“Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:2b-21).
In the beginning God, the transcendent and the sovereign one, created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1). As a master architect He designed this world and everything that should inhabit it. At the end of the sixth day God created the pinnacle of His creation, which was Adam. Adam was God’s appointed agent to carry out His work -- to care for the earth that He created. Adam was created to not only care for the earth, but to continually expand out beyond the garden, subduing it. God made man in such a way that Adam could not carry out these responsibilities alone. His gifts were limited. So, God made a helper for him. God created Eve from his rib and she was designated to be Adam’s helper. She was Adam’s VP and COO. They were designed for dominion, but this task was hindered due to their sinful rebellion, which made the original task of dominion impossible for them to complete.
Adam and Eve were thus designed for more than dominion. They were designed to point ahead to the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who would faithfully complete the dominion work. Christ then created His helper to carry out the dominion task, which was the church. Jesus Christ becomes the groom to the church and the church becomes His bride. Since, the church has been wed to Christ; not only are they the bride of Christ, but they are also the mother of the believers.
Understanding this, then, should give us an understanding and framework to know what our role is as members of the Church. The church is to function as a wife and a mother, thus the helper to Christ. So, those of us filling roles inside of her must know that our aim is to not be the head but it is to assist the Head in the building of the Church. This means we are to bear children and to nurture them in obedience to the words the head has left for us. That is our role.
"The church is to function as a wife and a mother, thus the helper to Christ."
Paul has been spelling out in Timothy how the Church is to function as Christ’s bride and the mother of the believers. He has been giving them instructions on how to be a faithful bride and how to be a faithful mother. He ends this letter by driving some points home that, at times, seem disjointed. It kind of reminds me of the instructions I will give to my children before we go to someone’s home -- a series of do's and don’ts. Paul ends with that. He tells Timothy to be on guard for those in the church who would commit spiritual adultery on Christ, teaching things contrary to His words. Second, He further exhorts Timothy on how to lead to church to be a faithful bride and mother. Finally, it is an exhortation to guard the duty that had been entrusted to him as a guardian of the word.
Beware of the Spiritual Adulterer
Paul takes issue once again with the dangers of false teachers getting a foothold in the church. A false teacher is like an adulteress wife. It is a serious offense against the groom, as well as a serious offense against the children. Paul gives instructions on how to spot this person who is being unfaithful to Christ. This is in the sense of a false teacher, but also can certainly be applied to anyone who has rejected the covenant they have with Christ.
"Commonly those who are the most proud know the least. Pride and ignorance always go hand and hand."
First, is that they are always puffed up with conceit, thinking that they know everything when in fact and in reality they know nothing. This is a dangerous person in a dangerous place. As Matthew Henry stated, “Commonly those who are the most proud know the least.” Pride and ignorance always go hand and hand. This person will not allow anyone else to combat their thinking. They are the final arbiter on what the Scripture teaches. You cannot convince them otherwise. People committing spiritual harlotry always espouse to know the right knowledge and what is best when in reality they know nothing about Christ and His Word. They are their own final authority.
Second, the spiritual adulterer has an unhealthy craving for controversy and quarreling about words rather than substance and ideas. The danger of systematic theology is we can study doctrines in isolation rather than a whole and can lead people astray. Many people have gone into heresy over their obsession with words. They build their whole doctrine and whole worldview around a word. You can easily spot these types of people because you with always find envious relationships surrounding them (comparing one person's giftedness over anothers), dissension, slander (everyone else is judged by their standard), evil suspicions (everyone else is out to get them) and constant friction (none of their relationships are marked by peace). No relationships in their lives are healthy.
Third, this person has an unhealthy love of money, attempting to use the ministry as a means to get more money. Paul already settled that elders should receive compensation but that their motivation for teaching, leading, and shepherding must never be about money. The man of God must be a person marked by contentment, not the love of money. The love of money is the root of all different kinds of evils. It is interesting that all crimes committed can be reduced down to three different things: power, lust, or money. All sorts of evils come from these motivations. When a person is lured by the love of money they often make ethical and judicial decisions that are not just.
"The man of God must be a person marked by contentment, not the love of money."
Note, this text does not teach that having money and wealth in and of itself is evil. By that standard all of us here in America, even if we are on welfare, are evil because based on the world’s standards we are all in the top 5% of wealthiest people in the world. We are the rich people the bible talks about. Not just the millionaire but this is true of all of us. It is not a matter of whether or not a person has riches but what they do with them. Are we a person who is rich in good works and a person who is generous? I remember early on with my walk with the Lord when my love of money was tested as my generosity was tested. I did not want to give a tenth of my income away. I struggled with that. Why did I struggle with that? Well, the answer is easy: I loved money more than I loved obedience to Jesus Christ. Our lives come down to whose blessing we seek: God’s or someone else's?
The Danger of False Teaching
The reason why Paul labors on the point of guarding against false teaching is because of how damaging false teaching is. When false teaching is embraced it means that a person is rejecting the plain words of Christ is in exchange for someone else's word. It then comes down to who’s word do we believe in? Who’s word is trustworthy? When a person rejects the plain teachings of Christ in exchange for other teachings it always leads to a train wreck of problems.
The first false teacher, Satan, gave us insight into how false teaching works. Satan denied reality, denied negativity, and denied God’s promises of punishment for disobeying Him, “You will not surely die.” Not only does He do that but Satan is the ultimate optimist. He puts everything in a positive light. He promises, “You will become like God.” Satan only ever offers positive blessings as a result of choosing His ways. Drink that drink so you forget your problems. Let your anger rage so you feel relieved of letting them have it. Divorce your wife to find someone that meets your needs. This is Satan’s destructive approach.
Contributor / Eric Stewart
Eric Stewart is the Lead Pastor of ONElife Church in Flint, MI.