Why Some People Fall

There are any number of reasons why a Christian might stumble and fall. From intellectual doubts and uncertainties, to unfaithfulness in spiritual disciplines, to carnal lusts and/or other wanton desires, to yielding themselves unto unrighteousness in any form, any believer, should he or she not take heed and love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and strength, can grow weak and weary and in a moment, drop from the face of the church world.

While it may be that there are warning signs, even as God is likely trying to signal the believer and others that the person in question is heading for a cliff, sometimes the fall seemingly comes out of nowhere.

But there is one reason some people in the faith of Christ fall, one that is seldom if ever talked about, let alone taught and addressed. I want to give time to this one, specific reason. If interested, please read on.

1 Timothy 4:1-2,

1. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2. Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron…

Most people I know make use of the King James Version of the Holy Bible as their Bible of choice for personal devotion to the Word of God, for sharing, for teaching and exhortation, and etc.

And not only people I know personally, but people all over the world make use of the KJV as their translation, sometimes to the exclusion of other versions.

With this being the case, as one reads here from 1 Timothy 4, it would be easy to see why some fall: they give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; eventually they turn to lying and hypocrisy. But there’s something wrong with this understanding, in a general way. What’s wrong, of course, is the translation, i.e. it’s misleading.

But before I explain how, please allow me to exegete this passage according to the KJV. If the translation was accurate, or if the general reader assumed it was accurate, they might come away with the following conclusion:

Because a believer, for whatever reason, has allowed his or her conscience to be “seared with a hot iron“, that is, burned beyond repair and so become scarred and unfeeling, they eventually depart from the Christian faith, even to the point of paying attention, not only to false teachers/doctrines, but also the evil spirits/demons who control the false teachers and gave birth to the false teachings. Once this occurs, the fallen believer now gives themselves over to habitual lying and, in an effort to cover his or her lies, becomes a hypocrite.

Interestingly enough, the conclusion given above is not entirely off. Much of it is correct. But to see where the mistake is made, please continue reading.

The Greek text of 1 Timothy 4:1-2 looks like this:

τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει ὅτι ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως προσέχοντες πνεύμασι πλάνοις καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων, ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων, κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν

Transliterated, it looks like this:

to de pneuma rhetos legei hoti en husterois kairois apostesontai tineses pisteos prosechontes pneumasin planois kai didaskaliais daimonion en hupokrisei pseudologon kekausteriasmenon ten idian suneidesin

Dr. Paul McReynolds, professor of Greek and New Testament at Pacific Christian College, Fullerton, California, and author of Word Study Greek English New Testament with Complete Concordance, on pages 756-757, very literally translates the above passage as follows:

The but spirit expressly says that in later seasons will stand off some of the trust holding to spirits deceivers and in teachings of demons, in hypocrisy false words having been seared by fire the own conscience…

My translation looks like this:

However, the Spirit patently indicates that in later days[1] some people of the faith will apostatize, adhering to deceptive individuals and demonic instructions through dissimulating, erroneous discourses, having been rendered senseless [in] their moral perceptions…[2]

Do you see the difference?

The King James translation makes it seem as though the people who fall away or depart (i.e. apostatize) from the Christian faith are the ones who give “heed” to the “seducing spirits” and “doctrines of devils“; verily, that they are the ones who end up speaking lies as hypocrites until their consciences are, quite literally, cauterized.[3]

But that isn’t so. The ones who end up falling away from the faith in this manner do so because other people, under false pretenses, deceive them with demonic teachings and inaccurate sermonizing.[4] These other people are the ones who have caused the scorching in the consciences’ of the apostates, i.e. they are the ones who have made the fallen brothers or sisters to no longer feel any sense of wrong doing in his or her behavior[5] (meaning he or she isn’t receptive to the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit) because…why???

Why would anyone allow themselves to come to such a place? Why would anyone dare do such things to a fellow believer in Christ Jesus?

The answers are innumerable. But it happens a lot. Many, many sincere and tender-hearted believers in Christ Jesus eventually fall, not by their own doings, but because they fell victim to predatory, so-called ministers of the Gospel.

Submission to authority is a Christian doctrine. It is Biblical. And many people, especially neophyte converts, under conviction from God, feel a natural tendency to submit to the pastoral presence in the church. It’s part of the impartation received when one is endued from on high by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it’s the very mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8), who submitted Himself to every ordinance and command of the Father, i.e. His Authority.

