1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
6 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 of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 1 Tim. 4:1-8
Practice, practice makes perfect, they say.
According to the above scripture, believers can practice – and perfect themselves – in one of two things: in old wives’ fables, or in Godliness. That is what verse 7 tells us. Once again, let us remind ourselves what old wives’ fables are. The context here gives us the exact meaning of old wives’ fables, or tales. It is simple and clear. Old wives’ fables are the teachings that have departed from the faith, or “words of faith”, which transform us into true children of God. They are teachings that originate from seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.
And the Bible goes on to state clearly the errors embedded in such doctrines.
“Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats”.
One of the most intransigent modern-day false denominations is the Seventh Day Adventist church. This particular denomination forbids people from eating certain foods. This belief is embedded in Old Testament teachings. But not eating certain foods does not make one holy. Jesus made that clear in Mark 7:18-23.
The Roman Catholic church is the mother of all ‘Christian’ churches. But it forbids to marry. Priests and nuns are not allowed to marry.
The list goes on. I have heard of Mormons, Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and countless other denominations that pass themselves off as ‘Christian’.
The Bible calls all these teachings and beliefs “lies” that have been taught through hypocrisy by men whose consciences have been seared with a hot iron. All these teachings are lies! If the Bible calls them lies, I believe we should, too.
“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron”.
This particular verse is telling. It means teaching something that one knows is wrong, but they do not mind because their conscience is dead. Because they have departed from the faith and are “giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”, they are able to do this with a straight face. In fact, such people are so deceived they believe in what they are teaching.
In the Pentecostal and charismatic circles, things couldn’t get worse. Preachers have perfected the art of old wives’ fables and they are misleading God’s people with all kinds of gospels that cater, not to the spirit, but to the flesh: prosperity, false miracles, signs and wonders.
About the glut of ‘power’ signs and ministries that have inundated the church today, the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15:
“13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
All these things the Bible calls “bodily exercise”. It is a work of the mind whereby there is no fruitful ministry to the spirit.
And one can become accomplished in them. All they need to do is to regularly exercise in them.
But the Bible sweeps all these teachings and denominations off the table, and it leaves only one thing standing: Godliness. I believe if we are not going to church to seek after Godliness and Godliness alone, then our understanding of God is warped. And in church we are to hear “words of faith and of good doctrine”.
Under Godliness, the only ministry is that of the Holy Spirit. Here, it is simply the Holy Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit in us as we surrender self to Him.
And when we have the fruit of the Spirit in us, we become
“more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Rom. 8:37).
That is what the Bible means when it talks of Godliness as
“profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
There is much profit for us in this life when we exercise Godliness. We conquer sin in our lives; we are at peace in the midst of the storms of life; we rejoice in the face of sadness; and we exhibit victory in every area of our lives. The list under “victory” here is endless. I do believe it is not talking primarily of things like job promotion, though. Rather, it is talking of victory especially in our relationships with people, and with God. Imagine someone who has in their lives:
“22… love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance”. (Gal. 5:22-23)
That’s someone who is truly free. And, pray, what more profit could a person who desires to be spiritual aspire for in this world?
And how about the promise of the life which is to come?
The Apostle Peter depicts it best in 1 Pet. 4:13:
“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
The promise of the life which is to come is exceeding joy.
We are to practise holiness by denying self, taking up our cross daily and following Christ. The Apostle Paul says:
“30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” (1 Cor. 15:30-31)
Paul was a man who exercised Godliness daily. And he became so accomplished in Godliness that he could tell the rest of us to follow him for he followed after Christ (1 Cor.11:1)
[The art of practice… Having our sights set on Christ]