Friday, May 31, 2013

Motivation – 1 Tim 6:13-14

And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (NLT)
Assignment
Most versions of the Bible use the word charge in this verse. The Greek word is translated command elsewhere in the King James Version. Other version use instruct, direct, command, and charge. There is no way of getting around the fact that Timothy’s assignment to flee from sin and pursue a godly life is a command and therefore can be directly applied to us as well. This is not a suggestion or even something that could be viewed as optional. (Unfortunately, the New King James Version only “urged” Timothy to keep the command. While subtle, it doesn’t convey the forcefulness of being charged with an assignment. This is a good reason read more than one Bible translation when studying.)
Where or how we receive an assignment often affects how we carry it out. In school, a teacher can give the class an assignment. Each pupil is required to finish it and turn it in on a specified date. Many don’t do it. What would happen if the student’s parents were invited to class? Each child stood before the class and his or her parents while the teacher gave the assignment. Do you think the student would be more or less motivated to finish the assignment?
In a work situation, it might work the same way. An individual assignment often carries more weight when it is given in a work group and everyone else knows that you are responsible to report progress back to the group. Who is present when the assignment is given is very important.
If you afflict my daughters, or if you take other wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us — see, God is witness between you and me! (Gen 31:50 NKJV)
There are other places in the Bible where people called on God to be a witness between them. This one acknowledges that God is always able to see whether people are living up to their end of the bargain. They would often erect some kind of monument, as Jacob and Laban did in this instance, and call upon the monument to be a witness. It may seem strange to us to say a heap of rocks or a stone altar would be a witness, but it was really God, not the inanimate object that they were recognizing. The monument only served as reminder to them and to their children.
Before God
Am I a God at hand, says the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord. (Jer 23:23-24 RSV)
There isn’t any place in this or any other universe where we can hide our activities from God. Whenever we make a promise, we are doing it before God. Whenever we tell a lie, we are doing it before God. Most people in this post-modern age have heard that God is dead. That simply doesn’t make sense to them because they don’t believe that God was ever alive or even exists. They think and act as if there is no God or can’t see what they are doing or thinking.
They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. (Ps 94:6-7 KJV)
However God does know what they are thinking and doing. Psalm 139:1-5 explains that God knows when we sit down or rise up. He knows our thoughts and even more, He knows what we are going to say even before we udder a word. David says that He know all our ways. Why wouldn’t He know them, He made us (Ps 139:14). What is even more astounding is that He hems us in before and behind. While we think that we have complete freedom to do whatever we want, the reality is that His right hand guides us. How often do we acknowledge God in this way? How often do we ask Him to make sure we are walking in His way – how often do we willingly submit ourselves to Him? This boggles the mind, or as David said, knowing this is too wonderful for us; we can’t fathom it (Ps 139:6).
When Paul charges Timothy (and us) to obey all these commands before God, it should carry a great, significant, huge force. He is very serious about it. He makes this charge before God because God gives life to all of us. The implication is that we obey these commands because He has given us life and we are accountable to Him how we use it.
Before Jesus
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21, 23 KJV)
Think about this relationship with Jesus. The Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. They are in each other. That little word “in” is “en” in the Greek. When used, as it is in these verses with regard to people, it means in the person, nature, soul, thought of the people in the verse (see Col 3:3).[1] Jesus not only affirms that we are in God but that He is in us and that because He is in us then the Father is in us. Obviously, this is not physical or even symbolic but a spiritual description that our finite minds can’t really understand.
The point of this is that Jesus is always present with us because He is in us. Everything I’ve said about being before God applies to Jesus as well. So why did Paul include Jesus in addition to the Father? Paul charges us before God because He created us but he charges us before Jesus because Jesus gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate.
Good Testimony
What is this testimony that Jesus gave before Pilate and why is it important? Matthew didn’t record Jesus saying anything but said He kept silent when charged (Matt 27:13). Mark and Luke record only that Jesus admitted to being King of the Jews (Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3) and that He wouldn’t speak about the other charges (Mark 15:5). But John records more of Jesus’ testimony. Jesus clarified that His kingdom was not of this world and that His purpose was to bear witness to the truth and that anyone who is of the truth listens to Jesus (John 18:33-37).
Pilate therefore said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." (John 18:37 NASB)
Another little word is “of” which is “ek” in the Greek. It denotes origin.[2] Everyone whose origin is truth (Jesus who is Truth is God [John 14:6]) will listen to Jesus. If our origin is from God, we will acknowledge that Jesus is the only way to the Father and that salvation comes only through Jesus. That is why Jesus came.
Jesus also testified that He is King. We need to be mindful of the kingdom of which we are citizens so that we will obey these commands. One of the commands is to keep our confession of faith. Just as Jesus told the truth at His trial, we need to tell the truth about our faith and our commitment to Jesus when asked, even if it costs us everything.
Without Wavering
The NLT does some conceptual translating when it says to keep the command without wavering. Most translations say without spot or unstained. The primary idea is not to miss any part of obedience to these commands. Wavering suggests hesitation, sometimes obeying and not at other times. Without spot or blemish is black and white in that it leaves no doubt that we are to be faithful in our obedience. We will not be accused of doing wrong if we are without spot.
The unbelieving world may accuse us of doing wrong but we will stand before God without fault and with great joy (Jude 24). Jesus made a good confession without malice and with gentleness. When we obey without spot and follow Jesus’ example, we will also make a good confession. At some point, even the world will have to admit that they were wrong about their slander (1 Peter 3:16).
Until Jesus Comes
How long do we need to keep these commandments? Until Jesus appears again. We are in this for the long haul, not just for short-term relief from pain and suffering as some preach. It doesn’t matter if the future is bleak or rosy; we are going to continue to persevere in doing right until Jesus comes.
Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. (2 Thess 1:6-7 KJV)
Jesus will come at the right time. We think that He should appear very soon because we see turmoil and evilness in the world. We want Him to come and set all things straight. He will do this, but we must wait until He decides it is the right time. What will He do when He returns? He will establish justice by repaying all who have caused trouble to believers throughout the ages.
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (2 Thess 1:8 KJV)
We have been talking about our testimony and our obedience. These are the things that will point people to Jesus. But He will bring vengeance on those who do not know God even though they heard our testimony or saw our obedience. They will suffer in flame for eternity. That should motivate us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us.

