His roommate tripped over him in the middle of the night, that's how I heard about him. I was the Director of a Bible school that had student housing. As it is with dormitories, strangers are teamed as roommates and sometimes that fosters life long friendships, and other times 1 or both demand another roommate. This was just such an occasion.
It turned out the young man was sleeping on the floor, causing his roommate to trip over him in the middle of the night. He said he was called to the ministry of Elijah and John the Baptist, and because his ministry was so exalted by heaven, yet so difficult on earth, he could not partake in any of the luxuries of life - like a bed. So he chose the floor with no cover, to purposely 'chastise' the flesh...
He could not be convinced to sleep on the bed and fasted to the point of near starvation, but if we could have rounded up a locust or two I'm sure he would have gobbled them down - he was eventually handed over to a Christian based mental hospital for evaluation, released, and left the school for his 'ministry'.
Can function normally in life except for this one area...
Most emotionally ill Christians still have the ability to function in life, having the ability to put their illness in the background while they interact with others at work, school, and with their spouse and family. But like a computer program always running in the background no matter what program you are actually working in at the time, their obsession is always just below the surface, and all they need is an opening from someone...
As Paul stated in our text, I Timothy 6:1-6, these are people who in private withdraw from healthy relationships in favor of their own ideas, and pull away from other elements of spiritual health - they claim godliness yet don't have a spiritual closeness with their spouse, often don't go to church or any gathering of believers, and pick 'word battles' with people, acting as their own evangelist for their particular belief.
If not obsessed with a particular doctrine of the faith twisted to their off-balance view, it can be related to self-image or view in life. We once had a young lady visit our home who was a daughter of an internationally known pastor, and suddenly I saw my angel standing next to her, and asked what message he might have.
He said, "Since she was a child she believed the lie that she would die early, never marrying or having children, and the Father wants her to know it is not true and she needs to reject that lie in favor of the truth. His plans for her are a long and full life, and it is hers if she will believe it. Tell her that."
While she lingered in the living room as the others headed for the kitchen, the natural gathering place of college students I think, I told her what the angel had told me. She looked wide-eyed at me: "I've never told anyone that, but it is true, I've always believed no matter what people said, no matter what was prophesied over me, that I would die in my 20's. Thank you (as the tears flowed), I'm so relieved, I'm going to grow up and live a normal life!...(more tears)"
No on knew she harbored those thoughts, no one knew she had believed the lie. You'll recall last week I shared how Paul said these people hide behind a swirl of smoke, a form of pride, and in this case her status being a daughter of a famous pastor and all the activities of her life were the smoke screen, hiding her true emotional stronghold.
Envy, strife, 'railings',suspicions...
In verses 4 & 5 Paul continues describing how sensitive these emotionally ill Christians are to their particular subject, saying their condition leads to, in the King James Version, "...envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings, corrupt minds, destitute of the truth..." Let me put that into modern terms rather than English from the year 1609 when the King James Version was published:
Envy is 'phthonos', which is a feeling of displeasure one feels when hearing of the good fortune of others. Strife is 'eris' meaning hard feelings toward another, contention.
Railings is 'blasphemia', where we get the word 'blaspheme', meaning 'judging another wrongly by evil speaking'. Interestingly enough it comes from the Greek word 'blax/blapto' meaning 'stupid' or 'to injure' and 'pheme' which means 'speech'. It means (stupid and injurious) words toward someone or God - judgmental words abusive towards others, violating basic social etiquette and insistence on one's own way.
The Greek word translated in the KJV as 'evil surmisings' is 'hyponoiai' where we get 'hypnotize' and means 'suspicions', in this use it means 'malicious suspicions as to the honesty of those who disagree with them' - hypnotize means to focus so much on someone to be deceived and submitted to them. These people are both 'hypnotized' by their off-balance belief, and they want to 'hypnotize' others to that belief by arguing their point without any ability to focus on any other doctrine or thought, unable to let loose of it.
The next words to describe their behavior in the King James Version is 'perverse disputings, corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth. 'Perverse disputings' is 'diaparatribai', where we get 'diatribe', meaning emphatic and obstinate insistence in a long and drawn out quarreling over words.
The Greek word 'corrupt minds' is 'diaphtkeiro, 'dia' is emphatic, and the 'keiro' part means 'destroys'. The word 'corrupt' is incorrect in modern terms, for this word is strong, indicating someone's mind and/or emotions in this area are being destroyed. It is used in Luke 12:33 to describe the work of a moth eating garments and ruining them, and in II Cor 4:16 of the decaying human body. These are minds destroyed gradually, as the work of a moth eating a bite here, a bite there...little by little they have become off balanced, and then emotionally, mentally, socially, sick/ill.
The Greek word translated as 'destitute of the truth' is 'apostereo'. It is where we get 'apostate' and means 'to defraud, deprive of, to leave the truth. In this area they've left sound and healthy faith. It was used in Paul's time of those who misappropriate trust funds. It means in this context they deprive themselves of something they have a right to, or truth that was once theirs but they took it away from themselves by misuse.
This next part has many applications, as Paul concluded in the KJV saying: "Supposing that gain is godliness..." The word 'gain' is 'porismos' and means 'gainful trade', so it would be more accurate to translate it as: "Thinking godliness is a trade in itself and a means to wealth."
In modern terms we think of the 'prosperity gospel' and the marketing of the gospel, but in context Paul is talking about emotionally ill people - okay, that still fits many in the prosperity gospel group, lol - but in his use these people think their doctrine, their belief, their area of focus is the means by which they will gain closeness to God, or change the world, or some other gain of some sort - rather than submit to true godliness seen in a humble and transparent heart, they push what they believe instead.
And Paul concludes: "From such withdraw yourself, for godliness with contentment is great gain."
As Paul said at the start, these people, in this area, are proud, wrapping themselves in a swirl of apparent godliness while eagerly arguing with anyone about what they believe - from believing they aren't loved by God to a genuine doctrine of God taken to an off-balance extreme, the proud must humble themselves. There is only so far a truly godly person will be willing to walk with them before it becomes evident this person would rather lose the relationship with them, lose the job, lose their Christian friends, lose their church family, and so they must stop trying to help. The ill think if you will just believe what they do and follow them, there will be great gain in all areas of life, there will be peace between you and them at last - but they are blind, and willingly so. From such Paul says, withdraw yourself.
We pray for them - Paul's prayers of Ephesians 1:17-18 and 3:14-19 in particular - but the person with this mental stronghold, this emotional illness in this area, must recover themselves as no one can change their heart but them. Often, while the Lord works on their heart, He will let them also experience the consequences of their actions, meaning those who love them are forced to take actions they really don't want to take - ending a friendship, ending their employment, ending their church membership, even ending their marriage. But they have become islands in a sea of people by their own choice...Truly, true godliness with contentment is great gain...and great peace to the emotionally health. New subject next week, blessings,
John Fenn, www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org