We're gonna turn now it to the Bible. I'm gonna read 1 Timothy chapter 3 verse 14 to chapter 4 verse 6. We'll be up on the screen as well. But if you have a Bible, then do turn to it there. Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing to you with these instructions so that if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's households, which is the Church of the Living God, the pillar, and the foundation of the truth.
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness brings is great. He appeared in the flesh was vindicated by the spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. The spirit clearly says that in later times, some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They for big people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.
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. If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Do please have a seat. Let me introduce myself. Good morning to you.
My name is Tom Sweetman. If we haven't met before and I'm 1 of the pastors here at the church, and it's lovely to have you with us as we continue in this series in 1 timothy 4. So if you close your bible and do open up 1 m 54 and make sure that you can see the passage we had read to us. Just to underline what Rory said about the Away Day, Please do, if you haven't already, take the opportunity to book on. It is set to be a really fantastic day an occasion for us as a church family.
These things don't come around very often, but when they do, it is a great time just to bond together to get to know new people and to have a great day celebrating the lord and his faithfulness to us. You may have seen as the workshops were flashing up in that video, there's 1 called like learn and read New Testament Greek, which is quite an exciting workshop. Isn't So we've got a member of the church, Kimbel, you might know. She's something of an expert in the new testament, Greek, the language in which the new testament was written, and she reckons it possible to take somebody who has never looked at New Testament Greek before. And in a space of about 45 minutes, get them to read, understand, and translate.
Job 1 verse 1. Now that's quite exciting, isn't it? Yeah. So that's something to go to. Learn John 1 versus 1 in the original language.
If that's not for you, there's plenty of other things available and you can if you want to sit, drink a cup of tea, enjoy the view of the south downs, It's a beautiful place. So do pecan. It's gonna be it's gonna be a great time. Now also just to say, 1 other piece of church family news. Recently, if you've been around in the church, you'll know we've had new members joining and we've welcomed the new members But we've also had to say goodbye to some members who've been around for a long time.
So as I say, do please have 1 Timothy 3 and 4 open in front of you. Now, depending on how you count them, there are 27 qualities in chapter 3. 27 qualities. It begins in verse 2.
And overseer therefore must be and then off he goes to show us these 27 character qualities that we want to be cultivating. And as we've been seeing working our way through that list, it is in some ways quite daunting. You know, how can anybody grow in all of those different areas. To climb 1 mountain feels like an achievement. To climb 27, would be a real achievement.
How are we supposed to grow and develop in all these different areas? Again, feel a little bit daunting. But then look at the end of the chapter so important for our understanding about what godliness is, process and most certainly the mystery of godliness is great. He doesn't say the mystery of godliness is great. You You must, you do.
That's how you get Godly. He says, the mystery of Godiness is great. He, Jesus. When the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in the flesh and when he died for us and when he rose again, he showed us that godliness is not just a list of qualities to tick off. It is a person to treasure.
When any man or woman or boy or girl trusts in Jesus as their savior, They need nothing else. They need no more. They need no extras. They need nothing different because they, in Christ, have become the righteousness of god forever. They in him are the godliness of god.
He is the mystery. Christ is the mystery. That's for overseers, that's for Deacons, and it's for everyone. Godliness is not something that we must own, it is a person to know and to trust and to believe And when we do that, we find that those 27 will begin to grow. And if all of that is true, which it is, Then it explains the force of the language that we find here in 4, 1 to 5.
In these verses, Paul is talking about the false teachers and just look what he says about them. They abandon the faith deceiving spirits taught by demons, hypocritical liars, conscience is seared. Now why would he use such strong language? Because the gospel of Jesus Christ, the mystery of Godliness itself, is under attack. These are not just well meaning Christians who are a bit mistaken.
These are not brothers and sisters who see things a little bit differently than we do, to teach within god's household that you can become godly without Christ. It's not just a different flavor. It's a demonic flavor. How he describes it. If what they say is true, then I now need something more, something other, something better than Christ himself.
