A Letter for Our Day - Part 3 The First Epistle of Paul, the Apostle to Timothy
1st Timothy 4….some will depart from faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.
Thank you for visiting my site and joining me again as I move into Part 3 of this article, A Letter for Our Day - The First Epistle of Paul, the Apostle to Timothy. Let’s jump right in, starting at 1st Timothy 3.
This next part of Paul’s letter discusses the qualifications of overseers, namely, the qualifications of being a leader in ministry, such as here it discusses that of being a bishop. If a man desires to be a bishop, he desires to do a good work. A bishop must be found blameless, the husband of one wife, be sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach, not violent, not greedy for money, not given to wine, gentle and not quarrelsome, and one who rules his own house and personal affairs well, with his children in submission to all reverence. For if a man cannot rule his own house, how can he rule the house of God? The Church?
It also states that bishop should not be puffed up with pride, or he could fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover, he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, or else he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Similarly, deacons, must be reverent, not double-tongued (say one thing, do another, the same as two-faced), not greedy, and hold the ministry of the faith with a pure conscience. It also states that deacons must be tested on these subjects, then let them serve after being found blameless. The same other stipulations above as being a bishop also apply to deacons. 1st Timothy 3:13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
As seen, there are very strict stipulations in being in ministry, and specifically in a leadership role such as a bishop. You can probably guess why, and the answer is in 1st Timothy 3:5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?) Simply interpreted, you must have your own affairs in order with the Word before you can teach it to others, for you are a reflection of it.
So, how can we examine this and apply it to our own lives, even if we aren’t a bishop or deacon ourselves? We are to be in alignment with the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 4:1(KJV) Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, To achieve this, applying and following the stipulations for being a bishop or deacon to our own lives is very important. If I was a drunk, had multiple wives and mistresses, greedy for money and power, argumentative with everyone, a terrible parent with my children running about unfavorably, and a two-faced, double-tongued liar, I wouldn’t be a very good person at all! Understand that we are all sinners, and may slip up in one or two categories, (of course, to varying degrees of severity!), but we must diligently seek to live according to the Word and what God commands of us.
Paul then moves on to discussing a great mystery. As we read, we understand that Paul truly desired to be with Timothy, but he was doing the will of God and could not give in to his fleshly desires to see his son. He writes that the purpose of this letter is so that he may know how to conduct himself in the House of God, which is the Church of the living God; the pillar and the ground of truth. Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh
Justified in the Spirit
Seen by Angels Preached among the Gentiles
Believed on in the world
Received up in glory.
The point being driven home here is the magnifying of God, giving Him all the Glory. He is the living God. We are to worship no other God. Revelations 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Now, Paul moves into perhaps one of the greatest warnings in this entire letter - the Spirit expressly warns us that in latter times, some will depart from faith and give in to doctrines of demons, believing lies and speaking them as well. Such of this, as written, will be to abstain from certain foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving, by those who believe and know the truth, for every creature of God is good.
How can we apply this warning to our life today? First, it is very important that we understand the doctrine of demons. A doctrine of demons is anything that seeks to pull you away from the Word of God by making you defy the Word without realizing it. Often, this is something that sounds good and sounds like you are doing the correct thing, but in fact you are going against the Word. There are many, many examples of this in the world today.
One common doctrine of demons would be the belief that you can lie, steal, and kill continuously with no remorse, but say, “Hey, I believe in Jesus so I am forgiven.” and that you can just tell all your sins to a priest and say a few Hail Mary prayers then go on your way, clean and saved, only to repeat the process over and over, never seeking to actually apply the Word to your life and seek Jesus diligently. This not only puts Jesus’ death in vain, but also leads you down a path of destruction, physically and spiritually.
Doctrines of demons are even spilling into our churches today, lead by people with such a powerful following. Take Oprah Winfrey, for example, and “The Emerging Church”. Did you know that she is now teaching, preaching, and writing about an alternative Christian religion? One that says Jesus is NOT the only way to the Father and to Heaven. She and others are teaching self enlightenment, and something called “Christ Consciousness”, which is the belief that we can all achieve the same status of Christ on Earth, and that it is our mission from God, to be equal to Jesus. It sounds like complete insanity, and is against what the Word teaches, and completely puts the death of Jesus Christ in vain, but millions who have loved Oprah for years are blindly following her and testing none of it to the Word, and those that do are silenced and not shown much.
The passage wraps up with the command that all creatures created by God are good. The word "creature" lets you know that this is animal flesh. Everything God created was followed by Him seeing it as good. Genesis 1:21 (KJV) And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. This covers everything, and definitely is much debated. But, for example, whether you choose to abstain from pork and bacon due to a particular religion’s belief, remember what the Word actually says, and what God commanded. Spiritually, it makes no difference whether you eat bacon or not, but physical health should be considered in your diet with anything you consume, as God does command us to have common sense and use it. Now, do not confuse this with fasting, for that is another principle - as you can certainly choose a particular food you love to fast from during times of fasting. Proverbs 3:13-14 (KJV) 13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. Remember, though, whatever you eat, must be prayed over, thanking God before you eat it.
I will wrap this up and stop here, at 1st Timothy 4:5, and pick up in the next article at 4:6. Again, as you can see, a short letter packs a powerful amount of information! I thank you for joining me in Part 3 of this discussion. Look out for Part 4 coming up.