1 “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”
let Israel say;
2 “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained the victory over me.
3 Plowmen have plowed my back
and made their furrows long.
4 But the Lord is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”
5 May all who hate Zion
be turned back in shame.
6 May they be like grass on the roof,
which withers before it can grow;
7 a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,
nor one who gathers fill his arms.
8 May those who pass by not say to them,
“The blessing of the Lord be on you;
we bless you in the name of the Lord.”
A song of ascents.
1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.
2 You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the Lord.
5 May the Lord bless you from Zion;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
6 May you live to see your children’s children—
peace be on Israel.
The theme this year of the “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference at Emmaus Bible College is ‘Training for Godliness” and the plenary sessions will be focusing on I Timothy 4-6. My two workshop topics are: “Guarding and Discarding: The Keys to Sound Theology (1 Timothy 6:20-21)” and “Sanctified Hedonism: The Case for “Worldly Saints” (1 Timothy 4:1-5).”
These false teaches are into forbidding — They forbid people to marry (which the Creator blessed in Genesis and the Lord Jesus in the gospels) and they restrict what people can eat! These negative values actually express several ungodly attitudes:
(1) unthankfulness: Both marriage and culinary variety were created by God to be enjoyed!
(2) a denial of the goodness of creation: Everything God created is good. Nothing (that is not sinful) is to be rejected IF it is received with thanksgiving!
But the material world (marriage and food) needs to be consecrated! How does this happen? By “the word of God and prayer.” As we are into God’s Word (allowing Him to speak to us) and prayer (giving us the opportunity to speak to Him), these two disciplines cause us to receive His good gifts with thanksgiving.
In his article “The Problem of Pleasure,” Phillip Yancey quotes G.K. Chesterton as saying, “I felt in my bones, first that this world does not explain itself. . . . Second, I came to feel as if magic must have a meaning, and meaning must have some one to. mean it. There was something personal in the world, as in a work of art. . . . Third, I thought this purpose beautiful in its old design, in spite of its defects, such as dragons. Fourth, that the proper form of thanks to it is some form of humility and restraint: we should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them. . . . And last, and strangest, there had come into my mind a vague and vast impression that in some way all good was a remnant to be stored and held sacred out of some primordial ruin. Man had saved his good as [Robinson] Crusoe saved his goods: he had saved them from a wreck. All this I felt and the age gave me no encouragement to feel it. And all this time I had not even thought of Christian theology.”
We know the God who gave us marriage and food and everything else! Thank Him for His good gifts today!
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
3 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
I’m in the preparation stages for the “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference at Emmaus Bible College. I’ve been asked to give two workshops. The theme this year is ‘Training for Godliness” and the plenary sessions will be focusing on I Timothy 4-6. My two topics are: “Guarding and Discarding: The Keys to Sound Theology (1 Timothy 6:20-21)” and “Sanctified Hedonism: The Case for “Worldly Saints” (1 Timothy 4:1-5).”
These false teachers, these faith-abandoners, will be inspired by demons to teach their heresies. Personally, they are characterized as being “hypocritical liars” with seared consciences!
In terms of their teaching, two categories of error are specified by Paul: (1) they will forbid God’s gift of marriage, and (2) they will order their followers to follow certain dietary restrictions.
Specifically, their commands about diet focus on abstention, not thanksgiving. “Don’t eat that!” is their command. Not, “Wow! Isn’t God good to give us such delicacies!” Refusing God’s good gifts is as bad a sin as gluttony. It expresses a lack of thankfulness for what “God created to be received.” Finding a balance between restriction and liberty is a challenge at times, isn’t it? We can fall into the trap of being gift-denyers and think that we have somehow become more spiritual. (to be continued)