Summary: Paul coaches Timothy on the kind of workout that can make him Spiritually Fit.
I Timothy #4
(Ronnie preached #3) CHCC: May 6, 2007
For the last few weeks we’ve been studying a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to a young minister named Timothy. The church at ECC (Ephesus Christian Church) had their share of troubles, but Paul believed Timothy was up to the task. Chapter 4 is full of personal advice and encouragement from a seasoned pastor to a ministerial rookie.
It’s a great letter for any Pastor to read because it tells how to be a good minister. But it’s also good for everyone in the church because the principles apply to every Christian. You see, we’re all called to serve in Ministry. So let’s look at what Paul told Timothy about what kind of TEACHING we need to be doing in the Church.
1. Our Teaching I Timothy 4:1-7
Paul started with a kind of Compare/Contrast. He showed Timothy the RIGHT things to teach by pointing out the WRONG teachings that were making the rounds in Ephesus. The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. I Timothy 4:1-2
Let’s take a minute to understand exactly what kind of teachings the Christians at ECC were confronting. We know from church history that these teachings came to be known as Gnosticism. In case you’re thinking we don’t confront similar false teaching, the novel and movie called The DaVinci Code comes from false gospels written by the Gnostics aver 200 years after Christ. Those Gnostic gospels contain some of the same false teachings the Christians at ECC were running into.
The specific philosophy that was plaguing ECC was a form of Asceticism. Asceticism is a form of legalism that says the way to Spiritual Enlightenment is to deny the body its basic needs. Verse 3 explains: They 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.
The idea that true spirituality requires someone to be single and to avoid pleasure did NOT come from Scripture. It came from the philosophies of the Greeks and from religions of the East. Unfortunately, teachings about not marrying and other forms of Asceticism wormed their way into the Church. These kind of teachings still influence what people think you have to do to be truly “spiritual.” Paul made it clear that everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. I Timothy 4:4-5
Paul didn’t have any patience for teachings that take our eyes off the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. Look at how he described these false teachers:
· They have abandoned the faith (vs. 1): The Gospel of Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ was just too simple for these folks. How could they have power over people who put their faith in Christ alone?
So they turned away from Jesus Christ --- and when they did, they wandered off into what Paul called doctrines of demons. God has given us ONE true message, but Satan has an unlimited supply of false messages. It’s very predictable that whenever a Teacher or Preacher abandons God’s Word, they will eventually wander into some form of Occultism.
· Paul called the False Teachers hypocritical liars whose consciences have been seared. In other words, they convinced themselves that they are above any outside standard. So it’s no surprise that they themselves do NOT follow the rules they make for their followers.
We run into the same kinds of hypocricy today. I heard a lot of complaining in the Media this week about Sheryl Crow. Evidently at her Concerts she’s been encouraging everybody to save the environment by using only one square of toilet paper. But at the same time, she and her entourage were demanding a Lavish set up for themselves --- including Luxury accommodations and high-dollar alcohol. An article I read said, “Additionally, when the global warming warrior hits the road, her touring entourage travels in 3 tractor trailers, 4 buses, and 6 cars. Now that’s a carbon footprint!” (thesmokinggun.com)
I’ve heard similar complaints about Politicians and Celebrities who charter private jets and ride in limousines, then preach that everyone ELSE should save the environment by riding bicycles or walking to work. A message loses credibility if the ones who are talking the talk aren’t walking the walk. That’s the kind of Hypocrisy the folks at ECC were dealing with.
· Timothy couldn’t just ignore these False Teachers because they were determined to convince others to join them. They weren’t content to walk away from the Gospel by themselves --- they wanted to convince members of ECC to join them.