1 Timothy 6:3-10 Godliness is great gain

1 Timothy 6:3-10

Godliness is great gain

 

Scripture is inspired. Paul may be pushing the pen, but the Spirit is authoring the words. “No prophecy was produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1:21

 

As a result the Scriptures never fail to return without accomplishing the Lord’s mission. The instruction from 1 Timothy has hit the mark in addressing the church at Ephesus and their under shepherd, Timothy.

 

We can’t ever escape God’s word. We hear and obey, hear and disobey, or never hear and are still accountable because we have a conscience that testifies to the truth.

 

Whether a false teacher or a pastor struggling to hold to the truth or a member following false teaching or a member seeking to hold on to the truth and follow the Shepherd and his under shepherds as they follow him, Scripture speaks and Holy Spirit never misses his mark. I say that to say this, Holy Spirit is speaking and we are either listening and doing or we are not. He is not silent.

 

The Lord, through Paul, has rebuked the false teaching and teachers, instructed on how to do life together on mission, and corrected the ascetics, widows, masters and slaves.

 

Now the attention returns to a quick contrast of the truth versus lies, an analysis of the false teacher’s character and the resulting devastation in the church in verses 3-5. Then the Lord gives a plea for truth (from where our title is taken) and a corrective response to the false teachers in 6-10.

 

None of us are immune from the instruction of the word. Hopefully, none of us are false teachers, but perhaps some of us wrestle with our sinful nature and the snares of the evil one and are in need of the Lord’s grace to back us off of the cusp of stepping in a trap. So, may the Lord accomplish in TRCC this morning his good purpose in shepherding his people.

 

[3] If anyone (the false teachers) teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound (healthy, physically well) words of our Lord Jesus Christ (contrasted with the 1:4-7, myths and endless genealogies) and the teaching that accords with godliness (1:11, gospel of the glory of the blessed God), [4] he is puffed up with conceit (inflated with pride) and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving (delirious, used metaphorically to denote a sickly longing for something) for controversy (exchange of words rather than a true search) and for quarrels about words (dispute about the meaning of words), which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, [5] and constant friction (misuse of time creating constant friction; from the philosophical circles and “diatribe”; constantly opining on speculation and dissent rather than true search) among people who are depraved (corrupt) in mind (mental perception) and deprived of the truth, imagining (assuming) that godliness (devotion and piety toward God) is a means of gain. [6] But godliness (devotion and piety toward God) with contentment (literally sufficiency with oneself; satisfied) is great gain, [7] for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. [8] But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content (sufficient with oneself; satisfied). [9] But those who desire (passive voice and denotes the predisposition toward pursuit) to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare (1 Timothy 3:7 expresses that this snare is one set by the enemy), into many senseless and harmful desires (“epithumia” different word from the previous world “desire” and speaks to a deep and intense desire moving toward a lust for; the idea is that this desire for riches snares us into other desires that do more and deeper damage) that plunge (so deep that there is no escape) people into ruin and destruction. [10] For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (In the NT evil, wicked, from the verb cházō or cházomai (n.f.), to give back, recede, retire, retreat in battle. One who is evil in himself and, as such, gets others in trouble.)[1]. It is through this craving (stretch out to snatch) that some have wandered (passive, meaning to be seduced) away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs (distress and grief). 1 Timothy 6:3-10

 

An analysis of the false teachers 6:3-5

Lets take a look at an analysis of the false teachers.

[3] If anyone (the false teachers) teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound (healthy, physically well) words of our Lord Jesus Christ (contrasted with the 1:4-7, myths and endless genealogies) and the teaching that accords with godliness (1:11, gospel of the glory of the blessed God), [4] he is puffed up with conceit (inflated with pride) and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving (delirious, used metaphorically to denote a sickly longing for something) for controversy (exchange of words rather than a true search) and for quarrels about words (dispute about the meaning of words), which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, [5] and constant friction (misuse of time creating constant friction; from the philosophical circles and “diatribe”; constantly opining on speculation and dissent rather than true search) among people who are depraved (corrupt) in mind (mental perception) and deprived of the truth, imagining (assuming) that godliness (devotion and piety toward God) is a means of gain.

 

Contrast of truth and lies v. 3

 

Paul analyzes the false teaching by contrasting the truth with the lies of the false teaching.

[3] If anyone (the false teachers) teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound (healthy, physically well) words of our Lord Jesus Christ (contrasted with the 1:4-7, myths and endless genealogies) and the teaching that accords with godliness (1:11, gospel of the glory of the blessed God),

 

Paul does not name the false teachers. Perhaps this is because Timothy already knew all of them but perhaps it’s also because the potential exists for more to arise. So he addresses “anyone” who would teach a different doctrine.

