Book of 1 Timothy: Demonic Deception and the Fight for True Doctrine

Sermon Outline


  • Testimony – fight when I was in the first or second grade – living in NY, part of Filipino gang – I ran
  • Taekwondo tournament – I got kicked in the face

1 Tim 6:12

  • Fight the good fight for the faith
  • Take hold of it

We are in a fight for souls, starting with our own

*Battle – God wants everyone to be saved and Satan doesn’t want anyone to be saved

  • 1 Tim 2:3-6

1 Tim 4:16

  • Salvation for yourself and your hearers – why would he say it like this? For yourself?
  • Salvation is a process.
  • Persevere
  • Running requires perseverance
  • Christian life is not a sprint

People have fallen away from the faith at this church in Ephesus

1 Tim 1:18-20

  • Hymenaeus and Alexander have fallen away and Paul hands them over to Satan
  • Sounds harsh – church discipline is redemptive

Warning against prospective candidates for elders or overseers falling away

  • 1 Tim 3:5-7

From these verses, it seems to me, and I could be wrong, that you could be saved initially, but if you are unrepentant and persistent in your sin, and you blaspheme or reject the Holy Spirit, or if you stop trying, you don’t persevere, then you and I can be in danger of going to hell.


  • Background of 1 Timothy
  • Pastoral Epistles – three epistles or letters addressed to Timothy and Titus (1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus)
  • Add 2 Cor to that list

This term “pastoral epistle” is inaccurate in the sense that Timothy and Titus were not pastors in the present day sense of the term. They were like mini-apostle Pauls.

They were official representatives of the Apostle Paul whom he dispatched to various places or churches like Ephesus and Crete to act in an official capacity to deal with special situations and meet special needs.

During the interim from the time of the apostles to the more complete transition to elders and deacons, these men were sent by Paul as his apostolic representatives to deal with certain conditions and people who were threatening to hurt the work and ministries of these churches.

As official delegates of Paul, they were sent to assist churches in setting up their ministries in pastoral care through the appointment of elders (Tit 1).

Background of Timothy the person
1 Tim 5:23

  • Weak stomach

1 Tim 4:11-12

  • Young man

A young man with stomach problems – not exactly the type of guy you feel secure about leading you.
What is your picture of a leader?

Testimony – age of 36. Right before my ordination, a few of us went to the Desiring God Conference 2011 – Matthew was there. I clung to 1 and 2 Timothy. I was young and I have irritable bowel syndrome or lactose digestion problems.

1 Tim 4:13-14

  • What is his gift? Whatever it is, Timothy is in danger of neglecting it. Spiritual gifts can be strengthened through regular use and weakened through neglect.
  • Muscles. Muscles grow and they atrophy.

1 Tim 4:15-16

  • Pay attention to two things: 1) your life and 2) your teaching
  • Disconnect between what you profess with your mouth and how you actually live
  • Or what others perceive on the outside and what you know to be the true you on the inside

What is the Teaching that Paul is referring to?
I might sound like a broken record. Teaching = gospel

1 Tim 1:10

  • Here’s a definition of the gospel. God wants to save you through Christ. Satan wants to do everything he can to prevent that from happening.

Know that There is An Enemy
We are in a fight for our eternal lives. Satan is real. I fear that many of us are losing the spiritual battle because we don’t recognize that there is an Enemy.

If you are in a fight and you are blind, it’s highly unlikely that you will win the fight. Unless you are Bruce Lee in the movie, Enter the Dragon.

The first thing to know when you are in a fight is who you are fighting.

Next, You Have to Know the Enemy’s Strategy
Our Enemy’s strategy is to make anything but Jesus the Main teaching.

1 Tim 1:3-6

  • There is only one doctrine. Only one teaching is sound doctrine. The gospel.
  • Everything else, Paul refers to as a different doctrine.

We don’t know the specifics. Was the gospel preached at all? I’m sure it was. But the gospel wasn’t the main teaching. How can you tell? You know a tree by its fruit.

If you preach sound doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the fruit is v5 – love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.

If you preach a different doctrine focusing on myths and endless genealogies, false or even true but peripheral things, then what is the fruit? v6 – once you deviate from the gospel, the outcome is fruitless discussion.

You know a tree by its fruit. Good fruit of a pure heart, good conscience and a sincere faith vs. bad fruit or fruitless discussion. Meaningless words, talking and debating about things that don’t matter.

The consequences of departing from true doctrine gets much worse.

1 Tim 6:20-21
By focusing on irreverent, empty speech, by saying things in the name of Christ but actually contradicting true knowledge of Christ and what Jesus said with his own mouth, the fruit is quite serious. You have people departing from the faith. Losing eternal life.

The Enemy will first try to distort true doctrine and get the focus away from the gospel and make other teachings–wrong teachings or peripheral teachings–the Main teaching.

Second, if the Enemy is unsuccessful in distorting the gospel, he will attack in a different way by adding rules to the Christian faith. Legalism. Rules – thou must do such and such.

1 Tim 1:7-11
There are 11 examples of law-breaking. First SIX words are more general. They refer to our duty to God. The next SIX words are extremely specific in relation to our duty to our neighbor.

