Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Godliness with contentment

1 Timothy 6:6 – 10

“The Secret to the good life”

Paul has been Timothy’s mentor. The time has come for Paul to hand Timothy responsibility. Throughout the letter to Timothy, Paul has given him much advice. Now at the end, he sums it all up as if to say... “Tim, if you remember one thing... this is it: Godliness with contentment is great gain.”


I.         Sin is the reason for every misery and human problem.


            A.        Define sin:


                        1.         Sin is doing what you know God says NOT to do.

“Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, "This is what God says: `Why do you disobey the LORD's commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.” [2 Chronicles 24:19]


                        2.         Sin is NOT doing what you know God says to do.

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.” [James 4:17]


                        3.         Sin is the spiritual condition of being separate from God.

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? [5] But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” [Romans 2:4 – 5]

This is the condition of all people who have not humbled themselves before God and accepted the salvation found only in Jesus Christ alone.

“There is no one righteous, not even one.” [Romans 3:10]


            B.        Sin starts with a desire or an attitude.

“For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.” [1 John 2:16 KJV]


                        1.         Another way to say “lust” is desire.


                                    a.         Lust of the flesh... feels good.


                                    b.         Lust of the eyes... looks good.


                                    c.         Pride of life... build self up.


                        2.         The attitude is “me, me, I, I.”


                                    a.         In the English spelling the center of sin is “I.”


                                    b.         Attitude is seriously deadly.

“For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” [1 Samuel 15:23]


                        3.         Bad desires and attitudes are contagious.

“Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character.” [1 Corinthians 15:33]


                                    a.         Sometimes our friends lead us astray. (As opposed to the good influence of those in a good church.)


                                    b.         Sometimes we are our own bad company. We get in trouble when we are alone and think nobody is looking.

(Ill.) A man was taken to the hospital because he cut off parts of his fingers on one hand. The story came out that the man wanted to trim his hedges so he picked up his lawn mower. Everything was going fine until the lawn mower became heavy and the weight shifted. When the surgeon had finished sowing the fingers back on, he was called to do the exact same surgery on someone different. What was amazing is that the second man was a neighbor of the first. Apparently he saw the first man and thought his idea of trimming the hedges with the lawn mower was a good idea...


            C.        Trouble is, sin kills but before it does it makes lots of misery.

“But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. [15] Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” [James 1:14 – 15]


                        1.         “Enticed” means to draw on by exciting hope and desire.


                                    a.         It is a fishing term. We would call it “bait” or a “lure.”


                                    b.         This is were discontent fits in... it starts as a thought, forms as a desire, becomes an acceptable goal, we act upon it, there are consequences, finally there is death.


                        2.         James uses the image of “conceived, gives birth, full-grown, death” (life - cycle) as a picture of the progress of sin.


                                    a.         First, it is hidden: We have to feed it, keep it safe, dwell on it.


                                    b.         Then it becomes visible: It becomes an action. When it is discovered we eventually do not care. No need to hide what you do not care others will know.


                                    c.         The sin then grows, it takes control and makes the decisions for you.

“Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” [Psalm 19:13]


II.       Here’s the cure:


            A.        Jesus Christ provided full and free atonement (payment/covering) for sin.


                        1.         In other words, we do not have to be ruled by sin.


                        2.         In dependence on God, given power to live right because of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, we can choose to live “above and beyond” sin.

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. . . . [14] For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” [Romans 6:11, 14]

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” [1 John 3:9]


            B.        We have two main strategies for living the REAL “good life.”


                        1.         Godliness (being sincere and serious about following Jesus) and contentment (satisfied, peaceful with yourself and surroundings).


                                    a.         Jesus taught us: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” [Matthew 6:33]


                                    b.         The issue of contentment is will you be satisfied with God’s best for you?


                        2.         Paul was concerned that Timothy might abandon the pursuit of godliness.


                                    a.         Desire for money. A craving... an addiction...

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” [Matthew 6:24]

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” [Hebrews 13:5]


                                    b.         The rule of thumb... the principle is this:


                                                1.)       If you are doing it for yourself, it is sin.


                                                2.)       If you carve what does not have eternal value, it is sin.


            C.        Consequences:


                        1.         Fall into temptation and a trap.


                                    a.         The image of “fall” is something that is out of control.


                                    b.         Traps are bad for the one who is trapped.

(Ill) How to catch a monkey. Hollow out a gourd. Tie the gourd to a stake or solid object. Place food in the gourd. It works because the monkey puts his hand in gourd to get the food and can not get his hand out with the food in the hand. The monkey sees the danger but will not let go and is doomed.


                        2.         Foolish and harmful desires.


                                    a.         Notice once this sets in, it is not a single or simple desire.


                                    b.         Foolish here means “ruin and destruction.”

(Ill) Visiting Key West. The island is circled by coral, making it dangerous for shipping except for one entry point. Captains would know this but try to make port in less than ideal conditions. Even in our large modern cruise ship we had to wait hours for the wind to settle before we could chance going to port. The people who lived on the island once had a very profitable salvage industry because if a captain was impatient or unwise, they were able to claim the shipwrecked cargo. At one point it made the island very wealthy.

“Holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.” [1 Timothy 1:19]


                        3.         Wandered from the faith.


                                    a.         You wander because you are not paying attention or you are lost.

“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” [Hebrews 2:1]


                                    b.         (Ill.) Driving through Chicago... interstate was detoured. I was very tired, the way was not marked, I didn’t follow traffic. I found myself driving endlessly in a world I didn’t know existed in America.


                        4.          Pierced themselves with many griefs.


                                    a.         Strange social phenomena: girls are deliberately and routinely cutting themselves as a reaction to some unhappy event. This has reached levels and frequencies that would be described as “addiction.”


                                    b.         Self inflicted injury does not make sense. Something is definitely wrong when this happens.


III.      The real issues.


            A.        Who are you going to trust?


                        1.         If you don’t trust God, you will be tempted to think that God is holding back something good from you.


                                    a.         “The grass is always greener... on the other side?”


                                    b.         Living in norther Michigan, we know the only place the grass is always greener is over the septic tank.


                        2.         If you trust God, He will give you the desires of you heart.

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” [Psalm 37:4]


            B.        What are you going to pursue?


                        1.         It comes down to what you will pursue and be content with. “Godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN.”


                        2.         Will those be passing things or eternal things?

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