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.
The third mark of a false teacher is that in the final analysis they love money. (v. 6b) “… who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”
The Danger of Worshipping Prosperity.
(A Warning to the Poor) (vv. 6-10)
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. (7) For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (8) And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (9) But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. (10) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
What these verses teach us is that greed is a trap, for the rich and for the poor and for everyone in between.
“A survey of 2,000 people in the U.S. labor force was conducted to determine how their faith influences their spending. It found, faith makes little difference to the ways in which people actually conduct their financial affairs.”
We buy more than we can afford because we want more than we need. Some-one has said that credit cards let you start at the bottom and dig yourself a hole. “How many of you received at least one credit card offer this past week?” The average American receives 32 credit card offers per year, regardless of their credit history.