by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4 Lincolnton, NC July 3, 2005
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth.
Textual Notes:There are two textual differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in 4:1-5. Both are spelling differences consisting of the addition/omission of a single letter in the spelling of the words translated "seared" in 4:2 and "received" in 4:3. The spelling issue does not affect the meaning at all.
I. Paul's Focus Upon Food.
A. Though he mentions a denial of marriage, the majority of his words in 4:3-5 have to do with eating.
B. His larger "issue" is a "departure from the faith" as 4:1 specifically says.
1. In the issue of "departing from the faith", there are always two things involved...
a. "Faith" is a "methodological" word that addresses the question "How?" in respect to some task that needs to be accomplished. Thus, a departure from the faith is an abandonment of God's "method(s)" in view of the given task.
b. "Faith", as a methodological word, always assumes the "given task". This means that one cannot speak of "faith" without implying the primacy of "love". One never applies a method to a valueless task. People believe in order to accomplish.
2. In the "departure from the faith" there is always an arrogance of intellect involved.
a. Man never sets a goal that not important to him; and he never chooses a method for achieving that goal without any hope that it will work. In other words, man chases what he thinks is important and he chases it by means he thinks will enable him to catch it.
b. God has declared His "methods" in His Word, but men both ignore that Word and vaunt their own "intelligence" above God's wisdom. In this is seen the arrogance of man: he thinks he is wiser than God.
3. In the "departure from the faith" there is always a subtle abandonment of not only the divine method(s), but also of the divine objective(s).
a. In the final analysis, man is in agreement with God on the "love" issue: the value of Life.
b. But, with God the value of Life centers upon the "value of Life for another" and with man the value of Life centers upon the "value of Life for me".
c. Then, in the reality of "ordered methodological loves", man is almost always completely off base.
1) In the chase, men have to set "ordered loves" in the form of "servant objectives" in order to reach the ultimate objective. I have to "want" a nail, before I can "want" to drive it into a board. I have to "want" two boards attached to one another before I will want to drive a nail into them. I have to "want" whatever it is that the attached boards will accomplish before I will want to attach them and that precedes my wanting to drive a nail in them and that precedes my wanting a nail (not to mention a hammer, a strong arm, a place to put the boards that can withstand my hammer blows, etc. etc.).
2) In the reality of human rebelliousness, man wants whatever it is that he thinks attached boards will give him, he wants to attach the boards, and he wants to use a nail, in the context of God's instruction to never seek the thing sought by attaching boards together. This is the problem of "departing from the faith": man is seeking something he has been told to never seek by the means he is employing.
C. His "smaller" issue is the use of self-denial in respect to "food".
1. In a word, Paul is here denying that what is sought by self-denial in the "food" arena will be obtained by that means.
2. In Jesus' ministry, He pointedly declared that the ingestion of food of any kind had NO ability to "defile" anyone (Mark 7:18-23). Therefore, the abstention from any food of any kind does not have the ability to "sanctify" anyone.
3. Thus, the real question is: To what use are the demons putting the denial of marriage and food? The answer is simple: self-denial is designed by demons to promote the pride of man in his attempt to prove his superiority over his fellow-man. Man is driven by deception to think that God will be impressed by his superior behavior and Paul is flatly denying that.
D. Paul's declaration regarding God's attitude is that He created foods of all kinds to be ingested with thanksgiving.
1. What is the meaning of this declaration?
a. First, that God is far more interested in man's "gratitude" than he is in man's vain attempts to impress Him with his behavior.
b. Second, that the real issues of "the faith" are not "accomplishments" as much as they are "acceptance". God is not fixated upon what man might accomplish for His plans; He is fixated upon man's willingness to let Him give him what he needs.
c. Third, that God not only knows what will give man the greatest benefit, He has already "created" the means to that end.
d. Fourth, that man's greatest need in Life is to realize his total dependency and God's total provision. Man is not supposed to be going about trying to meet his own needs. He is supposed to be going about "ingesting" what God has already created to meet those needs. This does not mean that man is to be uninvolved in the pursuit of Life, but it does mean that his involvement is supposed to be a dependent involvement...using his energies to pursue the servant objectives that God has said will produce the final objective: Life for Others.
2. How does this play out?
a. First, by embracing the ultimate objective, man places himself into the flow of God's plans.
b. Second, by embracing "the Truth" (Paul says this works for those who "believe and know the Truth"), man puts himself under the declarations of God as to what will work and what will not work.
c. Third, by embracing the declarations of God as to what He will use to further the accomplishment of His "Plan", man removes himself from all attempts to exalt himself above others because of the absolute failure of those attempts to produce the ultimate objective.