Devotional # 206. 9/12/16. 1 Timothy 6:1-5.
Intro. Last week we talked about how to take care of pastors, being impartial, drinking wine for illness and wisdom when considering pastoral candidates. From the beginning of this book we’ve known that it was Paul’s heart to train up Timothy, a young pastor with a problematic church (1 Timothy 1:1-2, Devotional # 192). Today we see Paul talk about bondservants and false teachers. This is like a tailor made list for you! Everyone hates slavery but knows to submit to God, everyone needs to know how to distinguish between true Bible teachers and false ones.
vv. 1-2. Bondservants and Masters
We’ve talked a bit about slavery recently (1 Timothy 1:5-11, Devotional # 194) but here Paul is specifically talking about “bondservants.” We’ve talked about that many times also (see Philippians 1:1, Devotional # 121) but if you need a reminder, a “bondservant” was someone who had been a slave but when set free decided to stay with their master. Here, Paul reminds the person who has chosen to stay with their master to submit themselves and give the honor that they deserve. As we’ll see in a minute this applies to a Christian or non-Christian master. There are two very interesting reasons for this: 1. “so that the name of God…may not be blasphemed” and 2. so that God’s “doctrine may not be blasphemed.” What is blasphemy? In Colossians 3:8 we saw it means ‘slanderous speech towards the divine majesty’ (Devotional # 160). God’s name and His doctrine is very important business and all we have to do to help keep people from slandering His name and doctrine is to make sure our attitude is right when it comes to our servitude!
Next we’re told if the master is a Christian, not to hate them even though you know everyone is equal through Jesus (notice in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 slaves are part of the church). Instead take the opportunity to serve a godly believer because it will bless them (and you!)
You may be thinking, ‘this has nothing to do with me’, but you’re wrong. The first thought in your mind should be that you are a bondservant of Jesus (see Romans 1:1) but it can be hard to learn how to properly be a bondservant to a Savior who is not physically present. That’s why we can apply this to our work bosses or the government (see my most recent Election Devotional here. God is training us to submit to our bosses, whether Christian or non-Christian, so we can apply these things to our good and faithful Master Jesus Christ! If you want more info on this see Colossians 3:22 (Devotional # 162).
vv. 3-5. False Teachers
Notice that just prior to this, in verse 2, Paul told Timothy to “teach and exhort these things.” This is crucial to understanding why and how false teachers don’t teach and don’t exhort in the way God wants.
Here’s our list of what false teachers will do:
- They “teach otherwise” (to Paul’s, and the rest of the Bible’s, teachings),
- “Does not consent to wholesome words”,
- Doesn’t consent to “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ”,
- Doesn’t consent “to the doctrine which accords with godliness.”
Everything points back to what Jesus said and put in place. A false teacher will contradict or skew Jesus’ words. If I play Devil’s Advocate here, what’s so bad about bending Jesus’ words? Maybe this person has studied a lot and have pieced together some of Jesus’ words and other religious figures words. What’s so bad about that? Or maybe their hearts are in the right place so its not really that big of a deal? Maybe Jesus’ words weren’t completely credible? Maybe we don’t have accurate copies of His words? Maybe what He said 2,000 years ago doesn’t really apply anymore?
The answer to all of these questions comes down to what kind of person would say the things on the above list? You may think I’m going to say that it’s a ‘bad person’ who would say this. Or maybe a ‘mean person’? But you’ve got it wrong…I don’t hate the false teacher, and I’m not on a witch hunt. I just see him for who he is and who is using him. And I want to apply Paul’s next words to every person who hears the false teacher. Paul tells us what kind of person the false teacher is:
- “He is proud”,
- He doesn’t know anything (when it comes to real spirituality),
- He “is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words.”
These character traits are of a person not interested in learning lessons. There is no room here for humility or being guided by God. The outcome of these characteristics and roots of sin are:
- “evil suspicions”,
- “useless wranglings” (or “constant friction”) from those lacking the truth.
My company has a problem solving technique that can be used for anything. The idea is that if you can properly state the results of the problem (“symptoms”), then you can properly state the problem which leads to properly identifying the root cause(s). But we don’t stop there, we propose solutions (or “countermeasures”) so that the problem doesn’t keep happening. Paul has done the same thing here. He stated the symptoms (teaching opposite to the words and doctrine of Jesus), the problem (envy, strife, reviling, etc.) which brought us to the root causes (the characteristics like pride, foolishness and disputing). What is the countermeasure? “From such withdraw yourself.” How do we “withdraw” from false teachers? Every situation is different but it can be as simple as no longer going to a church or confronting the teacher about your concerns. But if this continues the command is simple: to withdraw yourself. First, you must read the Bible to know if what the teacher is saying contrasts Scripture or is just different than what you’ve heard about the Bible. Second, if you do confront the teacher, or someone asks you about it, see how they react. As long as you’re not being rude, people should respond in humility and with Bible verses explaining what they meant. If it becomes about their experiences or accomplishments or education or feelings, that’s a good indicator that they’re not as interested in good exposition of the Scriptures as you are.
Conclusion. I love that Paul talked about bondservants and false teachers here. It’s such a contrast! I think the number 1 characteristic of a bondservant is humility, followed closely by servitude. Doesn’t that sound like the opposite of what we read about false teachers? Their driver is ego and their attitude is how everyone should listen unquestionably to them. Next week we’ll see “contentment” and how the opposite of that is greed and specifically a greed for wealth. This is another characteristic of a false teacher. I would rather be lead by a godly person who has been beaten down and learned to serve the Lord than an egotistical false teacher. I’m sure you would say the same. Now you’ve been equipped with how to recognize both types and how to properly react when in that situation.