?O Timothy?, Paul cries out ?protect what has been entrusted to you by avoiding the profane chatter and contradictive absurdities of so-called ?knowledge.? By professing it,? he warns ?some have strayed from the faith.? (1 Tim 6:20,21)
This was a very tough charge for this young man. Philosophers and scientists surrounded him. How was he to avoid such things and similarly protect what has been entrusted to him, the very preaching and teaching of the gospel of God (1 Th 2:4)? How are we to do the same?
Oft times when dealing with non-believing scientists or philosophers, we may find ourselves giving ground on points to try to direct the conversation back towards God. We?ll be in the midst of an open debate about abortion and we?ll try to direct the thought-flow by partial agreement. ?Yes a woman has rights,? we might say ?but so does the unborn child!?
It is a good argumentation model that Paul employs on one particular situation on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-34). Surrounded by the philosophers and theologians of Athens (Acts 17:16), he pointed out how they were very religious in all things to the point that they even had an offering dish set up to The Unknown God. That God, which they didn?t know, is whom he proclaimed (Acts 17:22,23).
The problem is that those ideas, left unchecked, can entrench themselves. I know men who have spent their time studying the cults and philosophies to the point that they questioned their own faith?not because the cults and philosophies made more sense, but because they weren?t strengthening their own belief. Simple ideas, diametrically opposed to Scripture, could easily be refuted. But those aren?t the only ideas that are dangerous.
Perhaps it would be best to use an Old Testament example of a young man who protected what he had been entrusted with in the midst of the current day knowledge and absurdities.
Daniel himself gives us the setting of what had happened (Dan 1:1). The current King of Judah, a certain Jehoiachin, was placed on the throne by the King of Egypt and forced to pay tribute (2 Chr 26:3,4). The King of Babylon beat the Pharoah in battle (Jer 46:2) and took Jerusalem as a vassal kingdom (2 Ki 24:1; Dan 1:1,2).
The Jews watched in horror as the promises of God, seemingly, came crashing down with the walls of Jerusalem. Gentiles parading on holy ground, not struck dead, not even halted as the temle’s sacred items were taken away to Shinar, and the house of Nebuchadnezzar?s gods (Dan 1:2). They wept as the cr?me of the crop (the smartest children of nobility) were taken away, leaving the rest to starve in the streets of Jerusalem.
?Where is God?, they might have cried? ?Is there a God?? In fact, when these youths were taken into the teeming cities of Babylon they may have wondered if their people had it right at all. Jerusalem paled in comparison to those great works of art, those ziggurats and the astounding hanging gardens?what a place, what a culture!
What would these young people do and say? How would they answer the philosophical charge that ?your god is nothing…Look how Marduk has thrashed your god? (Ps 79)?
These young men would be taken into foreign universities and their pagan professors and current day scientists and self-proclaimed wise men would point out how the universe really worked. They would illustrate in swashes of colorful words how the cosmos came from the basis of cosmic battles between the gods and one chosen to come to the fore before all the rest??even your god Daniel?. These youths? names would be changed to those of pagan gods and they were expected to become model citizens and civil workers.
Yet they remained unique. They would not eat the king?s portion of the food, they would not take the glory from God when dreams were explained, they would not bow the knee to idols and they would not halt their prayers to their God even though their lives were in danger. They kept their eyes on God even though the world scorned them.
What of those other Jews in Daniel?s day? The ones whose names were not recorded in the book of Daniel who ate of the king?s portion, and bowed the knee, and shut their windows in prayer?how did they live? I have a feeling that they embraced Babylonian life by forgetting their profession or reinterpreting their situation.
And today? What lions? dens and fiery furnaces could not do, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil and their ilk have accomplished. Greek philosophy has managed where death and torture couldn?t.
Doubtless the more fundamental Christians today look at the lies of evolutionists and they know to steer clear. Conservative Christians will unify in their stance knowing that such attacks may creep into more liberal Christians but ?we Bible believing Christians can answer it by the truth of the Word!? To which I answer with a hearty? amen!?
But Dr. Phil and Oprah are just two names that may stand out from the masses of insidious ?Wise Men?. The Chaldeans are all around but their philosophy may be among our own.
The church at Colossi had this exact problem. Philosophy ran rampant. ?The Spirit is the only thing that matters!? was the current cry and those believers ears would agree. ?Yes, the Spirit is all that matters and the Flesh is evil.? The believers would then carry out the logic from that philosophy with ?what I do in the flesh doesn?t matter? or ?the flesh must be punished with strict ordinances.?
Paul (and Timothy, by the way) immediately wrote to this church (Col 1:1,2). Paul didn?t offer a counter-philosophy that answered five specific points with a handy acronym. Paul, by the Holy Spirit, realigned the believer?s eyes and hearts.
He first pointed out the Preeminence of Christ, the Savior who is both Spirit AND Flesh (Col 1). With Christ as the very Head of the Church (Col 1:18) and the roots of the believer (Col 2:7), the believer can realign his thinking and act accordingly. Living, then was not to be an indulgence of the flesh (Col3:1-11), nor one in which the believer was forced to follow strict rules in daily living (Col 2:11-23). The believer was not only Spirit nor only Flesh waiting for Spirit?he was a New Creation (Col 3:12-17)! Renewed Spirit with Flesh awaiting renewal (Col 1:20).
There are many things in this world that are so openly against the believer that most of us would easily point out its potential negative impact. But what of those things that arise from within our own circles? Those books, or leaders, or thoughts, or adoption of thoughts?
Remember, Paul warned the Ephesian elders of the dangerous wolves from outside and within (Acts 20:29-31). We must take extreme care when looking at commentaries, creeds and credentials of men?for the gospel of God is not of them or their traditions (Col 2:8; Mk 7:6-9) but of Christ.
To protect what has been entrusted and avoid those contradictive absurdities from so-called knowledge we must look to Christ, the Living Word of God as our source of direction. Every word and deed must be examined in Light of God?s Word (2 Tim 3:16,17)?even those things which ?Christian? writers may tout as ?being clearly taught in Scripture.? To ?stray? is only slight but can have huge implications on the preaching, teaching and exultation of God?s glorious gospel.
If I can borrow Paul?s words and rephrase them (1 Cor 6:12): All commentaries and creeds are lawful for me, but not all of them are helpful. All of those things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.