1 Timothy 6:3-10
Life in the Local Church
Sound Doctrine Produces Contentment
Good Morning. Please turn in your Bibles with me to 1 Timothy chapter 6. I know most of you do, but I want to stress how important it is for you to have your Bible, to read the passages we look at for yourself and to follow along in the translation that you read, hopefully, each and every day. As a reminder, if you do not own a Bible, please help yourself to one from the back table, as our gift.
We are continuing through our series through 1 & 2 Timothy titled, “Life in the Local Church.” If all goes according o plan, this series should take us right up to Easter. We will, of course, be taking a break next week for Christmas, but then we should get right back into things.
But, back to this week. I made a brief reference to it last week, but we are going to start out with the last few words of verse 2. In the Bibles I’ve looked at, both physical and online, the last line of verse 2 is always set away from the rest of the verse. Just another reminder that the words of the Bible are inspired, inerrant, without error and the very Words of God, but the verse and chapter number are not. They were added many, many years later.
So, we will go ahead and read this week’s passage, 1 Timothy chapter 6, verses 3 through 10. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and as I said, please follow along in your preferred translation. 1 Timothy 6:3-10, Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, communicating the very Word of God, writes:
Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound[b] words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and[c] we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
May God Bless the reading of his Word.
So, Paul here urges Timothy, Teach and Urge these things. What things? As he is about to reveal, the things that we need to be reminded of and taught and urged on in are sound doctrine, the pure Gospel, right living.
In essence, it is all a culmination of all the things that Paul has been teaching Timothy. “All those things I’ve taught you, teach and urge to the church in Ephesus as well.” They are good and right.
And these things contrast with what the false teachers have been teaching, poisoning the minds and the souls of those who are listening to them. This is will be the last point in this letter that Paul deals with false teachers and their false teachings. But deal with them he must.
And Paul makes the point that False teachers disagree with the Bible and what it says. They disagree with Jesus and what he says. They disagree with the sound teachings of all that go with what Jesus and the Bible say. False teachers are exactly that, they are false teachers because they teach against the truth. They teach against sound doctrine.
They claim to have new, secret, personal revelations and teachings. That should be the first warning sign. A big red flare shot up into the sky. If someone claims to have a new teaching, something that no one has ever noticed before, or no one has taught before, or discovered some new hidden mystery, then I can practically guarantee it will not be sound teaching and it will not be from God.
Let me put it like this. My job is not to be creative. I should have nothing new to say, ever. I should be saying the same thing that Paul said, the same thing that timothy taught, the same thing that the Apostles preached. I should only be regurgitating the Words of Jesus, which are the Words of God, which is the Bible.
Paul writes to the Corinthians, Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified (1 Cor 1:22-23) That’s it. I am here to preach what is already given to us, the Word of God. I am here to preach Christ crucified. There is nothing new under the Sun. There is no new Truth, but there is also no new heresy. The same things that false teachers were teaching back in the first century, that Paul is addressing here, are the same things that we need to be aware of, that we need to be on the lookout for, and that we need to combat against.
Paul says here that one who falls into this category of false teacher, and those who follow them, by inference, are conceited and know nothing. They sound smart with all this new, secret revelation and the way they speak makes it sound like they really know what they are talking about. They are almost always smooth, polished, charismatic speakers.
We do not need to be gifted speakers in order to be faithful preachers of the truth. I am certainly not a gifted speaker. Paul admits in 2 Corinthians 11 that he also is not as good of a speaker as some of those smooth, polished talkers spouting lies. But what Paul had, what I try to keep, is the truth directly from Gods Word.
Paul shows that these teachers have a craving for controversy and love to quarrel over words. We have talked often about what we call “Closed handed,” and “Open handed” issues. Open handed issues are the things that we don’t have to agree on. They are the things that we can hold close and hold on to tightly, but when we disagree, we don’t have to let that get in the way of us worshipping the one true God. Close handed issues are the things that make us Christians. Closed handed issues are the Gospel, they are the salvation issues. These are the things that we will fight over and we will break fellowship over. These are things like the deity and humanity of Christ. Like the physical, literal death and resurrection of Jesus. Like the fact that he is coming again and will judge the living and the dead.
False teachers crave controversy and quarrel over words, and they will elevate secondary issues to primary issues and divide over these secondary things. They will also devalue primary, closed handed issues and will \openly and often partner with and worship with those who deny Christ, or believe differently regarding Christ death and resurrection or the fact that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
They will almost always claim to be more in tune with God, where they are the ones who are loving, a truer sense of who God is and how he judges, or doesn’t judge, as the case may be. They will continually get things 100% backwards. God doesn’t judge what the Bible calls sin. He loves and accepts our sins, and in fact, they are not even sins. That’s language that unloving, intolerant people use who have co-opted God for their own personal gain. Gods judgment is instead reserved for those who follow and live by what the Bible says, as opposed to what these teachers claim the Bible actually means.
Paul lists actions, qualities and mindsets that come from these teachings. envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
This is the fruit that accompanies false teaching. Personal ungodliness. Thinking that they are becoming godly. And that godliness is supposed to lead them to personal gain. We will get to that in a few moments. Paul, of course point out that godliness with contentment is great gain.
What plays out time and time again, sound doctrine, true biblical teaching, teaching that accords with godliness, this leads to a transformed life. The Spirit of God flow through us and produces fruit that aligns with the teachings of Jesus. Sanctification, that starts at the moment of salvation, or justification, and continues through our natural physical life. Thats what happens when we follow Christ and when we listen to actual, true, biblical teaching.
