There is a lot of wacky Christian-like, sorta Christian, and close to Christian teaching out there. People have such a hard time with the simplicity of the Gospel. They think there must be more to it, than “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). They add lists of rules and rituals that have to be followed in order to earn God’s favor and salvation. It is our responsibility as Christians, as ambassadors for Christ to guard the Gospel, share the truth, and keep the liars out of the church. Verses 1-3 describe some of the twisted teaching people spread.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”
These people can easier believe lies from demons than the truth of Jesus because they cannot give up their guilt and choose punishment and condemnation over freedom in the truth. God doesn’t forbid marriage. It is a gift for us and brings joy. (Deuteronomy 24:5). It is a mirror of our relationship with Him, and teaches us about His love. (Ephesians 5:22-33). God doesn’t tell us not to eat the foods He created for us. This earth and everything on it, belong to God and was created by God, so it is good. (Psalm 24:1). Verses 4-5 read,
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”
God doesn’t withhold His good gifts from us. (Psalm 84:11). He loves us. This relationship is a relationship of love, friendship, and sonship, not servitude, fear, and condemnation. (John 15:14-15, Galatians 4:7). Those people who follow laws in order to gain salvation, can’t please God. Romans 8:1-8 says,
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
In fact those who teach these lies lead people away from Salvation, away from God and straight to Hell. God does not take kindly to that. Matthew 18:5-7 reads,
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!”
We must take responsibility, safeguard the Gospel, and teach it. Verses 6-10 say,
“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
Paul puts it this way, taking care of your body, exercising, and strengthening is good. It will allow you to live well on earth. But learning the truth of Jesus Christ, developing spiritually and deepening in knowledge of Christ is better. Spiritual development allows us to live a good life on earth and in eternity. We have to remember, this life is not about this life, it is about eternity. It is about the Kingdom of Heaven. Our bodies just like everything else we can see on this earth, is short-term. But our faith is in Eternal God and the promise of eternal life with Him. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says,
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
It is popular to follow these quasi-Christian beliefs. They seem right to people. It is easier to believe the road is hard, the burden is heavy and salvation must be earned than it is to accept that Jesus is the only way to the Father and Salvation is a gift for the asking. (John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8). Preachers , teachers, all of us can be tempted to look like the world wants us to look and not feel the ridicule of the monikers ascribed to us as Christians. We are called conservative, evangelical, and even extreme if we stick to the truth of the Word of God. We are called fools. Timothy was the pastor of the church at Ephesus, he was young and it is likely that some of the older church goers disrespected him and thought he ought to follow some of the other teachers out there. Like Timothy there are things about each of us which the world disrespects and chooses to criticize us about. We can’t give in. We have to remember who we are in Christ and we have to remember the Spirit of God Himself is within us. We can stand up and proclaim and teach the truth. Verses 11-14 say,
“Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
Do you think you do not have the responsibility that the pastor has? Do you think you cannot defend the Gospel? You can! You must! You have the ability. You were given at least one Spiritual gift in order to uphold and edify the church. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Verses 14-16 read,
“Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
We ignore the naysayers. We stop the false teachers. We live bold godly lives using our gifts to edify the church and bring people to Jesus. We are commended to immerse ourselves in these things, to make our lives completely about Christ. Our continued maturity will be evident to everyone, the church, our friends, our family, the naysayers, and the lost. They will see the testimony of our lives and they will respect us enough to listen because they’ll see the fruit of the Spirit in us.
People will come to Christ because of the way you live your life or they will reject Him. People will grow closer to Him because of you or they will decide Christianity is a fallacy and faith does no good. Which testimony is your life giving about Jesus?