1Timothy 6:3: If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
Paul wants Timothy to focus on godliness-enhancing doctrines. He doesn’t want Christianity to be given a bad name. He doesn’t want people to say: see those Christians, see how bad they behave?
That is the context in which we should situate some of his appearance-centric messages, inclusive of and especially the issue of the covering of hair for the women (1Corinthians 11:1-16).
In the prevailing cultural milieu of his time, a woman without a covering communicates insubordination and it was shameful thing. A woman without a covering means she does not yield to control. He doesn’t want Christians to give the wrong view of Christ. The covering was a symbolic expression of character. The reason Paul said he doesn’t want a woman praying or prophesying without covering her hair is because you are bound to do both as a Christian. He was trying to say: all must do it, because of what it communicates in that culture. We need to recognise that, or else we will make a law what was just an expression of cultural sensitivity on the part of Paul. In that culture covering is regarded as part of the dressing of the woman. To not do that is a sign of looseness.
Ditto to the issue of women teaching in the church or having a leadership position; since that does not align with the overall truth of the gospel of Jesus, then it must be a situation specific issue that Paul was referring to, while writing to Timothy (1Timothy 2:11-15).
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the passage about head covering for women is difficult to understand for many, because Paul never intended it to be understood as a cohesive whole. He was writing about “sentimental” issues, not particularly about truth of the doctrinal cadre.
He was con cohesive in his analysis because he was merely anticipating various objections that his audience would raise, and was countering them. That is why you see him saying seemingly contradictory things in the same discuss. He was merely arguing a case, about the importance of cultural sensitivity, focused on a particular practice in the Corinthian church.
Paul cautions that Christians should not let their good be evil spoken of, while discussing issues of eating food offered to idols or not, unclean or clean meat (Romans 14, 1Corinthians 8, 10:14-33). He said knowledge puffs up but love edifies. Love considers others (1Corinthians 13:5). It is not about proving you know much, it is about consideration of others.
The issues of covering of a woman’s hair and eating of meat offered to idols were burning issues in Paul’s time. He wanted the Christians to not overdo the freedom that they have in Christ (freedom to leave hair uncovered, or eat anything even if offered to idols, because of knowledge level, that idols are nothing). He wanted them to realise that the kingdom of God is not in meat and drink (it is not about fighting over those issues) but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). The Kingdom is a focus on the Holy Spirit, listening to, obeying him, and not a preoccupation with legislating externals/ or disregarding them.
Beyond those issues, which neither adds to, nor remove from the spiritual life of a person or the church (that neither diminishes nor increase our moral fortitude or closeness to God in a spiritual sense), we have the behavioral, the moral issues. This is where the difference needs to show between the believer and the unbeliever. Paul said that as you have learnt Christ so walk in him, as the truth is in Christ (Ephesians 4:19-23). In another place, he said: do not lie to one another since we have put off the old man and have put on the new, which is renewed in knowledge (Colossians 3:6-15). We are new persons now (2Corinthians 5:17); we should have new positive behaviours.
Jesus said: let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your heavenly father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). And the preaching of the Word/doctrine should help to facilitate the expression of that life, so that wherever we are, in the work place, at home, in school, in our neighborhood, we may be messengers of light, representative of Christ by our behaviours.
That we are disciples of Jesus indeed should be manifest in our freedom from sin. He said to some people that if they follow him, they shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free (John 8:31-32).
One revolutionary idea that Jesus brought was that we should not swear, but our “no” should be “no” and our “yes”, “yes” (Matthew 5:33-37). Our words should not have “shades of meaning.” We should communicate simply and correctly and accurately.
James said he that he that is perfect in his words is perfect indeed (James 5:1-12). If Christ is not making a difference in our behaviour (in the words that we speak, life that we live, our relationships), then he is not making difference at all in our lives. If your behaviour did not get better since you met Christ then, we should wonder whether you met him at all. It means that the knowledge that you have is empty, merely puffing you up.
The transformation should be from glory to glory (2Corinthians 3:17-18). We should not be counted among those who are ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth (2Timothy 3:7). The word of God contains washing quality and as we continue in the word, we should increasingly have all the spots and wrinkles in our live washed off (Ephesians 5:25-27).
We also need to use the tool of repentance regularly, not as incorrigible sinners but for that occasional slip off. We have the claim to the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from unrighteousness once we repent and confess and repent of any sin (1John 1:9-2:2).
Teaching must have an effect on your behaviour. Jude sought to make clear in his letter that it is erroneous to engage in all manners of sinful excesses and claim to be of God, claim to know God and his truth. (John said that anyone who lives in sin does not know Christ.) Jude condemned people who are full of greed, fornication and rebellion, but who twist the bible, to their harm, leading many people stray. They add all manner of things to the gospel, so that it is no longer the gospel (a false gospel with no potency to change lives).
The word of God should have a changing effect on us. We shouldn’t be like the duck that does not retain water. Our first instinct should not be to argue with the word, it is to embrace it and receive the work it should do in our life.
The word should act as our anchor, giving us stability. We are meant to be strong in the Lord and the power of his might (Ephesians 6:10). And how that happens is by taking hold of the word of God as our spiritual food, taking it in day by day (Luke 4:1-4).
We should pay attention to the scriptures. Jesus is the word of God and he said that the scriptures lead to him, since he is the source of life (John 5:39, John 1:1-4). With the word in us, there is life in us. To be empty of the word is to be empty of life.
The truth of the word of God is to produce the life of God in and through us. We are empowered by the word. The word is the conveyour of the Holy Spirit (who is the Spirit of life [Romans 8:2]) to us. Jesus said that the words that he speaks are Spirit and life. There is Holy Spirit in those words.
What did you think the Holy Spirit did when God said let there be light in the first verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:1-3)? Prior to that, we read that the Holy Spirit was moving upon the face of the deep; then God said let there be light followed by other creative works. What the Holy Spirit did was to execute the word of God.
In those very words of God, “let there be light”, the Spirit was channeled to cause the words spoken to manifest in creative force.
There is God the father who defines the intention/ will/decision of divinity, the word which is the second person of the trinity, expresses the thought/mind of divinity, and the Spirit who created what was decided by the Father and communicated by the Word in real terms. The three are coequal and co-eternal- the triune God.
When change is needed we need the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the change agent of the trinity. Even Jesus could not do his ministry without the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38). He was known as the great teacher, but he knows his words apart from the Spirit are empty word (that can never happen except in hypothetical sense [John 6:63]). Using the sun as a symbol of the trinity; the father is the source, the son is the light, and the heat is the Holy Spirit.
The three are one, but can be are described with difference parameters. The sun you don’t ordinarily see (The father [John 1:18]), the light you see (Jesus is the incarnate God [1Timothy 3:16]), and the heat you feel (the Holy Spirit is likened to wind; you see the effect but don’t see it [John 3:1-10]). They can be described in different terms, but you can’t really divorce one from the other.