1Ti 4:1-3 “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; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
Paul speaks of a sad truth in verse one of this chapter. This is an understanding that he has received from the Spirit. It is clearly understood, spoken in plain language. In the days to come, there will be those who abandon the faith.
This was true in Paul’s day. It was something that he told Timothy to remind the brethren of these things (1Tim. 4:6). There are still those today who depart from the faith. This will continue until there is no more time.
We must consider the scriptures as a whole, or else this statement might lead some to believe that we can lose our eternal salvation. Thankfully, that is not in our hands to gain or to lose. Christ suffered one time for sins, the just (Christ) for the unjust (us), to bring us to God (1Pe. 3:18). Jesus himself declared that He gives unto His sheep eternal life; they shall never perish or be plucked from His hand (John 10:28).
We see all to clearly the trend of the things of the world becoming more important to some who know that they have Jesus to thank for their salvation than He is. These have departed from (abandoned) the faith (reliance upon Christ). They have been seduced by the spirit of carnality to believe that money, sports, hobbies, and any number of other things are a reasonable replacement for their service to God. In an effort to succor themselves, they often claim that the Spirit has given them liberties or instructions that the word of God does not bear out (speaking lies in hypocrisy).
We realize that there are times in most of our lives when we stumble. Our conscience pains us so that we quickly look to our Father for forgiveness and help to get back on His highway. However, it is obvious here that those who have truly abandoned the faith do not have this deterrent any longer. Their conscience has been seared with a hot iron.
Today, we would call this searing with a hot iron cauterization. Many of us probably know someone who has had a nerve cauterized to stop them from being in chronic pain of some sort. Cauterization desensitizes the nerve so that the pain is not felt, but it does not cure the cause of the pain. Paul tells us in Romans that God cauterizes the conscience of those who do not like to hold Him in their knowledge.
This is not a good thing, nor is it a “cure” for their disobedience. God has marked them so that His believing children should have a witness of where such an action leads. Those whose consciences are seared begin to declare that ungodly and immoral behavior is acceptable. They will counsel that we reject the word of God as being outdated at best or a blatant lie altogether.
God has given us the commitment of marriage as a way to understand and honor Jesus Christ and His relationship with His bride. He has provided us with meat (both natural and spiritual) for our growth and strengthening. To be clear, Paul’s instruction here is not a counsel against being a vegetarian or a vegan. It is a warning against men commanding us to shun that which God provides when we should receive it with thanksgiving.
May we treasure the truth and mercy of God and be thankful that we have a conscience that is intact!