If what they say is true, that my Godliness now depends on the sacrifices I make and not on the sacrifice that Christ has made. And that just takes a great big ax, lifts it to the heavens, and swings it at the root of the gospel. Cuts at the heart of the gospel. That's why verse 1, he describes it as a deceitful spirit and a teaching of demons because it denies that Christ is my mystery, that Christ is all I need. And even though Timothy was probably a shy man, and was a bit reluctant to step into battle on these matters.
Paul is absolutely clear. He is got to see things that way. He's got to see things that way. First command he gets in chapter 1 verse 3, if you can flick back to that. First instruction from Paul to Timothy.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, Stay there in ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer. And that is the subject which he returns to now, to the subject of false teaching. Paul has just told us at the end of chapter 3 that we have every reason to be confident. The gospel of the lord Jesus Christ is going to try our program belief. Our Savior has been preached in the world and he will continue to be preached in the world.
Our Savior has been believed on in the nations. And he will continue to be believed on in the nations. Truth is gonna win the day. It will prevail over unbelief. But here he sets our expectations side by side until the end for as long as we are here, false teaching will be a stain on the church.
And here, is what we must all know about it. Just 3 very brief things to show you from the passage Firstly, we're going to look at who these false teachers are. Secondly, we're going to look at what they say. And thirdly, we'll ask what should we do about it. Who they are, what they say, and what we're gonna do about it.
Okay? Firstly, then who they are. Have a look with me at verse 1. The spirit clearly says that in later times, some will abandon the faith. Notice how he begins.
The spirit clearly says. Now, when did the spirit save it? What is he referring to here? Well, if you can see a Bible because it won't appear on the screen, please do look back to 20 verse 29. Act 20 verse 29 because it might be that Paul has his own words in mind here.
This is what he says to the Ephesian elders, Acts 20 29, give you a moment to scroll there or turn there. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you, and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number, men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. You see what he says? They will come from outside.
And even from inside, and they will distort the truth. That is like a word of prophecy from the lord. It's a spirit word. So he might have that exact prophecy, he might. The spirit clearly says, as he said through me when I made this prophecy, or maybe he has Jesus in mind.
This is Matthew 24 24. Jesus told the disciples that false messiahs and false profits will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. It's the same combination of things, isn't it? They will come. They will impress.
They will deceive. That is a that is a spirit word. That's a word from god himself, a prophetic word about what is gonna happen. And so he may have all of those different things in mind or something else entirely, but the point is that Paul is not guessing this is gonna happen. This is not a loose prediction.
He didn't read about this in his star sign. This is a spirit word from the lord and what does he say? He clearly says that in later times, which by the way, is the whole time between when Jesus came first and when he will come again. It's that whole period between the comings of Christ. That's what he means by the later times.
So see it says that in later times, when Jesus, some will abandon the faith. That's how he phrases it. Some will abandon the faith. Now that phrase is very interesting because it doesn't mean that they're just going to fizzle out like fireworks. You know, they begin well.
There's a bright explosion of color and light and heat, and then just over time, they grow cold and dark and drop back down to earth. That's not the sense of it. The phrase he uses here is much more deliberate It's like they they pull away from the apostolic faith. It's like if you've ever bought a new piece of clothing and you jumper or a new t shirt and you've got that little tag in it with the label on, you know, that little bit of plastic that someone somewhere manufactures by the trillion, that little bit of plastic you're supposed to cut it off. But lots of us just get a good grip of it and pull it and just sort of pull it away.
Don't we? That that that's the kind of image in mind. They they get what they they pull away. They snap away from the apostolic faith. They want to deliberately leave it behind.
Now that doesn't mean that they become atheists. It doesn't mean that they no longer want any god talk at all. It means that they are pulling away from the apostolic faith like the label they pull away from the message of Christ given to the apostles. They wanna snap themselves free of that message. And just look at how they do it.
