Last week I shared how Paul laid out some pretty reasonable and logical instructions; Christians who have unbelieving bosses need to show the proper honor and respect to those bosses, and Christians who have Christian bosses need to show all the more respect because they are also brethren.
Yet some reject that advice in favor of their own ideas – And thus begins the road to emotional illness, through the rejection of reasonable and logical beliefs. I’m not talking about those with genuine chemical imbalances in the brain which cause unusual behavior, I’m talking about Christians where physically everything functions normally, but they are as Paul outlined, emotionally or mentally ill in an area of life.
But don’t think Paul is talking about people who would openly teach it is wrong to be aware how we carry ourselves in public or how an employee should have a good attitude towards a boss – the people rejecting healthy words first do so privately, in their hearts, and then to others who they think may be open to what they believe.
They may find the anonymity of the Internet a safe place to find others with their same focus on the unhealthy. They may try to dominate a small group or make sure no matter the topic, insert their unhealthy view. They may write emails to strangers telling them about their belief, or how what those strangers believe is wrong. They may tell their spouse until either their spouse agrees or rejects their ideas as so laughable and sad it becomes off limits in the marriage to talk of it. But they won’t allow anyone close enough to influence them toward change. This subtle rejection of common sense and maintaining a good attitude within healthy relationships is the first step in one’s sliding towards emotional illness in an area of life.
Last week we only made it through the first 3 verses, where Paul said they reject ‘clean’ or ‘healthy’ teaching, and we pick it up from there, in I Timothy 6:4:
Verse 4: “He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words…”
The word ‘proud’ Paul uses is ‘tuphoo’, meaning ‘wrapped in smoke’. It is where we get typhoon, the word used in our time for hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean – that circular storm is what Paul used to describe these people, translated into English as ‘proud’.
They are wrapped in a swirling smoke screen, hiding the real person of who they are behind the smoke. A person who is ‘tuphoo’ is a swirl of words and self righteousness often leaving a path of confusion and destruction in their relationships with loved ones especially, while at the same time because of the wrapped in smoke nature they present to others, seem to be righteous and godly.
Paul said in the previous verse the gospel and words of the Lord Jesus Christ lead us to godliness. Godliness flows from Christian character rooted in love and manifest in a lifestyle of wholeness in every area. But these people are actually dysfunctional in relationships as Paul stated in his first 2 verses.
The nature of pride
Pride isn’t always the peacock strutting around asking all to pay attention to him, pride is very subtle and at its root is stubbornness, an insistence of sticking to one’s way, one’s own thoughts.
For instance, when talking of the origin of Satan, where the cherub named Lucifer rejected God, his sin of pride was manifest in stubbornness – insisting on his way. Ezekiel 28:16-17 tells us he was lifted up because of his authority and beauty, and internally he was filled with violence – there was a war in his heart and mind, a battle between God’s way versus what he wanted.
Only the proud can change themselves
If you do a study on ‘proud’ or ‘pride’ you’ll find that it is a sin that only the proud person can change – God cannot “make” them humble, He can’t remove pride from them by an act of His will. As we saw with Satan, pride is about an internal battle for recognition.
He can and will however, turn them over to face the consequences of their actions – closed off or greatly limited relationships, even loss of job and more…in the hopes that in suffering the consequences of their actions they will look at themselves and humble themselves before Him in admission of their error, thus regaining emotional and mental health.
Of all the sins, pride is the only one the Bible states God is actively ‘resists’. The word here is ‘antitasso’, from ‘anti’, ‘against’, and ‘tasso’, meaning ‘to arrange’. It was a military term to describe an army actively arranged in battle against another – and it is used of God arranging Himself against the proud Christian in a particular area of life – He loves them and blesses them in other areas in which they walk with Him – but in this one area, He is like a military commander arranged in battle against them.
Paul continues: “…knowing nothing, doting about questions and strifes of words…”
Paul’s whole teaching revolves around this line – what goes before leads up to it, what comes after directs the reader to the end result. We are at the middle point of the teeter totter in Paul’s teaching.
‘Knowing nothing’ is ‘epistamai’ meaning ‘to understand’ and ‘meden’ from ‘no one’ – these people know nothing as they should. The same phrase is used in Hebrews 11:8 to speak of Abraham going out to sacrifice Isaac ‘not knowing’ where he was going. Same concept, but in the negative here – they’ve started on a walk down this unhealthy path and they don’t know where they are going – they say they do, they may honestly think they do, but scripture says they don’t know, they don’t understand.
This is where Paul calls them sick
“…doting about questions and strifes of words…” The word ‘dote’ is ‘noseo’, ‘sick’, ‘ill’, used in the time to describe mental and/or emotional illness, specifically for someone having a morbid interest or craving for unhealthy things. Paul uses it is a spiritual and emotional craving for the unhealthy.
The term ‘strifes of words’ is literally ‘word battles’. They are so off balance they seek out ‘word battles’ with other people. The English phrase “strifes of words” is in Greek, ‘logomachia’. It comes from logos, ‘word’, and ‘machia’, meaning, strife, battles, working, and warring.
Think about the root ‘machia’ and the English word ‘machine’ – something that works using friction and hard work – this person works like a machine with questions and warring about words. These are people who actively search out others to have ‘word battles’ with, and he calls them sick for it.
Again, these can include people with ‘pet’ doctrines, but also those who withdraw for emotional reasons from healthy relationships and thoughts – the person obsessed with thoughts of depression perhaps, or thoughts of hurting themselves or others, or focused on a ‘move of God’ or leader. In the same way a ‘stalker’ might stalk a celebrity in singular focus, so too is this person singularly focused, and in this area, emotionally ill.
The summary of today is these people who have withdrawn from healthy relationships and healthy teaching, have dug in their heels insisting on going their own way. Outwardly they may appear godly, but in their heart a battle is raging, for their private lives don’t match their outward expression of godliness. They are wrapped in smoke, focusing on wars of words, even actively seeking others to pick a word fight with – all of it a smokescreen – they are spiritual islands, using word fights to distract a person from their real issues.
And God is actively resisting them – in this area – He is all for them, will bless them in work, in life, in protection and provision. But in this one area, He has set the battle against them in resistance. They need to give up the internal battle and humble themselves, submitting to God purely and with their whole heart…
I’ve run out of room for today – next week the conclusion, and what the healthy can do to help.
Until then, Blessings,