1 Timothy 6:3-5
Proper teaching is essential for lots of things in life – children must be taught three R’s plus much else to become productive adults; immigrants must often be taught English, accountants the principles of business math, astrophysicists the laws of planetary motion, secretaries the language of shorthand, machinist the steps of setup and operation, we could go on for hours! If any one of those and many others are taught wrong methods or principles, consequences usually not immediately life-threatening. Teaching firefighter, airline pilot, pharmacist or physician the wrong thing a different story – one wrong piece in their teaching can have fatal consequences… for a whole lot of people. Talking life and death, for real, no do-over’s.
Might think that’s way of it in those occupations, stakes aren’t as high for Sunday School teacher or youth group leader or pastor or evangelist. If you think that way, you’re wrong. Wrong actions by firefighters and physicians and pilots can result in physical death; following wrong teaching by leader in church can result in eternal death. It’s difference between body and soul; remember what Jesus said about that:
Matt. 10:28 “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Getting the story right Is essential to good health of local church and souls of its people. A sound church is characterized by orthopraxy flowing out of orthodoxy – healthy church known for both right practice/action and right doctrine/teaching. The one based on, a result of the other – when child of God led by Spirit of God sits under sound teaching from the Word of God, he or she does what is pleasing to God. False teaching, unsound doctrine messes it all up.
It’s a big deal, especially when talking about nuts and bolts of the Gospel:
Gal. 1:8-9 “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
Vitally important in day when errors abound and most have large following that we recognize sound teaching, cling to it tenaciously. Means avoiding false teachers like the plague ’cause it’s even more deadly.
A. sound doctrine v.3
consistent with what apostles taught – simple truths of living the Christian life
firmly rooted in Scripture, passed on from one spiritual generation to next
2 Tim. 2:2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
was apostolic teaching Timothy was to commit to faithful men, same apostolic teaching they were to teach others – not something new that has been discovered in last 100 years
even Protestant Reformation not promotion of new ideas, was recovery of what apostolic church believed and taught
words Christ spoke, words that speak about Christ – Christian teaching and preaching must point to Christ
that’s what Jesus did on road to Emmaus
Luke 24:27 “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
Christ is mold – teaching must bring learners back to him so they can be conformed to his image
consider how God has spoken to his people: Heb. 1:1-2 “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”
if we are to know God, must listen to his Son (Matt. 17:5) – sound teaching enables us to do so
sound teaching leads to holy living – loving God and neighbor; keeping Christ’s commands because we love him; loving brothers and sisters, esteeming them more important than self; seeking satisfaction in God not stuff
unsound teaching does just the opposite, more on that in v.4b-5a
B. unsound teachers 4a
proud because of supposed inside track, greater knowledge/understanding, superior ability
expecting to be followed, looked up to because of treasure they hold, share little at a time
take for granted will be given position of leadership – obviously better suited for it than anyone else
rely on personal expertise / opinion to validate their teaching: what about….. that’s not how I interpret it!
ignorant – lacking understanding
knowing the facts – often have better recall of verses, details, events than seasoned believer
but not getting right connections – connect verses / words / principles in novel ways; quick to make string of gems but with nothing of substance holding them together
or applications – end up making text mean the wrong thing, apply to wrong situation; e.g., using Isa. 53:5 “by his stripes we are healed” to claim God wants all his children free of sickness
majoring on minors
things that are not central to Gospel, that mature believers can and do differ on and still maintain fellowship
individual with numerous issues between them and particular church, selected one question to sort it all out: “how do you interpret Daniel’s 70 weeks?”
important? sure, but not as starting point; needs context of many other things, lots bigger issues
multitude of sources
1st century had word of mouth, small quantity of written material – warranted strong warning of danger
21st century has “christian” radio, television, internet, music, spoken word, books, magazines, emails, and on and on – much of it with little connection / accountability to local church; warrants just as strong warning
C. ungodly results v.4b-5a
controversy and quarrels that produce:
envy – dissension – slander – suspicion – constantly bickering/friction ==> exact opposite of what Jesus prayed for his followers
John 17:11 “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.”
from specific source:
unrenewing minds – truth-deprived ==> minds unlike what Christian should have
neither renewed by Holy Spirit (Rom 12.2) nor led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:5)
and lead people in wrong direction – away from God and lifestyle that is pleasing to him
D. unsavory motivation v.5b
godliness a means of gain – find a poor false teacher, one who doesn’t hound for money, who doesn’t have significantly higher standard of living than average supporter
“The most common false teaching in churches in the English-speaking world today (as well as Africa, btw. ed.) is the false teaching that God wants you to be physically healthy and materially wealthy all the time; and that if you’re not, it’s because you don’t have enough faith or you haven’t made the commitment to the secret teaching of whoever it is that’s teaching that particular message.” Ligon Duncan
that motivation works for both teacher and student – ones who follow this brand of false teachers do so for what they hope to gain
E. suitable prescription
Rom. 16:17-18 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.
2 Thess. 3:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
2 Tim. 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
Don’t hang about, testing your resistance to see how long you can stay faithful to truth. A couple local parts stores offer free service – think you might be having trouble with car battery, take it in, they’ll test it for you. Connect to machine, puts battery under electrical load for few seconds, gives report. If it’s ok, put back in vehicle and drive away. Let’s just say, though, you left on machine, kept pushing the test button. Before long, battery is dead.
Same with your commitment to the truth of God’s Word – to keep it healthy, requires constant replenishing at well of sound doctrine. Error is seductive, purposely; remember who the author really is, Satan, the great deceiver and seducer. Hang about it enough and it will suck you in. Even worse, once you get sucked in you become conduit of error to others who need to hear the truth.
There is one Gospel that offers genuine hope for men and women, boys and girls lost in their sins – Gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation found in Christ alone, the Lamb of God who promises to receive all who come to him in faith believing only he can save. If you have personally experienced transformation from death to life through faith in Christ, should be your desire that as many as possible enjoy the same. Unsaved family, friends, neighbors, co-workers – should all be in your prayers, that God would use you as means to bring them to conversion.
Must tell them the right story, though. Must be the story the apostles told, that includes words Jesus spoke and speaks of Jesus, that if believed will lead to life of godliness. Can’t be a sales pitch, a non-offensive sugar-flavored version that is no Gospel at all and has no saving power. Must be real deal, Gospel of Christ and him crucified. And what about saved family, friends, neighbors, co-workers? They need to hear same Gospel, be reminded that only in Christ can we have victory over sin, persevere in our course to heaven, and finish well.