Here's verse 1, but in a slightly different translation. Now the spirit expressly says that in later times, some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits. So depart from the faith and devote themselves to the gospel spirit, says something good, but this tells us something more important. They will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to seek for spirits. In other words, how do they pull away?
How do they pull away? By exchanging the faith for a lie. That's how they do it. Now the context here is false teaching, but that's always true, isn't it? When somebody leaves the faith of the bible, they always do so for something else.
Nobody just drifts away into nothing. They don't just deconstruct into nothingness. They exchange what they worship. No longer, the Christ at the end of chapter 3 appeared in the flesh, seen by angels, vindicated by the spirit, taken up into glory, preached them no longer him, but something else, something other, a different object of worship, a different Jesus altogether. We never stop believing.
We never stop worshiping. The only question is, Are we worshiping under the influence of the spirit? Or are we worshiping under the influence of demons? When somebody leaves, they always leave for something else. That's what he says.
First 1, the spirit clearly says that in later times, Some will abandon the faith by following deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings, these are the demonic ones. Come through hypocritical liars. It's interesting, isn't it? How does the teaching of demons get into the church.
Well, they don't all show up in a minibus 1 day. There's a red cartoon characters with horns on their heads and take over the place. That's not how they arrive. The demonic teaching arrives through the mouth of hypocritical lies. See how he gives us the spiritual origin, the teaching of demons, and the human origin through hypocritical lies.
Whose consciences, he says, have been seared as with a hot iron. And what he says there about their consciences is very helpful for understanding who they are. So if you imagine the conscience like a worker. Okay? Your conscience is like a worker whose job it is to take what you believe and to work it into your life.
That's his job. He is trying to make sure that there is alignment between your lips and your life. That's his job. He doesn't want me to stand up here and say stuff that I don't practice. If I do that and my worker is working well, he's gonna tell me he's gonna tell me about that because he wants there to be a harmony between my lips and my life.
That's his job to to bring that alignment between life and lip. But if I go the route of these false teachers, And week after week, I start ignoring his voice. Well, at first, that's gonna be painful. Because he wasn't created to be ignored. But if I keep at it, I will grow more and more comfortable with the gap.
Between what I say and what I do until he no longer troubles me at all. And at that point, it's like a phone call with someone who's hung up on the other end. Here I am speaking away But where's my conscience? The line's gone dead? See it as with a hot iron.
Can't feel anything anymore. The line's gone dead. That's what these teachers have become. And it's sad because although not all of us are teachers, Every Christian will recognize that danger. Don't we?
We will all know to some extent the pain of not listening to the conscience and going the other way. And if that's you at the moment, if you feel that you are in, that particular pattern, then this would say brother or sister, be careful of that. Be careful. The conscience is a very precious, very sensitive gift. It will do a great job if you allow it to, but it can only take so much abuse.
But also, if that is you, then please know that by God's grace, that worker can always be redeployed. That line can always be restored. It can it can be made good and sensitive again. That's what God's graciousness is all about. He wants to restore us and to redeem the things that he has given us.
So do bring that do bring that to him if you sense yourself to be in that place. But in verse 2, We are dealing with these people who were public teachers. And Paul says that like Satan, they have lost all grip on the truth. You notice that they are double fakes, hypocritical lies. What hypocrisy is a fake life?
What lies, it's fake words. Hippocritical lies, fake life fake words. That's what they are. And so their consciences have been seared. So that's who Paul is talking about.
That's who they are. They are people who have abandoned the faith. Secondly, let's look at what they say. So who they are? Now let's look at what they say.
I heard a very helpful illustration about holiness the other day that I thought I would pinch. If you try to imagine a beautiful garden, a garden that you have been to might be cue gardens or something like that in the spring or the summer or the autumn when it's looking at its best all the weeds are gone, all the nasties have been cut away, and the garden is just a picture of life and beauty and health. If we take that list in chapter 3, it might have 27 fruits, 27 flowers, 27 gorgeous plants and all the birds of the air and the insects come and they gain life from it. That's what biblical holiness is like, it's like a well cultivated, fruitful garden. But sometimes we can think that holiness is more like bleach than a garden.
