Consecrated by the Word
NCW 17, March 1995
Q. What does the scriptural passage "consecrated by the word of God" in 1 Timothy 4:5 mean? Is the Word the Bible? Does that mean that we can eat anything we want to?
The "word of God" is anything that God, Christ or the Holy Spirit has spoken (John 1:1; 1 Tim.4:1) whether recorded or unrecorded, or even unspoken.
The context of this passage is food, namely, that all living creatures defined by Yahweh as food may be eaten so long as they (a) are received with thanksgiving, and (b) God has endorsed the eating of the food by His Word (vv.4-5). Paul adds a further condition, (c) that the food does not offend our conscience (Rom.14:14). For a detailed list of what Yahweh says is kosher or pure food, please see Biblical Health Principles.
There is no doubt that some kinds of food can be harmful, especially if left too long, which is why we are to pray over it before eating it (1 Tim.4:4). That is why New Covenant Christians always give thanks before eating food and invoke God's blessing upon it so that should posisonous food be eaten unawares, the Spirit may purify it.
This does not, of course, mean that we can eat any kind of kosher food we want, such a rotten food. God does not promise us that if we thank him for decaying food and then bless it that He will cleanse it! We are to use our intelligence. And this is where we must use our conscience also.
New Covenant Christians voluntarily refrain from certain kinds of foods and drink for purely medical reasons and because God has said that the physical body is God's Temple and must be kept pure (1 Cor.6:19) in order to honour Him (v.20). Though God's Word says nothing about coffee, for example, being "unclean", or that drinking it will affect our spirituality, we know as a result of scientific study that coffee is harmful because of various drug-like compounds in it. We therefore voluntarily refrain from using it to honour God because we wish to keep our bodies pure and therefore more spiritually attuned.
We see here the importance of not judging scriptures in isolation but in the context of the whole revelation of God. The New Covenant has more revelation on this subject which it reserves for those who wish to draw closer to Christ. Coming to Christ does not, as many Churches teach, involve legalistically observing dietary codes -- salvation is of faith in Christ. Yet a saved person -- one who has come to know Christ's redeeming grace -- will want to honour Him in every way possible, including taking care of His physical body which was "bought with a great price" (v.20).
Though the context of Paul's words for Timothy is diet, it can, in principle, apply to anything that God has said. A little before he talks about food, the apostle talks about marriage, reminding the people that God has never forbidden anyone from marrying, but rather the opposite. Adam and Eve, types of the whole human family, are commanded explicitly to marry and have children (Gen.1:28). And yet it is astonishing that so many Christians should then deny God's Word and claim that Christ led a celibate life, as though being married would have been in some way a "dirty" or "unkosher" thing and that the One who became one of us should live differently from us.
It is interesting that the greatest heresy in Paul's day was the emerging Gnostic doctrine which amongst other things said that matter was evil and that sex was therefore evil too. It was this doctrine that caused the Catholic Church to introduce compulsory celibacy for the priesthood, as though celibacy would somehow keep them spiritually pure for their ministry. Paul directly refutes this heresy in 1 Timothy 4, saying that the people who advocated celibacy were "liars" and that they were influenced by demons and deceiving spirits. Unfortunately, Protestantism has partly inherited this attitude towards marriage and sex from the Catholics and rigorously holds to Jesus' celibacy as a condition of His purity and ability to atone for the human race. It never seems to have occurred to them that the Son of Man was supposed to be tempted in every way as sinful men and women too, and that to be fully tempted He would need to live the marriage state.
The Word of God, which consecrated marriage to be received by everyone with thanksgiving and prayer, including the sinless Respresentative of humanity, contradicts them.
God has also spoken clearly about homosexuality and has never abrogated His Word which says that its practice is an abomination. Yet so many Christians make God out to be a liar by arrogantly supposing that they can overturn His Word, even going to the extent of blessing in God's Name, so called homosexual "marriages".
Whatever God has spoken as being good or permissable is consecrated; whatever He has spoken as being bad or forbidden is cursed. Those who say otherwise are putting themselves up as God and will one day face His wrath.
This page was created on 1 May 1998
Last updated on 28 December 2007
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