It is really easy to turn the way of Christ into a series of rules about external behavior. That is not to say that the way of Christ is only internal — one does need to give attention to how one acts in this world — but there is something missing from a person’s Christianity if it entirely revolves around laws that dictate what a person does and does not do with their bodies.
We learn today that this was certainly happening in Ephesus:
They [the false teachers] will forbid marriage, and teach people to abstain from foods which God intended to be received with thanksgiving by people who believe and know the truth. (4:3)
Sometimes we do the same, especially when talking to younger Christians. We make it seem like the task of following Jesus is all about not getting drunk, not smoking weed, and not sleeping around. Then as people get older we talk about staying away from pornography, not speeding, and not missing church. Of course, I am not suggesting that any of these are wholesome or appropriate; I simply beg us to remember there is more to the way of Christ than external rules, and limiting Christianity to external rules is action akin to the false teachers of Ephesus.
Like Paul was calling the Ephesian church to (1:5-7), like he was calling Timothy to (4:12), the way of Christ is all about “faith, love, and holiness” — all of which have external manifestations but all of which start as attitudes and desires of the heart first and foremost. According to Paul today, to forget this is the beginning of false teaching.
What do you think?
Categories: 1 Timothy
Tags: 1 Timothy, attitudes, behaviors, Bible, Christianity, desires, Ephesus, error, external, faith, false teachers, false teaching, heart, holiness, internal, Law, love, reading, rules
This is one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible. I am finding these are the hardest chapters of all to write much about.
Most of my life I have not felt good enough or strong enough. The comparison game starts early in life and I usually felt and sometimes still feel like a middle-of-the-road kind of guy. Furthermore, I see the magnitude of the mission of God and I feel especially incapable, weak, and overwhelmed.
That is probably why I am so drawn to this chapter. Paul understands what I feel, and he found a better perspective. I read these lines praying for these to be my true words as well.
We have this treasure in earthenware pots, so that the extraordinary quality of the power may belong to God, not to us. We are under all kinds of pressure, but we are not crushed completely; we are at a loss, but not at our wit’s end; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are cast down, but not destroyed. We always carry the deadness of Jesus about in the body, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body. Although we are still alive, you see, we are always being given over to death because of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal humanity. So this is how it is: death is at work in us — but life in you! . . . We know that the God who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us with Jesus and present us with you. . . . For this reason we don’t lose heart. Even if our outer humanity is decaying, our inner humanity is being renewed day by day. This slight momentary trouble of ours is working to produce a weight of glory, passing everything, lasting forever; for we don’t look at the things that can be seen, but at the things that can’t be seen. After all, the things you can see are here today and gone tomorrow; but the things you can’t see are everlasting. (4:7, 10-12, 14, 16-18)
What line resonated with you today?
Categories: 2 Corinthians
Tags: 2 Corinthians, Bible, death, external, hardship, incapable, inferior, internal, invisible, jesus, life, Paul, power, pressure, reading, strong, visible, weak, weakness