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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 & we need not surrender, yet some do, Eph. 6:10-13; Rom. 8:37-39.

3.  Apostasy (aphistemi):  lit., a standing away from (apo, from + histemi, to stand).

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

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

4.  Apostasy is defection from

  a.  The word of God, Lk. 8:13.

  b.  The faith, 1 Tim. 4:1.

  c.  God, Heb. 3:12.

5.  History of mankind has been a history of falling away from God:

  a.  Adam & Eve:  Departed from God’s perfect order of things.

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

  c.  Nation of Israel:  Many instances of apostasy (Judg­es; Division of kingdom; Remnant returned & fell…).

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

6.  Development of apostasy & its prevention (*).



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

    1.  “Will not endure sound doctrine.”  (cf. Psa. 119:140)

      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 the Christian gives heed to other messages, 1 Tim. 4:1-2.

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

    4.  Prevention:  Seek truth, welcome truth & use truth, 1 Ths. 2:12.

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

    1.  “According to their own desires.”

      a.  Lustful cravings choke the word of God, Mk. 4:18-19; Jas. 4:1-4 (1 Jno. 2:15-17).

      b.  When love for truth is abandoned, selfish lusts prevail.

    2.  Point of digression in Judah, Jer. 5:30-31.

    3.  Want to hear only what pleases; 4:3; cf. King Ahab’s 400 false prophets & Micaiah, 1 Kgs. 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 Jno. 9-11).

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

  C.  Third Step:  Abandon Truth & 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?  (Psa. 32:3)

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

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

      d.  Reject the truth as “too hard”?  (1 Cor. 10:12-13)

    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 & 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 & 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; Tit. 1:14.

    6.  Prevention:  Be watchful, endure & work…keep hearing & heeding all truth (Rom. 10:17; Jno. 8:31-32).



1.  Any step toward apostasy is too far!  (1 Jno. 2:1)

2.  Remedy:  immediately repent & do first works (Rev. 2:4-5; Matt. 6:33).

  a.  Lest hardening sets in & 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).