Warning to Christians: Defection, Seducing Spirits, Apostasy

Ti 4:1  “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…”

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly,…. The prophecy hereafter mentioned was not an human conjecture, but, as all true prophecy, it came from the Spirit of God, who spoke or delivered it; either in the prophets of the Old Testament, who, as they spoke of the Gospel dispensation, so of the defection that should be in it; and particularly of antichrist, and of the apostasy through him, which is what is here intended, especially in Daniel’s prophecies, under the names of the little horn, and vile person, Dan_7:1 and Dan_11:1, or in the Lord Jesus Christ, who foretold that false prophets would arise and deceive many; or in some of the prophets in the Christian church, such as Agabus, and others, who might in so many words foretell this thing; or rather in the apostle himself, at this time, since this prophecy was delivered not in dark sayings, in an enigmatical way, in an obscure manner, as prophecies generally were, but in plain language, and easy to be understood, and wanted no interpreter to unriddle it; and seeing that it is nowhere to be found in so many express words elsewhere: and moreover, the apostle does not say the Spirit “hath spoken”, but the Spirit “speaketh”; then, at the time of the writing of these words, in and by him. The prediction follows,  that in the latter times some should depart from the faith; that is, from the doctrine of faith, notwithstanding it is indisputably the great mystery of godliness, as it is called in the latter part of the preceding chapter; for from the true grace of faith there can be no final and total apostasy, such as is here designed; for that can never be lost. It is of an incorruptible nature, and therefore more precious than gold that perishes; Christ is the author and finisher of it; his prevalent mediation is concerned for it; it is a gift of special grace, and is without repentance; it springs from electing grace, and is secured by it; and between that and salvation there is an inseparable connection; it may indeed decline, be very low, and lie dormant, as to its acts and exercise, but not be lost: there is a temporary faith, and a persuasion of truth, or a mere assent to it, which may be departed from, but not that faith which works by love: here it intends a profession of faith, which being made, should be dropped by some; or rather the doctrine of faith, which some would embrace, and then err concerning, or entirely quit, and wholly apostatize from. And they are said to be some, and these many, as they are elsewhere represented, though not all; for the elect cannot be finally and totally deceived; the foundation of election stands sure amidst the greatest apostasy; and there are always a few names that are not defiled with corrupt principles and practices; Christ always had some witnesses for the truth in the darkest times: and now this defection was to be “in the latter times”; either of the apostolic age, which John, the last of the apostles, lived to see; and therefore he calls it the last time, or hour, in which were many antichrists, 1Jo_2:18. And indeed in the Apostle Paul’s time the mystery of iniquity began to work, which brought on this general defection; though here it has regard to some later times under the Gospel dispensation; to the time when the man of sin, and the son of perdition, was revealed, and when all the world wondered after the beast: and indeed, such will be the degeneracy in the last days of all, that when the son of man comes, as the grace, so the doctrine of faith will be scarcely to be found in the world: the means by which this apostasy will obtain and prevail will be through men’s giving heed to seducing spirits; either to doctrines which are of a deceiving nature; or to men who profess to have the Spirit of God, and have not, but are evil men and seducers, deceiving, and being deceived; that lie in wait to deceive, and handle the word of God deceitfully; and by attending on the ministry of such persons, through hearing them, and conversing with them, the defection was to begin and spread; and therefore such should be carefully avoided, and their ministry shunned; nor should they be received, nor bid God speed.

And doctrines of devils; such as are devised by devils, as all damnable doctrines be; and all lying ones, for the devil is the father of them; and as are all the false doctrines introduced by antichrist, for his coming was after the working of Satan; and particularly those doctrines of his concerning worshipping of angels, and saints departed, may be called the doctrines of devils, or of “demons”; being much the same with the demon worship among the Heathens, of which the devil was the inventor: unless by doctrines of devils should be meant the doctrines of men, who for their cunning and sophistry, for their lies and hypocrisy, for their malice, and murdering of the souls of men, are comparable to devils.”

Further Reading:
1Ti 4:1 
the Spirit:
Joh_16:13; Act_13:2, Act_28:25; 1Co_12:11; 1Jo_2:18; Rev_2:7, Rev_2:11, Rev_2:17, Rev_2:29; Rev_3:6, Rev_3:13, Rev_3:22
expressly:
Eze_1:3
the latter:
Num_24:14; Deu_4:30, Deu_32:29; Isa_2:2; Jer_48:47, Jer_49:39; Eze_38:16; Dan_10:14; Hos_3:5; Mic_4:1; 2Ti_3:1-9; 1Pe_1:20; 2Pe_3:3; Jud_1:4, Jud_1:18
depart:
Dan_11:35; Mat_24:5-12; 2Th_2:3; 2Ti_3:1-5, 2Ti_4:4
seducing:
Gen_3:3-5, Gen_3:13; 1Ki_22:22-23; 2Ch_18:19-22; 2Co_11:3, 2Co_11:13-15; 2Th_2:9-12; 2Ti_3:13; 2Pe_2:1; Rev_9:2-11, Rev_13:14, Rev_16:14, Rev_18:2, Rev_18:23; Rev_19:20, Rev_20:2-3, Rev_20:8, Rev_20:10
and doctrines:
Dan_11:35-38; 1Co_8:5-6, 1Co_10:20; Col_2:18; Act_17:18; Rev_9:20 *Gr.

___________
John Gill, Commentary on I Tim 4:1

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