When People Depart from Faith
When People Depart from Faith
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. (1 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)
Don’t be surprised when some people depart from the faith; God is not.
The Scripture warns of apostasy. Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12 ESV)
The Apostle Paul previously warned that some would swerve from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, some would shipwreck their faith, and others would depart from the faith.
Jesus used the same word for depart in the Parable of the Sower. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. (Luke 8:13 ESV)
In the proximity of the saved, there will be the unsaved. Yes, within the church, some people hear the gospel and receive it with joy but do not allow it to bring genuine transformation because they remain unsurrendered to the Lord who offers it. Such people fall away during difficulties; they depart from the faith.
Apostates are not people who “lost” their salvation; instead, they have yet to be saved. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:19 ESV)
The Holy Spirit makes clear that apostasy is predictable and certain to happen. The closer we get to the return of the Lord, the more common apostasy will be.
People with genuine faith are not at risk of losing it; God promises to keep them.
Paul’s reference to departing the faith is not about losing faith; it is about people close to saving truth who leave without trusting and surrendering to it.
- God gives us eternal life through Jesus. It is permanent. (John 10:27-28)
- God makes us born again, from above. (John 3:3). A person cannot be unborn.
- God begins and completes our salvation. (Philippians 1:6)
- God will not reject those he gave the right to be his children. (John 1:12-13)
The genuinely saved are eternally secure.
What causes people to depart from the faith?
People who attempt to honor God with works without surrendering their hearts in faith are vulnerable to depart without ever experiencing God’s salvation.
8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:8-9 ESV)
We don’t need better practices in life; we need new hearts and lives given to us by God’s grace. So, the doctrines and commandments of men will always fall desperately short of being made new in Christ. Therefore, any teaching that leads people away from the gospel of Christ is false teaching.
False teachers in Ephesus led people away from the gospel through asceticism, errant teaching that salvation comes through denial of pleasure.
No matter how devoted and disciplined someone may be to accomplish good work before God, everyone falls desperately short of his glorious standard of living.
Departing the faith generally is with small steps rather than leaps of doubt.
Apostates do not merely make up their minds to depart the faith; they yield their minds to the way of demons.
Test the authenticity of your faith.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV)