Sunday, May 25, 2014

Doctrine of sound words - 1st Timothy 6:3-5

"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, 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, 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)
During Timothy's time, there were a lot of false apostles and teachers that had gone out teaching their own gospel and their own doctrine of morality and righteousness. The word used here by Paul for "advocates a different doctrine" simply means to "teach otherwise." Paul is warning Timothy, and those who would teach otherwise, that those who do not conform to the words of Christ and the doctrine of godliness, are not teaching the message of Christ, are not sent by God, and are not in unison with the universal church, the Body of Christ.

It is interesting that Paul speaks of both the words of Christ and the doctrine of godliness. The words of Christ we have written down for us in the memoures of the apostles (as some in the early church used to refer to them as). The doctrine of godliness we have recorded for us in the letters of the apostles; a doctrine teaching us how to live as Christians seeking to obey Jesus' words. Clement of Alexandria once said, "Everything that is contrary to right reason is sin." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter 13) The teaching of godliness is a teaching that conforms to right reason, seeing that right reason teaches us to live according to how we were created and for that for which we were purposed. Right reason understands that life was meant to be lived in a godly way; we were designed for godliness. When we live godly lives then "life works" and we find the reason and purpose of life itself. King Solomon once said, "the way of transgressors is hard." (Proverbs 13:15 KJV) but Jesus said of the yolk of godliness, "is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:30)

It is easy to identify someone who is standing contrary to the message and teaching of Christ, and the evidence is found in the fruit of their lives and the lives of those they are trying to "teach." The word Paul uses for "conceited" is and interesting Greek word that means to rise up or wrap in smoke. It reminds me of the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz who projected his image in smoke and flames of fire so as to impress and frighten people into submission. These people have an inflated since of themselves and attempt to project an image to influence others either though a great impression or fear of reverence. The word Paul uses for "morbid interest" literally means to be sick or to have a "diseased interest" in something. Have you ever know anyone who always likes to argue, who delights in contradicting and arguing about whatever is said. No matter what position you take, they always want to argue over it. It seems their goal is not to convince you of their position but simply to get you to agree that they are right. To them its more important to be "right" than to be "correct". Not only are they conceited and argumentative, but in their wake is all kinds of evil residue: envy, strife, railings, evil suspicions, and friction. These people have a lot to say yet they are devoid of any knowledge or understanding. They teach, confront, and argue for their own gain and aggrandizement rather than for the benefit of the body of Christ. It is important that we recognize such people and avoid them that we might not be distracted or dissuaded from the true path of life that is found in truth and godliness.

David Robison

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