night and brought him to the next morning.

We can learn a great deal from these verses about resting in the Lord. We may not have personal enemies who want to take our lives, but we may have things going on in our lives that cause fear and anxiety. We may have things that cause us to lose sleep at night. Let us remember that we are in the hands of the all-powerful and all-knowing Lord of all. We can sleep easy.

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