Error and Greed

by Mike Ratliff

1 τουτο δε γινωσκε, οτι εν εσχαταισ ημεραισ ενστησονται καιροι χαλεποι· 2 εσονται γαρ οι ανθρωποι φιλαυτοι φιλαργυροι αλαζονεσ υπερηφανοι βλασφημοι, γονευσιν απειθεισ, αχαριστοι ανοσιοι 3 αστοργοι ασπονδοι διαβολοι ακρατεισ ανημεροι αφιλαγαθοι 4 προδοται προπετεισ τετυφωμενοι, φιληδονοι μαλλον η φιλοθεοι, 5 εχοντεσ μορφωσιν ευσεβειασ την δε δυναμιν αυτησ ηρνημενοι· και τουτουσ αποτρεπου. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NA28)

1 But know this, that in the last days hard times will be imminent. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boasters, proud, speakers of evil, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, irreverent, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderous, without self-control, savage, not lovers of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, having become conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from these. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Life is a continual hunt or search for circumstances that will result in contentment. That is the focus for the natural man. When societal norms become relaxed from the “bonds” that restrict certain forms of self-expression” we witness rising levels of aberrant behavior that are simply attempts by seekers of this “contentment” to find, experience, and practice them hoping to finally reach some level of passion or peace or whatever that will last and leave them in that “contented” state. We see this in Christianity as well. What we understand as Orthodox Christianity is not very satisfying to the unregenerate. However, religiosity is an integral part of the human makeup, therefore, with this volatile combination, we witness increasing levels of bizarre forms of “Christianity” as those desperately seeking what “satisfies” go after the “feelings” as they vainly try to fill that hole in their soul that demands fulfillment.

3 ει τισ ετεροδιδασκαλει και μη προσερχεται υγιαινουσιν λογοισ τοισ του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου και τη κατ ευσεβειαν διδασκαλια, 4 τετυφωται, μηδεν επισταμενοσ, αλλα νοσων περι ζητησεισ και λογομαχιασ, εξ ων γινεται φθονοσ ερισ βλασφημιαι, υπονοιαι πονηραι, 5 διαπαρατριβαι διεφθαρμενων ανθρωπων τον νουν και απεστερημενων τησ αληθειασ, νομιζοντων πορισμον ειναι την ευσεβειαν (1 Timothy 6:3-5 NA28)

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 to godliness, 4 he has become conceited, having understood nothing, but having a morbid craving for controversies and disputes over words, which comes envy, strife, evil speakings, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are corrupted in their minds and bereft of the truth, thinking godliness leads to gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The words ‘teaches a different doctrine’ in v3 is one Greek word, ετεροδιδασκαλει . This word is a combination of ετερο, which means ‘other but different,’ and διδασκαλει, which means ‘doctrine or teaching.’ Paul used this compound word here to refer to the teaching of others that was different than what he taught. Not only was it different than what Paul taught, but, more importantly, it contradicted God’s revelation in Scripture. I see this a great deal in our time where some insist on forcing cultural compromises on God’s Word in an attempt to justify outright disobedience in the pulpit and using these compromises to teach what is not taught in Sacred Scripture. The word “sound” in v3 referring to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Greek word υγιαινουσιν. This word describes that which is sound, healthy, and whole. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ are the epitome of υγιαινουσιν, however, false teachers even pervert His words. Notice also that they also teach that which does not agree with the teaching that accords with godliness or ευσεβειαν. This word describes the state of people who are pious toward God according to His will and standards. Their piety toward God is the foundation and principal part of their relationship with Him. However, false teachers teach that which does not “accord” with ευσεβειαν. Think of those churches that bring in the ways and music of the world and call it worship.

The false teacher is puffed up with conceit (τετυφωται) and understands (επισταμενος) nothing (μηδεν). What a description! The word τετυφωται describes people who are full of pride and insolence. They are ‘drunk’ with pride and their hearts are lifted up not only against man but also against God. That sure explains why their eyes are blind and ears are stopped up when they are confronted with their false teachings. What does it mean that they understand nothing? The word μηδεν is emphatic meaning “not one” or “nothing at all.” In other words, they are completely blind to the truth and when it its explained to them, they do not understand it so in their τετυφωται they reject it and God. In the rest of v4 we see what this causes. This is a description of people who love and seek to dispute or argue over words. The Greek used here refers to idle speculation leading to “word battles.” Because proud, ignorant false teachers do not understand divine truth, they obsess over terminology and attack the reliability and authority of Scripture itself. I have experienced this more often than I care to recount. It usually takes the form of a rejection of a dependence on God’s Word as our plumb line. Instead, they insist that God gave “us” common sense and, therefore, we do not need to use God’s Word except as a source of good stories about morality, et cetera. They attempt to cast doubt on word studies like this one because the truth indicts them, but since they are in rebellion against the truth, they become hostile and revert to personal attacks. They see what we do in exposing their false teachings as actual attacks on their livelihood.

6 εστιν δε πορισμοσ μεγασ η ευσεβεια μετα αυταρκειασ· 7 ουδεν γαρ εισηνεγκαμεν εισ τον κοσμον, οτι ουδε εξενεγκειν τι δυναμεθα· 8 εχοντεσ δε διατροφασ και σκεπασματα, τουτοισ αρκεσθησομεθα. 9 οι δε βουλομενοι πλουτειν εμπιπτουσιν εισ πειρασμον και παγιδα και επιθυμιασ πολλασ ανοητουσ και βλαβερασ, αιτινεσ βυθιζουσιν τουσ ανθρωπουσ εισ ολεθρον και απωλειαν. 10 ριζα γαρ παντων των κακων εστιν η φιλαργυρια, ησ τινεσ ορεγομενοι απεπλανηθησαν απο τησ πιστεωσ και εαυτουσ περιεπειραν οδυναισ πολλαισ. (1 Timothy 6:6-10 NA28)

6 But, there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world neither are we able to carry out anything. 8 But, having sustenance and covering, with these thing we will be content. 9 But the ones desiring to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and many foolish and harmful lusts, which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For a root of all evils is the love of money. It is through this craving that some were led away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:6-10 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Remember, all false forms of Christianity are attempts by unregenerate people to find contentment or fulfillment that they cannot get in Orthodoxy because they are not of God. The only professing Christians who have godliness (ευσεβεια) with true contentment (αυταρκειας) are those truly in Christ. What is this contentment? The Greek word, αυταρκειας, means “self-sufficiency.” It was used by the ancient Stoic philosophers to describe a person who was unflappable and unmoved by external circumstances. How does this apply to Christians and true contentment? Christians are to be satisfied and sufficient, and not to seek for more than what God has already given them. The source of true contentment, then, is Christ (2 Corinthians 3:5; 9:8; Philippians 4:11-13, 19). Christians’ sufficiency is in Christ, not their own abilities or accomplishments, learning, or anything that is done in the flesh.

The great gain that Paul is speaking of in v6 refers to Christians’ focus on Christ and His holiness as true treasure while that which is offered by the world is not. Therein, the believer should seek to be content in what God has provided him or her in order for them to live for and serve Him. On the other hand, those who desire to rich in the world’s goods fall into temptations, which are a snare (παγιδα). This is a device designed specifically to trick or deceive with a temptation that only leads to destruction. When we are enticed with the goods of this world as a temptation to compromise then we are in danger of ruin and destruction. The love of money (φιλαργυρια) is a root of all kinds of evils. There is not one good thing in that love for the Christian. This love of money is also described as “avarice” or “covetousness.” The Christian must repent of this and become one who is content in godliness. After all, we did not bring anything into this world and it is a sure thing that we will take nothing from it.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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