First SIX words:

  • v9 – 1) “lawless” and 2) “rebellious” – breaking of the Fourth commandment about keeping the Sabbath
  • v9 – 3) “ungodly” and 4) “sinful” – breaking of the First commandment – I am the Lord your God, do not have other gods besides me.
  • v9 – 5) “unholy” and 6) “irreverent” – breaking of the Second commandment – do not make an idol for yourself

Next SIX words:

  • v9 – 1) “those who kill their fathers and mothers” – breaking of the Fifth commandment – honor your father and mother
  • v9 – 2) “murderers” – breaking of the Sixth commandment – do not murder
  • v10 – 3) “the sexually immoral and homosexuals” – breaking of the Seventh commandment – do not commit adultery
  • v10 – 4) “kidnappers” and 5) “liars” and 6) “perjurers” – breaking of the Ninth commandment – do not give false testimony against your neighbor

These false teachers were not teaching properly. They were imposing a heavy burden of legalism. Rules. Dos and donts.

What is the proper function of the law? Who’s the law for? The answer is in 1 Tim 1:9.

It’s important to know how to use the law properly. All law is designed for those who natural tendency is not to keep it but to break it.

The law’s target is not the saint, but the sinner.

  • Book: The Lord of Flies – good boys degenerate into beasts
  • What if wherever those boys were sent, what if godly, mature Christian men were sent there?
  • Law – restrains evildoers. Fear of punishment or shame of getting caught.
  • External deterrent – problem is that it leaves the heart unchanged.

For the Christian, Paul explains the function of the law in Galatians.

  • Galatians – law showed us our sin and our need for a Savior.
  • Law – acted like a schoolmaster, a guardian, a tutor who brought us to Christ.

Salvation – born again supernaturally by the Spirit.

  • Tragic – when people who were born of the Spirit live out their Christian life in the flesh. I broke a commandment, I sinned, what’s wrong with me?
  • Guilt, shame, condemnation. I got to try harder.
  • Satan wants you to rely on your flesh and you forget that I didn’t come to faith in Christ through trying hard to be moral.
  • You came to faith because God in His mercy sent His Son.

The gospel doesn’t throw the Law out the door. The Spirit takes the law that was once written on stone tablets and He supernaturally writes the Law upon our hearts.

  • Before you were saved, you were a prisoner of sin. But you were set free.
  • If you rely on the Spirit, He will give you enabling power to obey the Law.
  • And when you sin, God gave you conscience. I shouldn’t do this. I need to repent. And the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin and you return to the bosom of our Savior.

As fallen sinners, we have two tendencies.

  • Either lawlessness. Permissiveness. Anything goes.
  • Or self-righteousness. People who are good at legalism.
  • Years ago, I was serving as part of college staff, pastor sent out an email – Gladiator
  • Wine – might get in trouble by Southern Baptists, but it’s not a sin to drink a glass of wine (1 Tim 3 – drunkenness)

Satan will try to derail us in doctrine by distorting the teaching by making false things or peripheral things the Main thing when the gospel and Jesus have to be the Main event, always, now and forever.

We should never tire of talking about Jesus and move onto some new trendy idea. Small groups, missions, social work–these are good things and we do have to do them.

But the focus and priority has to remain fixed on Jesus.

Summary of Satan’s Strategy

  1. Distort doctrine by bringing focus away from gospel/Jesus
  2. Distort methodology so that we become legalistic
  3. Sear our conscience

If Satan is not successful in distorting our doctrine, then he will alter our methodology so that we become legalistic rule keepers. Satan will burden us with rules so that we lose sight of the Person, Jesus Christ, who is the end goal of the Law.

Satan shifts us our attention away from Jesus. Then, he turns Christianity into legalism. The last strategy of Satan is to sear your conscience.

1 Tim 4:1-5
We are in the later times or the Last Days. Just as much the Holy Spirit is active in empowering His people to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth, Satan is equally active in sending out false teachers and energizing them with deceitful spirits and demonic teachings.

You might think, what’s so bad about adding a few rules? If debatable, rules based on personal preference get elevated to tier 1 gospel-level importance, then Scripture warns us that a demonic spirit might be at work.

Sometimes you wonder, how is it possible for these big name pastors and leaders to fall, either into scandal or into Satan’s trap of legalism? How can seemingly godly people be so blind and hypocritical?

Satan only has to do one thing–sear your conscience. The conscience is a God-given gift so that the Holy Spirit can warn you, you better watch out, you better confess, you better not go there. But after repeated times of rejecting the small whispers of the Spirit, our conscience gets damaged. It’s seared. It gets hardened. And the Spirit can be shouting at us, but we don’t hear Him.

What happens? Without hearing the voice of God, all you have left is 2 other voices. Your own voice and the voice of Satan. And you get steered toward a scandalous fall or legalism while ignoring the clear warning signs of spiritual blindness.

Such people are easy prey for Satan and they end up being carbon copies of the Father of lies who is influencing them through deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons. Paul describes them in v2 as hypocritical liars.

Where do we go from here? We’ve identified the problem. We know Satan’s schemes. How do we fight the good fight of faith each day so that we can be saved at the end?

1 Tim 4:6-8

  • What is godliness? It’s defined a chapter earlier.

1 Tim 3:16

  • Underline this verse. Easy to remember – John 3:16, 1 Tim 3:16.

We know we are sinful lawbreakers. That’s why we need Jesus. With the Spirit’s help, we have consciences so that we can continually be brought back to Jesus and be forgiven of our sins.

1 Tim 1:12-17

  • Faith and love that are IN CHRIST JESUS. Faith and love exist nowhere else.
  • Let Paul’s testimony be ours.

Let’s pray – In 1 Tim 2:8, Paul urges the men to raise their hands.

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