First Timothy 4:3
The first part of First Timothy chapter 4 is a warning against false teachers. Specifically what kinds of things do these false teachers teach? Two of their false teachings are given to us in First Timothy 4:3 that says, Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. There are certain things in life that God has given to human beings. That which God has given, let not man take away. God created marriage between a man and a woman. God said that a man should leave His mother and father and cleave unto his wife. Marriage is good. It has always been good and it will always be good. If anyone forbids marriage in the name of religion, then they have just identified themselves as being people who have departed from the faith. Its always a good thing to get married. Of course, its also a good thing to make sure that through prayer and careful consideration that you marry someone who will be the best possible match as a spouse, partner, lover, and companion for the rest of your life.
There are two possible paths in life: celibacy and marriage. Either one is a valid path to take in your walk with God. You are free to make your own choice based upon your own preferences and what you think is Gods will for you. But if anyone forbids marriage in the name of religion, then they have thereby proven that they have given heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.
The same is true concerning the eating of meat. First Timothy 4:4 says, For every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. One of the reasons that God put animals on the earth was to provide food for man. The lion has dominion over the forest. He uses the animals there for his food. Man has dominion over the whole earth in the will of God. You are free to be a vegetarian if you so choose, but there is no religious reason to be one. If anyone says that you must abstain from eating meat in order to better serve God then they have just proven that they have given heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.
Whatever we eat, we should always do it with thanksgiving. First Timothy 4:4 says that it is alright to eat meat, but only if it be received with thanksgiving. As we walk in fellowship with God in this world, there are two primary things that make up that fellowship: God talking to us and us talking to God. God talks to us through His Word and we talk to Him through prayer. First Timothy 4:5 says, For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. One of the main things that we should say whenever we talk to God are words of thanksgiving. Of course, our goal is to make God a part of everything we do. One of the things that we do every day is eat food. When we eat and take in Gods daily provision, we should do it with thanksgiving because we should acknowledge that everything that we have comes from Him. God is the creator of all things. God is our Provider. Everything that we have comes from Him. Psalm 100 says, Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name. For the Lord is good; is mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
In First Timothy 4:6 Paul wrote to Timothy, If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and good doctrine, wherein thou hast attained. There is no pressure in teaching the doctrines of the New Testament. Just open up the Bible and teach them. You do not have to always come up with something new. Simply remind the brethren of things that they have already heard. Whoever does not remind the brethren of these things is not a good minister of Jesus Christ. Of course, in order to remind the brethren of the things that are important, you must already know them yourself. Thats what Paul was referring to when he said, Nourished up in the words of faith and good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. This is one of the purposes of life: to learn and then to teach others what you have learned.
If you are going to say things that believers need to hear, then you need to say the words of faith. There is a way to use words that will result in the listeners having increased faith. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. There are other words that will not help the hearers to have more faith in God and Christ. Dont use those words. If you say negative things, then you will think negative things, and your faith will be decreased, and you will have a negative effect on the faith of those who hear your words. If you say positive things that are consistent with the promises of the Bible, your very words will result in increased faith.
Thats why Paul said in First Timothy 4:7, But refuse profane and old wives fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. The key to understanding what Paul is talking about is the word fable. Literally, it is the Greek word for myth. A myth is an imaginary story based upon a fictitious person, place, or thing. Its too bad that more people have not taken this commandment seriously to refuse, that is shun, myths in regards to Christianity. The Bible and the Bible alone is the source of information for our faith and practice. Beware of those who have claimed to have discovered another book. Beware of stories about visions and dreams concerning healing at some stream or fountain. These are myths and those who participate in the pursuit of them will not have their faith in God through Christ built up. They will be diverted away from true faith.
If I do not chase after the myths and fables that have been brought into organized Christianity as so many are doing, then what should I do with my time and efforts? The Bible tells us what not to do, but it does not then leave a void. It also tells us what to do with our time and efforts in order to fill up the void. It says, Exercise thyself rather unto godliness. Its not the pilgrimages that you make or the ceremonies that you attend, but its the kind of person that you are thats important. The goal is to become a godly person. How can a person like you or me become a godly person? Paul used one word in this verse to explain how to become a godly person: exercise.