In other words, it's just about killing stuff. It's just about burning things away. It's about creating a sterile environment. You all know what it's like to walk into a room that has been bleached. It's got a clinical, cold, smell about it.
That's holiness. Right? Just about bleaching away and killing off everything. And of course, that does actually capture something true about holiness. We are told to put off and to put to death and to kill away in order to become like Christ.
But if that is how I think that holiness is just about what is killed instead of what is grown, that my ministry will smell more like bleach than it will a garden. And that's how these lot smell in chapter 4. When they came into the room, when they stepped into the pulpit, you could smell the bleach all over them. It's all about what you must deny, what you must give up, what you must kill in order to be godly. See it there.
They forbid people to marry. Imagine it. They forbid people to marry and order them. Order them. Forbid them.
Order them to abstain from certain foods. Which God created to be received with thanksgiving. Could you smell the bleach coming out of a text? Do not taste. Do not handle.
Do not touch. Give up this. Never do that. And you'll be like God. You see how it goes?
The whole thing measures godliness not by what is received with thanksgiving but by what is denied. That's how they measure it. Not by the the gratefulness of your heart for all the things God has given you, but what you doubts yourself with what you bleach off yourself. That's how they measure Godliness. And it's interesting here that food and marriage are in the firing line.
Food and marriage. Now I'm not quite sure why marriage is getting such a drubbing here. You know, it might be that they started to believe these false teachers, some of the worldly ideas, that physical stuff like the body and sex and the material world was all dirty and wrong because it was off this world and it was physical. And the only beautiful thing would be the divine spark within you. And so therefore, the more physical stuff lights sex and food.
The more of that you can give up, the more like Christ you will be because you're forsaking the dirty in favor of it that the true. Could be that? We certainly hear a secular version of that today. Don't worry. That the real you has nothing to do with the physical or what you're born with.
Nothing to do with that. The real you is all about how you feel On the inside, it's about what you decide on the inside. It's the spirit within you. That's the beautiful. That's the real.
The physical is a prison in which you have been placed and from which you must escape. Could be that, but with a religious edge. Or maybe it would be this idea So just to come back with me, it's a sort of weird thing. The 2 timothy 2 so I turned forward with me, 2 timothy 2 and verse 16. Perhaps this was why they were going on.
To Timothy 2 16, avoid godless chatter Because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly, their teaching will spread like gangrene, among them are Himanias and Philias who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. And so you can see if this doctrine was going around, If people were saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and if there is no marriage in the resurrection, then we need to give up marriage right now because the resurrection has come. We're in the resurrection. And while we're at it, down with any animal that we might kill for food, down with lamb and chicken and beef because we're in the resurrection and there shouldn't be death in the resurrection and therefore we shouldn't eat anything like that.
We should return to a sort of eat and like diet, just fruit and vegetables down with death and meat and all of that. That kind of food is definitely not godly. It's hard because Paul doesn't say why exactly those things are picked. But you can see how it works. Can't you?
These false teachers want to create a guilty conscience in people when there has been no wrongdoing. They want to make people feel bad when nothing bad has been done. Horrible, isn't it? Really horrible. Made to feel that you are wrong and unspiritual and far from god.
You shouldn't have eaten that. Did you really drink that? You went there with your family. You made that decision about your future, really? When really, there has been no offense at all.
There's been no biblical wrongdoing. You've just realized that you don't fit their description of what it means to be godly. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. You see their version of Godliness? It is not a garden of praise.
It's bleach. To burn away even the good things that God has made. This is much more than just separation from the world. This isn't somebody who says, no, look, I you know, I really do believe marriage is a great gift from God, but I also believe singleness is a great gift from God, and I wanna be and I wanna be single. It's not somebody like that.
