Read 1 Timothy 4:1-16
1The 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. 4For 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.
6If 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. 7Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8For 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.
9This 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.
11Command and teach these things. 12Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (NIV)
Paul begins this section of his letter to remind Timothy of the teachings about the end times to reflect a truth for today. He says that in the end times, people will fall away from the faith being led astray by false teaching. And we see that this happens all the time. It seems like people after having accepted Christ, seem to fall away from their belief as time passes. I have seen this over and over in the many churches I have been a member of and pastored. People rationalize away their faith.
But one of the interesting things that Paul is reminding us that just as God is looking for men and women to serve the Gospel, there is an evil the world that is also looking for men and women to serve evil. We are living in times where things are being turned on their heads where evil is called good and good is called evil all in the hopes of bring chaos to life. In Paul’s time, the problem was dealing with Gnostics who believed that all things spiritual were good and all things worldly, including our own bodies, were evil. Therefore, the body must be rejected. This is why in verse 3 Paul says that these teachers say you should not marry or eat food. Today with deal with one’s past must have been pure enough and righteous enough to see the future way of thinking. Basically, an impossible task.
Paul believes that we are all sinners and all fall short of God’s glory, but that God offers us goodness and grace. Therefore, what we eat does not affect our spiritual lives. (It can effect our health if we eat too much of the some foods.) For Paul too, it is not about our past, but about our future. This is his point in verse 8. Godliness is for both the present and the life to come. It is growing in God’s grace that matters. It is learning something new about God’s love every day that matters. It is about the projection of our lives, not where we started. Paul says in verse 15 that we need to let people see our progress.
Here Paul points that God has given each of us a purpose and he writes to Timothy to remind him of Timothy’s purpose that was seen in others through the laying on of hands by the elders.
So, the question for us is are we getting closer to God as each day passes? Are we continuing to increase our Godliness and our righteousness? Are we progressing in such a way that others can see the change in us? We should never stop growing in Christ.
These are things we should think about and as Paul says in verse 15, to give ourselves wholly to.
Blessings and Peace