Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
(Taken from 2 Timothy 2:11-13)
It’s common knowledge that there are lots of books printed so far. Some books are very useful such as cook books, car manuals, grooming books etc. These are quite objective in their approach and to the point. However not everything is worth reading as there are other books that are filled with foolishness that you must avoid.
There are certain books that are superficially considered as works of artistic grandeur. On closer inspection you’d realize that they contain moral or spiritual gibberish at best. You must do you best to discern what is really good for you to glean on when reading such things.
Some people love poems while some love novels. There are people who relish classic literary works, while some revel in the contemporary. No problem in such hobbies as long they are not harmful. For instance gardening is no sin unless you are growing poisonous plants to harm others or yourself. Likewise, when reading various books they induce thoughts in the garden of your mind. You need to remove weeds of impure thoughts lest they choke the beautiful thoughts of piety, respect, gracefulness etc. The garden of your mind must be well watered with the word of God and never any substitute.
The wisdom of the world in some books can be shaky. They teach you that you are not took keep whining about your sorry situation but do something positive about it. You are encouraged to help yourself. While a worldly book teaches self-reliance it might also teach you to not help people in trouble as they are expected to help themselves. Such teaching on self-reliance is out of balance. I’d say that avoid such books that teach you not to help others. While its true that some people are way too lazy to help themselves, there are some who are too depressed to figure out how to get out of trouble. Not every self-help book is bad but that which teaches foolishness like not helping others is surely a bad one.
Take care what emotions are prominent in worldly books. As certain authors put in their own bitterness in their writings. Some are obsessed with suicide in their works and receive critical acclaim for that. However, the same critics get horrified when the author whom they praised actually committed suicide maybe due to divorce or loss of a fortune. What a tragedy at many levels? Three levels that immediately came to my mind. First, for the author’s life that got lost in gloom forever. Secondly, that the audience and critics celebrated suicide that people usually commit out of hopelessness. Thirdly, that such works that promote despair and suicide are still in vogue even after people came to know that the author wrote them not in the objective sense but out of their own grief which they tried to hide behind.
There are certain books that encourage you to feel helpless just because you are of a particular country, race or gender. Such things only promote you to believe in falsehood that you cannot breakout of worldly stereotypes. Keep away from such books.
Some authors are highly obsessed with sexual immorality. They portray love what is vulgar and hypocritical. They are more concerned with sinful please rather than right living. Nowadays in works of art even a bank robber is glorified if he has a relationship with an adulterous woman as long as he robs the rich and gives to the poor. The Bible doesn’t teach us to rob the rich and give to the poor.
There are certain books what promote unbelief. They will try to make you doubt if God exists. They will say lots of evil things about Jesus Christ. These are to be shunned outright. Because atheism and blasphemy are not in line with the Christian faith.
If you call yourself a believer in Christ then remember that is pointless to keep reading such books. Read what is wise and good and keep away what is sinful and vain. Moreover, read the Bible because it contains God’s message to us which leads us on to the right path.
A few scripture verses to reflect on:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.(1 Timothy 6:20-21)
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.(2 Timothy 2:22)
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.(1 John 2:15-16)
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
Training oneself physically helps you stay fit and agile. Regular exercise prevent excess weight gain. To climb mountains, a person undergoes a lot of conditioning both physically and mentally. This helps one climb up and down the mountain safely and effectively.
Athletes and soldiers exercise almost everyday, so that they can be in prime fitness whenever needed. Even animals such as dogs and monkey do some form of excercise, which looks very amusing to me. Astronauts in space are needed to excercise to maintain optimum muscle function.
So I surely can say that physical training is good for you. What physical training you need to follow is up to you. You would need to a bit of personal research, though speaking to a professional can help too. If you are on medication take your doctor into confidence about what training program you intend to do.
Now, 1 Timothy 4:8 doesn’t say not to excercise physically. It rather shows that spiritual training or training for godliness is much more beneficial than physical training. Physical training helps us in this life. Spiritual training helps us in this life and the after life as well.
Now what does training for godliness include. It includes reminding yourself of your new nature in Christ. It includes honoring the sacrifice of Jesus in partaking of the Lord’s Supper. It includes reading the Bible with the intent to grow. It includes hearing the Gospel regularly. It includes
remembering the prophecies in the Bible. It includes using the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It includes avoiding being a ‘solo’ player in Church but instead helping others in it. It includes training yourself to pray in all forms, such a silent and vocal prayer, praying in tongues etc. It includes training yourself to worship Jesus with all your mind and strength.
So by now you may notice that spiritual training includes a lot of things. You need to train yourself against all attacks of the devil to steal your faith. You need to carry your cross daily. With mass media you can also read or hear and watch a lot of sermons on various spiritual topics.
I used to train myself a lot in casting out evil spirits. I didn’t bother to listen to any critic but decided to only use a bibical approach and avoid any foolish mystical stuff. This benefited me. On a few occasions that came up suddenly I found myself casting out demons though I was not an excorcist. This gave me a chance to preach the gospel even more to the affilicted person.
A point in spiritual training is that you must never overdo stuff and instead be balanced. I mean it’s really extreme to read books only on healing others most of the time but neglecting the overall training in godliness. With all due respect, you might become a good healer from God but you could miss on fellowship with other church members due to being constantly busy.
Too much emphasis on excorcism will make you concentrate on trying to detect spirits even in normal people. It can really annoy people in the business world if you are constantly talking about demons instead of work. You need to therefore take all spiritual training which will also teaches when and how to behave in a particular social setting.
With that said you must train for godliness in all areas adequately. If you are weak in a particular area like counselling a terminally ill person then do take help from people who are known to be proficient in that area. You can even ask the Lord to give you wisdom in that area and he will give it to you abundantly and without adding reproaches.
Take up training for godliness not in fear but with a desire to glorify God. Happy training!