"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." (1 Timothy 4:1-5)In speaking of the coming apostasy, Paul does not say, "in the last days" but rather "in later times." Apostasy is always a concern. Even after great revivals in the church, their end often seems to be apostasy, sometimes including that of those who founded and lead the revival. Paul identifies two main sources leading to our apostasy. The first is deceiving spirits. Not everything spiritual is godly. In our quest to understand and live in the spiritual, we must be careful which spirits we commune with. People who seek the spiritual, rather than seeking God and His kingdom, may find the spiritual not as friendly a place as they imagined. The second source of deceptions include the teaching of false gods. Most of these gods are associated with some form of idol or temple worship. Their teaching, while in some areas aligning with the teachings of faith, are derived from daemon spirits and are constructed to lead us away from the one true God rather than lead us closer to Him.
The word "Apostasy" simply means to "depart from." However, as a believer, there are somethings we are to depart from and others we are to adhere to. The central thing that we are to adhere to and for which, our departure from defines our apostasy, is "the faith." However, this faith is more than a mere system of beliefs and teachings, is also is a canon of godliness by which we are called to live. It not only teaches us the truth but also calls us to live the truth we have learned. Any departure, whether in belief or behavior, is apostasy from the faith. Often this apostasy takes one of two directions; either towards licentiousness or towards legalism.
Paul writes of those, "who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." (Ephesians 4:19 NKJV) To Timothy, he describes them as having been "seared in their conscience." Our conscience, when still preserved by innocence, is an instrument of God to either offend or affirm us depending on our behavior. Guilt, the offending of our conscience because of our sin, is a useful emotion. It tells us that we have done wrong and calls us to action; to find remedy and forgiveness for our sin. However, for some, by willful and repetitive sinning, they have silenced their inner conscience so sin no longer offends them. These are those whom Peter says, in reference to their teaching, "who live in error, promising them [others] freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption." (2 Peter 2:18-19) These are those who would seek to draw us away from the faith to a life lived for pleasure. Paul will later warn Timothy, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV)
While some will be drawn away by pleasure, others will be seduced by the law. Paul warns us, "If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) — in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?" (Colossians 2:20-22) Apostasy to the law is just as dangerous as apostasy to pleasures. After coming to Christ by faith, the law can seem to be a shortcut to righteousness; giving us enumerated steps and behaviors by which we may appear to be righteous. However, the law is a dead end as far as righteousness is concerned. Paul warns the Galatians, "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." (Galatians 5:4) The law not only burdens us with rules and regulations, but also alienates us from God and the power of His grace. This alienation is not imply any animosity on God's part, rather it is our willful removal of ourselves from the love, care, provision, and power of God on our behalf.
Whatever the source and what ever the means of apostasy, we must always be vigilant and live circumspectly, let we too should fall should away from the faith we have in Jesus Christ.