Correct doctrine conforms to godliness and is a means of great contentment, but false doctrines do neither

by Mike Ratliff

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NASB) 

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 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 (NASB)

3 εἴ τις ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ καὶ μὴ προσέρχεται ὑγιαίνουσιν λόγοις τοῖς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ τῇ κατʼ εὐσέβειαν διδασκαλίᾳ, 4 τετύφωται, μηδὲν ἐπιστάμενος, ἀλλὰ νοσῶν περὶ ζητήσεις καὶ λογομαχίας, ἐξ ὧν γίνεται φθόνος ἔρις βλασφημίαι, ὑπόνοιαι πονηραί, 5 διαπαρατριβαὶ διεφθαρμένων ἀνθρώπων τὸν νοῦν καὶ ἀπεστερημένων τῆς ἀληθείας, νομιζόντων πορισμὸν εἶναι τὴν εὐσέβειαν. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 (NA28)

The words ‘advocates a different doctrine’ in v3 is one Greek word, ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ (heterodidaskalei). This word is a combination of ἑτερο, 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 ὑγιαίνουσιν (hygiainousin). This word describes that which is sound, healthy, and whole. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ are the epitome of ὑγιαίνουσιν, however, false teachers even pervert His words. Notice also that they also teach that which does not agree with the teaching that conforms with godliness or εὐσέβειαν (eusebeian). 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 “conform” with εὐσέβειαν. 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 (τετύφωται) and understands (ἐπιστάμενος) nothing (μηδὲν). What a description! The word τετύφωται (tetyphōtai) 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 μηδὲν (mēden) 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 τετύφωται 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 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NASB) 

6 Ἔστιν δὲ πορισμὸς μέγας ἡ εὐσέβεια μετὰ αὐταρκείας·
7 οὐδὲν γὰρ εἰσηνέγκαμεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον,
ὅτι οὐδὲ ἐξενεγκεῖν τι δυνάμεθα·
8 ἔχοντες δὲ διατροφὰς καὶ σκεπάσματα,
τούτοις ἀρκεσθησόμεθα.
9 οἱ δὲ βουλόμενοι πλουτεῖν ἐμπίπτουσιν εἰς πειρασμὸν καὶ παγίδα καὶ ἐπιθυμίας πολλὰς ἀνοήτους καὶ βλαβεράς, αἵτινες βυθίζουσιν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους εἰς ὄλεθρον καὶ ἀπώλειαν. 10 ῥίζα γὰρ πάντων τῶν κακῶν ἐστιν ἡ φιλαργυρία, ἧς τινες ὀρεγόμενοι ἀπεπλανήθησαν ἀπὸ τῆς πίστεως καὶ ἑαυτοὺς περιέπειραν ὀδύναις πολλαῖς. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NA28)

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 (εὐσέβεια) with contentment (αὐταρκείας) are those truly in Christ. What is this contentment? The Greek word, αὐταρκείας (autarkeias), 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 contentment? Christians are to be satisfied and sufficient, and not to seek for more than what God has already given them. The source of 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 (παγίδα). 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 (φιλαργυρία) 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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