by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3 Lincolnton, NC June 26, 2005
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.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth.
Textual Notes:There are two textual differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in 4:1-5. Both are spelling differences consisting of the addition/omission of a single letter in the spelling of the words translated "seared" in 4:2 and "received" in 4:3. The spelling issue does not affect the meaning at all.
I. The Interesting Connection Between Demons and Marriage and Demons and Food.
A. Paul's declaration that seducing spirits/demons would provoke a departure from faith is remarkable for where he goes with it.
1. Initially, one might think that demons would be most interested in provoking some denial of a major doctrine regarding God/Christ.
2. But, instead, we find Paul saying that the demons are provoking a "denial of self" in two major realms...
a. If we take "marriage" as a key word for "the most significant earthly relationship", what we have is a major attack on the "soul" of man because the "soul" is primarily involved in issues of relationships.
b. On the other hand, if we take "meats" as a key word for "food", what we have is a major attack on the "flesh" of man because the "flesh/body" of man is fundamentally sustained by food.
3. This indicates that the "demons" are fundamentally focused upon attempting to get believers to get involved in something that will derail their faith by means of a denial of both soul and body. Interestingly, the "spirit" of man is out of this loop pretty much altogether on the surface of appearances.
a. However, if the demons are actually attempting to get men to depart from faith, what they are really attempting to do is to get men to exalt their own "methods" of life above the method of God.
b. Whenever men exalt their own methods above the method of God, what is really going on is that men are vaunting their own "wisdom" above God's and that means they are seeking to exalt themselves -- which is a "spiritual" issue in that the "spirit" is fundamentally involved in things having to do with "status".
c. This means, then, that it is the "spirit" of man that is front and center in the methods of the demons. Thus, the subtle deception of the deceiving spirits is that of actually addressing a major issue while seeming to only be addressing lesser issues.
1) This indicates that man's most significant problem is going to always be in the area of his "status lusts".
2) One of the major issues of "status lust" is the issue of finding a way to exalt oneself over one's peers.
3) One of the time-established methods of self-exaltation in the religious realms is "self-denial" -- for it seems to "prove" a greater level of "commitment to God". Once a person gets himself to the point of believing he is "more committed to God" than are his peers, his spirit is in bondage to sin. This is Paul's teaching in Romans 1-3. Man's bondage is fundamentally spiritual. For this reason, he finds it possible to "make sacrifices" in the areas of body and soul if those sacrifices give him a way to satisfy his lust to be superior to his peers.
4) What this boils down to, then, is that the seducing spirits/demons are attacking at a most fundamental level. It is not the level of "doctrinal truths of critical importance". Rather, it is the level of "how" those doctrinal truths are brought into play as instruments of Life. The demons are actively promoting the doctrine of "human performance" as the key to Life. As one "performs" by "self-denial", he becomes "closer to God than all his peers"...this is the lie of the seducing spirits. This technique is amply illustrated by the book of Galatians. In that book, the attack is not on the cardinal doctrines regarding Christ. Instead, it is on the doctrine of how Christ provides Life...by the works of Law or by faith. Both abstaining from marriage and abstaining from meats are "works of Law" just as was circumcision in the Galatian context. Two subtle ways to exalt oneself.
B. The larger context of Paul's letter to Timothy is extremely crucial.
1. In 1:5 Paul laid out the only legitimate "goal" for "doctrine": Love.
2. In all of the remaining letter, the issues are whether "love" is driving the cart, or "the desire to exalt oneself" is driving the cart. The demonic methodology is to shift the believer away from a genuine Spiritual commitment to the spiritual well-being of others to a fraudulent spiritual commitment to the exaltation of oneself over others. Sooner, or later, the fraudulent spiritual commitment will reveal itself in some form of "teaching" that boils down to the old heresy of "self-production of spiritual progress".