For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:8 NIV
Paul is teaching Timothy how to avoid being swept up in Satanic-led teaching. At the time, there were many who were leading Christians away with false spiritual teachings. Their cunning teaching seduced those who were attempting to seek the truth. It seduced them because it sounded enough like ancient scripture. Even today, these teachings are awfully believable to the gullible mind.
Paul uses the two most popular examples of apostate teachings that are trapping people. First, these apostates were teaching people that they should not get married, so as to preserve their whole selves for God. This is clearly false teaching, as God not only instituted marriage but also ordained it as holy. Secondly, these apostates were teaching against eating meat because of the Jewish law prohibiting certain types of meat consumption. However, Paul taught that Christ has freed us from the law and freed us to receive anything if it is received with thanksgiving.
Paul brings these up to highlight the apostasy that is running rampant in the church, and Paul wants young Timothy to minister in this tense environment. Paul says to Timothy, ‘Fight these preachers, by standing unashamed and declaring scriptural truth.’
If we are not careful, the temptation to believe the popular can overcome us. We cannot let what everyone else thinks to be true to become our truth. Just like Timothy, we can stay Godly by staying in training. We must stay spiritually surrendered and deeply prayerful. We must also exercise our faith for the purpose of growth, just like an athlete exercises their body.
Like Paul says, athletic training for the body has some value. It helps us journey through life on this side of the veil. But we must think about our relationship with God as spiritual training. Not only is it beneficial for the here and now, but it is also valuable for our life beyond.
This forces us to ask the question: “What are we training for?” It’s bigger than asking, “How has God been blessing you?” Instead, “How has God been training and exercising you?”
This is not about favor or blessing. This is about being more Godly. When we are strong enough in our training, we won’t be pulled away by false teachings. We will know the difference between spiritual half-truths and the real truth in Christ. When we have trained ourselves up, we can experience resurrection freedom, and we can say that Christ has set us free.