[1] NT:1722 2. with the dative of a person, in the person, nature, soul, thought of anyone: Col 3:3 from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. PC Study Bible Version 5.0F.
[2] NT:1537 ek (ek) or ex (ex); a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds), from, out (of place, time, or cause; literal or figurative; direct or remote): Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc. PC Study Bible Version 5.0F.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Man of God – 1 Tim 6:11-12

But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (NASU)
Flee
Flee is a great biblical word to describe how we should deal with sin. We are to flee from sexual sins (1 Cor 6:18), idolatry (1 Cor 10:14), all the things Paul listed in First Timothy (1 Tim 6:11), and youthful lusts (2 Tim 2:22). The same Greek word used in all of these verses is also used to describe the Jesus’ escape to Egypt (Matt 2:13), Jesus’ advice to escape from the destruction of Jerusalem (Matt 24:16), and sheep that run from a stranger (John 10:5).

All of these have the same thing in common, physical activity that is done immediately and without the need for a lot of thought. Anyone who stops to contemplate if he should flee from sexual sin  or not has already contemplated it in his heart which is sin; the physical consummation is very likely to follow. We need to be absorbed in our desire to follow Jesus so that we instinctively turn our back on the possibility of committing these sins.
It may be easier to flee from some sins than others because they are much more recognizable. When a man or woman is asked to engage in sex outside of marriage, it’s easy to recognize and physically flee. If someone ask you to worship an idol, that is a no-brainer also. There are many other temptations that are harder to identify and understand how to flee like gossip or little white lies.
How do you flee from financial lusts that lead you into traps and foolish temptations? Usually, you can’t get out of your chair and suddenly run in the other direction. The traps are much more involved. This describes the person who has persisted in yielding to the love of money. The same could be argued for someone who has already fallen into sexual sin. How do you flee when the emotions and relationships become so entangled that doing wrong seems like the right thing to do?
Pursue
Paul tells Timothy to pursue the qualities of a godly man. Fleeing from sin must be followed up by pursuing those things that will replace the sinful habit and opportunities for temptation.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4:22-24 NIV)
This is the formula for getting out of the sins that we should have fled from in the first place. We need to acknowledge that we’re wrong and repent from the old sinful habit. That starts by renewing our minds. We need to start thinking the way God wants us to think. Then we need to put on or start doing the right things, the things that God created us to do. Those things are done in righteousness and holiness.
You can take any sin and plug it into this formula. In Eph 4:25-32Paul followed up by giving us some examples of sins, the new attitude and what to put on.
Put Off
New Attitude
Put On
Lying
We are all members one of another. We are all part of the family of God. Lying to each other is the same as lying to God. We lie because there is something we want or fear that is greater than our desire to please God and obey Him. We need to identify it, admit it is sin, and repent. Repentance is demonstrated in speaking the truth.
Speak the Truth
Anger
We aren’t talking about righteous anger were we see sin and are outraged that it has occurred. Even this anger can lead to sin when we try to right the wrong in ungodly ways. This verse does not give us permission to be angry as some claim, it simply acknowledges that we do become angry but warns us not let it turn into more sin. Proverbs 29:11 explains that we need to control our emotions. What is the root of the anger? It is usually because we didn’t get what we wanted. We had missed expectations and usually inappropriate expectations. It is all about me and not thinking first of the other person. Selfishness and the resulting anger open the door for Satan.
Don’t Sin
Stealing
It is the same as the other problems. There is something we perceive we need so badly that it causes us to take what isn’t ours. We don’t consider what it does to the person who then doesn’t have it anymore. Practicing honest work and giving to others helps us develop an attitude of looking out for others’ interests and kills off our selfishness.
Honest Work and Give
Unwholesome Talk
Notice how each of the solutions that we are to put on removes the focus from our desires and ourselves and direct them to needs of other people? Unwholesome talk could fit in the categories of slander, put-downs, sarcasm, gossip, or other sins of the tongue. In each case, we do it because there is something we will gain, whether it is trying to feel better about ourselves or manipulate someone into doing something for us. As with the others, we need to identify the root of sin in our hearts.
Build Other Up
List of Sins
Paul sums up the examples with this list of sins. If we have been paying attention to the previous examples, it will become evident by repetition that the problem we need to resolve is within our own hearts. We need to find out why we are putting ourselves before others. When we are kind, tender-hearted and forgiving, then we no longer have our selfish desires on the throne of our lives.
Kind Tender and Forgiving

