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Bible Search
The Love of Money is the Root of all Evil
Rightly Dividing the Word
The Love of Money is the
Root of All Evil
1 Timothy 6:3-10
 
Tonight we’ll bring to an end our “Rightly Dividing the Word” series, but I want you to know, that is always my goal.  I want to always rightly divide the Word. So the series my end, but the responsibility to do that, and my commitment to do that will continue. 
 
Tonight we’ll look at 1Timothy 6:3-10 and I’ll read those in just a moment, but we’ll start with verse 10 because that’s where we find the familiar statement that is so often misused. 
 
Verse 10
 
And it makes a good starting point because it is really the focal point of the text.  Everything else in verses 3 and leading up to that actually serves as an exposition of that statement.
 
Before we look to the text, just a little bit of perspective is needful. Paul is correcting issues in the church at Ephesus where Timothy is now laboring.  So when he brings up a subject, it is a subject that is being abused in the life of the church and needs attention. 
 
Obviously, looking at verses 3 to 10 we can conclude in the Ephesian church that there were some people who were suffering the terrible tragic results of loving money.
As you know, money is an important topic in the Bible. Jesus talked much about money. Sixteen of the 38 parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses (288 in all) deals directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.
 
But as Haddon Robinson reminds us, For every verse in the Bible that tells us the benefits of wealth, there are ten that tell us the danger of wealth. This is one that speaks to the dangers.
 
So, since the Holy Spirit brings it up here, I think it safe to conclude there was a problem in Ephesus, but the problem was not isolated just to that church, but has the potential to be a problem for any church in any age.
 
Underscoring that potential for problems are statistics that tell us the average person thinks about money about 50 percent of his or her waking time.
 
We think about how to get it, how to keep it, how to save it, how to spend it, how to find it, whatever it might be.  We're tremendously occupied with the matter of money.  And Jesus told us what we do with our money is actually a good indicator of the attitude of our heart’s affection.
 
In fact, Scripture has a surprisingly large amount of things to say about money. And I don’t want to spend our time covering all of that.  But we know it’s not wrong to have money. 
 
We also know money is not to consume us and be spent only on ourselves.  We understand God blesses us so we can be a blessing.  We know we aren’t to show favoritism in the church to those who are rich.  We aren’t to brag about our riches or take pride in them.  We understand what we have is only what God has allowed us to have and we’re responsible for how we use it.    
 
But the overarching umbrella principle under which all the other teachings operate is the one here in verse 10.  We are not to love money because the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
 
There are a couple of ways this verse gets misquoted or misused.  First some leave off the first phrase and say, “Money is the root of all evil.”  No, money is not inherently evil.  It is the love of money that causes the problem. 
 
The other thing that is misunderstood is that the love of money is the root of all evil.  I don’t think what Paul is saying is that every sin in the world roots back to evil.  Properly understood, he is telling us that all kinds of evil stem from loving money. 
 
It's the same idea, on the positive side, as saying “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” And that's the sum of all the commandments.  If you just love God as you are supposed to, all the other commandments become incidental.  They won’t be an issue. 
 
Same idea here, if you don't love money, if you're not attached to money with strong affection, then those other attitudes are going to take care of themselves. You're not going to cling to it.
You're not going to cater to the people who have it. You're not going to find your pride and security in it. You're not going to seek it first. And you're not going to hoard it.
 
So the overarching principle for the life of a believer related to his money is not to love it. The term “love of money” is one word in the Greek and it translates literally as “affection for silver”.  At issue is our affection. And basically, the sin here is the sin of greed.
 
Notice, he also says it is the root of all kinds of evil.  I take that to mean it is the source of all kinds of evil.  If we follow the metaphor to its logical conclusion, eventually we have a tree with branches and fruit.  So with this metaphorical tree, the root is the love of money and it produces all kinds of evil.
 
To make that simple, he is telling us that if you begin with the love of money, there are some results of that, some consequences that are a natural and logical part of the process.  Start with the love of money and you produce all kinds of evil. In fact, I think it probable that there is no kind of evil that could be imagined which could not be the result of loving money. For the love of money people have committed every conceivable sin against God and man.
 
