by Mike Ratliff
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13 ESV)
When I see or hear so-called Christians speak of God prospering them because of their faith or see Pastors or “Evangelists” with their own private jets, huge homes and limousines there is a bad taste that forms in my mouth. From the birth of the Church until now there have been those professing to be Christians who are anything but. They major in minors while ignoring the major points of our faith. They take passages of scripture out of context to make it say that it supports their aberrant forms of Christian theology. The huge tragedy of this, of course, is how many blindly follow them thinking they are Christian, when they are nothing but False Teachers who love money. Money is their idol and as we have seen in earlier posts, idolatry always leads to spiritual blindness.
Yes, my brethren, there is such a thing as sound doctrine. How can we tell the difference between it and false doctrine?
Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound 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 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 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. 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. (1 Timothy 2b-10 ESV)
Sound doctrine agrees with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and is in accord with godliness. What does that mean? It means that we must study Jesus’ words from the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John always seeking the literal sense of them, never allegorizing what is not an allegory. From His words and the teachings from the rest of the Bible we learn what true godliness is. Genuine Christian teaching will never violate these two principles.
In this passage, Paul gives us 3 characteristics of false teachers. First, they teach contrary to sound doctrine. That may sound simplistic, but it often overlooked by people without discernment. Man thinks he is a reasoning being, but, in fact, the Bible is very clear that unregenerate man is depraved in mind. Humanistic reasoning can never stand before then light of God’s truth. False teachers preach a different doctrine that contradicts God’s revelation of His truth from scripture. Second, They do not consent to the wholeness of God’s Word as being errorless and unchangeable. Thirdly, Since they reject this, their teachings are not according to scripture and are, therefore, unholy leading to godlessness in their ministries instead of godliness. False teachers will be marked by sin and they use their ministries to get rich because their real love is for money and power.
False teachers, to support their false doctrines, must create disputes over words. They argue about the meaning of passages in the Bible because if they submit to what it really says then they stand condemned. However, since they are not Spirit-led, but flesh driven, they do not understand divine truth. They are constantly arguing about terminology and must attack the authority of scripture. The ministries of these false teachers produces nothing godly because the source is only their fleshly, greedy minds instead of from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
False teachers are apostates. This is no fun for me to write about. Apostasy is a terrible thing. Apostates are those who once knew and seemed to profess faith and adherence to God’s truth. However, they have now turned to full rejection of it. I have never seen an apostate who did not do so publicly. There seems to be two camps. One camp turns completely from Christianity and become full enemies of our faith in their atheism or they may embrace a false religion such as Islam or Buddhism. The other camp appear to be Christians, but they teach a version that is not Christian at all. It is bound to some form of Humanism. Think of Word/Faith preachers such as Benny Hinn or Pelagians such as Joel Osteen or Modalists such as T.D. Jakes.
What marks genuine teachers of God’s truth who teach sound doctrine? Instead of going around trying to build private kingdoms and becoming rich, they are content. They are satisfied with the Lord’s provision. They are content because they can do all things through God who strengthens them. All Christians should seek to be content in God’s provision and not seek self-indulgent gain. Why? To do so is an expression of a love for money. This love is the root of all kinds of evil. Those who are in love with money fall into temptations that cause compromises in their ministries and their walk before the Lord.
How should we respond to this?
11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:11-16 ESV)
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