Receive God’s Good Gifts

Day 11 – 1 Timothy 4:1–5

False and harmful teaching is unable to produce Christ-like character and behaviour. It is also dangerous because of the spiritual realities behind it. False teachers are the human agents through whom such heresy is spread. They are “hypocritical liars” (v.2), and do not teach the truth nor practise it. Their consciences have been “seared” (v.2). This is the fourth time Paul mentions the conscience (cf. 1 Timothy 1:5,19, 3:9). The conscience is a moral compass that warns us if we break God’s law, but it can be weakened (1 Corinthians 8:10) by wrong social “programming” and seared by repeated disobedience. It needs to be educated by the Word and the Spirit (Psalm 119:11; John 16:8–11, 17:17; Hebrews 9:13–14, 10:16,22).

A seared conscience has lost its sensitivity (like the way the tongue feels numb after being scalded by boiling soup). It will not “sound the alarm” when its owner dabbles in evil. Paul highlights the spiritual forces of deceiving spirits (demons) at work when someone peddles heresy (v.1). Satan, who specialises in blinding the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4), deploys his minions to deceive and deaden the consciences of false teachers so that they can do much damage in the church. Paul is aware of this and is deeply concerned about it. The Holy Spirit himself had revealed to Paul that in “later times” (or “last days”, referring to the era from Pentecost to Christ’s second coming; 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 1:2), such deception would take place, making some “abandon the faith” (v.1) and become apostate (renouncing the faith).

The false teachers taught a misguided asceticism (harsh self-discipline) that denied the creation. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). This included the creation of a man and a woman, the institution of marriage, and sex within marriage. The false teachers were forbidding people from marrying (a Gnostic idea) and eating certain foods (a Judaistic idea). The heresies in the early church had such roots that threatened the purity of the gospel, and the joy and well-being of Christians.

All good gifts created and instituted by God can be received with prayerful thanksgiving, remembering they were consecrated by God’s Word, for He declared what He had created to be good.

 

Think Through:

Satan tempts people to eat the “forbidden fruit” (Genesis 3:1–7) or makes them refuse what God has given. How does he do it? What evidence of both deceptions do you find today?

In what ways can the conscience malfunction? How do you think it is educated by the Word and the Spirit? What is the state of your conscience?

 

Taken from Journey Through 1 & 2 Timothy: 50 Biblical Insights by Robert M. Solomon.

ODB: Marvelously Unique

May 21, 2019 

READ: Psalm 139:1–14 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

 

Human beings are not special—at least according to the London Zoo. In 2005, the zoo introduced a four-day exhibit: “Humans in Their Natural Environment.” The human “captives” were chosen through an online contest. To help visitors understand the humans, the zoo workers created a sign detailing their diet, habitat, and threats. According to the zoo’s spokesperson, the goal of the exhibit was to downplay the uniqueness of human beings. One participant in the exhibit seemed to agree. “When they see humans as animals, here, it kind of reminds them that we’re not that special.”

What a stark contrast to what the Bible says about human beings: God “fearfully and wonderfully” made us in “his image” (Psalm 139:14; Genesis 1:26–27).

David began Psalm 139 by celebrating God’s intimate knowledge of him (vv. 1–6) and His all-encompassing presence (vv. 7–12). Like a master weaver, God not only formed the intricacies of David’s internal and external features (vv. 13–14), but He also made him a living soul, giving spiritual life and the ability to intimately relate to God. Meditating on God’s handiwork, David responded in awe, wonder, and praise (v. 14).

Human beings are special. God created us with marvelous uniqueness and the awesome ability to have an intimate relationship with Him. Like David, we can praise Him because we’re the workmanship of His loving hands.

— Marvin Williams

What are some practical implications of knowing and believing you’re fearfully and wonderfully made? What are some negative consequences of not believing this?


God created human beings to be like Him.  

Let Our Story Demonstrate His Story

Day 10 – 1 Timothy 3:14–16

Bad teaching is connected with bad behaviour while good teaching (sound doctrine) produces true transformation and godliness. Paul has shown how our worship, community life, leadership and ministry should testify to the truth and power of the gospel. The phrase “how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household” (v.15) reveals what was in Paul’s mind.

The church should be a living demonstration of the gospel. If it fails in this, its mission will be seriously affected. It must realise its noble role to be the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (v.15). It supports and displays the truth. Additionally, the conduct of the church and its members should convince people that it is “the church of the living God” (v.15). We are reminded of Zechariah’s prophecy, “In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you’ ” (Zechariah 8:23).

All these things are possible because of the “mystery of godliness” (v.16), which is all to do with Jesus. The word “mystery” in the Bible refers to truth that has not been known, but is now revealed. This mystery is about Jesus, who appeared 2,000 years ago. His life is traced in what appears to be a hymn or creedal statement. Jesus “appeared in the body” (referring to the incarnation and refuting heresies that denied His humanity). He was “vindicated by the Spirit” (through His resurrection, therefore showing His deity). He was “seen by angels” (demonstrating His victory in heaven and on earth). He was “preached among the nations” and was believed by many. We are all the result of this preaching mission. And He “was taken up in glory”. This may refer to the ascension, but because it appears as the last statement, it could also refer to the second coming of Christ in glory.

Jesus is the mystery and glory of the church. Our tiny stories have meaning because of His story, which must be demonstrated by the church.

 

Think Through:

Is there any way in which the church has failed to convince others that it really belongs to the living God? How does the church guard the truth of the gospel?

Why do you think Paul used the phrase “the mystery of godliness”? Consider Colossians 1:25–27. How does the story of Jesus transform your old story into a new one?

 

Taken from Journey Through 1 & 2 Timothy: 50 Biblical Insights by Robert M. Solomon.

ODB: Divine Escape

May 20, 2019 

READ: John 11:45–53 

So from that day on they plotted to take his life. John 11:53

 

Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mystery The Clocks features antagonists who commit a series of murders. Although their initial plot targeted a single victim, they began taking more lives in order to cover up the original crime. When confronted by Poirot, a conspirator confessed, “It was only supposed to be the one murder.”

Like the schemers in the story, the religious authorities formed a conspiracy of their own. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38–44), they called an emergency meeting and plotted to kill Him (vv. 45–53). But they didn’t stop there. After Jesus rose from the dead, the religious leaders spread lies about what happened at the grave (Matthew 28:12–15). Then they began a campaign to silence Jesus’s followers (Acts 7:57–8:3). What started as a religious plot against one man for the “greater good” of the nation became a web of lies, deceit, and multiple casualties.

Sin plunges us down a road that often has no end in sight, but God always provides a way of escape. When Caiaphas the high priest said, “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50), he didn’t understand the profound truth of his words. The conspiracy of the religious leaders would help bring about the redemption of mankind.

Jesus saves us from sin’s vicious grip. Have you received the freedom He offers?

— Remi Oyedele

What road are you going down that could take you further away from God? He offers real freedom. What do you need to confess to Him today?


Give sin room, and it can take over a life. To learn more about the Gospels that record the life of Jesus, visit christianuniversity.org/NT331.