Godliness is Like Training

Goodness is always being attacked. Wholesome teaching is the defense we have in the Bible and 1 Timothy shows Paul reminding Timothy of this very thing.

1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,3men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:1-5) 

Timothy is in Ephesus because the Gospel is being corrupted and distorted (1:3). False teaching, not only about the core facts of the Gospel but about goodness in general, has led many believers off into the woods. They are no longer traveling the wholesome way of God which they learned through faith in Jesus. Besides teaching strange resurrections some teachers are forbidding the goodness of marriage which God created for men and women way back in the beginning. Some teachers forbid eating certain foods. Timothy must redirect the hearts and minds (consciences) of many back to the wholesome way God through Jesus. He must correct the errors about the core facts of the Gospel (the meaning of the life, death, resurrection and ascension) as well as the errors which result of this distortion. Goodness as you and I know it is being attacked!

You and I know how to define this goodness because of what we know of Jesus. We know that Jesus was good. We know that Jesus was God. We know that Jesus lived in holiness. Essentially, this is goodness. But this aspect of goodness was a bit different for Timothy and the Ephesians because it was new. This goodness was connected directly to Jesus as King (Savior) as opposed to the laws of the Jews. Goodness was now dressed in Jesus’ clothing in contrast to Moses’.

This is what Paul termed ‘life’ in verse 8.

“6In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 11Prescribe and teach these things.” (1 Timothy 4:6-11)

For many of us who’ve ever drawn a picture or painted a painting, and tried to do it well, we know how difficult this can be. It’s an energy consuming process. It’s difficult work. The Sistine Chapel work of Michelangelo took 4 years to complete! …Paul hasn’t kept Timothy in Ephesus for a vacation. Timothy is there to deal with some very difficult work, “For it is for this we labor and strive…” (4:10). Godliness is what Paul wants Timothy to pursue (4:7) with all he has, because the attacks on goodness that’s directly connected to Jesus will be exposed for what they truly are, attacks! Timothy is to discipline himself in godliness just as an athlete would discipline/train in order to achieve success.

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