This is somebody attacking those gifts. It's not just separation from God's world. It's a condemnation of God's good world. It's not gonna help you. Gotta like you're doing that.
It's more spiritual not to. You won't grow if you do that and order on it went like this. The things he says taught by demons. Shock in, isn't it? You know?
Because self denial and self discipline are actually pretty important, aren't they? We sort of value self denial, particularly in a culture which says, you go for it. You know, you you enjoy who you want, you enjoy them when you want, you do what you want, just go for it. We we value self discipline. And look, sometimes, there is a time to say no to certain types of food and drink.
If I've got allergies, that's an obvious 1. If it's gonna cause a brother or sister to stumble, that's another 1. And sometimes I may even fast just for for myself for spiritual reasons. But if I think that it's going to make me more godly, to condemn things which god says are good. If I'm going to reject them, Claiming it will make me more right with God, then that is nothing less than demonic.
Because now you see, my righteousness depends on the sacrifices I make. And not on the sacrifice that Christ has made. That's the biggest problem with this. It's not just an attack on God's good creation. It's attack on the gospel full.
Because it says to me that what my savior did on the cross for me is actually not enough not enough to make me godly. I've also got to condemn the good things that he's made and call you to do the same. The first test of any doctrine is what it says about Jesus. And this says that Jesus is not the answer to real godliness. And so in terms of application for this point, This is the type of teaching to watch out for.
Because you see 1 attractive thing about this form of godliness is that it puts me in the control seat and it puts God in my pocket. If I give up something for god, then he owes me. I may not put it as crassly as that, but that is what can be living inside my heart. If I deny I deserve. If I deny, I deserve as a false gospel.
That's a false gospel. But also, a form of godliness is attractive to us because it's easier than real godliness. It's just true, I'm afraid, that keeping food out of my tummy is easier than keeping pride out of my heart. Upstaining from certain types of drink is easier than abstaining from certain types of selfishness. But you see where that leads me.
See where that will take me. On the outside, I'm very serious and I'm very strict and I'm very godly and I want you to know about all the things that I say no to. But inside, my sin is not battled. My sin is not dealt with. I'm just hiding under the outward.
Do you see that? That's When it said it's worse, doesn't it? This strictness is hiding an inner wickedness. Much much easier. To keep food out of my tummy than to let the spirit do a proper work in my heart.
And as Abreev was praying, it is tragic, isn't it to think, that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world this month. Who are fasting from food in the hope that it will bring them closer to God. Thinking that to say no to God's good creation will earn them God's favor. These are precious men and women who have been made in the image of God, hundreds of millions of them who need our compassion. Because they are under a deceitful spirit.
It can be attractive to us for all of those reasons. But now we see why the language has to be so strong because this form of godliness strikes at the heart of the mystery of true godliness. And therefore Timothy has got to say something about him. That's the longest point. Okay?
Third on shorter. Who they are? What they teach? Lastly, what to do about it? What should we do about it?
Well, let's start in verse 6. Timothy, if you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, You will be a good minister of Christ Jesus. Isn't that something wonderful to aspire to? Then we all want to be a teacher or not a good minister a good minister of Christ Jesus. If you point these things out, the word is more like lay this under them.
Timothy, if you lay these things under them, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus. It's the language of pillars again, isn't it? It's the language of pillars from chapter 3. If you lay this foundation beneath them. If you give them this rock, if you set this beneath them, if you show them what to build on, what is true.
Where they can have their foundations and what is sand, which will kill them. If you lay it under them, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus. Timothy. I want you to teach the truth as best you can and show them error as best you can. And you'll be a good minister of Christ Jesus.
But what exactly should he say now? What do what doctrine is needed for this particular era, what he tells us in verse 4. Here's the doctrine Timothy needs to teach. 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. So this is why the false teachers are wrong, and this is the truth they don't wanna hear.
