This passage is a bit of a key passage in the worldview espoused here at NonModern. Paul implies that the world is full of deceitful teaching designed to lead people away from the truth, from reality. He indicates that not all of these teachings are simple mistakes of men or even the product of men trying to increase their own influence or power. Some of these have spiritual origins. That means that people need not only guard against faulty philosophies or sciences founded in faulty or limited reason; we have to guard against false revelation.
Philosophies of men and materialistic Scientism are seen by most believers as being against God, but religion is just as bad or worse. Again, most followers of Jesus would be on board with that statement as well, but that is because they tend to think of Christianity and other world religions as being two separate things. It is easy to see where the idea of “Doctrines of Demons” could apply to several other religious beliefs and cults. Many explicitly declare their origin to be in a revelation given by an angel, and everyone knows that the Bible claims that demons can pose as angels of light. But “Christianity” is not immune from such false teaching. That is the whole reason Paul penned this letter to Timothy.
Look at the things Paul describes as doctrines of demons. The forbidding of marriage and other extreme forms of asceticism are taught by many groups in Christianity. And not just as good suggestions for life. They are often commanded legalistically. I am not just pointing the finger at the obvious example of the Catholic faith here; my own particular denomination is guilty of these sorts of legalisms. To be honest, I practice some myself. In my case it is a personal choice but if it weren’t I would still be bound to it by a church law.
When we read the pastorals it should awaken in us a strong desire to cleanse our theology and teachings, but the process must always begin in our own understanding and churches.