Thursday, December 22, 2022

2022.12.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 4:1–5

Read 1 Timothy 4:1–5

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks about what times (1 Timothy 4:1)? What will some do then? What will they give heed to? What will they speak (1 Timothy 4:2)? What condition of their consciences will leave them willing to do so? What are two types of demonic lies they will teach (1 Timothy 4:3)? Why is forbidding particular foods so wicked—Who made them? Especially for whom? To receive them how? Why are marriage and food good (1 Timothy 4:4a)? What is the proper thing to do with God’s creation (verse 4b)? What two things actually do make holy the receiver, the thing received, and the receiving of it (1 Timothy 4:5)?

What are some lies that compete with the truth? 1 Timothy 4:1–5 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that anything that is presented as a way of holiness but hasn’t come from Christ is a demonic lie.

When we realize that the great truth that the church guards is Christ Himself (1 Timothy 3:16), we realize that nothing else must be laid down alongside Christ’s gospel (cf. Galatians 1:8–9). Where do other religious ideas come from? 1 Timothy 4:1-2 tells us: demons that tell lies, and people that believe them and repeat them. 

How can they do this? Their consciences have been “seared with a hot iron.” They are so accustomed to thinking and doing what’s wrong that their consciences have lost any sensitivity—tender skin has been replaced with dead scar tissue.

One demonic lie that is often believed or repeated is that the “latter times” are something unique to the early 21st century. If it was already the “latter times” when Paul was writing to Timothy, it has been the “latter times” for a while! 

But our own passage has two explicit examples of what the Spirit has explicitly warned about. We are not surprised that both are practices of the papist church: forbidding marriage (as they do with priests) and prescribed fasts. After 1 Timothy 3:16 rejoicing in how all holiness comes from Jesus, we can see just how demonic it is to think that it can come from refusing some good creation from God. Manmade religion has an appearance of wisdom to us, but is actually of no true spiritual value since only the Lord can produce the fruit of anything religious (cf. Colossians 2:20–23).

In fact, 1 Timothy 4:3 reminds us that whatever good God has created is especially for believers. They are the rightful heirs of all good things, and His goodness has a special focus upon them. Holiness is not obtained by refusing them, but rather expressed by receiving them with thankful hearts (1 Timothy 4:4).

How does holiness come? The how question is determined by the “from Whom” question. Since it comes only from the Lord Himself, it comes only by means that He has appointed, and 1 Timothy 4:5 gives us two biggies: the Word of God and prayer. As the Lord makes us holy by these, our receiving of His good gifts will be increasingly holy as well.

By contrast, manmade religion comes from deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. They are lies spoken in hypocrisy. They are opposed to the truth as it is in Jesus.

What are the ways that the Lord has taught us that He gives us holiness? What are some manmade rules or traditions that feel spiritual? Why are they useless? Why are they actually harmful? Where did they come from?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You have warned us that some would depart from the faith by adding to the religion that You have given us. But we are still consantly adding something or another from the ideas or traditions of men. Forgive us! We even refuse Your good gifts, as if our problems are in the creation rather than in ourselves and our wicked use of them. Forgive us! And make us to receive all Your good gifts with thanksgiving. Sanctify us by Your Word and prayer, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

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