People who love money in order to get money will take bribes. They will distort justice. They will manipulate. They will take advantage of the poor. They will lie. They will cheat. They will extort. They will deceive, steal, rob. They will abuse. They will commit every imaginable sin...fornication, adultery, if they think it will gain them money.
They will do bodily harm. They will kill for money. They will teach false doctrine for money. Every imaginable category of sin can flow out of loving money because if you are consumed with the love of money then that's the driving force of your life, you will do whatever it takes to get that.
 
There's no sin excluded from the list of what people might do for the love of money. So, if you can just deal with the affection, you've really won the battle.
 
And that really brings to a very sharp focus the reason Paul addresses this issue to Timothy and the church where he serves.  If you were listening carefully, you noticed the comments are included in a discussion about false teachers. 
 
So apparently, the primary problems with loving money at Ephesus had to do with spiritual and religious leaders who were teaching bad theology regarding money or were getting rich because of their position.
 
It has been said that there are three things which will get a preacher, wealth, wine or women. Paul's letter to Timothy is to warn him about the pitfalls of wealth, but it also points to one of the common traits that seems to characterize many false teachers: the inordinate focus upon wealth, which simply put, is greed. 
 
So the greater discussion in these verses centers of these false teachers who love money and it is leading to all kinds of sin in the life of God’s people.
 
 
 
So Paul begins by addressing the fact that
 
1. False Teachers Encourage Deceit
 
verses 1-3
 
Notice he says singles out those who teach “otherwise”.  The word he uses literally means, different or opposite as opposed to the truth He has taught.  Here we have those whose teaching runs contrary to the express written word of God, to God's revelation of Himself to us.
 
He identifies three things in particular that mark false teaching. First,  
 
-     False teachings does not consent to wholesome words
 
There teachings are in contradiction to that which is wholesome and healthy, their teachings lead to ruin instead of life. Why?
 
Because false teaching is usually based upon a half-truth or an incomplete truth, therefore their words cannot be sound. False teachers take scripture out of context and do what Paul describes to Timothy in
 
2 Timothy 4: 3
 
False teachings come in many different shapes and sizes. They may be false teachings about the person of Christ.   Or it could be a false understanding about the nature of salvation, it might be the belief that baptism is essential to salvation or a myriad of other things, but all of it is false doctrine. 
 
Now apparently the false doctrine these people were teaching at Ephesus was that if you came to Jesus, He would make you rich. Some things never change, do they? 
 
But Paul is instructing Timothy and the church leaders to deal with it or the results would be disastrous.  Just like Barney Fife said, “You’ve got to nip it in the bud.”
 
Why?  It is because if false teaching goes unchecked, it will result in division within the church and destruction in lives. Can you imagine if someone who had the respect of many of the members of the church were to come in and start teaching a health and wealth gospel?  There are some people who, because of the personality of the false teacher, or because of their personal need at the time of the teaching would be tempted to believe it.
 
In fact, there are almost always those who will follow after false teaching, because in almost any church there are always some people who do not know Jesus or they do not know the Bible or they don’t know to evaluate and discern the truth, and thus are susceptible to false teaching.
 
So the false teachers have embraced a doctrine that runs contrary to and did not agree with the teachings of Scripture.
 
-     Second, false teachings do not agree with the words of Jesus
 
Verse 3b
 
Not only were the words unwholesome or unsound, they do not agree with the teaching of Jesus.  False teachers will often use the words of Jesus, but take them out of context, twist them, distort them, and spin them to fit their personal agenda.
 
You've got to remember that in the early church, they had the Old Testament and the words of Jesus, written down by the apostles, but they did not have the canon or complete scripture as we have. We have the scripture. We use the word canon to describe the completed scripture, that to which nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away.
 
One of the ways we can identify false teachers is by comparing what they say to what the scripture says. If what they say does not line up with scripture, then their teaching is false.
 
