By His Grace
You and I know that there's nothing anyone can do that will gain any favor with God.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right today? Bless your heart, doing okay? I trust so. My, I’m so grateful for the privilege of meeting with you day by day, thankful for those who make it possible through their prayers and through their generosity, for the stations that open their radio doors to me. Thank you, thank you. So grateful for the privilege of belonging to you, by way of the Word of God.
Well, this is your friend Bob Cook, and we’re looking at 1 Timothy chapter 4, the marks of apostasy. What are they? Drifting away from the faith, the simple Gospel. When you forsake the simple, clear, direct Gospel message and get off on some highway, by way, detour. Though it may be good. It leads you astray.
Then the marks of apostasy in these last days- seducing spirits, doctrines of demons, hypocrisy that results in speaking lies, pseudo-truth, literally, consciences that no longer are sensitive, all of that. Then we come to… Still in verse 3 of 1 Timothy chapter 4, he said, “Forbidding to marry and the commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving, for it’s sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.” Now, the basis of these verses here is the idea, losing the touch of God’s power, you are reduced to doing something to legitimize your religious position.
That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? That’s a “Cookism-” you can write that one down. [chuckle] If you’ve lost the touch of God’s power, you are reduced to the procedure of doing something or requiring something in order to legitimize your religious position. In other words, if you haven’t got God’s touch, you have no reason for existing, unless you dream up something that seems to be a respectable religious requirement for other people to follow. You get the idea.
So where more convenient to zero in than on a person’s sex life. If you are going to follow, “in my denomination,” somebody says, you have to be celibate. You have to abstain, you may not marry. And certainly, the Bible teaches that sex outside of marriage is wrong. So there’s the first place where religions both modern and ancient have zeroed in.
Look up in your encyclopedia, you’ll find that through the centuries, both in the East and the West, religious practices have commanded, under certain circumstances, celibacy. Now, the Lord Jesus didn’t command this, nor indeed did He criticize it. Speaking of those who abstain from all manner of sex life, He said, “There are some that are born that way, and some that have been made that way, and some who abstain for the sake of the Kingdom of God.” Paul the Apostle said, “I wish that everyone were single just like I am.” But he said, “Marriage is honorable in all and the marriage relationship is undefiled.” And so, he said, “I will let the younger women marry and bear children, guide the house and so on and give none occasion to the enemy to speak reproachfully.”
The net result of studying what the Bible says about this, is fasting may indeed include not only loss of food and loss of sleep but also abstinence from any sex life for a period of time in order that you might devote yourself entirely to prayer.
But Paul the Apostle says very clearly in 1 Corinthians, that this ought to be in terms of limited engagement, so to speak, rather than a lifestyle that is mandatory. Really, as I mentioned to you when we started out, the requirement by some religions that you remain unmarried in order to be more spiritual is the result of having to do something to legitimize your religious stance. And you and I know, don’t we, that there’s nothing you can do that will gain you any favor with God. “By grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” However, the good works that we do, as Christians, are a result of the dynamic relationship between ourselves and our blessed living Lord.
So you come to Ephesians 2:10, which follows upon the verses I just quoted. And it says, “We are His workmanship,” the Greek word ‘poema,’ we’re God’s poem. That’s nice, isn’t it? “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should live every day in them.”
So the idea of a mandatory celibacy is not scriptural. That’s what Paul is saying here. It’s a mark of apostasy. And then dietary regulations, that would be the next level at which a person wanting some requirements that would legitimize religion, might consider. First, the sex life. Second, your food. “Commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving.” Now, that’s either some meats or all meats. In other words, it could be a selective diet or it could be a required vegetarian diet.