Grieving the Holy Spirit
All these sins grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30). To help us flee from sin, we need to consider what sin does to our relationship with the Lord. If we care nothing about grieving Him, then we have a problem that needs attention before we can flee. If we don’t care about God and His feelings then we won’t flee. Since we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, then blatant sin is a demonstration that we may not yet be redeemed in the first place.
Perhaps we have confessed Jesus as our Savior simply to escape the punishment of hell, but have never committed our lives to Him as our Lord. We want to be saved but have no intention of obeying Him. Another possibility is that we simply don’t love Him. He isn’t our treasure. We can obey out of fear of punishment but there is no relationship with God. 1 John 4:18 says that love casts out fear because fear has to do with punishment. In other words, if our relationship with God is to obey Him out of fear of punishment or a false concept that lip service to Jesus will keep us from hell, then we don’t really love God. If we don’t love Him, then it is proof of no relationship.
1 John 4:19 tells us that we love God because He first loved us. We must respond to His love in order to have a relationship. If we are trying to flee from sin because we are trying to earn His love, then we must remember that while we were still sinners – while we had never done anything deserving His love – He loved us (Rom 5:8). There is nothing we can do that will change His love toward us. Instead, we need to respond to His love when we come to Jesus for our salvation. Fear may be a first step to wake us up but it must become a relationship with Jesus. If it doesn’t then there is a major concern that there hasn’t been a conversion resulting in salvation.
Take Hold of Eternal Life
We aren’t given eternal life and instantaneously arrive at perfection. It isn’t a smooth uneventful trip on a cruise ship with every need and want met. It is more like riding a Brahma bull in a rodeo. We grab hold and get ready for an exciting and sometimes painful ride. Pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness is pursuing the qualities and character of God and they don’t come easily. But the reward, godliness with contentment is great gain.
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (1 Cor 9:25 RSV)
Paul describes taking hold of eternal life as a fight, the good fight of faith. The fight requires self-control just as an athlete must train and discipline himself for a race. The result, however, is much more important than a physical fight or race. Paul says that he has used the weapons of righteousness in both hands when he had to persevere through all kinds of trial (2 Cor 6:7). We are engaged in a war that requires us to use divine weapons as we take thoughts captive for Christ and punish disobedience (2 Cor 10:3-5). The fight to hold on is a daily fight where we should be putting on the armor of God (Eph 6:10-18).[1] He has already told Timothy to hold on to faith and a good conscience in this warfare (1 Tim 1:18). When he writes Timothy for the last time, Paul will be looking forward to the finish of the race and the rewards of completing the battle (2 Tim 4:7-8).
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess 5:8-9 KJV)
All this talk about fighting a battle and taking hold of eternal life might lead someone to believe that if they stumble or fall in the battle, that they will lose eternal life. However this description of the battle assures us that this battle isn’t for our salvation. That has already been obtained for us by Jesus. We are now in the battle because we belong to the King of kings, we are in His army and it will not fail. You can read about the final battle in Rev 19:11-16.
Called
We are all called to eternal life. Anyone who thinks that he or she chose God, really needs to think about verses where God says that He chose us (Eph 1:4, Rom 8:28-30, Rom 9:24, Rom 11:5, 1 Peter 1:2, 1 Peter 2:9). In one sense everyone is called but not everyone answers the call. What is important is that when we hear the call, we must respond if we want to have eternal life. That is in essence taking hold of eternal life.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10 KJV)
God has a purpose for each of us when He calls us. We are called to do good things that He planned for us even before we were born. We take hold of eternal life when we start doing those things.
Good Confession
Today you have proclaimed the Lord to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. (Deut 26:17-18 NKJV)
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Rom 10:9 KJV)
There is little difference between a good confession in the Old Testament and the New. In the New, we have clarification of the Trinity and Jesus’ role in our salvation by His death, burial, and resurrection. Too many people don’t understand that confessing the Lord Jesus is agreeing to walk in His ways, keep His commandments, and to obey His voice. Sometimes our inability to communicate clearly to a new generation or people of other cultures confuses the issue.
I remember going door to door sharing the Gospel. At one door, a young Asian man answered. He was very polite and listened to us. When it came to the end and we asked him if he would like to accept Jesus as his Savior and have His sins forgiven, he immediately responded in the affirmative. It was just too fast. I wondered if he misunderstood or perhaps was just being polite. I asked again but explained that it meant he was willing to give Jesus control of his life. I could see his countenance change as he realized the need to surrender to Jesus. He said no and closed the door.
A good confession is more than repeating words. A good confession of Jesus is life changing.
Witnesses
A good confession results in witnesses. I’ve read stories of people in closed countries who are secret believers. They live their lives in fear of death if they are found out. Some are killed when their families discover them. Others discover that other members of their families are also secret believers. Sooner or later, the truth will come out because Jesus doesn’t want us to hide our confession.
Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8-9 KJV)
There is something very important about telling others what Jesus has done for us. Sharing our faith confirms that we know Jesus and it increases our knowledge of the good that is now in us because of Jesus (Philem 6). When we believe, we receive the Holy Spirit and He gives us the power to be witnesses. Jesus said that we will be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). We will be either good or bad witnesses.
What kind of witness do you want to be? The secret ones seldom if ever affect the lives of others for the kingdom of God. They are bad witnesses. The ones that live good lives and give the reason for the hope they have (1 Peter 3:15) are much better but they only wait for someone to ask. The best witnesses are those that tell others the good news in the process of living those great lives doing what Jesus wants (Isa 52:7). Where are you on this scale of bad to best? I hope we are all moving to be better.

[1] To get a free eBook or PDF of Battling Satan with the Armor of God, go to http://www.rayruppert.com/free-ebook-battling-satan.html.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Trap of Money – 1 Tim 6:9-10

But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. (NKJV)
Wanting Riches
The story of Lot is a prime example of choices that lead people into trouble. Abram and Lot had too much in the way of livestock to sustain them together in one camp. So Abram gave Lot first dibs on the land and Abram would go the other way. I’ve previous mentioned that when sin is sin it should be identified and not called a choice. Lot had an amoral choice where to live but his choice didn’t have to be sinful. Was it a sinful choice?