-     Third, false teachings do not lead to godliness
 
What false teachers teach does lead people to be like Christ.  It doesn’t result in a life that honors God or seeks to do His will.  Instead, they lead to sin.  They are self-centered and greedy. 
 
In fact, mark it down, false teaching almost always leads to the pursuit of pleasures in this life, rather than the treasures of the life to come.
It tells you how to have your best life now.  It talks about how to e4scape sickness and accumulate wealth and receiving monetary blessings. 
 
False teaching always leads people away from God and towards someone or something else.
And I promise you, because of our fallen sinful state, if given a choice between the real God and one made by men, fallen sinful man, on their own accord will always choose the one made by men.  For some reason, a false God and what he promises always looks and sounds more attractive than what the real thing. 
 
That’s why you don’t hear false teachers talking about sin and suffering and poverty and being excluded and persecution.  It doesn’t help the offering and people don’t want to hear it.  So they’ll just stay positive and avoid that side of Scripture. 
 
But it is a lie.  It is unsound doctrine that doesn’t agree with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ  and it doesn’t lead to godliness. 
 
Then notice the second thing Paul says about false teachers: 
 
2. False Teachers Enjoy Division
 
Verses 4-5
 
Paul says these false teachers are proud, knowing nothing.  Paul minces no words when it comes to those who pervert the words of Jesus and the teachings of God.  They are conceited and ignorant.  They know nothing and they are too proud to admit it or learn anything.  This is the know-it-all who has an unteachable spirit, and yet he struts around like an authority on the things of God. 
 
In fact, Paul says he is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words.  I know people like that!  This verse describes them to a tee!
They’re not happy unless they are causing an argument.  They seem to delight in bickering and confusion.  It is an obsession.   
 
Paul then identifies five results of their teaching, all of which result in damage being done to the fellowship and unity of the church.
 
-     Envy
 
Inward discontent arising from the desire to have what belongs to another
 
-     Strife
 
Strife is discord and anxiousness.  It is interesting to note that the Greek word here is ERIS - which, as a proper name, was the name of a Greek Goddess who was the personification of strife.
 
According to Greek Mythology, she gave birth to work, forgetfulness, hunger, pain, battles, fights, murders, killings, quarrels, lies, disputes, lawlessness and ruin. It was she who, according to Homer, started the Trojan war. This is the word Paul uses to describe the result of false teaching.
 
-     reviling
 
Some translations use “abusive language”.  Literally the word is blasphemies.  In this case, not blaspheming God, but one another. False teachers get people talking about each other, gossiping, spreading tales, telling lies.
 
 
 
-     evil suspicions
 
Calling one another's motives into question.
 
-     useless wrangling
 
I take that to mean there is this constant state of friction that accomplishes nothing.  It points no one toward God.  It results in no salvations.  No one is built up or edified by it. 
 
And Pual ways this is what it’s like in the company of false teachers.  He then describes them with three very vivid personality traits.
 
They have
 
-     corrupt minds
 
That is actually the description of a mind that has never been saved, an unregenerate mind.  They think upon the baser things, the things of the flesh, rather than upon the things of the Spirit.
 
-     Destitute of the truth
 
They can’t teach the truth because they don’t know the truth.  They have been robbed of the truth by believing the lies they teach.  Their own teaching has robbed them of the truth. They see people responding to their teaching and they begin to believe their own lies.
 
What a reminder that is that a large crowd does not a church make. Just because people believe it does not mean it is the truth.
History is littered with the corpses of those who serve as vivid examples to all of us that false teachers eventually are robbed of the truth by their own lies.
 
Third, they have
 
-     a perverted sense of godliness
 
Their motivation is money and the false promises it holds.
 
So false teachers embrace deadly doctrine, they encourage damaging deception and finally,
 
3. False Teachers Embrace Deception
 
Finally, in verses 5-10, Paul identifies four primary areas that are hard for a false teacher to resist. 
 
