About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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1 Timothy 4

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Instructions To Timothy (ch. 4: 1 - 16)


Paul, in verse 1 changes the subject to things that will happen in “latter times”.   He mentions that “some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons”.  These people give up their trust in Jesus, which means they are no longer saved, since it is this trust that brought salvation to them in the first place. They substitute true faith with things taught by evil spirits. It is not the evil spirit that is actually doing the teaching, but a person who is being influenced by the evil spirits.  The way in which the teaching is set forth is “deceptive”, Paul says.  This means that people get caught in a deceptive trap, perhaps without knowing it.  The only way in which this could happen would be if that person was not properly grounded in Biblical truth in the first place. 


Paul also speaks of the "abandoning of faith" in 1 Thess. 2:3.  In that passage he calls it "the rebellion". (NIV)  I actual like the KJV's wording better.  It calls the rebellion "a falling away".  I think this term suggests a clearer picture than "rebellion".  Departing from the faith and falling away are the same thing. 


In verse 2 Paul says that this teaching comes from “hypocritical liars whose conscience has been seared…”, thus the doctrine of demons is taught by men who are hypocrites.  Paul certainly doesn't beat around the bush with the way he puts this.  If we said the same today, and it certainly applies today, we'd be criticized for being too negative.  These men’s consciences have been totally destroyed so that they do not know truth from evil. 


Paul gives a couple examples of the teaching that such men set forth.  He says that some teach that  people should not marry.  Paul calls this teaching demonic.  Another teaching is that Christians should not eat certain food, food that God had created for us to eat. 


Concerning the teaching forbidding people to marry, I wonder what Paul would think about the Catholic church not allowing their  priests to get married.  Would Paul call this teaching a “doctrine of demons”?  I think he would.


I think one modern and prevalent doctrine of demons in today's Evangelical church is the philosophy of "post-modernism" that has been allowed into the church.  This teaching devaluates the importance of the Bible, and sees it more or less as a devotional book.  I know this is a simplistic point concerning "post-modernism.  I won't  discuss "post-modernism" here, because I've done that elsewhere.  Tampering with the Word of God is one of the most serious offenses we can make as Christians.


I believe that before people will accept major departures from Biblical thinking, they first accept minor departures.  There are many false teachings in the church today.  They concern secondary issues of our faith.  That means, if you accept these false teachings,  you won't lose your salvation.  The problem is that this will put you on a road to reject the primary teachings of the Bible that will affect your salvation.   


In verses 4 and 5 Paul says that “everything that God created is good”.  If this is the case then, all food can be eaten.  We should only be thankful for the food that God has provided for us.  Our prayer of thanksgiving “consecrates” the food we eat.  What does the word “consecrate” mean?  It means to set apart for the purposes of God.  When we give thanks for our food, we are actually telling God that we are eating this food to “His glory”.  This food will sustain our bodies in order for us to carry out God’s purposes in our lives.


In verse 4 the NIV says, “everything God created is good”. The KJV says, “for every creature of God is good”.  The interlinear Bible says, “because every creature of God (is) good.  The NIV gives a slightly different picture by its word usage.  The NIV says that “all creation” is good, while the other two translations say that “all creatures”, as in animals are good”.  In my thinking, the last two translations would best fit the point Paul is making here.  He was constantly battling with those who believed that eating meat was wrong.  Here Paul is saying that if you give thanks to God for the meat, you are in fact consecrating the meet, or giving it over to the purpose of God in your life, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Whatever is the case, whether creation or creatures, we know all things that God made was good in the beginning, that is, until he cursed creation because of man's sin. 


This should put a whole new light on eating food.  We eat the food in order to maintain a healthy body so we can represent Jesus to the world in whatever way He sees fit for us.  


In verse 6 Paul tells Timothy that if he “points these things out to the brothers, he will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith”.  Our faith, or our trust in Jesus leads us into the truth that Jesus is.  Timothy has followed these truths from his youth and now is putting them into practice by teaching others.  It is important to note that part of the job of an elder, which Timothy was being encourage to be, was to distinguish between good and bad teaching.  Sometimes today, we stay away from distinguishing between good and bad teaching because we don't want to disturb people, or get involved in a  theological debate.  Many people don't think right teaching is important anyway, but you can certainly see that Paul doesn't think that way. 


If you read Paul's letters you will see that he uses the word "truth" a lot, as he does here. Truth mattered to Paul and it should matter to us.  The way to find Biblical truth is to devote yourself to the study of the Bible, something that many Christians don't do these days, and it certainly shows in our lives.    


