1 Tim. 4:1-3 π Jude 3
Paul's prophetic statement appears to be all that is foretold in specific words about the Church, and its history, at the close of the dispensation. The Lord spoke in general terms about the dangers which would encompass His people at the time of the end, and Paul wrote to the Thessalonians more fully about the apostasy, and the wicked deceptions of the Lawless one in the last days, but the passage in Timothy is the only one which explicitly shows the special cause of the peril of the Church in its closing days on earth, and how the wicked spirits of Satan would break in upon her members, and by deception beguile some away from their purity of faith in Christ.
The Holy Spirit, in the brief message given to Paul, describes the character and work of the evil spirits, recognizing
(1) their existence,
(2) their efforts directed towards believers,
to deceive them, and by deception draw them away from the path of simple faith in Christ, and all that is included in the "faith once for all delivered unto the saints." ( Jude 3; top )
That the character of the spirits is described in 1 Tim. 4:1-3 (top), and not the men they somtimes use in the work of deception, may be understood from the Greek original.
The peril of the Church at the close of the age, is therefore from supernatural beings who are "hypocrites," who pretend to be what they are not, who give "teachings" which appear to make for greater holiness, by producing ascetic severity to the "flesh," but who themselves are wicked and unclean, and bring in to those they deceive the foulness of their own presence. Where they deceive they gain possession; and whilst the deceived believer thinks he is more "holy," and more "sanctified," and more delivered from the desires of the flesh, these hypocritical spirits defile the deceived one by their presence, and under cover of sanctity hold their ground, and hide their workings.
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