And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly. (Gen 13:10-13 KJV)
Lot’s choice turned to sin as soon as he made his decision in a selfish manner. He was looking out for his own interest and ease instead of others (Phil 2:4). He was already rich, but saw this opportunity to acquire more without the work and nomadic life he had while living with Abram. He now lived in the cities of Sodom. Later, we find that his tent became a house (Gen 19:3). His choice is in stark contrast to the way Abram selflessly offered the first choice to Lot even though he could have insisted on it as the elder member of the family.
We are warned in 1 John 2:15-16 that when we desire the things of the world, when we look with our eyes at the good life, the green pastures that Lot wanted, that these desires don’t come from God. Lot’s choice didn’t have to degenerate into sin. He could have made the same choice without the lust. Maybe it wasn’t quite as bad as I’ve painted it, but where the riches were, there were also wicked men. Lot’s longing led him in the wrong direction and he was pierced with much grief.
Peter says that Lot was righteous and was distressed by the wickedness of the people that surrounded him (2 Peter 2:6). Why did he stay there? When the two angels came to rescue him from the city before it was destroyed, they had to drag him out (Gen 19:16). The snare of riches and ease kept him captive even though he was described as righteous. What a sober warning for all of us!
A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. (Prov 28:20 ESV)
Riches are not evil and people who have them are not automatically evil. Abram was rich but his heart was in the right place. He didn’t put his gain before his nephew’s interests. Proverbs is clear that it is the intent of the heart that causes the problem with riches. There are many ways to get rich but those that are eager for riches want to take shortcuts and they won’t go unpunished. They will reap the consequences of their ungodly desires. Lot eventually lost everything. We have another example in Balaam who pushed God to the limits so he could gain from cursing Israel (Num 22:17-21). When he wasn’t allowed to curse Israel, he taught Balak how to entice Israel into sin. His reward was being killed in battle. God healed Naaman from leprosy and Gehazi took riches from him when Elisha had refused any reward. Gehazi was then struck with leprosy (2 Kings 5:20-27). It makes me wonder what the punishment will be for those who push the limits of God’s grace by selling prayer cloths and other things on TV.
Got Money?
Sometimes, it isn’t the money that people want, but the appearance of money. They want stuff. They want people to think they have money or they are willing to live as if they have money.
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. (Isa 5:8-9 KJV)
Does this describe the housing boom and bust? What is the deal with always wanting a larger house? What is the purpose? One family has six children whose mother stays at home raising them. They have a modest house with three or four bedrooms and are satisfied. Another childless couple has a house with twice the floor space but wants a bigger house while both work and can barely make the payments. Woe to those with desires that take them to the brink of bankruptcy and beyond. Their beautiful mansion in this world will stand empty owned by the bank while others who are living in one-room shacks in the slum of a poor country will be living in a mansion in eternity.
One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth. (Prov 13:7 NIV)
We’re not just talking about material wealth; we’re talking about true wealth that brings wisdom and salvation. Jesus had a hard time with the Pharisees because they pretended to have great spiritual wealth yet they had nothing. They were the recipients of Jesus’ woes. The couple that is on the verge of losing their great house live as if they have much but are in debt; they will never be able to repay it if they keep seeking the same lifestyle. This is very likely a reflection of their spiritual condition. They may have made a commitment to Christ at some time in their life, but the desires of the world have choked out all outward appearance of faith. They have wandered from the faith and are going through all sorts of grief even while they want more. If they have never committed their lives to Christ then they truly have nothing.
We’ve heard of bag ladies with a cartload of money, old men living in squalor with a stash of gold coins, and other stories. These are few and far between. There are many more people who have learned to be content with what they have and that is a greater wealth than gold and silver. They don’t pretend to be poor but others may think they are because they don’t buy a new car every two years. Instead they choose to use their vehicles until the maintenance cost dictate a better one. They are frugal in many areas except when it comes to giving to the poor or the advancement of the Gospel. They regularly give a significant portion of their income, even as much as 90%, regardless of the tax credits. Their wealth isn’t measured in the abundance of things but in wisdom, peace, graciousness, and eternal life (Prov 3:13-14).
By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. (Prov 22:4 KJV)
Their appearance of having a lack of wealth is really a measure of humility. They don’t brag about their wealth. This is born of a fear of the Lord. They give the glory to the Lord and it can only come from a relationship with Jesus. Eternal riches, honor, and life come from God.
Root of Evil
One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is the first half of 1 Tim 6:10. Most people leave out the words love and kind saying that money is the root of all evil. It is subtle but it is the same kind of distortion that Satan loves to use when he alters the Word. A thinking man will quickly understand that money is neither moral nor immoral. It is a tool that can be used for good or bad. He will also know that there are many other evils that have their roots in other things. Therefore he dismisses the whole Bible and rejects salvation because he may think but doesn’t investigate to find the truth.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matt 6:24 KJV)
The truth is that the love of anything placed before the love of God is more likely the root of all evil. The love of money is just the root of one kind of evil. Jesus used the word mamonas which is broader than money.
Mamonas, a common Aramaic word for "riches," akin to a Hebrew word signifying "to be firm, steadfast" (whence "Amen"), hence, "that which is to be trusted"; Gesenius regards it as derived from a Heb. word signifying "treasure" Gen 43:23; it is personified in Matt 6:24; Luke 16:9,11,13.[1]
As you look at what Jesus said, you can see that He made a play on words by using mammon instead of another word for money or riches. We can’t serve God and “that which is to be trusted.” When we love or put our trust in riches we can’t love and trust God. Our allegiance will always be in the wrong place. “That which is to be trusted” can certainly be applied to much more than money.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Ps 20:7 NIV)
What are you trusting in? Do you believe what is written on the money of the U.S. “In God we trust” or do you trust the money? Ps 33:16 says that a king isn’t saved by his army and a soldier by his strength. What makes us think that our government will save us or a different president will do any better than the current one? If we trust in God, we may not have the fleeting riches of this world but we will have godliness with great gain.
Money is a root of one particular kind of evil that God warned against when He gave the Law to Moses. People in positions of authority should not accept bribes. It distorts justice, removes impartiality, blinds the eyes of those who are ordinarily wise, and even causes a righteous person to word things in a way to accommodate the briber (Deut 16:19). It certainly explains one of the reasons that our country’s laws are so messed up and confusing. Activists storm Washington, D.C. with highly paid grifters – oops, I mean lobbyists. With few exceptions, these people are working to influence the laws of this nation for one primary reason – to make money for themselves and the companies they represent. They convince the senators, representatives, and their staffs to include languages in the bills that will favor their company or force projects to be done in specific locations so that their companies will benefit. The bribes come in the way campaign financing and promises to get the politicians elected again. Some of the bribes aren’t as legal as others are. The point is that they are all done for the love of money.
Our Treasure
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matt 6:21 KJV)
Jesus told us to lay up treasures in heaven so that our hearts would be there also. What is your greatest treasure? Is it money, or your spouse, your kids, your work or something else? I knew one guy whose greatest treasure was his Porche. That and his other treasures kept his heart firmly on this earth. Heaven was not a consideration.
One of the pastors at our church, Mark Barrett, has reiterated on various occasions that our greatest treasure needs to be Jesus. Jesus must be our Lord so that we are willing to obey Him. If we don’t obey Him then our salvation can be questioned (Luke 6:46-49). Jesus alone must be our Savior for there is salvation in no one else (Acts 4:12). This requires us to repent of our sins and ask for His forgiveness. We can’t trust any religious system or our own goodness for salvation, only Jesus. But when we add that Jesus must be our treasure, it adds another dimension to our salvation.
When Jesus is our treasure, it shows where our love is. Jesus quoted the Old Testament when He said we must love the Lord with all our hearts (Matt 22:37). Jesus also made it clear that He and the Father are one (John 10:30, 14:9-11) and that when we honor Jesus we honor the Father (John 5:23). Our motivation in wanting to go to heaven is to be with our treasure, Jesus. We may be looking forward to all the other benefits to heaven as well, but if we aren’t looking forward to being with Jesus first and foremost, then our relationship with Jesus could be questioned.
We need to make sure our salvation is intact by having this threefold description of our relationship to Jesus. He must be Lord, Savior, and Treasure.