In verse 7 Timothy is encouraged by Paul to stay away from “myths and old wives’ tales.”  Instead of being caught up in things that are not true, things that are more fable than anything else, he must live a Godly life. This is ultimate in being a servant of God.  


We too should deal in truth and stay away from fable-like teaching.  In this year, 2010, many Evangelicals are using Mayan religious thinking to support their end time views.  I'd call this one of two things.  It's either fables, or doctrines of demons. I think we should stay away from such teaching, unless we address them and explain how they are false teaching.      


Paul speaks to the topic of “physical exercise” in verse 8.  He says that it has some value, but what is of utmost importance is godliness, for it has value “for all things’.  Physical exercise is good to keep your body and mind in good shape.  Paul is not saying that such activity is wrong.  He is saying that it has its limitations when compared to “spiritual exercise”.  “Spiritual exercise” (Godliness) effects one’s spirit, mind, attitudes, relationships and a vast multitude of other things. It can also effect your body.  Some illnesses are brought on by not living a Godly life, by not exercising yourself in spiritual things.  As Prov. 17:22 says, “a merry heart does good like a medicine,  but a broken spirit dries the bones”.  Spiritual wholeness is more important that physical wholeness, although that should not be an excuse not to be physically whole.


Paul says that spiritual wholeness holds promise, not just for this life but also for the next.  Our physical condition effects this life only.  Our spiritual condition effects this life and into eternity as well.  So as we continue to exercise our physical body, we should not neglect to exercise our spirits as well.  We should therefore view physical exercise as we view eating.  We exercise in order to maintain a healthy body so we can be good representatives of Jesus and do what He wants us to do.  


In verse 9, for the third time Paul mentions a “trustworthy” statement.  This time the statement is that “we have put our trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, and especially of those who believe”.  The point here is that Jesus died and rose from the dead, paying the price for everyone’s salvation, but only those who “believe” will receive this salvation.  Once again, the word “believe” means more than to simply mentally agree with the gospel. It is giving yourself to the gospel and to Jesus, the one who offers this good news.


When Paul uses the phrase "God is the Saviour", in a round about way he is alluding to the Deity of Christ.  Technically speaking, Jesus is our Saviour because He is the one who died on the cross.  That being said, God was in Jesus, and Jesus was God.  Therefore, in that sense of the word, God is our Saviour too.   Thus again, we see the Deity of Christ.


In verses 11 and 12 Paul tells Timothy to teach these things and not to let anyone put him down because of his youthful age.  He basically tells Timothy that even though he may be young, he should prove to all men that he is mature in the Lord “by his speech, his life, his love and his purity”.  Timothy, although being young in age, was expect to be old in his faith. 


In verse 13 Paul tells Timothy “to devote himself to public             reading of Scripture, and to preaching and teaching”.  I believe  there is a difference between preaching and teaching, and I think Paul believed the same because he separates the two here.  Teaching is more detailed. Than preaching.  I think Jesus preached to the masses, and taught the disciples.       


In verse 14 Paul tells Timothy not to neglect the gift God gave him, “when the body of elders laid their hands on him”.  This gift came through the laying on of hands by the “body of elders”, not just one elder. It also was accompanied by a “prophetic message”.


Such prophetic laying on of hands can be seen in some Pentecostal and Charismatic circles but is ignored by much of the Evangelical world.   Many churches have commissioning services where they lay hands on those entering the ministry, but there is no prophetic words associated with the laying on of hands as stated by Paul in this verse.  This prophetic word is a gift of the Holy Spirit as seen in 1 Cor. 12.


In verse 15 Paul continues his admonition by telling him to “be diligent in these things so that people may see your progress”.  Once again, Timothy may have been a little younger than some, but by giving himself to the gospel with all diligence, people would see the growth in his life and come to respect him. 


In verse 16 Paul says to “watch your life and doctrine closely”.  To me this is interesting.  Paul puts doctrine, or right teaching up with life experience.  This is something I feel in our modern church has been lost.  We do not put life and doctrine in the same sentence.  We do not put life and doctrine on the same level of importance.  Paul goes as far as to say that if you “persevere in them”, that is both life and doctrine, you will save both yourself and those you speak to.  This would imply that if Timothy did not persist in both life and doctrine, he would be in danger of loosing that which he already had.  If we as Christians today don't uphold both doctrine and life, we will suffer for it, which I believe many are.  We cannot lay aside doctrine.  The word doctrine in many circles has become a bad word, but that should never be.  I think if you study the words of Paul, you will agree with me, that he viewed right doctrine, or, right teaching, as extremely important.    


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