Funnily enough, well, sad, more than funny, this is what false teachers promise their followers. Promises that will always go undelivered. Instead we see those things Paul listed here. We see apathy and we see unchanged lives, at least unchanged for the better. No repentance needed! Keep living in your same lifestyle, with your same values, and the same motivations and the same priorities.
Of course, God calls us to die to ourselves, calling us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) He tells us to leave our old selves behind. He says that we both literally and figuratively have an entirely new heart, turned from stone to flesh. Encountering God, the Father, believing in God the Son, being changed by God the Holy Spirit will transform your life. You can’t believe in Christ, the true biblical Christ, truly God and truly man, died for our sins, resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven, you can’t believe in him and not be changed by it. It is literally, physically impossible.
Paul emphasizes that godliness with contentment is great gain indeed. We know that we have every reason to be content. Our natural human nature is to worry, to be anxious, to want to be comfortable enough that we don’t have to worry or stress about money, food, shelter, all those things we need in life, let alone all the things we want.
Jesus addresses this directly in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6, telling his audience,
“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
We can spend a lot of time worrying and being anxious or we can trust that God is going to take care of us and that He has and will provide exactly what we need. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plan and work, or that things will always be comfortable, but he will provide what He knows we need, as opposed to what we think we need.
Again, the point is not for us to kick back, neglect working and take everything for granted. The point is that, as Paul points out in the next few verses, is that we are not in control. God is. We brought nothing into this world, and we cannot bring anything out of it.
WE are told to work hard and to provide for our families, we look a little at that a few weeks ago. Work was a part of life in the Garden of Eden before the fall. We were created to work. We are created to follow what God tells us to do. But God is the one in control.
I don’t know how many of you here have been fired or laid off from a job. I have, and ultimately it happens for one of two reasons. It could happen because of something you did, something in your control. Or it could happen because of something out of your control, something that has nothing to do with you. But we also see that people do fire able things all the time and keep their jobs. And people get laid off when it doesn’t always make any sense or seem to be fair. Ultimately God is the one who determines if we have that job or a different one and therefore if we can provide for our needs.
Remember that the Bible does not say that God helps those who helps themselves. It is so very easy for us to start by genuinely trying to take care of ourselves, our family, our friends. And that, without contentment, can so easily grow into greed, discontentment, envy and so much more.
I didn’t realize before writing this sermon that I would be quoting from Matthew 6 so much, but it fits with the text this morning. Here Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus tells us:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[e] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
When we get too focused on the here and now, about not trusting God, about hoarding and acquiring more than we could ever need, it is either because we have taken our eyes off God or it will cause us quickly to take our eyes off God.
And yet, all our needs being met, it is not because of us, but it is because of the grace of God. It is because he is Good, he is Holy and He loves and cares for his creation, of which we are at the top. Godliness with contentment produces great gain.
But false teachers teach that godliness is a means to gain. Godliness is a way, a method, a tool in order to gain material wealth, or physical health or stature and influence and power.
Verses 9 & 10 take these teachers to task. Here’s the bottom line though. If your goal and your desire, if your top priority is to be rich or whatever, you will do whatever it takes to get there. You wont always get there, but you will make that your focus and nothing else will matter. Any goal, if we want it bad enough, we will do whatever it takes to get there. That goal is the master that you will be serving.
Again, Jesus in Matthew 6, this time in verse 24, No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.[f]
The idea is that we will submit to and serve whatever is most important to us. Some if those things are hard to see, both from those around us and for ourselves personally. Others are easier to see. Addiction is a word that is usually reserved for drugs, alcohol and the like. And it is an accurate and proper word to use there. When drugs, alcohol and the like become our most important thing, that is exactly what we submit to and exactly what we serve. Those are easier to see. Money, health, material possessions are usually more difficult to see. But when those are the most important things, they are exactly what we will be serving and submitting to.
Paul gives us one of his most famous lines here in verse 10 and one of his most misquoted lines when he says that the “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
This is usually repeated as “Money is the root of all evil.” And its usually taken to point out that money itself is evil and any wealth at all is wrong. Anybody with any money has obviously gotten it through ill gotten means. But we know that’s not always true.
The Scriptures show us that there are righteous and unrighteous poor and there are righteous and unrighteous rich people. Having money does not make you unrighteous in and of itself. It is the love of money, and as we just addressed, whether its your priority and whether you submit to and serve money above anything else, especially and specifically God.
Paul says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Now, the same word can mean different things, especially based on the context and the emphasis. All kinds of evil. The common assumption I’ve seen is that this means that all means every evil. The Love of money is the root of every evil. And I suppose that’s a valid option.
But it appears to me, that the emphasis there is wrong. The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. Less ALL kinds of evil, and more all KINDS of evil.
And its true, the love of money is the root of much evil, I’m sure we can agree with that. The love of money is the reason that many solid believers, otherwise sound Bible teachers, and biblical preachers drift away from what Paul mentioned earlier; sound doctrine, solid theology, the right, pure Gospel.
Money, power, influence, all leading to greed. This is what takes away our love of God. Those are what take our eyes off God. And it puts our love onto those other things. It puts our eyes onto money, power, influence. What ever is most important to us, that’s what we will serve.
Greed is a mighty powerful, often subtle master that will destroy you. When we serve anything other than God the Father, we ignore the truth the words of Christ, the words of the Bible, the very Word of God. That’s rarely a conscious choice that we make, to choose something over and instead of God. But it always is and needs to be a conscious decision to stay focused, to return our focus to and to keep our eyes and our affections on God.
The Israelites wandering in the desert had a hard time keeping their focus, attention and affection on the God that just rescued them from slavery under the tyrant Pharaoh in Egypt. So, Joshua had to call them out, and give them a pep talk. Joshua 24:14 & 15:
“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt and serve the LORD. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”