1 Timothy 4:1-5 – Goodness of the Natural World

This week we will be discussing 1 Timothy 4. The first part of this chapter directly addresses certain false teachers who teach that the natural things of this world are to be avoided. vv. 1-5. Most scholars believe these are teachers of Christian Gnosticism. In these teachings, matter is viewed as evil, while spiritual things are good. The more ascetic a person is, the more holy he is. (This is a similar problem addressed in John’s epistle.) Paul opposes these views by pointing out that God’s creation is good, and that God has given us every plant for food. (Gen 1:29-31). Paul had previously addressed similar issues in response to Jewish dietary laws in Romans 14 and food sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 8 by saying that whether someone eats or abstains from certain foods does not make that person a better or more holy Christian. As Jesus himself says: “It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out the mouth.” Matt 15:10-20.

Today, there are few Christians who fit the description of the false teachers in this week’s readings. However, Paul’s statement that “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected” (v.3) raises an interesting contemporary issue of how Christians should think about the legalization of recreational use of formerly illicit plants, particularly marijuana. A very literal reading of verse 3, says that God created marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms, and even opium poppies. These things, therefore, are good and should not be rejected. The question before us is how should we as Christians analyze this issue. As we looked at last week, alcohol is allowed for church leaders, so long as they aren’t “drunkards” (3:3) or “addicted to too much wine” (3:8). Therefore, the question is whether these plants created by God can cause us to lose control and be overcome by sin. A good analysis of this issue comes from The Gospel Coalition. (And for an alternative point-of-view there is christiancannabis.com.)

Dinner is at 6. The menu is Teriyaki chicken. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.

All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 

1 Cor. 6:12

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