 

This different doctrine is contrasted with what makes it “different” and what makes it different and false is the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and teaching that accords with what fits the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ which Paul calls godliness.

 

In other words, Jesus has spoken. The bible is the record of God’s words. Jesus said he was that God. Therefore the words of Scripture are sound words of Jesus.

 

Paul uses a word “sound” to describe how solid Jesus’ teaching is. Literally Jesus’ teaching is “healthy”. The teaching of the bible produces ultimate health.

 

There is more to health than the physical body. The soul’s fitness is as vital as the fitness of the fallen shell that we will shed in the resurrection for a new one.

 

Paul also recognizes teachings that accord with godliness as the exposition of the words of the Lord Jesus. Godliness is “piety toward God”. In other words godliness is the practice of acting like Jesus as Jesus instructed. Therefore teachings that accord with godliness are the ways the Scriptures teach us to act like Jesus.

 

So false teaching is counter to what the bible says is the truth in doctrine and in practice.

 

What do we do with this?

 

1. We use Scripture as the Manual.

2. We learn how to accurately read and interpret Scripture.

3. We adopt the values of God’s kingdom as taught in Scripture and trust Jesus to sort out the rest

 

Take note of what Paul says about the character of the false teachers and what the false teaching produces.

 

We will look at the false teacher’s character and resulting devastation in the church v. 4-5

 

Paul says that the false teacher produces questionable character and devastation!

 

[4] he is puffed up with conceit (inflated with pride) and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving (delirious, used metaphorically to denote a sickly longing for something) for controversy (exchange of words rather than a true search) and for quarrels about words (dispute about the meaning of words), which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, [5] and constant friction (misuse of time creating constant friction; from the philosophical circles and “diatribe”; constantly opining on speculation and dissent rather than true search) among people who are depraved (corrupt) in mind (mental perception) and deprived of the truth, imagining (assuming) that godliness (devotion and piety toward God) is a means of gain.

 

1. The false teacher is inflated with pride and in reality understands nothing! v. 4a

 

2. The false teacher has cravings that are sick and not healthy like arguing about words. The facts are not enough. They have to justify their position by redefining words and creating straw men with possibility rather than the hard facts of the truth. v. 4b

 

3. The false teacher produces envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions and constant friction. v. 4c-5a

 

4. The false teachers produce their devastation among corrupt people lacking in the truth. v. 5b

 

5. The false teachers and their followers think that following Jesus is all about gain in this world system while missing the kingdom of God that is opposed to the system of the world. v. 5c

 

Now in verse 6-10 Paul is going to correct the false view of godliness with a plea for truth and correct teaching on how to view gain.

 

A plea for truth and a corrective response to the false teachers 6:6-10

 

[6] But godliness (devotion and piety toward God) with contentment (literally sufficiency with oneself; satisfied) is great gain, [7] for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. [8] But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content (sufficient with oneself; satisfied). [9] But those who desire (passive voice and denotes the predisposition toward pursuit) to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare (1 Timothy 3:7 expresses that this snare is one set by the enemy), into many senseless and harmful desires (“epithumia” different word from the previous world “desire” and speaks to a deep and intense desire moving toward a lust for; the idea is that this desire for riches snares us into other desires that do more and deeper damage) that plunge (so deep that there is no escape) people into ruin and destruction. [10] For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (In the NT evil, wicked, from the verb cházō or cházomai (n.f.), to give back, recede, retire, retreat in battle. One who is evil in himself and, as such, gets others in trouble.)[2]. It is through this craving (stretch out to snatch) that some have wandered (passive, meaning to be seduced) away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs (distress and grief).

 

The plea for truth: Godliness is the gain v. 6-8

One of Satan’s great lies is propagating the idea that the kingdom of this world operates the way God operates. Let me say that another way. One of Satan’s great lies is keeping people blind to the fact that the world system is broken and being replaced and overran with the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

 

What false teachers do is take a value of the kingdom of the world, embed it in some Turkish delight and feed it to unsuspecting bible-less people who eat it and come under the spell.

 

It appears that there were some who were teaching that financial and/or material gain was the sign of God’s blessing. This is not so different from the American god of prosperity.

 

Paul turns this on its head when he says that godliness is actually the gain.

 

The fall assumed, through the lies of the enemy, that gaining “knowledge” and fruit from a tree was more vital than the God of knowledge, so they rebelled.

 

In the kingdom restored being like God, fully restored to pre-fall perfection and knowing God right, is the gain because that is the ultimate good. How many of us, if we had Jesus alone would be satisfied and content? There is much kingdom work to be done in the soul of this man!

 

Paul makes this clear when he says, “godliness with contentment is great gain”. Being like God and being content assumes some very vital truths.

