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Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Steps Toward Apostasy



1.  Satan never leaves Christians alone (Rev. 12:17; 2 Cor. 10:3-5).

2.  This is a personal battle; God is with us in the battle and we need not surrender, yet some do, Eph. 6:10-13; Rom. 8:37-39.



  A.  Apostasy is Departure from God’s Standard (Revealed Truth).

    1.  aphistemi: lit., a standing away from (apo, from + histemi, to stand), 1 Tim. 4:1.

    2.  apostasia, “a falling away, defection” (Thayer, 67), 2 Thess. 2:3.

    3.  aphistemi, “To depart, go away from…apostatise” (Moulton, 62).

  B.  Apostasy is Defection from:

    1.  The word of God, Luke 8:13.

    2.  The faith, 1 Tim. 4:1.

    3.  God, Heb. 3:12.

  C.  History Filled with Examples of Falling Away from God.

    1.  Adam, Eve, and Cain: Departed from God’s perfect order (Gen. 2:17; 3:10; 4:16).

    2.  Sons of God (Gen. 6:1-5): Defected from godliness (Gen. 4:26).

    3.  Nation of Israel: Many instances of apostasy (Judges; King, Division of kingdom; Remnant returned and fell), Acts 7:51 (Exod. 32:8; Jer. 3:8).

    4.  Not surprised that Christ’s disciples are warned against apostasy, Matt. 10:22; 24:12-13; 1 Cor. 10:12; Rev. 2:4-5.



  A.  First Step: A Wrong Attitude toward Truth, 4:3 (Prov. 4:23; 23:7).

    1.  “Will not endure sound doctrine.”  (cf. Ps. 119:97, 140)

      a.  “The time will come” implies it was not always so.

      b.  Does not use the word now to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” (4:2).

    2.  When we give heed to other messages, 1 Tim. 4:2.

    3.  Complacency, compromise, convenience, and shame toward the word of God – Heart is being prepared to fall away (Heb. 3:12-13).

*  4.  Prevention: Seek, welcome, and use truth, 1 Thess. 2:13; Col. 2:6-7.

  B.  Second Step: Becoming Comfortable with Error, 4:3.

    1.  “According to their own desires.”

      a.  Lustful cravings choke the word of God, Mark 4:18-19; James 4:1-4 (1 John 2:15-17).

      b.  Selfish lusts prevail when love for truth is abandoned.

    2.  Marker of Judah’s digression, Jer. 5:30-31.

    3.  Want to hear only what pleases; 4:3; cf. King Ahab’s 400 false prophets and Micaiah, 1 Kings 22:5-8, 22.

    4.  They were bearing with false teachers; Paul rebuked their comfort with error, 2 Cor. 11:4.

    5.  Such comfort will cause us to be lost, Eph. 5:8-13 (2 John 9-11).

*  6.  Prevention: Instead of being comfortable with sin and error, we must contend for the faith with all humility, Jude 3; James 4:7-10.

  C.  Third Step: Abandon Truth and Replace it with Error, 4:4.

    1.  Turn their ears away: To remove, to defect.

    2.  How do we react when our life disagrees with the word of God:

      a.  Ignore what we don’t like? (Ps. 32:3)

      b.  Argue and fight against what God’s word says? (Acts 5:39; 26:14)

      c.  Falsely accuse the teachers of truth? (Gal. 4:16; 2 Cor. 12:15)

      d.  Reject the truth as “too hard?” (John 6:60, 66)

    3.  Turned aside (ektrepo): Medical term for dislocated limbs; twist out. 

      a.  Picture of one who turns his ear away from listening to the truth and then twists (contorts) his head to listen to error.

      b.  Dislocated from one’s proper place, cf. Col. 2:18-19.

    4.  Fables (muthos): “primarily signifies speech, conversation…first syllable from a root mu--, signifying “to close, keep secret, be dumb…a mystery; hence, a story, narrative, fable, fiction” (Vine).

    5.  Instead of turning away from truth, we must turn aside from “profane and idle babblings” that contradict truth, 1 Tim. 6:20-21.

      a.  Gospel is not the sophistry of fables, 2 Pet. 1:16.

      b.  Repeated warnings, 1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:4; Titus 1:14.

*  6.  Prevention: Be watchful, endure and work, 2 Tim. 4:5; Keep hearing and obeying all truth (Rom. 10:17; John 8:31-32).



1.  Any step toward apostasy is too far, 1 John 2:1.

2.  Remedy: Immediately repent and do first works, Rev. 2:4-5; Matt. 6:33.

  a.  Lest hardening sets in and repentance becomes impossible, 1 Tim. 4:2; Heb. 3:13; 6:4-6.

  b.  Otherwise, urgency to be right with God will be replaced with procrastination, complacency, and spiritual death (Acts 8:20-24).



By: Joe R. Price

Posted May 4, 2022