When Abstaining Is Evil
Text: 1 Timothy 4:1-5
Theme: Requiring people to abstain from certain foods and from marrying is a satanic scheme.
Key verses: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (v. 1). “They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving…For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (v. 3-5).
What God said to me: Dwayne, this is a deeper passage than first meets the eye. Search for the somewhat hidden meaning here. Ask yourself: Why did Paul call merely keeping people from certain things a doctrine of demons? Why is teaching such things clear evidence of having abandoned one’s faith? Why am I so offended by such false teaching? Think about it: In saying people couldn’t marry, those devilish teachers were opposing my greatest earthly institution. Marriage is the best illustration on earth of Christ and the Church. I created marriage; therefore I sanction it. And then consider the teaching of not being able to eat certain foods. This is left over from the Old Testament teachings. So what could be so terrible about some still clinging to those beliefs? Why call them hypocritical liars from deceiving spirits? Just as I instituted marriage to represent Christ and the Church, allowing my people to eat anything they want represents my New Covenant, which invites and includes all people–Jews and Gentiles. To say people must abstain from certain foods that I created is to reject part of my creation. Jesus died to redeem all of creation–thus all of creation is good and acceptable. You’re no longer under the law, but grace. So Paul saw these teachings against marriage and certain foods as an affront to God’s grace and His creation. That’s the kind of stuff only demons can be blamed for initiating.
What I said to God: Father, I admit, I haven’t fully grasped this passage today. I’ve never thought of marriage and eating at such a high God-honoring level. It begs the question of how might I be misrepresenting Your creation? What am I rejecting that You have clearly ordained? And on the converse side, what I participating in that might be an affront to Your creation and Your plan for Your created people? I should return to this passage and continue to meditate on the implications. Thank You for Your patience to teach me–even though I’m slow to catch on and even slower to make application!