Eight Stirring Passages
In One Epistle About Apostasy

Dan Corner

The Christian Life From 1 Timothy

The Christian life is NOT an easy downhill slide into the kingdom of God! This is very apparent throughout the NT, especially in 1 Timothy. 1 Timothy is known as a pastoral epistle. All throughout this epistle, Paul gave Timothy instructions to pass on to other Christians regarding how to pray, how women are to dress, how to pick deacons, how to view riches, among other values and church concerns. Besides all of that, this epistle (just like the Book of Hebrews) especially reveals that there is no such thing as the doctrine is called in our day eternal security. (There are very few, if any, arguments for eternal security that come from 1 Timothy. The eternal security teachers remain silent about this Pauline epistle and even seem to avoid it, when dealing with Paul's grace message about the believer's security.)

Let's take a closer look at eight passages regarding the Christian battle and salvation that were basic in the days of first-century Christianity:

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work - which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. (1 Tim 1:3-6).

Apostasy Occurs Among Christians And Is Revealed Throught The Entire NT

Paul had Timothy stay in Ephesus for an express purpose - to command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. After he stated this, he then revealed something about himself and the goal of that charge to Timothy which was love and that came from Paul's pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. This is Paul's autobiographical sketch of himself and the exact opposite to the typical way the once saved always saved [OSAS] teachers like to portray him. Paul was a holy man, who taught holy living. See 1 Thess. 2:10. Paul, as a Christian, was NOT the worst of sinners

After all of that, Paul sadly refers to some, whom he knew, that wandered away from the same kind of pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith that he had, which testifies beyond all doubt to the fact that they were previously saved. See Acts 15:9; Heb. 9:9 and 10:22. Clearly, those men were no longer saved as is evident by their changed heart, conscience and faith. In other words, they lost their salvation, even though they had been previously sealed by the Holy Spirit, received the gift of eternal life and had been saved by grace.

That kind of teaching was original Christianity, but is essentially lost or denied in our dark day by wolves standing behind the pulpits.

Hymenaeus and Alexander

A second passage to note is the following one:
Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. (1 Tim 1:18-20)
Paul again mentions faith and a good conscience. He told Timothy that it was his own personal responsibility to hold on to these for his own salvation's sake - so his saving faith wouldn't become shipwrecked. (God wasn't going to hold on to these for him.) Paul added because Hymenaeus and Alexander didn't do this very thing, their faith did become shipwrecked and they were now blaspheming! Paul knew that same horrible end could occur to Timothy (or any Christian person in our modern day) and gave the cited safeguards to prevent such, which were all under the original grace message. In other words, Hymenaeus and Alexander both had (past tense) what Timothy had (present tense) at that moment as a Christian, but Paul knew Timothy could lose it.

Timothy apparently acted on these vital safeguards, as Paul taught him here, for later Paul mentions Timothy's sincere faith, which he was apparently still holding on to:

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. (2 Tim 1:5)

The Warning About Picking Overseers

Passage three is the following one:
He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. (1 Tim 3:6)
The context of verse 6 starts at chapter 3, verse 1. The subject is the spiritual qualifications for overseers in a local assembly. Paul states his godly concerns that a spiritual fatality, through pride, could occur if a new Christian is given such a high position. (Sometimes the most zealous and outspoken Christian around is a new Christian. His sincere faith and love for spiritual things are contagious and attractive to others who love the truth.) Hence, Paul told Timothy not to give this position to new converts for their own soul's sake regardless how well they might be received or needed to fill that office. Such a violation on Timothy's part could stumble the new Christian to the place where he will be damned, just as the devil himself will be. (Rev. 20:10 shows the devil's end.) The word translated judgment in the NIV or condemnation in the KJV has the meaning of damnation and is found in Jude 4, describing the destiny of the teachers who change grace into a license for immorality.

Again, it is crystal clear that Paul wrote of the possibility of loss of salvation, through the sin of pride. (Pride precedes a fall, Prov. 16:18.) Had Paul believed in eternal security it would have been impossible for him to warn to this degree. (Notice: If such a new Christian would be spiritually stumbled like that, it wouldn't be because he was predestined for such a sin or fall. Such a spiritual fatality could be avoided by knowledge and proper procedure.)

Apostasy in the Last Days

Passage four is found in 1 Timothy 4 and gives us important insights into demons:
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (1 Tim 4:1)
Only in a dark day when ignorance of the Scriptures is prevailing could so-called teachers get away with saying that one can abandon the faith and never be in the faith (as some teach) or remain saved (as others teach). Such is the hour in which we live. Paul openly wanted Christians to know the real truth that some people, who had been washed in the blood of Jesus from their sin and received salvation, would afterwards turn and follow doctrines of demons! (The Apostle knew a true Christian could be deceived doctrinally and become heretical.)