And so, when a young, sincere, tender-hearted believer in Christ comes to saving faith, they naturally incline to submit to and believe everything their leaders in the faith say to them, almost unquestionably. Loyalty is a beautiful sentiment.

But beware to whom you grant your loyalty. They just might be the stumblingblock, i.e. the occasion to fall, i.e. the cause of your apostasy (See, e.g. Romans 14:13 and 1 Corinthians 8:9 and surrounding verses for context).

This is why headship is so important (See 1 Corinthians 11:3). If Christ remains a man’s only head, and if that man’s wife (if married) always and only follows her “head” i.e. her husband in Christ, none will be worse for wear, even if a hypocritical deceiver passing himself off as an authority figure in the church comes sniffing around to mislead a brother or sister into doctrinal error and indifference to the reproving promptings of the Holy Spirit.[6]

So, in conclusion, why do some people fall? Simply because, at some point in time, a false brother or sister comes along and pushes them.


[1]Later days” is a translation of the Greek phrase husterois kairois. It means an occasion, as of something appointed for a certain future, i.e. set time, to come about sometime after the writing. Obviously for Paul, that future set time would be after the end of the Apostles’ ministry, especially his own. In Acts 20:29-31 Paul warns the elders of the church in Ephesus that “grievous wolves” would enter in to destroy them once he was gone. Interestingly, 1 Timothy is written to Paul’s “son in the Gospel” as a letter of instruction on how Timothy can attend to and resolve various problems that had developed in Ephesus in Paul’s absence, chiefly among them, the rise of presumptive teachers who didn’t know what they were talking about (See 1 Timothy 1:3-7). No wonder then, why Paul wrote what he did here in 1 Timothy 4:1-2. The Holy Spirit made it plain to Paul what was going to happen in Ephesus (and by extension, to the rest of the church world of the future). And it really did happen in Ephesus (Revelation 2:4), just as much as it has happened in the rest of the church world of the future, even to this very day.

[2] It is important to note that the people who fall away in this manner have been rendered senseless in their moral perceptions (i.e. their ability to discern between good and evil) on account of the influence of the dissimulating, erroneous discourses of the deceptive individuals operating under the sway of an evil spirit. If a brother or sister were being guided by a righteous saint and given a true doctrinal understanding of the Holy Scriptures, he or she would not, at least in this way, fall away from the faith.

[3] From the Greek word kauteriazo, an obviously Anglicized cognate. It means to “brand”, from a root (kaio) meaning to “set on fire”.

[4] Note how in the Greek text, the word is pseudologon, a compound of pseudo, meaning fake, false, deceptive and lego, the root of the word logos, meaning to lay forth, speak, or relate a topic in a systematic manner, hence a speech or discourse, which in a church setting, would mean a sermon.

[5] It happens like this: a prophet or teacher speaks under false pretenses (either by being false in heart, being inwardly double-minded, or by being intentionally deceptive toward his or her listeners) and so, spiritually, causes uncertainty and doubt in the congregation (if received in good faith by the Body). He or she may say one thing in private, but publicly declare the opposite. He or she may speak boldly about a certain topic but not actually embrace the topic as a righteous aspect of personal conduct before the Lord (See, e.g. Romans 2:21-23). He or she basically says one thing, but does another, or, says two different things depending on the company (i.e. he or she is fair-weather). This relative morality in the prophet or teacher causes relative morality in the ones heeding his or her speech. The Spirit may be trying to bring a certain conviction into the heart of a believer, but that conviction is constantly wrestled with because the pseudologon and constant dissimulation of the prophet or teacher interferes with the work of the Holy Spirit. If the believer gives himself or herself over to the relative morality of the prophet or teacher long enough, their conscience, i.e. where the objective morality of what is right and what is wrong according to the Lord is created, gets burned to the point of insensitivity, just like a nerve that’s been damaged beyond repair. And once that believer becomes incapable of receiving conviction by the Holy Spirit, it isn’t long before he or she falls. Note, however, that the believer may continue to act as though he or she is a righteous saint living for the Lord, but God says otherwise, having at that point given him or her over to a strong delusion (See 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

[6] See John 16:7-11.


~ by votivesoul on 05/16/2015.

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