Title: The Four Features of False Teachers
Text: 1 Tim 6:3-10
CIT: What out for men who lead others astray; you’ll notice them by four distinct features;
CIS: The marks of these men are still evident…
Introduction: I’m grateful for the men who’ve walked through 1 Timothy with me. Jason and Joshua, Duffey and Shawn, Andrew and Henry. Thanks, guys, we have a meeting on the calendar for tonight. Andrew was hoping that we could get together and offer him some guidance in his work. Be thinking about that. I reach out by text later to see who can be there.
What a blessing to share in this ministry of the Word with these men, who are very near and dear to my heart. To those men: I hope you’ve been challenged. I hope you’ve been encouraged. I hope you’ve learned something – no matter the level of your experience in handling God’s Truth. I love you men and hope and pray for your continued growth in these areas.
Andrew’s conclusion last Sunday morning in his sermon was: We exist for the glory of God.
I’d like to add to that. We exist for the glory of God. And here is the scary part: you will glorify God in your life – no matter how you live that life. Your sin brings glory to God. Those who reject and press against the Truth of God will ultimately display his tremendous glory through their rebellion. God will be proven to be right and he will be glorified. God is glorified when his grace and mercy are displayed through his forgiveness of our sin. Someone might say, “Well then Fred, should we continue to sin so that God might continue to be glorified?” And I say μὴ γένοιτο! God forbid!
I have often prayed that God would not let me be one of those people. I want to glorify God in and through my life as displayed in obedience and faithfulness to him.
In today’s passage, we find men who are not like the men you’ve seen teach and preach this past summer. The men in the text are false teachers and their passion is their own fleshly appetites. Paul presents to Timothy four features of these false teachers:
- Their Characteristics
- Their Conduct
- Their Compulsion
- Their Condemnation
Look with me at v 3-4 to identify the first feature of a false teacher:
I. The False Teacher’s Characteristics (3-4a)
exp.: rd v 3-4; 3 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, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.
- He teaches a different doctrine; it’s the same, but it is different. I’ve told you about this word before; heteros; (3a) ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ; hetero another (of a different kind) v homos; another (of the same kind; ) He does not agree with the Lord’s teaching. (3b) It isn’t healthy (sick) and doesn’t center on the Lord’s teaching.
- He is ungodly. (3c) His teaching isn’t teaching that accords with godliness.
- He is conceited. (4a) word is difficult to translate. This could be translated foolish.
- He understands nothing; If you translate this word (τετύφωται) conceited, then “understands nothing” (ἐπιστάμενος) is concessive (He is conceited, even though he knows nothing.) However, if τετύφωτα means foolish, then ἐπιστάμενος is an intensifier (He is foolish and knows nothing). Both would be true.
app.: The characteristics of a false teacher are apparent: his teaching doesn’t coincide with scripture. It doesn’t line up with what Christ has taught us. Here’s a good way to spot him: His teachings are more about his knowledge of some concept, even though he might not even grasp what he’s teaching. His teaching points to him and not to Christ. It puffs him up and not Jesus. It makes much of him and not Jesus.
t.s.: 1st, we see his Characteristics. 2nd, we see his conduct.
II. The False Teacher’s Conduct (4b -5)
exp.: What he teaches, transfers over into his behavior; continuing on in v 4…He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
‘Unhealthy craving’; Lit.: sick, ailing to the point of death. In English, someone might say a morbid curiosity (NASB). This ‘desire’ is in contradiction to the healthy, sound teaching of Christ in v 3; look at this progression of his conduct:
- 1st, a ‘sick’ craving for controversy, quarrels about words, some translations say, “fights w/ words”; this is a compound word – two words put together: lit.: λόγος – word and μάχη – fight;
- 2nd, this produces envy and dissension,
- 3rd, which moves to slander and evil suspicions,
- and the result is that the church lies in constant friction; this is a natural progression: Bill Mounce writes: Where there are speculations and word battles, one naturally finds envy and strife; envy and strife naturally develop into slander and evil suspicions, and where these are present there is a constant irritation. And these flow out from the characteristics he has already displayed. It moves naturally from the characteristics of his teaching to the conduct of his life, which is naturally divisive; that is what Satan wants; this is why Paul warns Timothy earlier; 3:6, 7: 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
ill.: In October of 2007, a story came out of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands that shook many people. The children of Barneveld found an interesting plaything. They didn’t know what it was, but it was cool looking, so they played with it. One of the kids found it while playing in the dirt. Soon, they began to create games with this new play toy. It stayed on the playground for months, being there each day when the kids went out to play on the playground. They played catch with it. They hit it; threw it; slammed it on the ground; they created all types of games around this plaything. One day some months later, an adult finally took notice. Authorities were called and sure enough, it was confirmed that the children had unearthed a live, unexploded artillery shell from World War II. The authorities took the plaything away and exploded it in a safe place.
