1 Timothy 4. Paul predicts a time in the future (from his standpoint) when the church would experience a departure from true godliness and follow deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1). He charged Timothy to “put these things before the brothers” – in other words, explain to them and demonstrate for them the difference between true and false godliness.
- The false godliness would involve declaring as taboo certain gifts (marriage and certain foods). True godly people enjoy those gifts and thank God for them, sanctifying the gifts by the word of God and prayer.
- The false godliness would abandon the clear meaning of scripture, adopting irreverent, silly myths that would lead the church away from true godliness. The outcome will be religion without inner change. True godly people train themselves so that their faith meets the practical needs of today and prepares them for the future (8).
Paul charged Timothy with the responsibility to set an example for the believers “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (12). He had to demonstrate what true godliness looked like. He also had to immerse his congregations in the word of God. He was to devote himself “to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (13). The best way to prevent false teaching is to train in the truth.
LORD, save us false religion which destroys true godliness. We have set our hope on you, the living God.