[1] From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers. (Strong’s NT:3126)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Godliness Is Great Gain – 1 Tim 6:6-8

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (NKJV)
Success
One of the definitions of success in the world is impressive achievement, especially the attainment of fame, wealth, or power.[1] When people think of great gain, it is usually in one or all three of these areas. As a result, Christians who want to be godly often shy away from all kinds of success. However, success is simply the achievement of something planned or attempted.[2] When we think of godliness bringing great gain, we can be successful as long as we are planning and attempting gain which pleases God. Paul has a lot to say about success and it has more to do with contentment than anything else.
The world thinks that having abundance will provide contentment. I was asked to publish a children’s book about the fairy of abundance that would come to children who wanted to live in the land of abundance. The fairy taught them the first rule of gold so that they could achieve their goals of abundance and all would be glorious and happy ever after if they followed the rule. The author couldn’t understand my refusal to publish the book.
Christians are not commanded to seek abundance and the Bible is full of warnings about what happens when we measure success in terms of material wealth. Most often, material wealth is associated with wicked people even though some of God’s people in the Old Testament were very wealthy.
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. (Ps 37:16 KJV)
Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. (Prov 15:16 KJV)
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt 6:33 KJV)
Jesus taught that we will have the things we need (not necessarily want) when we seek to enter His kingdom and have godly lives. Modern preachers, eager to tell people what they want to hear (2 Tim 4:3) so that they will have a successful church jump on the fact that Jesus used money often when teaching. They then erroneously conclude that Jesus’ primary objective was teaching about money and they miss the lessons of godliness and consequences of ungodly lives.
Matt 25:14-30 is the example most often used. In this parable three servants are entrusted with money while the master is away. The first two servants double the amount while the master is away and the third buries his in fear that he would lose it. Those that claim this is all about money focus on being good financial stewards. If we are good stewards, we will be blessed and increase. However, this is not the primary reason Jesus told the parable. This and the previous two parables in this series are about the kingdom of heaven. The first parable is at the end of chapter 24 and is used to emphasize doing God’s will until Jesus returns. The second is about ten virgins that are waiting for the bridegroom. The lesson is being spiritually prepared for Jesus’ return. The third is about being good stewards, but, as a parable, it isn’t primarily about money, it is about using our spiritual gifts. We know this because each of these parables ends the same way, with people going to hell.
Do you really think that God will throw someone in hell because he didn’t double his money? No, this is about a relationship with Jesus and living godly lives. The servants who are thrown into outer darkness are called wicked. The five virgins that didn’t enter with the bridegroom are foolish. Christians who are don’t dramatically multiply their resources are not called wicked or fools. Look at the attitude of the wicked people. Jesus was teaching something much greater than good stewardship.
Contentment
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. (Phil 4:11-12 NLT)
What do you think about when you read these verses? I look at this whole concept of being content with whatever I have and want to be like Paul. It didn’t come naturally to him. He had learned the secret of living and being content. It didn’t depend on abundance or learning the first rule of gold. In fact, Paul will share with us what the first rule of gold really is in 1 Timothy 6:9-10. In Philippians, however, he does reveal the secret of being content.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Phil 4:13 KJV)
The secret is being able to trust in Jesus so much that it gets you through the tough times. Learning this wasn’t easy for Paul. His letters to the Corinthians were loaded with examples of the trials and suffering he encountered in his life serving the Lord. He speaks of being hungry, thirsty, homeless, (1 Cor 4:11-13) emotionally drained, (2 Cor 6:10) beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, toiling, sleepless, cold and much more (2 Cor 11:21-29). Paul was in prison when he wrote to the Philippians yet his joy is evident in the letter.
Contrary to the wealth and prosperity preachers, true contentment in Jesus comes not from getting everything in life that we want, but it comes from hardships that drive us to trust in Jesus. Not everyone goes through the same problems that Paul faced, but we all have trials in our lives. Some people have few trials while others have many. Which ones are blessed, the ones with many or few? It is those who learn to trust in Jesus through them regardless of how many there are.
We don’t need to look for them in order to feel blessed; neither should we feel blessed if we don’t have many. Contentment can be learned quickly or it may take a long time. It can even be learned before major trials. Paul pointed back to the Exodus as an example when he warned the Corinthians about idolatry and other sins.
Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come. (1 Cor 10:11 RSV)
This is a very reassuring verse that tells me that we can study God’s Word and learn from it. We don’t have to go through the same struggles as those in the Bible. If we learn from Scripture to be dependent upon God, we can be content without actually having been beaten, starved, or have other terrible things happen to us. If these things do occur, we will still trust in Him and not go over the deep end of self-pity or abandoning our faith. However, if we are really trusting Him and letting Him strengthen us, we won’t be seeking the same things as the world. As we use our resources – lives, money, talents, or whatever – for Him, He may very well bless us materially – or not. He may test us so that we will know if our contentment is based on our trust in Him or He may not because He knows where our trust lies. We can’t second-guess God because that isn’t trusting Him.
Needs versus Wants
Psychology 101 classes often explain basic human needs. Wikipedia zeros in on Manfred Max-Neef’s classification of fundamental human needs with this list: subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity, and freedom. Each of these classifications are then broken down into categories for each classification. They are: being (qualities), having (things), doing (actions), and interacting (settings). For subsistence these categories are:  being = physical and mental health; having = food, shelter, work; doing = feed, clothe, rest, work; interacting = living environment, social setting. By the time you examine all of the categories and classifications, you end up with whole bunch of needs that range from food to passion with daydreams and “intimate spaces” in between.[3] No wonder we are so confused and unsatisfied. We have more needs than we knew about!
Now add to those needs our wants. The Wikipedia article also says that while our needs are finite and classifiable, our wants are infinite and insatiable. They got that right and that is the basic problem with needs and wants. Needs can be satisfied and wants are seldom satisfied since a new one pops up right after the last one is satisfied.
If we accept this list of needs we are going to be gravely disappointed in life. The Bible doesn’t list most of these things as our needs. Paul clearly identifies food and clothing as two basic needs.
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt 6:31-32 KJV)
Paul probably got his list from Jesus. Even more important is the attitude we should have toward these needs. We shouldn’t even be focused on them. Instead we should focus on God’s kingdom and righteousness – godliness. Paul emphasizes the eternal nature of or real need when he reminds us that we came into the world with nothing and we can’t take any material things with us when we die.
When we really stop to think about the list that the world provides and even the list that God provides, the real need that each person has is to know God and be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ. If this doesn’t happen in our lives, then eternity will be spent in hell with unimaginable torture and pain. Is salvation a real need? It certainly looks like it to me. It is the starting point to contentment and godliness.

