That the list of perils Paul presents is so extensive underscores several truths. First, God wants us to recognize spiritual peril in any and all of its variegations. Second, He wants us to recognize the true seriousness of the perils we face. Third, if we fall prey to these damning perils, we are without excuse because we have been duly warned by our loving Heavenly Father about the dangers lurking around us. The peril identified below may befall those who refuse to give heed to the sin in their own lives or the warnings from God regarding their present danger.
“Led away with divers lusts” (II Tim. 3:6). Having warned us in the preceding verse (v. 5) to “turn away” from those who exhibit a “form of godliness” but deny its power, Paul gives a specific example describing such predators and the nature of their prey: “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts.”
The predators. In addition to all the characteristics mentioned in the preceding verses of this chapter, Paul explains that the nature of predators is to “creep into houses.” Robertson explains that the Greek verb carries the idea of “to enter” or “to slip in by insinuation.” In Paul’s day, no doubt, the religious charlatans literally entered the homes of their intended victims and one-by-one seduced them with their clever heresies. The sense seems to be that their most effective evangelistic tool was to go outside the local assemble and “wine and dine” gullible individuals personally. It was the direct and personal nature of the relationship apart from the counsel and judgment of a godly minister and the counsel of spiritual brethren that enabled them to thrive on the unwary.
We see this device being replicated today by the methodologies of such cults as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. But in an even more powerful and subtle way, many false teachers today “creep into houses” of the careless via television ministries. Neither of these comments should be considered as attacks on Christians who evangelize their neighborhoods directly or who have electronic media ministries. Nevertheless, many false teachers use the medium of television, in particular, to worm their way into the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of the gullible. A faithful minister will be faithful to the Word of God and will encourage his viewers to be faithful to a sound, Bible-preaching local church. Be wary of those who “creep in” outside the domain of the local church, which is God’s ordained medium for Christian growth, fellowship, and service.
The prey. Paul describes those who are particularly susceptible to this error in a three-fold way. They are (1) “silly women,” (2) “laden with sins,” and (3) “led away with divers lusts.” Since Paul is not concerned with political correctness, but only with honoring the Lord and protecting those he loves, he pulls no punches with his description. “Silly women” are those who are weak. Paul recognizes in women a stronger tendency to gullibility and a greater weakness to an emotional appeal than in men. Men may be quicker in many cases to refuse the truth, but they are also somewhat less likely to accept religious froth. That the women are “laden with sins” may indicate great carnal behavior, but it may also speak of a guilt for pasts sins that they are trying to assuage by listening to and accepting the erroneous messages of the false teachers. And that they are described as “led away with divers lusts” may indicate a propensity for sexual misconduct on the part of the worst, but it may also indicate that many are driven by merely fleshly desires to be financially secure, successful, or popular, for example.
It is for these and other reasons that women are excluded from being pastors, that they are forbidden to teach men in the church, that they are encouraged to submit to their husbands, and advised, if young widows, to remarry (in the Lord) (I Tim. 3:1-7; 2:9-15; 5:14). Though not inferior to men, the Bible teaches that women more readily fall prey to the perils of false teachers. Perils abound. Though unpopular, God’s view of the predators and their prey must prevail, or we ourselves will be swept away by the waves of error coming at us.
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