November 26 I Thursday

Ezekiel 27-29

1 Peter 3

“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 who know the truth.” —1 Timothy 4:3

 In Paul’s letter to the young pastor, Timothy, Paul strongly warns him as well as the whole congregation, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). Some within the Ephesian church were straying away from Paul’s teaching and the reality of who Jesus is and started to embrace a different gospel.

To be clear, Paul is not talking about people within the congregation that have some misperceptions about Christian doctrine, struggling with understanding the message of Jesus or some confusion about what the Bible teaches. Paul’s letter is addressing those that are self-professed teachers who had systematically shut themselves off from the apostles’ teachings, turned away from the gospel and completely rejected the faith. Turning to another gospel, they are following the teachings of demons.

What are the teachings of demons? Forbidding marriage and certain food. When we think of the teachings of demons, we probably imagine more heinous things that demons would want to teach. Yet, Paul reminds us that if we think false teachers and teachings of demons are going to show up in a hideous form, we have it completely backwards. False teachers do not appear as villains, but as devout, pious, spiritual people—they may even have the appearance of righteousness. Nobody would have guessed that Judas Iscariot was going to betray Jesus one day, since he had been with Jesus for three years. Our adversary, the devil, loves to lead us astray.

Abstaining from marriage and certain foods may not appear harmful in pursuit of God, but why do these pious beliefs advocated by these false teachers alarm Paul? Because it abandons the gospel of Jesus Christ. In two short verses, Paul expands on how the gospel has paved the way for Christians, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving...” (1 Timothy 4:4-5). It is as though Paul is saying, “In light of what God has done for us in the person of Jesus Christ, do not let anyone judge you because of marriage or food. Do not let anybody look down on you because you enjoy the material world. God created it and what God created is good. Do not let Satan take your joy and rob you of thanksgiving. The gospel has set you free to enjoy all that God has created, all that He calls ‘good.’ None of it is to be rejected if received with thanksgiving.”

May our hearts be filled with thanksgiving as we enjoy what God has created, remembering no pious act can earn our salvation.

Prayer: Dear God, thank You for everything You created is good. Keep me safe from being led astray by teachings of demons and let me remember that pious acts cannot earn my salvation. Praise You!

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