First Timothy 4:8 says, For bodily exercise profits a little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. There is such a thing as physical exercise. It has certain benefits in regards to your life on this earth, but the benefits are small in comparison to all of the things that are most important. There is such a thing as spiritual exercise: what Paul called exercise unto godliness. To exercise means to put into play, to operate, to perform. Of course, we know in our day and age when so many of us sit at a desk every day, that it can be difficult to get the proper physical exercise. You have to have a program and a plan. You have to set priorities, and you have to be consistent. Some people start to exercise for a while, but as soon as they stop exercising, they lose the benefits. They things that they once had gained, they now have lost because the exercise stops.
Spiritual exercise has many similarities to physical exercise. It requires setting priorities. Being godly, being spiritual, living a life of faith has to be a priority. The spiritual exercise also must be done consistently. Thats one of the reasons that going to church is not enough to be a spiritual person. It requires many more things to be done much more often than can be gained by attending all possible church services. What does it mean to exercise your self unto godliness? Remember that godliness more than anything else refers to your faith. It refers to your actions also, but only as your actions are an outcome from your faith. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. The just shall live by faith.
Peter said a very similar thing about the fact that there is a very definite progression to becoming a more godly person. Second Peter 1:5-7 says, And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; And to brotherly kindness love. You exercise your faith by consistently putting it into practice. If you look for them and if you make it a priority, every day will give many opportunities to exercise yourself unto godliness and to exercise your faith. You will have opportunities to be thankful for all things: the good and the bad. You will have opportunities to pray for everyone with whom you come into contact. You will have opportunities to place your confidence in Gods promises instead of worrying. It does not matter how many years ago you have been saved, if you have not learned to exercise yourself unto godliness. You may have been saved many years ago and yet still be a babe in Christ.
The Bible says in First Timothy 4:9-10, This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe. This is the second time that Paul used the phrase, This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. The first time was in First Timothy 1:15 where Paul said, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Here in chapter 4 verses 8-10 Paul is speaking of the Christian life: the importance of increasing in godliness and serving Christ in this world. These are the two great challenges and spiritual imperatives of life: to come to know Him as Savior and then to serve Him in a godly and spiritual way. Concerning both we can say, This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
Notice the irony in what Paul had to say. He said in First Timothy 4:10, We both labor and suffer reproach. Paul gave his life in spreading the gospel. He labored. He worked for the benefit of others, knowing that their chance for salvation was partly dependent upon his efforts to spread the gospel. What was one of the results of such efforts? He suffered reproach. In the case of the Christians of the first century, the reproach that they suffered could easily lead to their death. For the Apostle Paul it did eventually lead to his death.
Paul knew that his solace and comfort was in the fact that he served the living God. The grave did not hold Jesus, and the grave would not hold Paul or anyone else who believes in Jesus. This Bible verse is one of the multitude of places in the Bible that clearly declare that Jesus is God. When Paul said, We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, Paul was clearly saying that Jesus the Savior is God. Thats the same thing that the Apostle John said in John 1:1: In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.
In First Timothy Paul wrote to Timothy, These things command and teach. No one who preaches sermons will ever run out of material if they follow this instruction from the Apostle Paul. We are not told to talk about ourselves, and we are not told to come up with illustrations from the secular world or the natural world, even though such things may be useful at times. But we are told to command and teach these things. These things refer to the things written in the New Testament. One of the best ways to make sure that one really teaches these things without leaving anything out and without emphasizing too much some personal preference or pet doctrine, is to do expository sermons going through books of the New Testament verse by verse. Its alright to preach topical sermons sometimes, but if topical sermons are used all of the time, some of these things will be neglected.
Another important point to remember when preaching from the Old Testament is that the Old Testament should always be interpreted based upon what has been revealed in the New Testament. There is a difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. When sermons from the Old Testament are preached without bringing to light further revelation on a particular subject from the New Testament, the best that can be done is to give out the information that an Orthodox Jew would present. The law, and the requirements of the law, and the penalties for breaking the law are what is often preached in such circumstances. Can you imagine one of the Apostles opening up the Old Testament and preaching a sermon without mentioning Jesus or bringing to light the things that Jesus fulfilled and did away with? One of the reasons that many Christians have not grown in faith is because of the number of pastors who have neglected the instruction that Paul gave in First Timothy 4:11, These things command and teach.
Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved