40 Days of study

A human being lives, but he is given life.

1 Timothy 4:1-10

(1 Timothy 4:1-10)1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3They 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. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.


My Thoughts:

Sixty years ago social scientists were predicting the demise of religion in western culture. The reasoning went something like this: The more discoveries science makes, the higher the level of education among people, and even the more secularized our society becomes, the less people will be concerned about things like; God, salvation and spirituality.

Well sixty years later these people have had to eat crow and admit that they could not have been more wrong. People today are more into spiritual topics than ever before in our nation’s history. But this explosion has come at a price. By this I mean, we have seen people turn to a variety of sources to nurture their souls these days. While some opt for a more traditional approach, like reading the Bible, prayer and worshiping in a church. Even more people have opt for less traditional options, like yoga, spiritual healing, past life regression therapy and even hallucinogenic drugs. There is even a large segment of our nation that thinks that Oprah Winfrey is a “spiritual mentor”.

Here is the problem I see; people are asking: How can I become a more spiritual person? But they are not turning to God for that spiritualty, many of these people are choosing to take alternative routes.

So, how we become a more spiritual person, without getting caught up in “false teaching.”

We see the first of two warning, in (vs. 1-2).  Here we find a contrast between what God’s Spirit says and what “deceiving spirits” are saying.

Paul makes it clear that some ideas about becoming more spiritual come from diabolical sources. This implies that there are right ways to become spiritual and wrong ways to become spiritual. I know that this is not a very popular idea these days, but when you think about it, it makes sense.

The terrorists behind the September 11, 2001 attacks believed they were becoming more spiritual by sacrificing their lives to further their cause. I don’t think anyone can doubt their sincerity or the depth of their commitment, yet we look at what they did and say, “That was evil and in no way could ever bring someone closer to God.”

And some of you may remember the people back in the 1960s who used LSD to become more spiritual, but found their lives destroyed by the chemicals they thought would unlock the spiritual life.

Paul clearing saying that some ideas about the spiritual life actually come from unseen evil forces. And that there are people who teach dangerous ideas about becoming more spiritual as well, he calls these teachers “hypocritical liars.” Paul tells us that these people have a conscience that has been seared as with a hot iron. In other words, these are people whose moral compass no longer functions. And people that teach these false ideas about spiritualty that are false and dangerous, do not just in danger themselves, but anyone that listens to them as well.

So here we find the 1st warning, if you want to become a more spiritual person, don’t ingest spiritual poison. We must understand that not every idea about how to live a spiritual life is a good one. In fact, some ideas are downright poisonous.

This reminds me of a scientist named William Walsh who studied strands of hair from the body famous classical composer Beethoven. By studying those strands of hair, Dr. Walsh discovered that Beethoven’s body had one hundred times the normal amount of lead. He concluded that Beethoven’s untimely death at the age of 57 was due to lead poisoning. We can even trace Beethoven’s lead poisoning to the mineral spa that he went to in order to relax.

Think about that: the very thing he thought was bringing him relief and relaxation, was actually slowly poisoning him to death. That’s what spiritual poison is like, as people engage in practices and embrace ideas that are spiritually poisonous, they think it is making them more spiritual, when in reality it’s gradually killing them spiritually.

(1 Peter 2:9) “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

With that verse in mind why would you ever ingest anything that would endanger your life with Jesus?

We also find a 2nd warning here in (vv. 3-5).

These false teachers were “forbidding people to marry and told them to abstain from certain foods, which God created” You see, food and marriage relate to two of the most basic human appetites: hunger and sex.

And by forbidding people to get married, these teachers were saying that sexual intimacy in marriage prevents you from becoming more spiritual. Paul warns us here against these types of “fanatical concepts”

Following the ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato, he believed that everything in the physical world was evil. The physical body was thought to be a prison for the soul, and so long as the physical body existed, the soul couldn’t become spiritual and free. So they believe that the physical drives of the body (the appetite for food, sexual intimacy, sleep and so forth) where inherently unspiritual. Gradually this idea developed into a whole new religion called Gnosticism. Unfortunately, many Christians have often sounded more Gnostic than Christian in their view of sexuality.

But Paul makes clear that marriage is a God-given institution (Hebrews 13:4) “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” To attack the institution of marriage would be to assault the infinite wisdom of God.

But what about food?

