"Every Creature of God is Good"

The ceaseless efforts of Satan are directed against every provision that God has made for the good of men, whether they are for "this life that now is or that which is to come." Under his guidance are many seducing spirits. Some of these evidently direct their attention against the mercies that God has provided for the physical needs of men such as meats and marriage. 1 Timothy 3 speaks of these, they teach doctrines that are called "doctrines of devils . . . forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." The idea conveyed by these doctrines is that a man who obeys them would appear to have a greater sanctity than his fellows, but this we know could only feed his fleshly pride (Col. 2:20).

Let us consider these things as they are presented to us in the Word that we may know how to use them. They are to be received with thanksgiving. We give thanks for good gifts, and we recognise in so doing that God is the giver of them. We learn that "every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (Jas. 1:17). As we enter into this, these mercies from His hand become the means of communion with Him.

God knows our needs. He is a faithful Creator and He remembers how He has fashioned us. He has given us bodies and they need to be nourished and He has provided meats for this. Every mouthful we eat declares our dependence upon God, and should humble us before Him, we could not live without His provision for our daily needs. The knowledge of this would preserve us from independence of God and unrestrained appetites and keep us thankful to Him every day of our lives.

We have souls also, and the soul seeks companionship; it needs relationships in which its affections can be exercised and developed. God's desire is that His creatures should be unselfishly happy, and in His wisdom and compassion He has said, "It is not good that man should be alone." So He has ordained marriage and the family life. It is true that the Word says, "They that marry shall have trouble in the flesh," yet, even so, every sensible person realises that the greatest natural happiness that any can know is found in marriage and the family life. And for Christians who dwell together as heirs of the grace of life there is the added joy of the home being the Kingdom of God, in which He is owned in dependence and prayer so that marriage yields a fuller communion with God than meats.

But we have spirits also for we are spirit, soul and body, and the spirit can only be satisfied and at rest in God Himself. Hence we have the Word of God and prayer bound up with these creature mercies. "They are sanctified," we read, "by the Word of God and prayer." The Word of God directs us as to how to use God's mercies, and prayer is the expression of our need of grace from Him in order to use them for His glory. In the Word, God speaks to us, in prayer we speak to Him. And the Word used for prayer here means we "freely address" Him. It should be a joy to us to know that in these every day, and what might be called mundane things, God would have us commune with Him, if these gifts are received in the right spirit, every part of a man is benefited, and God is glorified by the thanksgiving. These seducing spirits would spoil all this.

There is always the danger of these good gifts of God being abused. The godless do nothing else, they are unthankful and in consequence make an unholy use of them, for unthankfulness and unholiness are linked together in God's description of men, they are twin features in the lives of those who do not know God. But the Word of God and prayer will keep us right on this side. If we give thanks to God for His gifts, whether meat or marriage, we shall treat them as His gifts and especially so if we remember that we must give an account to Him as to how we have used them. What a spring of happiness and well-being they may be, sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.

Everywhere the standards of life are being lowered, especially the marriage tie is losing its sacredness, more and more is God being left out of the lives of people, and immorality and revelling given His place. The Christian must stand out in contrast to this, and bear witness to the fact that "godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (v. 8).