-     Material gain
 
Verses 5b-6
 
They are deceived into believing that God will make them materially rich, when in reality godliness itself is the treasure, not money. The deception is their perverted sense of godliness - They believe that godliness is a means of financial gain. They are driven by their devotion to greed, not to Jesus. These are the health and wealth preachers of our day who tell us that since we are children of the King we should live like princes, and that anyone living like a pauper is simply not right with God. What a bunch of baloney.
 
-     Earthly focus
 
Verses 6-8
 
They are deceived into making Earth their home instead of in Heaven. They don’t have enough spirituality to realize that Godliness itself is the treasure.  That’s where we find peace, joy, fulfillment. That’s why we are told Godliness with contentment is great gain.
 
You can't take it with you. They do not understand the temporality of life, they are deceived into believing this earth is reality, when it is eternity that is reality (Matthew 5:19-21).
 
For the Christian, God plus the basic necessities should be sufficient. This is not a prohibition against being wealthy, but a word of caution to those whose aim and desire is wealth. The rich young ruler's problem was not that he had wealth, but that wealth had him.
 
Third, they are deceived by believing you can get
 
-     Happiness from wealth
 
Back in September of 1996, the Chicago Tribune ran the story of Buddy Post as, “living proof that money can't buy happiness.”
 
In 1988, he won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery. Since then, he was convicted of assault, his sixth wife left him, his brother was convicted of trying to kill him, and his landlady successfully sued him for one-third of the jackpot.
 
“Money didn't change me,” insists Post, a 58-year-old former carnival worker and cook. “It changed people around me that I knew, that I thought cared a little bit about me. But they only cared about the money.”
 
Last time anyone checked, Post was trying to auction off seventeen future payments, valued at nearly $5 million, in order to pay off taxes, legal fees, and a number of failed business ventures. He planned to spend his life as an ex-winner pursuing lawsuits he has filed against police, judges, and lawyers who he says conspired to take his money. “I'm just going to stay at home and mind my p's and q's,” he said. “Money draws flies.”
 
Those whose desire is after money honestly believe that money will bring them happiness. But it will not.
 
Christina Onassis, the heiress of the Onassis fortune once said, “Happiness is not based on money. And the best proof of that is our family.”
 
-     False sense of ownership
 
Verse 9
 
They are deceived as to who owns who.  In fact, verse 9 says they fall into a snare.  It’s a trap.  It’s that thing that snaps on your neck when you least expect it.  It’s that thing that clamps around your leg and refuses to let you escape.  In its purest sense, a trap is a device that brings death, and it is often with an unexpected sense of suddenness.
 
 
In I Timothy 3:7 the word is used to describe the snare or trap of the devil. The devil knows how to bait the trap, he knows how to make it attractive, and this is a warning to those who would carelessly and casually wander off after the pursuit of money. It will suddenly and without warning trap you and it will own you, instead of you owning it.
 
David Neff, in one of his writings said
 
“Jesus taught that money is one of the spiritual powers we fight, not simply green paper or copper-nickel sandwiches. Money is not some thing; it is someone. And as someone, it tricks us into thinking we master it, when inevitably it masters us.”
 
Haddon Robinson, who was for years the President of Denver Seminary said
 
“Money has a way of binding us to what is physical and temporal, and blinding us to what is spiritual and eternal. It's a bit like the fly and the flypaper. The fly lands on the flypaper and says, “My flypaper.” When the flypaper says, “My fly,” the fly is dead. It is one thing to have money, another for money to have you. When it does, it will kill you.”
 
One final thing and that is
 
4. False Teachers End in Destruction
 
Verse 9
 
First he says,
 
-     In death, it brings destruction
When the goal of our life, when our ambition in life is to become rich, when we become seduced by the god of gold, we begin a journey that takes us down the pathway to destruction and ruin.
 
Look at what verse 9 says, it says they fall into temptation. The word fall is in the present tense which indicates a state of continual falling - they are drowned in temptation - This means the tempting of a person to do wrong, to go against God, to act in a manner inconsistent with Biblical teaching.
 
The person whose desire is toward money will constantly be assaulted with the temptation to do wrong in order to get it and keep it.
 
