Vs. 1, 2 The Holy Spirit distinctly and clearly warns us that in these last days some professing Christians will listen to and follow evil men who profess to speak for God, but who out of covetousness and hypocrisy handle the Word of God deceitfully. They will not only listen to these deceivers, but will receive their lies and false doctrines.
This "departure from the faith" is their effort to persuade men to worship God and seek acceptance before God by the works of the flesh (such as abstaining from certain meats, from marriage, from food on certain days and observing certain rules and days of fasting).
Men by nature are inclined towards self-righteousness and carnal worship of God and are adverse towards true spiritual worship and dependence on the righteousness and mercy of Christ. Satan takes advantage of this weakness and through his ministers gives men something to do and something to give up for salvation (John 4:22-24).
Vs.3-5. These are by no means the only areas where these false teachers exercise dominion over men's consciences with their laws, rules and traditions, but are examples.
They forbid people to marry (Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 9:3-5). They command men to abstain from meat, or certain meat on certain days! This is all a hypocritical pretence of holiness and temperance.
Any creature which is made for food (and this is easy to be discerned by thinking men) is not to be refused on the basis of spiritual contamination if it is received as from the Lord with a thankful heart and a prayer of thanksgiving, called "blessing" the food. There is nothing in itself common or unclean or unfit for use if received temperately and with thanksgiving, for nothing that goes into a man defiles him spiritually (Matt. 15:10-20).
Those who believe and know the truth of Christ (v. 3) are freed from every yoke of bondage, ceremony and invention of men. They find their righteousness, sanctification and redemption in him!
Vs. 6. "If you put the brethren in remembrance of these things," that is, all that he has said in the preceding words:That the end of the commandment is love for Christ and others. That Christ came into the world to save sinners. That prayers should be made in the church for all sorts of men. That godly women are to behave in the home and church as godly women. That there are certain qualifications for pastors, elders and deacons.
That God is not to be worshipped nor righteousness sought by carnal means and foods but in Christ only.
"If you remind them of these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, always feeding and nourishing your own self and God's people on the truths of faith and good teaching which you have been taught and have followed!"
Vs. 7. Refuse all these traditions, outward carnal commandments and false standards of holiness as so many godless and old sentimental tales. Rather, "exercise yourself in inward godliness" internal grace such as faith, hope, humility, reverence and spiritual worship of God (Gal. 5:22).
Vs. 8. "Bodily exercise is of little profit." Paul does not speak here of jogging, tennis, golf or the physical exercise of the muscles. He gives the name "bodily exercise" to all outward actions such as kneeling, fasting, eating and drinking, abstaining from meat, sex, food or whatever, that are undertaken for the sake of religion or holiness.
This is necessary, for the world has always leaned to the side of worshipping God by outward services and ceremonies and seeking holiness through making certain foods, meats and actions to be evil in themselves.
"But godliness is profitable for all things" that is, he who knows and loves Christ, walks with God in truth and sincerity, is a new creature in Christ and filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, lacks nothing. This inward godliness is health to the body and the soul; to themselves and to others, to the things of this life and of that which is to come!