Prohibitions; March 27, 2020

1 Timothy 4:3-5 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. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

It has always been striking to me that when Paul wanted to give examples of “things taught by demons,” (verse 1) The first thing he came up with was forbidding marriage and the second was dietary restrictions. Those things have been common in different groups down through the centuries! It is fascinating that the devil never creates, he only distorts. In contrast, God, by very definition, is the Creator, and as Genesis 1 records, everything He creates is good. The first time the Bible uses the expression, “not good,” is in Genesis 2:18, where God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Forbidding marriage flies in the face of that, and the Bible talks many times about the blessings of marriage. In Old Testament times there were many dietary restrictions, for a number of reasons, but improving hygiene and the like mitigated most of those reasons. An objective examination of history shows that the vast majority of prohibitions don’t come from a desire to bless, but from a thirst for power on the part of the ones doing the prohibiting. As came up on the 24th, a thirst for power is a very destructive motivation. It’s what got Lucifer thrown out of heaven! (Isaiah 14:12-14, as came up on the 22nd) That’s not to say that we aren’t to show wisdom in what we take in and what we do. Paul dealt with all sorts of pagan practices, and he himself refrained from certain foods when he was with those who were convinced they were bad. Likewise, the Bible never forbids taking in alcohol, but it certainly commends wisdom and moderation. Paul thought there were advantages to being single, but he had a gift for it, and he wrote powerfully commending marriage. (Ephesians 5:22-33) The devil tries to present faith as a matter of negatives, when in fact it is the most positive thing possible.

This can be tricky, because all behaviors are obviously not equal. I haven’t always come down on the correct side when I have made decisions, either for myself or as a pastor. However, I would rather err on the side of grace than otherwise. That said, I am deeply grieved by the acceptance in some churches of the devil’s lies as normative. I do not reject people, but certain behaviors are destructive to them and to society as a whole. As Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20) I am to walk in grace and love, but failing to speak the truth is not love. I am to let the Word and the Spirit be my guide, and not human arguments that deny God.

Father, we are indeed bombarded by “things taught by demons.” Help me hear You clearly in all humility, living out what You tell me so that I won’t deceive myself, (James 1:22) loving people enough to speak Your truth to them, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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