Money is like a drug, it is alluring and enticing, and it is addictive. The advertisers of our day paint it out to be the cure all, and you don't have to be rich to be stricken with this gold fever, with this temptation for riches.
 
It is a consuming passion that is never satisfied. How much is enough? The answer is that when money is your God, you never get enough.
 
Mother Teresa said, “Once the longing for money comes, the longing also comes for what money can give: superfluities, nice rooms, luxuries at table, more clothes, fans and so on. Our needs will increase, for one thing brings another, and the result will be endless dissatisfaction. This is how it comes. “
 
The word destruction - here in verse nine is the word usually used to describe the eternal ruin of the soul ( Hebrews 19:39, Revelation 17:8 translated “perdition”).
Second,
 
-     In life it brings them to sorrow
 
Look at verse 10
 
If you had to pick a verse that summed up the scriptural teaching on the love of money, it would be this one. An inordinate desire for money leads to all kinds of evil. It is the tap root that branches out into all kinds of problems.
 
The problem with drugs, with prostitution, with most of the crime in our country, it can all be traced back to the love of money. Someone wants money and is willing to do anything to get it, willing to sell themselves, willing to see others die, willing to do unthinkable things just for money.
 
A survey entitled, The Day American Told the Truth, asked people what they would be willing to do for 10 million dollars. One out of four people, that's 25 percent said they would abandon their entire family, 23 percent said they would leave their spouse, and three percent of those surveyed said they would put their children up for adoption.
 
Paul says that some, by longing for wealth, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.  The word for greediness, means to stretch one's self out in order to touch or grasp something, to reach after or desire, even when it puts their very life in danger.
 
The word for sorrow means “consuming grief.” it is a sorrow, a deep and abiding sorrow, a distress that knows no reconciliation.
Now, you may be asking, so how does this apply to me?  After all, I’m not a false teacher and I'm certainly not rich.  Well, first of all, we are responsible for how we manage your faith and put it on display, so in some regards, you are a teacher to those who know you and observe your life. 
 
And second, in regard to not being rich, in comparison to the majority pf the world, Americans are the wealthiest. William Boice of Phoenix, Arizona, writing in The Christian Standard, asks a piercing question.
 
    “Dear Lord, I have been re-reading the record of the Rich Young Ruler and his obviously wrong choice. But it has set me thinking. No matter how much wealth he had, he could not ride in a car, have any surgery, turn on a light, buy penicillin, hear a pipe organ, watch TV, wash dishes in running water, type a letter, mow a lawn, fly in an airplane, sleep on an innerspring mattress, or talk on the phone. If he was rich, then what am I?”
 
Give yourself a spiritual check up - ask the tough questions.  “What is the motivation for my life? Am I making money to support my ministry or to feed my personal desires?”
 
Tony Campolo says, “Nothing is more controversial than to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Nothing is more dangerous than to live out the will of God in today's contemporary world. It changes your whole monetary lifestyle. ... Let me put it quite simply: If Jesus has $40,000 and knew about the kids who are suffering and dying in Haiti, what kind of car would he buy?”
 
What is the desire of your heart? Is money a tool you use to expand God's Kingdom, or is it a means of extending your own empire?
 
John MacArthur in his excellent commentary on the book of I Timothy keys in on verse 8 and offers five practical principles that will help keep life free from the desire for more material possessions.
 
1. Believers must consciously realize that the Lord owns everything they have. They are merely stewards of their possessions. Purchases should be evaluated as to how they would advance the Kingdom, or make one's ministry more effective.
 
2. Believers must cultivate a thankful heart. Since God owes them nothing, anything they receive from Him should make them thankful.
 
3. Believers must learn to distinguish wants from needs. That principle, if followed, would greatly increase the amount of money available for the Lord's work.
 
4. Believers must discipline themselves to spend less than they make. The ease of buying things on credit has become a severe temptation. As a result, many people are so hopelessly mired in debt that they will never get out.
 
5. Believers must give sacrificially to the Lord. Laying up treasure in heaven for the work of the kingdom should be their highest joy and source of greatest reward.
 
Let’s pray.
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