We are in a series called Faith Foundations as we look at Paul’s letter to Timothy where he is instructing on what is looks like to be the people of God. In fact, you see this declaration made in 1 Timothy 3:14-15.
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14–15 ESV)
Paul is writing because he wants people to know how to behave in the household of God. This tells us something. This tells us that how we behave toward one another and how we behave as the people of God matters. We need to know who we are. We are in God’s house. We are God’s family. We are sons and daughters of God the Father being adopted into this glorious family. We are the assembly of the living God. We are being built into the dwelling place of God according to Ephesians 2:22. God is supposed to be in our midst and we reflect this in how we behave.
The Message (3:14-16)
When we look at verse 15 we see why it matters how we behave. We are a pillar and buttress of the truth. We are pictured as holding up the truth for the world to see. We are a home for God and for his truth. As the church, we do not determine the truth but we display God’s truth. This means that we cannot conform to the world’s definitions but must show what the truth is to the world. Remember that we saw in verse 4 of chapter 2 that God’s desire is for all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. We are the support and the display of that truth. This is our role that we play together as God’s people living in the world.
What is the truth that we are declaring? Look at verse 16. We declare the truth that Jesus was alive in the flesh, died for our sins, raised from the dead, and ascended back into heaven. The life and teachings of Jesus were vindicated through his resurrection from the dead (cf. 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:11; 1:4). This declared Jesus to be the Son of God in power. This resurrection was followed by many resurrection proofs, including witnesses. The angels proclaimed to the disciples that Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28:1-7; Luke 24:23). This is what is proclaimed to the world and is to be believed. This is the goodness of God on display in Jesus, who is the good news to the world.
Deviations From The Message (4:1-3a)
The reason it is so important that we know the message of God and his goodness and display that truth to the world is because there are going to be deviations from that message. We need to behave like the people of God and uphold his truth because people will depart the faith. We saw Paul describe two who had shipwrecked their faith in 1 Timothy 1:19-20. People are going to leave the faith. They are going to follow deceitful and demonic teachings. It is sad picture that is given that people are going to leave the faith and that there are going to be people teaching false things.
It is important to see that Paul is telling us that there will always be false teachers, not caring that they are deceiving people. This means that each of you have a responsibility. You cannot accept what I am teaching or anyone else is teaching just because they teach it to you. You must never depend on the teacher but on the word of God itself. You need to see it in God’s word and believe it because it is in God’s word. This is so important because there are false teachers and there will always be false teachers. So the only way for you to know that you are supporting and proclaiming the truth to the world is not by relying on me or another teacher, but resting your faith on God’s word. This is one of many reasons why I want to open God’s word with you, read it, and explain what it says. This way your hope is not in me or through me, but resting exclusively on the word of God. You can see the text for yourself.
Paul goes on to list some of the false things that were being taught at that time. Some were forbidding marriage of Christians. Notice that Paul says this is a false teacher. You are not holier or closer to God because you choose not to marry. Being single is not a holier life. Holiness is not tied to your marital status. Some were teaching that they needed to not eat certain foods. Somehow this was a greater holiness because you did not eat certain foods. Paul tells us that this is not how we are to look at life. We are not to condemn what God has created. Food is not sinful. Marriage is not sinful. Sex is not sinful. Money is not sinful. The internet and television are not sinful. Technology and smart phones are not sinful. It is how we use these things that can be sinful. But we are not holier than another by abstaining from these things. Rather we are be holy as we use these things. Do not try to create spirituality by removing things from your life
The Proper View (4:3b-5)
So how should we look at life? Notice that Paul says that what God created should be received with thanksgiving. God made all foods and all things to be received with thanksgiving. Food is a wonderful gift from God. God did not have to make food taste good or make our energy and life come from eating. But he did and we are to enjoy what he has made with thanksgiving. Marriage is a wonderful gift from God. God did not have to create marriage for us. But he did and we are to enjoy what he has made and receive it with thanksgiving.
This is the point of verses 4-5. Everything God created is good and is not to be rejected if received with thanksgiving. Think about what Paul is saying. Life is good. One of the false teachings that would begin to gain traction toward the end of the first century was something called Gnosticism. One of the branches of Gnosticism declared that everything created was evil and material existence as flawed. This has led to a kind of thinking that suggests that enjoying life in this world is a bad thing. You can see this taken to some extremes in some religions, even inflicting pain on yourself as a mode of spirituality. The idea is that the flesh is inherently evil as well as every created thing. But here is the apostle Paul teaching that this is simply not true. Food is to be enjoyed. Marriage is to be enjoyed. In fact, everything created by God is good and it is be enjoyed. The whole point is that whatever we have is given to us by God and we are to be thankful for it, rather than avoid it or resent it. Whether it is food or money, whether it is work or rest and vacation, what God wants us to realize that it is from him and he created it so that we would be thankful to him. When we get a car, it is a gift from God and he should be thanked. When we get to vacation or travel, it is a gift from God and he should be thanked. When we get more wealth, it is a gift from God and he should be thanked. When we get rest, it is a gift of God and he should be thanked. May we never look at what God has made and suggest that there is something evil or sinful about it! God has gifted us so much for our use.
This becomes a very important faith foundation for our consideration. Can I thank God for what I am doing or am I ashamed for what I am doing? This will help us know how we are doing with the gifts God has given us. If we do something, use something, or have something, are we able to thank God for what we did or received? Or does our conscience condemn us and we are ashamed because we have taken something that is to be received with thanksgiving and used it for sin?
One more consideration: Am I focused on God who gives me blessings to enjoy or am I just focused on the blessings? The other misuse is that we care more about what God has created than God himself. We get caught up in our cars, our wealth, our careers, our travel, and our technology that we lose our love for God. So we must ask ourselves if we have lost our love for God because our hearts have been entangled by the blessings given to us.
Paul wants us to see the goodness of God. The gift of Jesus to us should make us behave as God’s people, reflecting God in the world as we uphold the truth. We will reject false teachings, clinging to the divinely revealed word of God. We will acknowledge that God has created everything and we will receive it with joy and thanksgiving, not using his blessings and gifts to dishonor God through sin.