[1] Success [Def. 2]. (n.d.). In Microsoft Encarta Dictionary- MS Word Retrieved May 3, 2013
[2] Ibid [Def. 1]
[3] "Fundamental Human Needs." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Apr. 2013. Web. 08 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_human_needs>.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Doctrines of Godliness – 1 Tim 6:3-5

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. (NKJV)
Teaching Otherwise
Paul has spent most of the six chapters of his first letter to Timothy instructing him about teaching and teachers. In the ESV and NIV translation, the words teach and teaching are in every chapter with fourteen occurrences throughout the book. He starts the book warning about false teachers and puts a bookend on his instructions here in chapter six. Clearly, when he is talking about teaching otherwise, he is including all that he has written to Timothy. However, Paul also includes the words of Jesus specifically about doctrines (teachings) about godliness.
So what are Jesus’ teachings about godliness? How could I possibly sum up His teaching about godliness without writing a huge book? I think Jesus summed it up when He opened His Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. Many have written volumes and preached extensive sermons on the Beatitudes and I can’t come close to any of these but will attempt to tie them together with the basics of godliness.
·         Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
·         Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
·         Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
·         Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
·         Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
·         Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
·         Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
·         Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
·         Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
(Matt 5:3-11 KJV)
Poor in Spirit – Being a godly person begins with being poor in spirit. My own spirit was dead (that’s pretty poor) before I came to Jesus (Eph 2:5). There is no way for a person to be godly without first acknowledging this. Once a person has admitted this and has been reborn, God’s Spirit lives in us. My spirit is still poor and weak but when I yield it to His Spirit, then I can live a godly life. Even after becoming a Christian, I must admit how poor my spirit is, otherwise I become proud, obsessed with arguments, and all the other things Paul mentioned.

