"Bodily Exercise Profiteth Little"

By David J. Stewart
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"For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (1st Timothy 4:8).

"Bodily exercise" in 1st Timothy 4:8 is NOT referring to lifting weights, running on a treadmill, or trying to keep fit at the gym.  It is foolish to base a doctrine upon one portion of Scripture, without ensuring that all other Scriptures in the Bible are in agreement.  One of the biggest mistakes people often make when reading the Bible is to neglect the surrounding Scriptures.  To properly interpret any particular Scripture, it is important to consider it's context within the surrounding Scriptures.  Let's examine 1st Timothy 4:8 in view of 1st Timothy 4:1-7...

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 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. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness" (1st Timothy 4:1-7). 

These Scriptures plainly teach that Christians are not obligated to observe any dietary laws today.  The Old Testament Jews were required to observe various ceremonial laws.  For example: Old Testament Jews were forbidden from eating pork, et cetera.  These laws (i.e., handwriting of ordinances) were nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14).  The Sabbath Day was also a ceremonial law, and is no longer valid for Christians today.

By the time of the New Testament, several religious cults had emerged which forbade its followers from eating meat or getting married.  Whereas the Old Testament ceremonial laws were only a means to an end, numerous false prophets had turned them into an end in themselves.  Some false prophets even taught that circumcision was mandatory for salvation, which prompted the Apostle Paul to rebuke them (Galatians 6:15).  The ceremonial laws were only intended as spiritual lessons for the Jews.  Tragically, many Jews failed to comprehend those divine truths, and instead turned the ceremonial laws into a form of heathen religious worship.  Thus, "bodily exercise" in 1st Timothy 4:8 refers primarily to the dietary laws which were NO LONGER in effect, and also refers in general to all sorts of profane and old wives' fables

There is a practical application of 1st Timothy 4:8 for today's churchgoer.  Most churches today are more resemblant of a Funeral Home than a New Testament Church.  America is in dyer need for a spiritual pathologist to perform some autopsies on today's dead churches.  The idea of a formal church service, with dry rituals, and repetitious ceremonies, and prayer chants, is alien to the Word of God.  The early Christians in the Book of Acts took the Truth of God's Word into the streets, going door-to-door, and stirred the community for God.  They had no church building, no fancy chandeliers, no padded carpeting, no stained-glass windows, no air-conditioning, no land, et cetera.  The early Church met in people's homes, and focused primarily upon preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to lost sinners. 

In sharp contrast, today's churches are primarily concerned about meeting the budget, raising more funds, and building bigger buildings.  Most churches today are apostate, and dare not OFFEND neighbors in the local community.  It's so sad.  I think every church in America ought to have a sign hanging out front which proclaims, "Abortion is murder!"  But you say... "You'll never reach people for God like that."  Read the Bible lately?  It's the most offensive Book on the planet to unsaved heathens.  Listen, if you have to dip your sails, trim your message, and compromise your moral stand to reach sinners—then you're just bringing the world into the church.  As the church becomes more worldly, so does the world become more churchy.  It's time for believers to AWAKE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS!

The Catholic Church is perhaps the biggest offender of 1st Timothy 4:1-8, with it's sinister Seven Sacraments, heathen Rosary chanting, ridiculous rules on celibacy and abstaining from meats, and devilish veneration (i.e., worship) of numerous statues of dead saints.  None of these false doctrines are taught in the Bible. 

Jesus never started a religion.  In fact, religion is the worst thing that's ever happened to this world. 

So many people today "think" they are right with God because they have been baptized, or ate a piece of wafer at mass, or prayed the Rosary, or confessed their sins to some sinful priest, or are faithful to some church, et cetera.  NONE of that impresses God one iota! (Isaiah 64:6).  Most religions today are based upon one's own self-righteousness.  However, the righteousness of God only comes by way of the redeeming power of the literal, physical, precious blood of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12; 1st Peter 1:18,19; 1st John 1:7; Revelation 1:5; 7:14).  We need HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (i.e., Jesus' righteousness) to get to Heaven (Matthew 6:33).  2nd Corinthians 5:21 states, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

The "bodily exercise" of religion won't save anyone.  All the touch not, taste not, handle not laws within any particular denomination won't help...

"Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?"

Clearly, the Bible condemns formalized religion.