Everything God created is good. And nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. Now look, of course, we don't live in Genesis 1 anymore. We live in the post Genesis 3 world. And so although there's a sense in which Genesis 1 31 is still true, God looks over all that he has made and he declares it to be very good.
His creation is very good. It's a different sort of good now. It is a good that has fallen under a curse. It is good that has been infected with sin. It is a good that groans to be recreated, which is why he says that everything God created is good and not literally every single thing is good.
You see the difference there? Not every thing in the world is good. Everything God created is good and therefore there are some things which cannot be consecrated by the Word of God and prayer. If I'm going on a night out with my friends, And before we enter the club, we take an ecstasy pill. But just before doing that, we say a prayer of thanks We say great score the pill.
That does not, I have afraid, sanctify the whole experience to me. Okay? The whole thing does not become consecrated by that grace and by that prayer. We know that. That's wild, isn't it?
Not everything is good, he says. But everything God created is good, and therefore relating to this, how can anyone despise marriage let alone forbid it. When God created it to be received, how can anybody command you to give up certain foods when God created them to be received. And that word to receive is very interesting. It's more like a word to participate in.
In other words, these are not things that God has just delivered to us. These are things he's inviting us to share in come to the dinner table, he says, and participate in all the good things I've laid out for you. It's the difference between an Amazon delivery and a wedding invite. 1 gift is just dropped on your doorstep hopefully. Worst case behind your neighbor's bed and it's knackered and unusable.
Is the difference between an Amazon delivery and a wedding invitation. 1 is a gift dropped on your doorstep. 1 is an invitation to come and share. That's the word he created them to be received to participate in with thanksgiving. That's the idea.
These are good, natural things, marriage, food, water, life which we can enjoy with thanks brothers and sisters. But false teaching always goes against that. He wants to twist the natural. You see this with the cults, don't you? The way they try to do unnatural things with people.
They want to take them away from their families. They want to impose strange laws about eating and drinking. They very often do odd things with marriage and sexuality. It twists the natural because it basically denies that what God made is good, that his design is good, it needs to be twisted In some kind of unnatural way, but no timothy, that is not it. You've got to lay this before them.
God invites us to worship him by sharing in the goods that he has made. God is never properly worshipped by a denial of his good gifts. He is never properly worshipped. By a denial of his good gift. You need to lay that before them.
GK Chesterton, who was an English author and philosopher. He said this. He said, you say grace before meals. Alright? But I say grace before the play in the opera.
And grace before the concert and the pentamine and grace before I open a book and grace before sketching painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace. Before I dip the pen in the ink. Of course, there are things that we must avoid. But you see what he's saying. The Christian life is not mainly a negative life.
Of giving up good things, but a positive life of thanks and prayer. It is much less like bleach and much more like a garden of Thanksgiving. And if we can, a, remember that and b) remember the cross. We will be saved from these errors because we will know that from beginning to end, Jesus Christ is all that we need. He is all that you need from your first day as a Christian until you're dying breath.
If you are in Christ, you will never be more godly than you are now. Is all you need. And when you know that, you'll be free to enjoy everything good that he has made. Should we try? Further, we please pray that you would protect our church from false teaching.
I pray that you would protect those of us who teach and from the elders from becoming hypocritical liars whose conscience has become seared. Please keep us soft and sensitive and sincere when it comes to the ministry, which you have entrusted us with. And I pray for all of us that we would not be drawn in by this sort of teaching. We're sorry, father, that often we are attracted to a form of godliness, which looks strict and serious, but is hiding wickedness. Please we pray save us from that sort of error Help us to see that all that you have created is good, that all that you have created can be perceived with thanksgiving and praise.
And please help us to remember some of us might be feeling very far from you Some of us might be feeling like we've just sinned 1 too many times this week. Some of us might be tempted to exchange you for a lie. Please help us to see that Jesus Christ is all that we need for salvation, and for godliness forever. Please bring us back to him this morning in Jesus' name. Amen.