Mourn – We mourn what we lose, whether it is a loved one, a prized possession, an ability, or health. I’m quite sure that Jesus wasn’t talking about any of these things. When Jesus comes back, we will see some mourning that is in line with this beatitude.
Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him— even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! (Rev 1:7 NLT)
This isn’t mourning because Jesus died, it is mourning because He is alive. While nations will be mourning, it will be individuals (Zech 12:10-14) because each person will suddenly realize his or her own sinfulness and what it cost Jesus on the cross. Even though Christians know our sins are forgiven, we will understand the cost even more when we see Jesus coming on the clouds. Unbelievers will mourn because their sin will be exposed and they will have the double weight of realizing that they rejected Jesus.
It is best for anyone to mourn now at his sinful state and give it up. This is a mourning that leads to a loss instead of a result of a loss. This is why it leads to godliness.
Meek – This is a very misunderstood character trait. Proud and strong people see it as a detriment, thinking it means a lack of initiative or will. Others see it as positive showing mildness or a quiet nature, but still a negative in a society that honors assertiveness. To understand meekness it is imperative that we see what the Bible says. Two people are mentioned in the Bible for their meekness.
Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. (Num 12:3 KJV)
It may seem surprising that Moses was described as meek. He killed a man and fled to the desert. He confronted Pharaoh and led the people out of Egypt. He burned with anger and broke the first tablets of the Ten Commandments when Israel sinned. However, he was called meek when his brother and sister criticized him and wanted to be equal with him. Moses didn’t let them rattle him. He remained calm and let the Lord do His work. He interceded for Miriam when the Lord disciplined her. Moses’ meekness didn’t develop all at once; it took time for the Lord to transform him. If we want to be godly, we need the same transformation (2 Cor 3:18).
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
But the meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
(Ps 37:7, 11 RSV)
Moses demonstrated meekness when he let the Lord deal with his siblings. We often face situations where we see evil being carried out. We see it in our nation when godly people are punished for sticking to their convictions about abortion issues (Hobby Lobby vs. Obamacare’s mandate to provide morning after pills[1]) or same sex marriage (Arlene’s Flowers refusal to sell flowers for a same sex marriage vs. Washington State law[2]) to name just two examples. What is our response? Sometimes we have to defend ourselves as in these two cases. However at the heart of it is the inward attitude and peace to wait patiently for the Lord. Between Ps 37:7 and the promise of possessing the land in Ps 37:11, is the warning that our fretting only leads to evil and the reminder that in a little while evil people will be no more.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matt 11:29 KJV)
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. (Matt 21:5 KJV)
Jesus is the other person who is described as meek. He said it of Himself and it was prophesied about His first coming. When we are meek we can be like Jesus, a person with whom we can find rest. Paul described the quarreling, strife, constant friction, and controversy that surrounds people who are not godly. Think about that the next time drama occurs around you or your family. Who is being ungodly and who is being meek. Do people flock to the unruly person?
Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey demonstrated meekness in that He wasn’t going to go outside of God’s plan to get His way. He knew that He would have to suffer first and die on a cross before He would come again as conquering king. Meek people don’t rush things but rely on God’s timing.
Meekness leads to godliness when we acknowledge that God is in control. His plan and His glory are at stake if evil succeeds and that is much more important than our pride or rights. Sometimes, he uses our circumstances to win the battles through us and other times there is a bigger picture that we don’t understand. Meek people don’t obsess over controversies and arguments. They take godly stands and wait on the Lord.
Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness – If we are truly seeking God and have admitted our sinfulness, then we will want to live holy lives. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is the constant desire to be more and more like our Savior. Instead of succumbing to envy, strife, and other things, we will have an inner desire to stop and do what is right.
Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. (Isa 55:1-2 NASB)
That desire to do what is right can only be satisfied when we come to God. We can’t buy it; we can’t work for it. When we spend our lives looking for that satisfaction in other religions or the happiness that the world offers, we are not going to get the bread that satisfies. Jesus said He is the bread (John 6:35) and that the only way to come to God is through Him (John 14:6).
When we do we will be delighted in the abundance of life. This isn’t a promise of material blessings. Jesus said we will be satisfied with a righteous life. Satisfaction in life with our walk with the Lord will produce a life that is in direct opposition to the one Paul was warning us about when we don’t adhere to the doctrines of godliness. We will not envy those in the world who don’t know Jesus, instead we will be satisfied in knowing Him.
Mercy – When we show others kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, we are being merciful. From a legal standpoint, we may have every right to get even with the person. From the world’s perspective, we may have the right to make the person miserable who has offended us. When we view this from God’s perspective, He has every right to punish us for our sins. We have offended the maker of the universe, the One who made us. Yet He has mercy on us.
You may think that because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, He has to forgive us. Not so, our sins caused Jesus’ death. God has the right to punish us for Jesus’ death. But God is merciful. He has the power over us and has chosen to have mercy on those who accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness though His death. If we don’t show the same kind of mercy to others then God is not obliged to show His mercy to us (Matt 6:14-15). Mercy is tied to godliness it demonstrates God’s own character.
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Mic 6:8 KJV)
When we see Jesus, the exact representation of God we see mercy and that is what He has shown us. He wants us to love mercy because He is merciful and to be like Him. There is no mercy in ungodly living that produces slander and gossip.
Pure in Heart – What does it mean to be pure in heart? I hear people quoting Jer 17:9 that says the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. They also quote Matt 15:18-19 where Jesus says that all sorts of evil comes out of our hearts. They make it sound like there is no hope for a person to live a godly life until they die and go to heaven when they will see God. Of course there is truth in this. We won’t be perfect until we are done with these mortal bodies. However there is a progression of purifying our hearts that starts here on the earth and we can have hope of living godly lives now.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (Ezek 36:26 KJV)
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor 5:17 KJV)
God promised to give us a new heart because He knows we can’t see Him with the old heart still in us. When we receive Jesus Christ into our hearts, we become a new person. If this doesn’t happen, then there is no conversion and the person who claims to be a Christian without this conversion is lying. They may be hoping in Christ only to escape hell but have no desire to have a pure heart. These are the ones that Jesus says He doesn’t know when the judgment comes (Matt 25:12). He doesn’t know them because He has never been in their hearts.