 

Listen to Jesus’ words to John the Baptist, “Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.’” Matthew 11:2-6

 

John the Baptist was the obedient servant who came in the spirit and power of Elijah to proclaim the coming of the kingdom in the coming of Jesus the Messiah, but John was now in prison and he was not sure if all his preaching was right and perhaps even in vain. So John sends his boys to ask Jesus for sure. Did you catch Jesus’ response? “Blessed is the one not offended by me.” In other words, Jesus was healing others but leaving John in prison to be beheaded. Godliness with contentment is the gain not godliness with rescue every time. Obey John, and if I don’t deliver you, be ok and trust me. If I strike you with lightning, be ok, interpret it through the gospel, and trust me. (Job 36:32)

 

Jesus never promises to treat any of us the same. Some he makes rich and some he hits with lightning and asks the question, “Do you trust me”? “Blessed are those who are not offended by me when I don’t do for you what I did for others.”

 

This kingdom truth is great gain!

 

This kind of gain believes:

1. Following Jesus is life.

2. Trusting Jesus is sufficient.

3. Suffering is identifying with Christ and getting to taste his resurrection power and millisecond providential timing.

4. Riches or even barely enough are given not for oneself but for the advancement of the kingdom as managers of his resources.

5. Rejoice and be glad when doing kingdom work and it is hard. This is good.

6. God never does anything but good to me. Jesus never did anything but good to John the Baptist.

7. God is sovereign even over Satan so that all things come by his hand and grace and nothing is for my destruction in the gospel.

 

This is great gain and will sustain and give life.

 

However, greed and covetousness are a fall into an abyss of destruction v. 9-10

 

[9] But those who desire (passive voice and denotes the predisposition toward pursuit) to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare (1 Timothy 3:7 expresses that this snare is one set by the enemy), into many senseless and harmful desires (“epithumia” different word from the previous world “desire” and speaks to a deep and intense desire moving toward a lust for; the idea is that this desire for riches snares us into other desires that do more and deeper damage) that plunge (so deep that there is no escape) people into ruin and destruction. [10] For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (In the NT evil, wicked, from the verb cházō or cházomai (n.f.), to give back, recede, retire, retreat in battle. One who is evil in himself and, as such, gets others in trouble.)[3]. It is through this craving (stretch out to snatch) that some have wandered (passive, meaning to be seduced) away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs (distress and grief).

 

It’s vital to take note of the progress of greed and being covetous toward a place that one can’t return from.

 

First, the “desire” is passive and lends itself to a predisposition toward seeing the gain of wealth as gain. But that leads to a temptation and a snare, a trap that leads to deeper desires.

 

Paul uses a different word for desire than the first word. This word is not passive but a deep and dark desire that is lustful and consuming that leads to a plunge. This word “plunge” literally means a place that is so deep that there is no return and therefore is a place of ruin and destruction.

 

This destruction looks like a love for money as the gain rather than Christ and results in all kinds of evils.

 

This concept of evil sounds strange to the ears of our culture. The picture is recession into oneself. It means that one’s values and actions spring from within himself and his own ends are the way he is determining the means and affecting all who get in his way regardless of what has to be done with the results being as ominous as they need to be. The craving comes from within, out of the fallen heart from which come all sorts of dark things. The world system says to listen to one’s heart. Jesus tells us our heart needs transformation.

 

Paul says this craving has led some in the church away from the faith. The image of craving is one of having been snatched into the darkness. That image reminds me of some commercials advertising horror movies when the bad thing snatches the person away.

 

Paul says they have wandered from the truth. “Wandered” is passive and implies that the wandering is a result of being snatched by the snare and the wandering is causing the person to go deeper into the abyss of destruction. Not a pretty picture.

 

These folks have pierced themselves with many pangs and difficulties that are the least of their worries because they have left the faith and are in some Hebrews 6 kind of no return.

 

What do we take from our passage this morning?

 

1. There is never enough teaching of truth

 

2. There is never enough practice of truth

 

3. There is never a moment that is just a moment with no implications. Every moment we are making value decisions and they are either for the kingdom of Jesus Christ or the domain of darkness disguised as meaningless Turkish delight that propagates the curse

 

4. Godliness is of more value than keeping up financially

 

5. Covetousness will kill me and lead me to hell

 

6. The teaching of demons in the teachings of culture and traditions of mankind (Col. 2:8) are well disguised and require the lens of Scripture to recognize and reject

 

7. All of us are constantly susceptible to being deceived and must stay sober minded and be ready because our enemy prowls around as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour

 

8. Worship with the people of God in unity and on mission is not a waste of time and requires discipline to commit to

 

 

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

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