Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain
1 Timothy 6:2B-12
Primary Truth Taught
Covetousness promises great gain but only godliness with contentment IS great gain.
The Ten Commandments begin with…you shall have no other gods before Me, God told Moses. In our fallen reasoning we have often explained this commandment as not having any gods ahead of or before as in order of first importance, before God. What this commandment states, however, is that we are not to have any gods before God literally, in God’s sight, in front of Him for Him to see.
This command is not saying that you can have God first and then a few lesser gods/idols in the mix. No other gods…period!
I open with this first commandment because this is one of the most powerful antidotes to covetousness. Loving God supremely and being deeply content in all Jesus Christ is for us is how we fight against the deadly sin of coveting.
Human Need Met
One of our greatest needs in the Christian life is to pursue godliness with contentment, craving it over the cravings for sinful desires we often have. In this passage, we’ll see the empty promises the world offers us. We’ll see that they never deliver what they promise. We’ll see that one will NEVER be content with the things of the world, ever. In fact, the sin of covetousness will bring us to destruction and eternal ruin.
Lord, because all wisdom and light are found in You, would you mercifully enlighten us by Your Holy Spirit and give us the true understanding of Your Word? Would You give us grace to receive it with fear and humility? Through Your Word teach us to place our trust only in Christ and to serve and honor Him as we should, ascribing glory to His name…Amen
Lord, this is your Word!
1 Timothy 6:2b–12 (ESV)
Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
There were those in Timothy’s day and in our day who teach and preach many things that are different than what Jesus taught. The bottom line here is this: if someone preaches or teaches something that does not line up with what Jesus taught us in the Bible then they are teaching a different doctrine.
Notice, a different doctrine does not agree with the sound or right words of Jesus Christ. What I want us to see here is that a different doctrine is not just another person’s view and that every person can believe what they want and every doctrine is as good as another. Here, Paul teaches that a different doctrine is one that does not line up with what Jesus taught and since Jesus’ doctrine or teaching is sound or true then the different doctrine cannot be true and sound because it is different.
I recently saw a short clip of an interview between Larry King and Joel Osteen. Larry asked the question, What if you are Jewish or Muslim and don’t accept Christ at all? Osteen answered, I’m very careful to say who would or wouldn’t go to heaven. Osteen went on to say that he spent time in India with his father and he saw their religion and their sincerity and I know they love God, he said. All this implying that they too go to heaven.
So I want to ask the question…because someone is a sincere Hindu, will they go to heaven? Osteen and other say yes. Hindus have not accepted Jesus Christ as Savior their religion is a works based religion. They think they are pleasing God by their strict rules and practices but will they go to heaven?
Now we need to look at what Jesus taught.
John 14:6 (ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Even though Mr. Osteen addresses people kindly and smiles a lot and is soft spoken he is teaching doctrine that does not line up with the truth that Jesus taught. If he is not telling people the truth then he is telling them untruths, lies, and made up stories. When you tell people a lie about their eternal state you are the watchman on the wall that does not sound the alarm and God will hold you accountable for the their blood.
Mr. Osteen is not godly he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He cannot be godly because his teaching is different than the teaching of Jesus.
The false teachers are out for financial gain…4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
Their followers are depraved and deprived…
Depraved in mind and deprived of truth. That is why false teachers have such a following today. They are telling people what they want to hear. They are playing toward their depraved mind that simply wants to feel better about their sin and ungodly lifestyle. So, they soak up depraved teaching like a sponge soaks up water.
It works so well because they are also deprived of truth. They don’t know the teachings of Jesus so they hear depraved lies and because their minds are depraved the lies sound like truth, they sound right. All the while the false teachers are getting rich.
The false teacher loves fame and riches more than he loves Christ. The gain they seek from teaching this different doctrine is really their god. They are those who covet money. They have sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Or perhaps today, they sold Jesus for a new jet plane or a BMW.
