“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving 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 thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:1–5, ESV)
There was great danger facing the church from false teachers. People departed from the faith that had been delivered by the apostles and affirmed in the Scriptures. Instead, they began to devote themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. Although these ideas were taught by men, the source was found in dark and unseen things. This does not excuse the lies of these teachers themselves, but it points to the deceptive nature of the enemy and his desire to distort the truth. These teachers had seared consciences that were cauterized through all the lies and dark activity. They forbid things that God had given for human flourishing and the enjoyment of his creation. Their teaching rejected the things of God rather than encouraging people to receive them as God's good gifts. Instead of thanksgiving, it brought the sense that certain things must be avoided that God had not prohibited. It divided people within the church by creating an elite group of people that viewed themselves as more spiritual than those who did not abstain from the things they called people to abandon. Paul wanted people to understand the truth about what God intended for all these good things. The truth of scripture and prayer will inform the conscience and expose the lies. Paul alerts Timothy to the seriousness of what was being faced and gives examples to address directly.