After one departs from a straight line, the further away from that point one goes, the further from “plumb” he will be. Such is the case with religious apostasy. Once initial departures from the truth are embraced, additional departures surely follow. For example, consider how Catholicism in no way resembles the church of which we read in the New Testament.
Consider some of the signs of apostasy in today’s text, namely “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats.” It is amazing and faith-building how the inspired texts so accurately foretell the signs of apostasy here and in other texts.
Another matter that needs to be addressed here is the matter of the possibility of apostasy. Those who hold to Reformed theology (Calvinism) and others adamantly deny that a Christian can depart from the faith, i.e., apostatize, but this text and many others are explicit that a Christian can indeed leave the faith.
The very word translated “depart” in 1 Timothy 4:1 could have easily been transliterated or anglicized as “apostatize.” The root of this word means to desist, desert, or fall away. In view of this word and the context, several questions must be asked:
- If a man departs from the faith, where was he before he departed?
- If a man departs from the faith, where is he after he departs?
- Is a man saved before he departs from the faith?
- Is a man lost after he departs from the faith?
These are some very simple questions. Consider them in light of Paul’s statements to the Galatian Christians concerning those who have become “estranged from Christ” and “have fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4). Where is a man before he becomes estranged from Christ? Where is he before he falls from grace?
People can depart from the faith, a.k.a., apostatize, individually or collectively. Either way, they forfeit their salvation. The one system of faith must be believed, obeyed, and maintained, lest we also find ourselves estranged from Christ.