4:1-3 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God (John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:17). The Holy Spirit was active in the early Church in ways that have since ceased such as prophecy revealed to the apostles. Saying this, the Holy Spirit was speaking expressly or urgently in this passage.
There is controversy between various theologians as to whether or not the Spirit is speaking expressly through Paul or that this is a generally revealed truth by the Holy Spirit to the Church and different apostles (1 Timothy 3:15).
Some theologians even argue that this is a truth dated all the way back to the Old Testament with the prophet Daniel; however, this view is not as popular of a conclusion.
Dispensationally, I would tend to view the nature of the letter (pastoral and personal) and Paul’s diction to indicate that this truth was revealed to Paul specifically. It is also important to consider that this is not an uncommon occurrence in light of position to the Gentiles and previous similar occurrences (1 Corinthians 11:23; 2 Corinthians 12:1-12; Galatians 1:12).
Saying this, in “latter times” would refer more directly to times within our current age of grace. Confusing this with the “last days” will give a false impression that humanity is immune to following apostasy when this is all but accurate. Paul will often distinguish between “latter times” and the “last days” in his teaching.
The conflict that many will have internally with themselves and the faith will be attributed to the work of spiritual forces. Paul is prepping Timothy for such delusions within the Ephesian church and likewise we need to stand ready (Ephesians 6:10-12).
It is important to note that departing the faith is not something that just occurs haphazardly. We are convinced by the Word of God and can be seduced by Satanic persuasion. Therefore, do not give ear or a door for such influences (2 Timothy 4:3).
Something else noteworthy is to rely on the sufficiency of God’s word over misconstrued doctrines of devils. People may identify as Christian or spiritual leaders although they carry a corrupt message. Proof their message with the message of Christ.
Moving on, “speaking lies in hypocrisy” is not as uncommon as a believer may suspect. This could be someone teaching “legalism” under the cover of “grace”. This can be simply avoided by understanding your position and spiritual rights in Christ (Colossians 2:8-23).
A “seared consciousness” should be juxtaposed with a “pure consciousness.” The seared consciousness is what leaves an individual’s faith shipwrecked and departed from (1 Timothy 1:19).
In such false teachings, marriage and meat are forbidden although God gives these good things to us to simply be received with thanksgiving. Once again, these teachings are not as uncommon as one may believe. For example, Catholicism and various Protestant denominations forbid marriage within priesthood.
4:4-5 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
Peter was rebuked by God in Acts 10:15 for addressing His creation as common and refusing it. God expects us to take His creation with the prerequisite of thanksgiving. To forbid these things would be contrary to the Word of God and uplifting the doctrines of men and the world which we have died to (Colossians 2:20-22).
“Sanctified” in this context simply means to set apart our food by doctrine and communication with God. Many people do this by “saying grace” before a meal.
4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
A good minister of Jesus Christ teaches about the grace and liberty found within Christ rightly divided. Not rightly dividing the Word of God will hinder spiritual growth and rather leave people with an adulterated, oppressive gospel that is truly no “good news” at all.
Rightly dividing Scripture and applying it nourishes the believer and has many benefits, one of which is sustaining the believer’s shameless, pure conscience (2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:16). The truth will make an individual a significantly more efficient minister of Christ.