NOTE: The same Greek word translated abandon (NIV) or depart (KJV) in 1 Tim. 4:1 is also found in Luke 8:13, which also describes what Jesus said happens to a true believer who stops believing and consequently falls away.

Timothy, This is How
To Save Yourself and Your Hearers

Passage five:
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim 4:16)
Paul stressed life (behavior) and doctrine (teaching) in his epistles and especially here in this passage. Such would be exceptionally vital for someone like Timothy, who was a preacher. By persevering in a holy life and sound teaching, Timothy would save himself, as well as those he would teach. This, however, is not the norm in our day. Again, Paul taught a Christian has free will and human responsibility in his own salvation and will likewise affect others around him. (1 Tim. 4:16 is a good Scripture for all pastors and teachers to memorize.)

Some Christian Widows Turned Away to Follow Satan

Passage six deals with Paul's directives for younger widows, those under sixty years of age:
So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. (1 Tim 5:14,15)
Paul actually knew of some Christian widows that turned away from following Jesus to follow Satan. (Paul never even suggested that if such occurs then you can be sure they were never saved to begin with, as some might in our day.) It is painfully clear that the very widows that turned away previously had a dedication to Christ:
As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. (1 Tim 5:11,12)
The ones Paul knew went from dedication to Christ to a follower of Satan (again). Timothy could help prevent more spiritual tragedies like that by not allowing younger Christian widows to be placed on the widow's list. No widow was to be put on such a list unless she was over sixty years of age (v. 9).

A Warning to People Who Want to get Rich

Passage seven deals with deadly spiritual dangers that come from the desire to get rich:
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (1 Tim 6:9-11)
Again, Paul mentions more sad cases. This time he refers to other former Christians he knew that wandered away from their salvation, because of their desire to get rich. (Paul knew of many people that did not stay saved, but that turned from their own salvation, apart from God's will, and got back on the road to damnation once again.)

Note: The Greek word translated destruction in 1 Tim 6:9 is also found in Mt. 7:13 and refers to hell.

(1 Tim. 6:9-11 is also a primary refutation to the present day Prosperity message, another deadly but popular false teaching. Paul told Timothy to flee the desire to be personally rich and told him what to pursue, which is much more important and lasting.)

More Wanderers From the Faith

The eighth passage is:
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you (1 Tim. 6:20, 21).
Finally, another warning of life or death magnitude is given about godless talk and teachings that are contradictory to Scripture, which could lead to the spiritual downfall of even Timothy himself, as it did for other Christians. See also 2 Tim. 2:16. He was, therefore, solemnly instructed by Paul to turn away from such.


As Paul fought legalism he also taught a conditional security for the believer simultaneously. Hence, to teach against legalism is not to teach eternal security, like many have been deceived to think by the savage wolves themselves. Without a doubt, Paul taught as only a conditional security teacher could. He knew many that turned from their salvation over various temptations and doctrines.

Secondly, Paul never even implied that the named or unnamed people who turned away to follow Satan, abandoned the faith, wandered away from a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith, etc. were never saved to begin with, as some OSAS people would want us all to believe. In fact, Paul stressed the opposite. Those people were previously saved and the same horrible thing can happen to any Christian, including Timothy and YOU the Christian reader. Face the facts. (Paul also knew that such could happen to even himself, an apostle, 1 Cor. 9:27, as it did happen to the Apostle Judas Iscariot.)

Thirdly, a Christian's future sins are not already forgiven before he commits them, like some think. If they were, then those referred to in 1 Tim 1:5,6 could never have wandered away from a pure heart, which happened.

Finally, as Jesus taught about the various things that can happen to people who hear the word of God in the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15), Paul similarly mentioned many of the spiritual fatalities he was personally aware of in 1 Timothy, and elsewhere. He wanted the disturbing, unpopular truth known, so Christian people would be more on their guard against false teachers and sin and keep themselves pure (1 Tim. 5:22) from sin's defilements. See also James 1:27b.

Dear reader, this life for the Christian is a spiritually risky one, which is lived in a hostile environment filled with sin and deception. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. There are many spiritual dangers through sin and false doctrines that can stumble true Christians to the point where they lose their salvation, go back into sin as a dog returns to his vomit (2 Pet. 2:22); etc. Therefore, the Christian must constantly remain on his spiritual guard for his own salvation's sake, as well as for his effect on others. May no one who reads this ever be deceived into thinking differently, even if pseudo-scholarly persuasion would come from popular ear-tickling eternal security savage wolves in sheep's clothing, who will deny and distort these precious eternal facts of the Christian life.

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