But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
1 Timothy 6:9
One of the keys to understanding this verse lays in the phrase many foolish and hurtful lusts . Foolish is simply referring to someone who does not use their mind and thus cannot comprehend. A foolish lust is one fallen into because it was not rationally thought through and/or the risks involved were not taken into account or heeded.
Hurtful means hurtful or noxious (harmful, poisonous, toxic, lethal, venomous etc) . On one hand we have lusts that are foolish and on the other hand we have lusts that are genuinely harmful, toxic and lethal. Obviously, to ever understand this verse, we must attempt to understand the word lusts .
The word translated lusts is the Greek word epithumia (1939) which means to desire greatly, have a strong desire, longing or lust for. This word can be used in a good or bad sense. We will concern ourselves with only the bad sense because that is how it is used in 1 Timothy 6.
This word many times is referring to the desire to satisfy carnal appetites. This word is used of the affections directed toward something in the sense of lusting, longing after or coveting. James tells us about epithumia in James 1:14 and 15:
14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
We cannot always stop the temptation, but we can keep ourselves from being drawn away by our lust and enticed (deleazo=to bait, entrap, entice or beguile). Once a person allows himself to be enticed, that is when lust is conceived just as a baby is conceived in the womb of a woman. Once lust has conceived, it brings forth (bears) sin, which when it is finished (apoteleo=to accomplish, achieve, reach full stature) brings forth (begets) death. Is it any wonder after James wrote these two verses that he says in verse 16:
Do not err [be deceived, misled or seduced], my beloved brethren.
We learn in 2 Peter 1:4 that corruption (moral and spiritual ruin, decay, destruction) is in the world and caused by lust (epithumia=carnal appetites and desires). In Jude 16-18 we see some very important aspects of this word lust as it relates to the last times in which we live:
16These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
17But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
Walking after (according to) their own lusts (epithumia) is used twice in these verses. The first is in reference to those who are spiritual murmurers and complainers because they walk according to their own lusts (instead of according to the written and revealed Word of God). The second usage is in reference to the mockers who are prevalent in the last time. These mockers (scoffers, imposters and false prophets) not only walk according to their own lusts, but according to their own UNGODLY lusts. Ungodly lusts represent the worst of the worst when it comes to epithumia. It is these ungodly lusts that when conceived and borne sin, when finished, beget death.
Hurtful lusts are those which are toxic, venomous and lethal. These ungodly lusts are the end result of a person deliberately making up their mind to do something absolutely contrary to the Word of God. In 1 Timothy 6, this would be in respect to the conscious will to become rich. This foolish and ungodly lust will turn out to be lethal because it will drown men in destruction and perdition.
Obviously we cannot get into the words destruction and perdition in this blog, but next time we will attempt to tie together these various words and concepts in verse 9 of 1 Timothy 6. Once understood, there will be absolutely no room for misunderstanding what Paul was communicating in this verse.
[quote]We cannot always stop the temptation, but we can keep ourselves from being drawn away by our lust and enticed.[/quote]
Growing up I would hear the comment, "We can't always keep the birds from flying over our heads but we can prevent them from nesting in it." I believe this to be true. Even Jesus was confronted by temptation but He also set the example of what we must do when we face it. He declared the Word of God and refused to yield to what appeared to be the comfortable or easy way which in reality was no way at all!