A pure heart is the opposite of a corrupt mind. Our hearts are pure when Jesus lives in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:17). If Jesus is in my heart, then it is pure. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect, but with Him in my heart and by the Holy Spirit’s power, I’m putting the old sinful habits behind and developing a new godly life.
Peacemaker – I’ve always wondered what kind of a person a peacemaker is because there is a negative connotation to peacemakers. When talking of family dynamics, there is usually one person in the family that will do anything to try to restore peace. Unfortunately, doing anything is not always a good thing and causes the peacemaker (and the people he wants to help) significant dysfunctional behavior when conflicts need to be resolved instead of swept under the rug.
This isn’t what Jesus was talking about when He said peacemakers will be called children of God. A child of God brings to mind a person that is so close to God that he looks and acts as his Father does. I know that Jesus wasn’t talking only about Himself, but He is the ultimate peacemaker.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Rom 5:10 KJV)
Jesus was willing to do anything to bring peace between God and us. That “anything” was death on the cross. He gave His life so that we could be reconciled to our worst enemy. It sounds a lot like the peacemaker in a family that is willing to pay the consequence of taking the blame for an accident or misunderstanding so that there would be peace in the family. The difference is that in a family, there is no power imparted to the guilty parties to change when the blame is taken by the peacemaker. When we turn to Jesus for reconciliation with the Father, He gives us His Holy Spirit and we are cleansed from our sins. Another difference is that Jesus’ consequences were temporary. He has risen and He doesn’t go on in life as a dysfunctional person. In fact, when He returns, the difference will be obvious in the way unbelievers will no longer have the opportunity to have peace with God.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:20-21 ESV)
We are peacemakers when we appeal to others to be reconciled to God. While being a peacemaker among family members, other groups, and even nations is noble, it will not earn the title of being a child of God. The only way we can say that a peacemaker is a child of God is first becoming His child by being born again into His family by faith in Jesus Christ. Then, as His children, we extend the invitation to others.
Isn’t this a huge contrast to the ungodly teaching that produces conceit and dissentions?
Persecuted for Righteousness and Jesus’ Sake – Many people today are persecuted but it isn’t because of righteousness or for Jesus. It may be for ethnic, religious, appearances (over or under weight), or other behavior such as homosexuality. There is no excuse for persecution; however Jesus combined righteousness and His sake as the reasons to be blessed when persecuted.
Some people who live outwardly godly lives are persecuted, bullied, or scorned. They don’t fit the mold of the permissive society that is around them. However, many of them don’t know Jesus or they follow an imposter Jesus. Others are called Christians because they grew up with the label. Both groups may consider themselves blessed when persecuted but in reality they aren’t; eternally, they are worse off than atheists because they think they have the right path to God but will end up in the wrong place as Jesus said when He explained the judgment (Matt 25:12).
Persecution only produces godliness when it is a result of true faith. Peter talks about this faith that is proved genuine during persecutions and trials (1 Pet 1:3-7). It is from a new birth that results in hope based on Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. He then describes the personal relationship that born again Christians have with Jesus.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV)
Righteousness comes from Jesus living in us, not because of the things we do. We persevere through trials and persecution because we love Jesus and want to live godly lives for Him. When we are going through trials, we need to know the truth – godly doctrines. If we are basing our faith on bad teaching, we will most likely fall away when the trials come. Many have. We certainly look forward to His return in glory when all the suffering and persecution will end, however we continue because of His love for us and our love for Him even though we have never seen Him.
Godliness Not a Means of Gain
People who think that godliness is a means of gain are described as having corrupt minds. They are either immoral or dishonest. Sometimes they are both. What is going on in the mind of a person who attends church only to make business contacts? They try to appear outwardly godly so that they can influence others who are godly. Sometimes they don’t even appear all that godly. I remember an elder in a church who served until being elected to some political office then wasn’t seen again. I would say this one was simply dishonest.
The corrupt ones are the one ones that prey on people in their congregation for sexual reasons or perhaps misuse church funds for personal use. It’s interesting that God puts both sexual sin and greed in the same category and calls it idolatry (Col 3:5).
We often think of church leaders in these categories. They make the news when a cult is busted or a seemingly good church crumbles when the pastor is caught in adultery or embezzlement. We shouldn’t think that it is only leaders or salesmen who are in this category. Anyone who believes the prosperity gospel believes that godliness is a means of gain. They look at the beatitudes only as a way to please God so that they will in turn be blessed with material wealth. They skip the last two beatitudes about persecution because that could lead to loss of possessions and in their minds would demonstrate a lack of faith – the opposite of what Peter said was to prove their faith genuine.
They are destitute of the truth. Destitute means to be completely out of something. How unfortunate! They don’t have any truth at all.
Withdraw
The solution for a godly person is to withdraw from people who are exhibiting all these characteristics of ungodliness or teaching incorrect doctrines. That is quite harsh but is consistent with what God has said in the past. This doesn’t mean that we run off and become monks living away from practically all of society.
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (1 Cor 5:9-11 KJV)
The principle is quite clear that we should examine the belief and lifestyle of those we call friends, not facebook friends, but people we really know and admire. We should be careful about who teaches us from the Word of God. What does our church teach? If these people are showing the characteristics that Paul mentioned either in this study or in the passage above, we should withdraw from them. If the person is not a Christian, we can be friendly to them but they will not be our BFF (best friends forever). If our church is teaching unbiblical doctrines then we should seek one that sticks to the Bible.
Where do you stand in all this? Can you identify yourself with the characteristics of those who teach or believe in doctrines that are not in accord with the Beatitudes? Do you have a desire to live as described in the Beatitudes and are you progressing toward a godly life? If Jesus is in your heart, then you can.

[1] Bradford, Harry. "Hobby Lobby Lawsuit over Obamacare Morning After Pill Mandate Sparks Backlash [UPDATE]." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 Sept. 2012. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/21/hobby-lobby-obamacare-lawsuit-morning-after-pill_n_1903472.html.
[2] Riley, Kate. "Editorials / Opinion." The Seattle Times. N.p., 16 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. http://blogs.seattletimes.com/opinionnw/2013/04/16/eastern-washington-not-unanimous-on-same-sex-marriage-or-ag-fergusons-lawsuit/.