Friday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:1-16 (NKJV)
4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
11 These things command and teach. 12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
The Holy Spirit speaks, through St. Paul again of the importance of protecting sound doctrine. God is making it clear what His hearers should expect of the “good ministers of Jesus Christ.” Like yesterday’s text and meditation taught, they should be defending against the doctrines of demons. That not only means staying with and teaching the orthodox doctrine of God’s Holy Scripture, but it also means not allowing false doctrine to be taught.
A congregation cannot simply say that it doesn’t teach or agree with the heterodox teachings and practices of other congregations with whom they knowingly remain in fellowship. To remain in that heterodox fellowship allows the heterodox teachings and practices to continue to be taught, and inevitably it results in a support of the heterodoxy.
Pastors are called to be the spiritual overseers (or fathers) of the saints entrusted to their care. Conduct matters, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Giving attention to reading matters, for God’s Holy Scripture must always take prominence as proper preaching, teaching, and practice are dependent upon it. The exhortation of others, especially the flock entrusted to their care, matters, for if there is no accountability to God’s Word, then it all comes across as though it doesn’t matter. And, lastly, doctrine matters, for where the doctrine is errant, then, ultimately, Christ and His fully atoning merits are maligned. Support of such faithful pastors should clearly follow—and the thanks always goes to God!
We pray: Almighty and Everlasting God, give to us the increase of faith, hope, and love, and that we may obtain what You promise, make us to love what You command; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.