1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3Forbidding 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. 15Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. -I Timothy 4:1-3, 15 (KJV)
Back in the late 1980’s when I was a student at the University of Cincinnati there was a cult which was frequently on campus seeking converts. This particular group teaches a works based salvation, abstaining from meat, remaining single, and breaking all ties with family. On top of all this the group also denies Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Their teachings mention Jesus, yet they deny Him as the way to salvation. To join this cult is to surrender one’s life completely to their control. One day a brother in Christ, who was also a fellow student, approached one of the cult members and attempted to engage him in a conversation about the Bible. When the cult member saw my friend was a devout Christian with knowledge of the Word of God he turned and walked away. Clearly these people do not want to hear the truth regarding God’s Word.
As I reflect on this I recall the words of Scripture which refer to those who in these latter times have departed from the faith and given heed to “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” As the Bible says, their consciences have been seared to the point they no longer will listen to the truth. Certainly there is nothing wrong with being a vegetarian or choosing to remain unmarried. However, to base one’s salvation upon such practices stands in direct opposition to the Word of God. Jesus Christ came to liberate us from the chains of legalism which hinder people from walking forward in the abundant life Christ has promised.
In Jesus Christ we have been set free, yet our freedom is not to be abused or taken for granted. In Jesus we are freed from the bondage of sin, guilt, and the burden of trying to earn our salvation. The Scripture teaches such freedom was bought with a price, which is the shed blood of Christ on the cross of Calvary. Let us never use our freedom as a license to sin. Galatians 5:13 gives this charge: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty (freedom); only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
What a blessing to have been set free in Jesus Christ! In Christ we are free to love one another, serve the Lord, forgive, and live each day in Christ’s power. We are also freed from carrying around the weight of grudges, hatred, and bitterness.
My friends, Jesus is calling us to joy and peace in the midst of life’s struggles. Claim His peace today.