app.: I think about those kids and wonder where the adults were. I wonder if any adults saw and didn’t think anything about it. What took so long? Were these adults, who were responsible for these children, lazy? Or, were they simply ignorant? Either way, this is an example of the supervision of such leaders who don’t know about the explosive device they’re pushing on their followers. Such false teachers are either lazy or ignorant or both.
t.s.: They’re more caught up in themselves than they are their listeners. 1st, we see the Characteristics of these false teachers and (2nd) how it transfers over into his behavior through his Conduct and continues to drive him. And beginning in verse 6, what see what drives him, his compulsion…rd v 6;
III. The False Teacher’s Compulsion (6-10)
exp.: 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 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. 10 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.
Godliness with contentment is great gain; but not so with these false teachers. They are not content w/ godliness. They want more – physical stuff. They are not content with what they have (the material blessings); So, they use their teaching to chase after monetary gain; they desire gold instead of God;
In Philippians, Paul writes: 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
ill.: In 14th Century Belgium the was a King, Raynald III. Raynald had a younger brother, Edward. I’m not sure what happened or how it happened, but Raynald had a major disagreement with his younger brother Edward. Edward was so angry at his older brother, that he led a successful revolt against him. Raynald was defeated by his younger brother, but Edward chose not to kill him.
Instead, (and you’ve probably heard this story before) Edward did something incredibly cruel to his brother. He built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room. This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of normal-sized proportions—none of which were locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight.
But Edward knew his older brother. Each day, Edward sent a variety of delicious foods into the room. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew even larger. When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave anytime he wants to do so. Raynald stayed in that room for 10 years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined that he died within a year—a prisoner of his own appetite.
app.: False teachers are concerned with their own appetites for adoration, admiration, prestige, position. They feed their selfish desires by using people. They ignorantly lead people astray through selfish ambition and vain conceit. I’m reminded of Ezekiel 34: 1The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
And of course, God’s judgment against those shepherds was harsh.
t.s.: And so will it be for today’s false teachers: The False Teacher’s compulsion to whet and satiate his own appetite will be his downfall, which is the fourth feature…
IV. The False Teacher’s Condemnation (9-10)
exp.: 9 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. 10 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.
- fall, into (1) temptation, (2) a snare, (3) senseless and harmful desires;
- plunge into (1) ruin and (2) destruction;
- wandered from the faith
- pierced themselves;
app.: Oh, the dangers of using God’s Word to chase after one’s own pursuits and pleasures and passions. Instead, we should be chasing after God, making much of him.
Conclusion: In thinking of this compulsion that leads to condemnation – this appetite where we see their god is their belly, I’m reminded of a funny remark by Philip Yancy. He wrote an article entitled, What 147 Elk taught me about prayer:
I’ve become more convinced than ever that God finds ways to communicate with those who truly seek him, especially when we lower the volume of the surrounding static. I remember reading the account of a spiritual seeker who interrupted a busy life to spend a few days in a monastery.
“I hope your stay is a blessed one,” said the monk who showed the visitor to his cell. “If you need anything, let us know, and we’ll teach you how to live without it.”
Because, all we really need, when it comes right down to it, is Christ!
So, let’s look at our take-a-ways for this morning.
- Study God’s Word. Study alone, Study with your spouse, Study with a group, Study at church. I know it is hard to know everything in God’s Word, but the truth is, if you know the genuine article really well, then you’ll recognize the counterfeit when he comes your way. Make sure any author you use takes you back into God’s Word. Don’t just trust a book because you got it from Lifeway!
- Spiritual maturity is a must; it comes from walking with Christ; it comes from walking with those who’ve walked with Christ, who have been where you are.
- : Are you in a relationship with a mature believer? Consider it if you’re not.
- Don’t contribute to the cycle of controversy and quarrels. I think this is probably perpetrated through gossip. So, the simple solution is to just not to participate. Community Group leaders: this is a call for you to keep a close watch on this sort of stuff. (ill.: I have a pastor friend who warned against forming community groups; his experience was that a community group was more of a time to complain; eventually, everyone in that group left the church)
- Make sure your passionate pursuit is for godliness which leads to contentment, and not gold, which leads to destruction. Ask yourself in whatever you’re doing: why am I doing this…