We also see that they were forbidding certain kinds of food. The Greek word for food is “Broma” βρῶμα, means “meat” now understand that not all meat is bad, God has given us permission to eat some meats. But there are those that say we are not allowed to eat any meat and tell us that our salvation depends on it.

And there are those that say that Paul is saying all food is ok. And we can now eat any meat. So, is this verse telling us that I can eat pork chops and shrimp? No, God tells that these thing are not food? Does it say that I must be a Vegan? No, God has laid out in detail what is and is not food in Lev 11.

So, Paul reminds us here that physical intimacy within marriage and food, were created by God and because God made them, we ought to receive these gifts with gratitude. He says that “everything created by God” is good so long as it’s enjoyed within the parameters God has set up.

So here we find a 2nd warning about becoming a more spiritual person. If you want to become more spiritual, don’t reject God’s good gifts. This is where we must be careful. We must never treat God’s creations as being inherently evil or unspiritual. It’s unfortunate that so many people throughout history have rejected God’s good gifts, thinking that this would make them more spiritual.

The Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, he wrote the book War and Peace and he was married to a beautiful young woman named Sonya. But Tolstoy came to see his desire for intimacy with his wife was unspiritual, so he took several public vows of celibacy. However, each time he was unable to keep his vow. Because of this, Tolstoy walked under a huge burden of guilt because he kept going back to his wife. He failed to understand that the husband-wife relationship is a gift from God, to be enjoyed not rejected. Rejecting God’s good gifts is not the pathway to becoming a more spiritual person.

This brings us to two positive prescriptions for how we can become more spiritual.  Look at (vv. 6 – 7).  Timothy has a tough assignment, Paul tells him to point out these false teaching to his congregation, he is not saying that this is something Timothy should do. He is saying that this is what is required of him, as the pastor.

In (v. 7) Paul reinforces this requirement by saying “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly” this is good advice for all of us. Paul tells us that the contrast to truths of the faith and good teaching are the godless myths and old wives’ tales. He wants Timothy to entirely avoid these myths and not spectate on issues that hold no value to their salvation.

So, we find the 1st prescription for becoming a more spiritual person: If you want to become more spiritual, look for nourishment in God’s truth, not in myths and speculations.

So we find our last prescription in (vv. 8-10).

Notice he tells Timothy to train himself. He doesn’t say, “Hire a personal trainer” or “take a seminar” he says to “train yourself.” This is something no one else can do for you, not your spouse, not your parents, not even your pastor. We must live a life that has accurate beliefs about God and live a life that is expressed by the way we live our lives.

Spiritual training in a God centered life is even more valuable, because it not only has value now, but it also has value for eternity. This verse is implying something that scientists are just now beginning to discover.

This verse implies that people who have a God centered life are: healthier, happier, less depressed, and have more satisfying personal relationships. But we also see that having a God centered life has value for eternality because it prepares us for living in the heavenly Kingdom.

So here we find the final prescription to become more spiritual: If you want to be more spiritual, engage in a lifestyle of spiritual training. If you think becoming a more spiritual person is a passive lifestyle where God simply zaps us with spiritual depth, you’re mistaken.

In other words, engaging in this lifestyle of spiritual training enables us to do in life what we wouldn’t be able to do had we not engaged in the training.


Ellen White statement:

Mrs. White {Christian Education p 99}

Man can accomplish nothing good without God. He is the originator of every ray of light that has pierced the darkness of the world. All that is of value comes from God, and belongs to him. There is a reason that the agents of the enemy sometimes display remarkable wisdom. Satan himself was educated and disciplined in the heavenly courts, and he has a knowledge of good as well as of evil. He mingles the precious with the vile, and this is what gives him his power of deceiving the sons of men…


Last thoughts:

We read “later times” when Paul wrote this letter, he was not referring to something in the distant future, He was describing the time he was living in the Bible, the “end times” or “last days” refers to the final phase in God’s plan of salvation.

And this final phase began with the first coming of Jesus and it will conclude at the end of the ages when Jesus Christ comes again. So we see that indeed Paul did live in the last days and so do we, because we both live during this final phase in God’s plan. For Paul, the existence of people abandoning the true Christian faith and following “deceiving spirits” and the teachings of demons was proof that he was living in these later times.

 

About bobh6

I am Seventh-day Adventist pastor in the Texas Panhandle

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This entry was posted on April 27, 2013 by in 1 Timothy, Paul's letters and tagged , , , , , .

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