Sometimes there are people who are just so on fire for Christ and they simply love Him above everything else and then…something happens. Whatever is was, it has caused them to now have a “shipwrecked faith” (1 Timothy 1:19). Eventually someone comes to you and asks, “What happened to them?”
In these times we struggle to grasp the reasons why people forsake the way of Christ. We become confused ourselves as to how a brother or sister who once served with such vigor, such fervency are now scarce. What’s even worse is that they sometimes even begin to teach things that contradict the Bible.
The Apostle Paul writes of such in 1 Timothy 4:1-3. Paul is writing regarding things that will happen in the last days, as he also did in 2 Timothy 3. In Matthew 24:12 Jesus Christ also spoke of such. The Lord said, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” In 1 Timothy 4, Paul writes that “some shall depart from the faith” in the latter times. This would signify that they had to, at one time, be in the faith. Now, to be clear, we do not believe in the false doctrine that teaches the loss of salvation. However, we do believe in the departing from the faith for whatever reason. As we said, Paul wrote about departing from the faith and he gives three things they do once they have departed from the faith. They are as follows:
- They give heed to seducing spirits
- They give heed to doctrines of devils
- They speak lies in hypocrisy
What’s troubling is that at one time those we speak of that have made shipwreck of their faith would have never done such before. So the question that begs to be asked is, “What happened to them?” Now, as we certainly cannot answer this question specifically for anyone person, we can offer some thoughts on the subject. In doing so, we hope to be of some help to someone reading and they will turn from the downward spiral they’re on or someone reading may gain insight on how to better help another.
We would like to draw the reader’s attention to 1 Timothy 4:2 and see the reason given as to why they, at some point, give heed to seducing spirits, doctrines of devils and speak lies in hypocrisy. That reason is, as Paul wrote, “having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” Whatever does this mean? The word conscience here means, “co-perception or moral consciousness.” The phrase, “seared with a hot iron,” means “to brand (cauterize); to render insensitive.” The phrase carries the idea that their conscience has become similar to skin that has been burnt or cauterized and now is no longer sensitive to touch. In the case of the conscience, the touch it is no longer sensitive to is that of the Holy Spirit of God. This would include, but not be limited to preaching, teaching, the Bible, the brethren and etc. What they were once sensitive to, now they have grown cold and indifferent to.
Do you know someone like this? Or maybe it is you? Either way, how terrible it is to watch someone go from fervently serving the Lord to now contradicting scripture with their decisions. When you speak to someone in such a way, they are cold toward certain portions of scripture. This is where the “speaking lies in hypocrisy” comes in. However, before they reach that place they must have already given heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.
There are multiple ways one can have their conscience seared. Imagine a man working long hours to support his family, the weather has not been cooperative and Sunday would be the only day he could mow how lawn. He goes to church regularly and that evening, after the preacher sees him mowing his lawn on a Sunday, he preaches how ungodly one would have to be to mow their lawn on the Lord’s day. What the preacher forgot was what the Lord said in Mark 2. The Lord did not advocate a regular habit of breaking the Sabbath, however in His teaching, He provides grace for things that must be done. Imagine if dairy cows were not milked on Sunday or imagine if the police, fire, EMS, hospitals and such all shut down on Sundays. I believe Paul wrote in Colossians 2:16 to not let any man judge you in respect of the Sabbath days. This is just one of the many ways our conscience can be seared and by being so, we leave church for years or maybe even never to return. What’s even worse is we give in to the flesh and the enemy and actually start teaching half truths to those around us and even our children, because we chose to be bitter, rather than to be better for what took place. Even though someone else may have hurt us, in the end, we always have a choice and we must accept the consequences of the choice we made.
In conclusion. We do not advocate the condoning of the excuses people use for leaving church or becoming bitter, but we do want to exhort the reader to use wisdom and maybe investigate the reasons why some refuse to come to church. Then, maybe we can begin to help them tear down the walls that they have built, so they can return to the service of God. If you are reading this and feel you have been victimized in such a way by a church leader or one of the brethren, please email us, so that we can begin to pray for you. We do not need the sordid details of what took place, but we do want to pray for you. If you are in the area, Fairview Baptist Church certainly is not a perfect church, but it is a progressing church. Progressing toward the will of God, so that we might please Him who has called us into His work. We invite you to join us this Sunday and just maybe we can be the ones God will use to help you get back on track.
Until He comes again…