Dr. Stephen Phinney
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4:1-3)
The prophecy Paul delivered to Timothy was not a result of human opinion, but, as all true prophecy came from the Spirit of God, who spoke or delivered it to Timothy through Paul. This message was directly from God through the Spirit that lived within Paul.
In our later times, there has been a major shift. We have moved from meeting people with a seared conscience to an entire global society functioning with a seared conscience.
Before we get started, we should define conscience. Our conscience is our moral compass, saved or not. It was built into us through God’s creation. It is the baseline of all conviction by the Living God. It is the creative element the Lord uses to bring us to Truth for salvation. When the conscience is seared, it no longer has the ability to separate “right” from “wrong.” Thus, numerically, we see society as a whole seared, and fewer salvations occur.
Under the banner of evangelism and discipleship, today, the masses default to opinions vs. absolute Truth. Whatever they don’t understand in the Bible, they cut out - minimally using the Bible to advance their demonic beliefs. Here is the clincher; they don’t know the difference between demonic and God's Holy doctrines. Their seared conscience no long separates Truth from the hypocrisy of liars. If an immovable believer brings up Biblical absolutes, they stare at you like you are crazy. Accuse you of being “old school” or locked into the culture of the “men” God used to write the Bible.
Can a demon take over the mind of a believer?
Absolutely! It happens every day - all day long. Demonic-based “Christians” integrate demonic doctrines into their daily Christianity. A great example is those who advocate abstaining from foods that God created. Let’s face it. We live in a diet-crazed world. Demons are all about creating rules to advance life. Within these demonic rules, God and Satan know it focuses on living life from the externals vs. releasing the Life of Jesus to live through us.
When Paul said the Spirit explicitly says we have a clear direction offered to us. This is not an optional directive but rather one that comes directly from the mind of Jesus Christ. Since people with a seared conscience can no longer manage Holy Spirit-inspired directives, their rebellion is provoked by a demonic spirit - manifested in arguments and opinions that advance the hypocrisy of liars. Most never connect the dots of their lies and rise against the Holy Spirit of God, resulting in God turning them over to a depraved mind (Romans 1). Little hope remains for the people and their depraved culture when this happens.
Paul’s term, falling away, means the individual was once connected to faith in Christ Jesus. While most would accuse the enemy of catching them in the fall with demonic doctrines; however, this is not how it works. The demonic doctrines are what lead them to FALL. This happens by way of the individual paying attention to deceitful spirits. Since a seared conscience believes their mind/opinions are what matters, penetrating that mind with absolutes becomes fruitless - leaving the mind of Jesus with the appearance of being depraved, and wrong. That borders on the unpardonable sin and blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
Few enjoy talking about the unpardonable sin.
"Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:31)
So, what is the difference? First of all, blasphemy is speaking evil doctrines that rise against Truth. Most of us do that throughout our lives. However, blasphemy against the Spirit is another matter. This is when an individual dethrones the Spirit of God and presents the Personhood of God’s Spirit to be evil - by questioning the explicit directives of the Spirit. Manipulating believers to harken to deceitful spirits accomplishes this. Both God and Satan know this fact.
Our passage today reveals the madness method Satan uses to separate believers from the indwelling Spirit. Does this mean that the security of those who suffer a seared conscience loses their salvation? God would have to answer that. I believe the real question is, are those with a seared conscience truly saved? My guess is probably not. There are two types of believers, those who adhere to the teachings of Christ until faced with immovable Truths and those that are indwelt by Christ and allow Him to live out the absolutes of God through the indwelt believer. Fact. Wanna-be believers frequently fade into demonic doctrines - covertly confessing that there is NO Spirit living within to keep their conscience clear and healthy.
In our culture today, most non-indwelt believers will default into a seared conscience - hosting doctrines of demons, such as are devised by deceptive spirits, as all damnable doctrines Christ Jesus refutes. Be assured; all lying spirits make lying humans, for Satan is the father of lies. More bluntly, all false doctrines introduce wanna-be Christians to the Antichrist, which is the overall goal of the Lord’s enemy.
Satan is the god of external religions. His madness method is to get all self-proclaimed believers to manage their lives through externals such as food, worship of angels, talking to dead loved ones, 50-50 marriages, or any other external expression of religious life.
There is one thing that Satan hates the most - believers releasing the Life of Jesus from within. Satan can fight and deceive humans; however, he remains impotent in deceiving Jesus. When Jesus is released in believers, Satan not only fails at tempting authentic believers to blasphemy the Holy Spirit, he is reminded that he fails because of his sin of blasphemy.
The Holy Spirit said through Paul in later times, some will fall away. What doctrines of demons are you seduced by? Don’t answer too quickly. After all, deception works best in minds that are overconfident.