A Skewed Compass
Today’s Text: 1 Timothy 4:1-2
21C LIVING—ALIGNING YOUR MORAL COMPASS
It was obvious something was amiss. The needle pointed west. With money from my paper route, I had just purchased my first compass and was testing it in a vacant lot near home. This was familiar territory and I was confident of the cardinal directions.
Disappointed, I walked home thinking the compass was a rip-off. I checked the compass again close to our house and was pleasantly surprised to see the arrow pointing in the right direction. It didn’t take long to determine the problem.
In the vacant lot, I stood a few feet from a power substation with an electromagnetic field strong enough to skew the reading. Later, I learned that prolonged storage near a strong electromagnetic field can actually demagnetize the needle and render a normal compass useless.
Although magnetic north never changes, there are situations when competing magnetic fields can trigger the compass needle to deviate from an accurate reading.
YOUR MORAL COMPASS CAN BE SKEWED
In like manner, there are also competing influences that can skew your moral compass. How is that possible? The apostle Paul describes an example in our text for today:
1 TIMOTHY 4:1-2
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron”
Through apostles and prophets, the Holy Spirit specifically warned that some would depart from the truth. Although such a falling away or apostasy would be particularly characteristic of the Last Days, Paul recognized it in prevalent culture.
Paul instructed Timothy, who was a young pastor, to be aware of influences contrary to sound doctrine.
Paul warns about spiritual desensitization. The process of desensitization begins with a determination to “depart from the faith” (v. 1). Paul is not describing saving faith, but rather the principles that provide the basis for what we believe as people of faith.
Some suggest that this is a gradual drifting away from the truth that just happens. But, Paul clearly argues otherwise. The word translated “depart” is the Greek word aphistemai and is more correctly rendered “abandoned.”
At some point, the person departing from the faith made a decisive choice to do so.
Ignoring the normal promptings of your moral compass, you intentionally choose to take a path that deviates from the path of faith.
Second, Paul warns Timothy about “giving heed” or listening to spiritual deception (v.2). Paul mentions influences that are not merely erroneous, but are unequivocally identified as originating from deceiving spirits and demons. These deceiving and demonic entities create a delusion that seldom begins with a full frontal attack, but rather utilize seductive lies of hypocrisy that appear to be innocuous (v. 2). This is Satan’s MO.
Satan uses whatever appeals to his unwitting targets as counter influences to create a deviation that leads them away from the proper course (2 Cor. 11:14). Just as departing from the faith is an act of the will, giving heed to spiritual deception also involves a decisive choice.
No one would knowingly set a course while a compass reading is distorted by a strong magnetic field. You would move away from the conflicting influence for an accurate reading before proceeding to your destination.
Purposely placing your moral compass in proximity to a deviant spiritual field will demagnetize your moral compass rendering it ineffective.
The environment of the 21st century world is teeming with a host of influences competing with the truth. Unfortunately, your moral compass can easily be skewed making you vulnerable to spiritual desensitization, deception and cauterization. Whether aggressive and highly visible or subtle and understated, aberrant influences can skew your ability to make proper judgments.
Paul condenses the problem down to the fact that those who fall away have, “their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (v. 2). The Greek word translated “seared” in this passage is the source for the English word cauterize (Greek: kauteriazo). It describes the process of branding or burning with a red-hot iron rendering nerve endings dead to normal impulses.
Designed to keep you on course, your conscience can be numbed by spiritual desensitization and deception.
RESIST ABERRANT INFLUENCES
It is imperative that people of faith aggressively resist aberrant influences. Take time away from the noise and clamor inherent in culture to allow the effect of God’s Word to be the predominant influence in your life.
Developing a quiet time focused on Bible study and prayer is the best way to maintain proper spiritual bearings. Thankfully, it is also the most effective way to restore a moral compass that has been skewed by exposure to the aberrant influences.
Paul’s words to Timothy echo into the 21st century, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (v.16).
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
1) Compass. By Tobias R. Metoc (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) Food for thought; reading the Bible. By Rushay (RUSH) Booysen [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
3) Studying the Bible together. By Steelman (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
4) Lance Cpl. Lesley T. Raulerson reads the Holy Bible before Sunday services in Iraq. By Lucian Friel [Public domain].
Categories: Aligning Your Moral Compass