Two years after writing his letters from prison, after he was released and started traveling again, Paul wrote a letter to Timothy called 1 Timothy in our Bibles. Timothy was in Ephesus, that important center of the early church, and was struggling with difficulties in pastoring and leading the people. His youth and shyness, combined with the pushiness of some people, made leading the church difficult for him.
Church discipline. He refers to two people living in unrepentant sin who have been disciplined by being denied church fellowship (1 Timothy 1:18-20). This is similar to the event in Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). The purpose in denying them Christian fellowship and allowing them to be open to the attacks of the world is to remind them of what they had when following Jesus so they will repent and turn from their sin. Eternal salvation isn’t in view here, but fellowship with God and other Christians in this life is the issue.
Satan tempts with pride. When Paul gives Timothy guidance about whom to choose for church leadership one of the important traits is that the person not be a new believer, “or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). “Conceited” is the Greek word tuphoo, literally “to raise a smoke.” It refers to someone who is self-centered and focused on themselves. Satan fell because of pride (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28) and it is one of his most successful tools today. Those who are given positions of authority or leadership in church are more susceptible to pride, so Paul warns that anyone who isn’t spiritually mature must not be put in positions where they may be tempted to be proud.
Paul continues on to say “He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” (1 Timothy 3:7). Satan has traps. His plan is to deceive us so destruction comes. Lust for Bathsheba by David was used by Satan to bring destruction to David (1 Samuel 11 – 24).
Satan and demons use deception. Paul also warns Timothy that demons have deceptive ‘spiritual’ teachings that seem right to those who aren’t spiritually attuned. The purpose is to lead them to abandon the faith (1 Timothy 4:1). Both 1 and 2 Timothy have much to say about false teachers and false teaching. Clearly Satan is behind it all, as he is today..
If one isn’t following God, then they are following Satan. If believers have any sin in their lives, demons will somehow make sure others become aware of it and use it to slander the person and the name of Jesus (1 Timothy 5:14). When we don’t follow God we are following Satan and his forces, whether we realize it or not (1 Timothy 5:15). There is no neutral ground, no middle territory. It is either one or the other.
A couple of years later, about 64 AD, Paul wrote his second and last letter to Timothy. It was the last inspired correspondence he ever wrote. It was Paul’s final words to the one who was closer to him than any other human being, his son in the faith Timothy. In it he warns Timothy of the traps Satan and demons use to capture people and trick them into doing his will (2 Timothy 2:26). Most would not willingly do so, but anyone not doing God’s will is actually following and serving Satan (1 Timothy 5:15).
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)