Paul uses these false teachers as an example of people who worship things, in this case riches and not Jesus. Their stuff is what they long for and crave, not Jesus Christ. Stuff is their god.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Teaching that produces great gain is the teaching that lines up with what Jesus taught. This teaching, if believed, produces godliness. We must not skip over a word Paul uses here…contentment.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain
I want to define what covetousness is, I realize the word is not used in the passage but it is exactly what Paul is addressing…
The word “covetousness” isn’t used here but the reality is what this text is all about. When verse 5b says that some are treating godliness as a means of gain, Paul responds in verse 6 that “There is great gain in godliness with contentment.” This gives us the key to the definition of covetousness. Covetousness is desiring something so much that you lose your contentment in God. “There is great gain in godliness with contentment.”
The opposite of covetousness is contentment in God. When contentment in God decreases, covetousness for gain increases. That’s why Paul says in Colossians 3:5 that covetousness is idolatry. “Put to death what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry.” It’s idolatry because the contentment that the heart should be getting from God it starts to get from something else.
So covetousness is desiring something so much that you lose your contentment in God. Or: losing your contentment in God so that you start to seek it elsewhere.
Here is another big difference between the false teachers and Timothy. They are not content. They are coveting other things. They think that God is not enough and that they need other things for happiness and contentment.
Lets look to Paul’s logic here…
7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
If when you died you could send your house or car or bank account to heaven and it would arrive a few days after you did, then things might be different. But that’s not how it works. You entered the world with nothing and you leave with nothing. So, really, if God supplies our needs while we’re alive, food and clothing, what else is there really?
Paul warns Timothy to be careful not to desire or crave riches because that internal turmoil and lusting/coveting money will lead you away from Jesus.
Jesus said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” In other words what it means to believe in Jesus is to experience him as the satisfaction of my soul’s thirst and my heart’s hunger. Faith is the experience of contentment in Jesus. The fight of faith is the fight to keep your heart contented in Christ—to really believe, and keep on believing, that he will meet every need and satisfy every longing.
Well covetousness, then, is exactly the opposite of faith. It’s the loss of contentment in Christ so that we start to crave other things to satisfy the longings of our heart. There’s no mistaking, then, that the battle against covetousness is a battle against unbelief and a battle for faith. Whenever we sense the slightest rise of covetousness in our hearts, we must turn on it and fight it with all our might with the weapons of faith.
The main weapon of faith is the Word of God. So when covetousness begins to raise its greedy head, what we must do is begin to preach the Word of God to ourselves. We need to hear what God says. We need to hear his warnings about what becomes of the covetous and how serious it is to covet. And we need to hear his promises that can give great contentment to the soul and overcome all covetous cravings.
Listen, beloved here’s God’s warning to you and to me…
Ecclesiastes 5:10 (ESV)
10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
If money, or fame, or stuff is what you long for and crave, God will make sure you will never find happiness in those things because they are idols of the heart.
Covetousness is vanity. It never produces what you think it will produce. It will never satisfy like we think it will…never.
The love of money or anything over Jesus Christ will not only never satisfy but it chokes out the truth. It chokes out our love for Christ.
Mark 4:7 (ESV)
7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.
Mark 4:18–19 (ESV)
18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
So, the fight for contentment in Jesus Christ is really a fight for faith.
Paul gives us the means by which we fight this battle…
Colossians 3:5 (ESV)
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Here’s the hard part, how do you kill a desire? How to you put to death covetousness?
You must always be ready in your thinking. Renewing the mind is where we do battle.
You pray like the psalmist did…
Psalm 119:37 (ESV)
37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
Then you preach to yourself…you remind yourself that this thing you are desiring so much will never satisfy. It is a scam from hell itself. Whatever it is that has captured your affections away from Christ as your treasure will never satisfy. In fact it is that craving for other things that is choking out the real God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Realize what is going on in your heart…contentment in Christ has been traded for a coveting desire for other things.
Here is a test…
Ask yourself, I only I had _______________ then I would be happy. If you put anything in the blank except Jesus then the reality is you will never find happiness in a lesser god but rather you will find destruction, literally eternal damnation.
senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
Preach to yourself…Godliness with contentment is Great Gain
Church, believe the sound doctrine of our Lord. Have no other gods before Him.
James 4:2–4 (ESV)
2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Take the words from Hebrews to heart…
Hebrews 13:5–6 (ESV)
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
Declaration of Grace
 John Piper