Now, as a matter of fact, just using good sense, there are some people who benefit by a vegetarian diet. When Coreen and I were pastoring in LaSalle, Illinois, our next door neighbor who was, oh, I suppose, he was 90 at the time. Just for a chuckle, he was 90. He had a son who was nearing 70, but who was really not with it. He was getting senile already. And so, they asked this 90-year-old father of the 70-year-old son, they said, “Well, Mr. So-and-so, how’s your son?” “Oh,” he said, “Poor old man, he’s getting so old. He’s losing his mind.” [laughter] 93 talking about 70, ah, well.
And I talked with him one day, I said, “You are so healthy, and you get around with such agility. And you seem to be so sharp, and with it. I admire you. You must have had a tremendous constitution.” “Well,” he said, “I guess I did.” But he said, “Some years ago, when I was in my late 60s, I was crippled with arthritis, and I… ” He detailed all his symptoms, no point in bringing them all out here. But he said, “I decided to stop eating meat.” And he said, “You know, I’ve felt better ever since.”
Well, now, that’s alright, isn’t it? You wouldn’t criticize the man for doing that, would you? No, I certainly wouldn’t. But there’s a difference between that sort of a thing, finding out what agrees with your body and putting that kind of food into it. Food that agrees with the kind of body you have, you understand me? There’s a difference between that and making a rule that you may not eat this for some religious reason. Paul says right here, there isn’t any dietary restriction for the Christian. Because he said, “Every creature of God is good. Nothing to be refused if it were received with thanksgiving.” You go to some parts of the world and they’ll serve you locusts that have been browned and properly stripped of wings and legs, and you’re supposed to eat them. Some people eat snake meat and relish it very much. All sorts of kinds of food.
In the Philippines, for instance-you Filipino dear friends, you’ll know what I’m talking about- they have a delicacy that’s called ‘balut.’ Do you know about that? Of course you do if you come from the Philippine islands, the 7,000 emerald isles, the jewels of the Pacific. Well, what is balut? It’s a duck egg that’s been fertilized, and the little embryo has been allowed to grow partially. And then it is pickled in brine for some weeks, and then it’s cooked and served to you. And it’s a delicacy. [chuckle] Well, now, don’t criticize, because you never tasted it, did you? [laughter]
Tell me something. Are you going to criticize somebody about his eating when all over the world there are people who think that your choice of a hamburger and french fries is strange? No, you’re not. You’re going to realize that people are different. And then you’re going to read your Bible, as we’re doing right now, and find Paul the Apostle saying, “Every creature of God is good. Nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving, because it’s sanctified by the word God and prayer.”
Bob Pierce, who is now with the Lord, came up in a Nazarene background. Now, there are different doctrines of the Holy Spirit, but some of them do hold that when the Holy Spirit of God fills the believer, the old root of original sin is removed. And so, Bob used to pray, “Lord, sanctify this food, and I do mean eradicate.” Well, whatever. You and I, whatever denomination we belong to, know that when by faith you open every room in your heart house to the blessed Holy Spirit of God, He does fill you. And what He gives you then by way of gifts and expressions, and experiences, is sovereignly up to Him, isn’t it? Just be sure that you’re full of the Spirit of God. Anyhow, eradication.
Now, he said, “It’s sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.” “You’ll receive it, and thank God for it, and it’s not to be refused,” said Paul. So the idea of zeroing in on something that you do…. Remember now, the basic truth with which we started out, beloved. Whenever you lack a real touch from God and the dynamic of the indwelling Holy Spirit, you are reduced to the necessity of requiring something to do in order to legitimize your religion.
So he says, “When you run into dietary restrictions in the name of religion,” he said, “Every creature of God is good if it’s received, sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.” Interesting insight, isn’t it? Now, that doesn’t take away from you or from me the idea of being responsible for what we put into our stomachs. If you know that something is going to make you sick, you’re not going to eat it. If you know that you are better off in a certain kind of marital or non-marital relationship, you’re going to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit of God. All we’re saying is, nobody can make any rules like this and tell you that it will make you a better Christian.
Dear Father today, make us truly dependent upon the grace of God and obedient to the will of God. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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