April 14, 2014

Last Sunday, at the rain out at Texas Motor Speedway, there were lots of rumors as to whether we would race or not that day. I asked everyone I knew with any authority including NASCAR officials and got misleading information. Nobody really knew. Finally, we found out at 7pm – it was postponed for the following day. So it is in religion.

All religions are manmade speculations about what someone thinks is going to happen. They speculate about god, man’s role and destiny. Only Jesus knew the real story and this truth He passed on to his disciples. And, they, in turn, have been passing in on ever since. This is why the Apostle Paul speaks about this problem to his protégé Timothy and urges him toward a correct, disciplined response. We need to do the same! So let’s listen in to their conversation to see what we can learn for our life.

Paul’s lecture to Timothy begins in, 1 Timothy 4; verses 1-10. In this section Paul addresses the subject of truth by showing a contrast between the world’s foolish fables and the reality of the Christian Faith (Jude 3).

Paul’s initial salvo, against heresy, is seen in verses 1-5 and it is worth noting as it is pretty scary.

Paul informs Timothy, that he is to guard against the impending heresy of demonic induced delusion (verse 1-3) that is coming. Yes, now as then, Satan persuades the lost souls of this planet, with demonic lies – religious options straight from the pit of hell!

And to underscore his point, Paul points out of few characteristics of that phony belief system – fake spirituality evidenced by the unnecessary renunciation of life enjoyments and basic needs – marriage and food; as if a starving, single, world population would please God and forward His agenda of being “fruitful, multiplying and filling the earth” (Genesis 1:28)?!

To counter the world’s error, Paul underscores, next, the fact of God and His word (verse 4) as the measure of truth and the simplicity of gratitude for all the pleasures and necessities He graciously provides, as the measure of real worship. Life is God’s gift and we affirm Him about that fact when we give Him just recognition for His work and thanks for His gifts (verse 4, 5).

So, Paul declares to Timothy, that he has an imperative challenge. Timothy must rise above common superstition and pitiful fables viewed by his culture as acceptable. For they are heresy and Timothy must not only understand that, he must exercise himself, doctrinally, (v6) to live above the cultures philosophical nonsense – “worldly fables fit only for old women” (verse 7)!

How would a good man do that? By deciding that the spiritual life is actually more important to develop than the physical life, important as that is (verse 7b-8) – that a godly life is more important, before God, than a good life; physically. And how does a spiritual leader achieve that? A good man becomes a godly man by hard work (labor) and exercise. In other words, we men of Jesus need to be like the Old Testament revivalist Ezra. Listen to what he did… “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

There you have it! To be a godly man you and I must elevate our effort beyond a work out in the gym, we must work out in the bible and practice what we learn in our daily life, then we will have the voice of God to tell our lost neighbors that they can quit putting false hope in stupid superstitions and put it in someone substantial; Jesus!

Yep, I can hear Paul’s words ringing in my ears. You and I, have the same option for our life that he gave Timothy. Therefore, I think we ought to follow the prescription Paul gave Timothy; to be “the man”, being diligent to know and disseminate the truth – to work and exercise at it, to stand above the crowd in order to point the way to truth, life, and godly living – which are found only in Christ (verse 10).

In summary you could encapsulate the entire passage with five questions which are asked and need to be answered…

  • (verse 6) What do you eat to be in top condition… Are you a vegetarian or do you feast on the word of God?
  • (verse 7) What you listen to… Are you subject to each new fad and superstition – karma, jinx, yin/yang; or do you follow the “way, the truth and the life” which is in Jesus?
  • (verse 8) What kind of exercises you go through to uphold best condition on this subject… Are you a gym rat or a prayer warrior?
  • (verse 9) What commitments rank as your indisputable, nonnegotiable priority… Are you one of those people who is thoughtlessly non-confrontational and would rather “go along to get along” or is your singular commitment sufficient to say “for to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)?
  • (verse 10) And Why… Is the Lord Jesus Christ you Savior and Lord, is His word infallible to you, or are you into the bogus copout that “all paths lead to god”?

PS: This subject has been a particularly personal one for me for over 30 years. You see, I am a member of Gold’s Gym and regular attender. I love to work out! But I was convicted by this passage about the priority use of my time as well as the emphasis of my life back in the 80’s. Since that day, I have become a bible student and prayer closet guy, too, and have surely reaped the benefits. Jesus has changed everything for me. And time in His word and in prayer has benefited my mind, attitude and general life performance as well as my marriage, child rearing, finances, etc. Therefore, I know from experience, not just exegesis, that Paul’s words are true.

As a result, I heartily recommend them to you.

– Jim Cote’