Thursday, February 23, 2023

2023.02.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 6:3–10

Read 1 Timothy 6:3–10

Questions from the Scripture text: What might some teach, instead of the various “honoring”s in 1 Timothy 4:12–6:2 (1 Timothy 6:3a)? But what sorts of words has the apostle given (verse 3b)? Whose are they (verse 3c)? With what does their doctrine accord (verse 3d)? So, what is the character of someone who teaches otherwise (1 Timothy 6:4)? What does he know? With what is he obsessed? What situations does he produce (1 Timothy 6:4-5)? What sorts of people does this produce (1 Timothy 6:5)? How should Timothy respond to such men? What sort of gain does true, biblical teaching produce (1 Timothy 6:6)? Why is this gain great, while material gain is small (1 Timothy 6:7)? What do we actually need (1 Timothy 6:8)? What shouldn’t we desire (1 Timothy 6:9)? Into what does such desire cause us to fall? With what result? Of what is such desire/love a root (1 Timothy 6:10)? From what have some strayed for this love? With what have they pierced themselves through?

What is so dangerous about manmade ideas about honoring ministers, church members, widows, elders, and masters? 1 Timothy 6:3–10 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eight verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that earthly theology produces earthly character, which has no spiritual value and indeed causes positive spiritual harm.

The end of 1 Timothy 6:3 mirrored 1 Timothy 4:11. Since then, the apostle had written to Timothy about maintaining his own honor (1 Timothy 4:12–16), treating all church members with honor (1 Timothy 5:1–2), the honor of full-time praying widows on the payroll (1 Timothy 5:3–16), the double-honor of faithful elders (1 Timothy 5:17–24), and the counting-worthy of honor of earthly masters (1 Timothy 6:1-2). 

Why must this teaching be the standard? Because the apostle’s words, by the Holy Spirit, are the very words of the Lord Jesus (1 Timothy 6:3). They are words that not only define godliness but are wholesome (healthy, health-giving, sound) and accord with godliness. Since Jesus must produce the godliness, and He is the One Who has given us words that do so, we must go with His words on these matters.

This is the importance of the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration (that every word of Scripture is the word of God every bit as much as if He had breathed it out in our hearing). Godliness depends upon Him Who has spoken them. The words are incomparably great precisely because they are His.

So, one who adds to or contends with Scripture on these matters is of bad character: he is proud (1 Timothy 6:4). And he is also of bankrupt quality: he knows nothing (verse 4). He produces not the mutual love, esteem, and edification but unfruitful arguments, envy, strife, despising, evil suspicions, and useless wranglings. As a result, the people that he affects lose the truth that could make them heavenly minded and instead end up talking about “godliness” but just trying to manipulate earthly circumstances to personal advantage (1 Timothy 6:5).

Your author has experienced this in the ministry: congregants who read writers who go on ad nauseum coming up with rules about economics, and the congregants themselves are ignorant of the knowledge of Christ and devoid of the life of Christ. They talk about godliness, but are just proud of the system they hold to, and think and speak fractiously of believers, always trying to be the influencer in every situation.

Perhaps you have met such as well. The apostle gives Timothy, and us, this command: “from such withdraw yourself.” Or, if we find this is a description of the man in the mirror, let us repent that others would not be required by Jesus to withdraw from us!

Jesus’s words, by comparison, DO accord with godliness (1 Timothy 6:3; cf. 1 Timothy 3:15–16, Titus 1:1). “Godliness with contentment” (1 Timothy 6:6) isn’t describing two things, but one great thing, and one of its components. What good can greed do? Even if greed were satisfied, its fruit will evaporate with our death (1 Timothy 6:7, cf. 1 Timothy 4:7–8). And, the mere existence of it in our hearts threatens to do us all sorts of harm (1 Timothy 6:9-10). From this harm, we may be protected by that contentment (1 Timothy 6:8), which comes by Christ’s powerful use of His own words!

How can you tell that you are actually trusting in Jesus’s power to produce good in you? What would your theological approach be? What would your conversations look like? What will your desires be like?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for when we extrapolate from Your Word in a way that is more like human jousting than dependence upon Christ. Forgive us for how we can be so contentious instead of contented. Forgive us for having our hearts so caught up in earthly things that we open ourselves up to spiritual disaster. Forgive us! And grant that Your Spirit would hep us in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

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