Summary: # 11 in a series on 1 Timothy this message deals with the subject of prosperity in a life of faith.
Living for Christ in a Confused and Confusing World
A Study of Paul’s Letters to Timothy
Sermon # 11
The Place of Prosperity in a life of Faith.
As we have seen the letter to Timothy addressed six main topics, the first two verses of chapter six complete the fifth topic dealing with the Church’s social responsibilities in which Timothy is given instructions about three groups in the church, widows, elders and slaves (5:3-6:2). Now Paul deals with the last topic the Church’s attitude towards Possessions (6:3-21).
The Bible abounds with warnings and exhortations about the dangers of confusing material prosperity with the blessings of God.
Paul wrote in (Phil 4:11-13) “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am,to be content:(12) I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (13) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Solomon the wisest man who ever lived wrote of the danger of greed in Eccles 5:10, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase.”
Yet in spite of the biblical warning the church has been discredited down through the years many times because of greed. In the Middle Ages it was the disgraceful sale of indulgences; a few years ago is was exposure of television evangelists extravagant lifestyles; today it can be cults who charge exorbitant rates for tuition to attain a higher level of spirituality or prosperity preachers who promise personal prosperity to those who will send in “seed money.”
The Danger of Perverting the Truth About Prosperity. (A Warning to the False Teachers) (vv. 3-5)
“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, (4) he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, (5) useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
The first mark of a false teacher is that they deviate from the truth. (v. 3) “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness.” There will be those who come advocating a different doctrine (heteros – different, disaskaleo – teaching). In order to be able to identify error we don’t need to study the teaching of every cult we need to be well grounded in the truth. Just as in the detection of counterfeit money, the best method to identify the counterfeit teaching, is to become familiar with the real deal. Two essential marks of sound teaching are that they come from Christ and they promote godliness!
The second mark of a false teacher is that they divide the church (vv. 4-5a).
“He is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, (5) useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth…” The false teacher is characterized as “proud and knowing nothing” or as the New English Bible puts it he is a “pompous ignoramus.” The false teacher has an is obsessed (literally has a sick interest) in controversies and quarrels about words.