“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” (Reference: 1 Timothy 4:1-5 )
The editors of Reading the Anabaptist Bible said, “Imposed fasts and clerical celibacy were marks taken to indicate the arrival of the end times and the apostacy of the Roman church.” I had to look up “apostacy” which is the 16th century spelling of “apostasy” which meant the abandoning of one’s religious faith. What I understand the meaning of that statement to be is that the Roman Church (which was the state religion at the time) felt it needed to take a stand against the possible loss of faith, so the rules became stricter. This lines up with what Veit Greyenburger said, in part, to those who had come to question him. A partial reporting of the conversation is as follows: “Among other things the brother also said to them: “The Spirit says plainly what you are; for Paul writes: “That in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving.’”1 Tim. 4:1-3.” You can easily tell that the historic Anabaptists did not think much of the Roman Catholic Church. And in response, the Catholic church did not think much of them.
Take note, beloved, that it is even latter times than the times the writer of 1 Timothy and Greyenburger were speaking of. If the writer of 1 Timothy is being prophetic, when can we expect that prophecy to be fulfilled. Was that in the age of the Reformation? Sometime after the Reformation but before now? Or is it for an age still to come? Or, even, is a warning for each era/type of faith? That at some point the faithful will be less faithful, and more easily deceived and/or be deceiving?
It is sometimes very hard to know who to follow and what to believe, amidst the preachers and teachers etc. But do not be discouraged, beloved. Look to the Spirit. And trust that the God Almighty will not leave us adrift. Selah!