Teaching what is Right

1Timothy 4:1-5

Paul moves on in chapter 4 from discussing worship in various ways to coaching Timothy concerning his ministry of service in Ephesus. This is a very interesting passage, because it is personal in a sense, and yet stands to this day as some of the best instruction for young ministers, as though they had a chance to sit at the Apostle’s feet and hear him directly.

Verse 1 is simply fascinating to me; Paul is passing on information that he claims came directly from God (“the Spirit clearly says…”). What did the Spirit tell Paul? That in”later times” some will leave the faith and follow teachings of “deceiving spirits” and “demons”. Now before you jump to the conclusion that Paul is talking about our century here, I want to ask you a question: If he were referring to something that would happen thousands of years later, why would he need to warn Timothy about it at that time? Remember that Timothy is on a mission to deal with false teachers

Paul is not referring to some far off time, but to the present day, the time he and Timothy were living in. Those were “later” times; they were living in the last age then, as we are now. I think sometimes we become confused on this point because we seem to assume that the last age, or the “End Times” must be short; some even teach that these times will only last seven years, but that is not true. So far, this last age has lasted nearly 2,000 years, and we do not know how much longer it will continue. Maybe it will go on another 2,000 years, maybe another week.

Such demonic teachings will come through false teachers with their seared consciences who in their hypocrisy lie about the truth, telling people not to marry or not to eat certain foods. I might add that the list of false teachings has grown over the centuries. Paul deals with the food issue here in these verses, but the principle remains for other areas of falsehood. There are no forbidden foods, for God created everything to be enjoyed by those who know the truth and who receive them with thanksgiving. God did not crate anything evil or debased.

In the first century church, one of the biggest problems they had to deal with were false teachers who taught that a Gentile first had to become Jewish and follow Jewish Law before they could be saved through Christ. The assumption was that since only the Jews were God’s chosen; only Jews could receive salvation. People with this view had missed a very critical fact, and many Christians today still miss that critical fact: The creation of the New Covenant changed everything. God’s people are now those Jews and Gentiles who follow Jesus Christ, for the old ways of the Law are no more. This is true of circumcision; this is true of the dietary laws as well. All foods, all creation are consecrated by the Word of God and prayer.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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8 Responses to Teaching what is Right

  1. The now, but not yet is a difficult tension!

  2. bcaudle77 says:

    We tend to think things are worse today than in the past and that’s just not true.

    • Don Merritt says:

      You are right about that

    • altruistico says:

      Dear bcaudle77;
      I respectfully must decline your thought as to the severity of the state of Christianity today. Today, compared to Christendom of the first century A. D., is likened unto night and day. Today’s Christianity is completely turned onto it’s head. Totally upside-down…. please observe my comment to Don and you will see where I am coming from.

      May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless and keep you and yours always.

      Yours in Christ;
      Michael

      • bcaudle77 says:

        I was referring to the world being messed up, aka end times. As he said end could come tomorrow or another 2,000 years from now. We think it’s no doubt the worst right now, but it’s all relevant.

  3. altruistico says:

    Good morning, Don;
    The church of today is crippled with apostasy. I believe, of the 2.2 billion persons claiming to be Christian, a mere 10% may be actual followers of Christ and the True Church. The others, the remaining 90%, are following false teachers; “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; 2 Timothy 3:5.

    People of today are the 7th Church, the Church John spoke of in Revelations; and, noted to be the Church of Laodicea. The Church of whom is neither Hot not Cold, but lukewarm. One must ask themselves “how does Liberalism, Political Correctness, heresy and all forms of godliness enter the Church without being challenged?” Through being lukewarm.

    At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the church of Jesus Christ is sick with apostasy, debilitating every missionary work, every Christian school, every witness through the media, and every local assembly of believers. The apostasy that now fills the whole church germinated in about 1800. Since then, it has steadily grown and spread, with corrupting effects that can be clearly seen in two ways.
    1.Christianity has fragmented into ideological camps, all of which to some degree reject Biblical faith and practice.
    2.Western society as a whole, once composed of nations that prided themselves on their allegiance to the Christian religion, has become thoroughly secularized.

    The sorry state of the contemporary church exactly reproduces all the prophetic pictures of the church in the Last Days, on the eve of Christ’s return. According to prophecy, it would be a church riddled with corruption and crippled by apostasy. The era of Laodicea is upon us and has been.

    Liberalism, Neo-orthodoxy, Evangelicalism and neo-evangelicalism, Neo-fundamentalism and cultic fundamentalism. Each wind of apostasy that has swept across Christendom has blown people away from moorings in sound faith and practice. Few churches remain that approximate what they should be, according to God’s design laid out in the New Testament. Those that still hold fast to their fundamentalist heritage find themselves under tremendous pressure to move either toward evangelical compromise or cultic authoritarianism, rigidity, and superstition. Will any survive as living churches? God is testing His people, to see whether any will love Him rather than the world, though it offers them an easy religion, without sacrifice or self-denial.

    May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless and keep you and yours. May His face shine upon you.

    Yours in Christ;
    Michael

    • Don Merritt says:

      Michael,

      Thank you for a thought-provoking comment. I hope that many will have the chance to carefully consider it, for I agree with you that most of Christendom needs to wake up right about now. I may be a bit more optimistic than you on these matters, however, as I see God doing amazing work within His church today, yet in saying this I will concede that the numbers are small; 10-20 % would be my guess. So, there is no shortage of work for those of us who are willing!

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