Discontent: A Device of the Devil
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to Paul's first letter to Timothy, chapter 6. We are going to continue our thinking on the intricate devices of the Devil. We have been bringing you messages on the Devil, and we want to continue our discussion along that line, remembering that the Devil is cunning, that the Devil is sly, that the Devil slips up on the blind side of us so that we need to be consistently warned against him.

The Apostle Paul took the trouble to warn us in the Word of God against the Devil by reminding us that we must not be ignorant of his devices. We have been thinking together about the devices which the Devil uses to bring about the downfall of the children of God. We have been thinking about doubt, about discouragement, and about delusion. Now, we want to think about the device of the Devil that is very seldom recognized as coming from him, but which can be a very serious thing. We are going to think about the device of discontent, and I would like for us to think about it from the standpoint of its source, its seriousness, and the solution for it. As I have told you, for every device which the Devil uses, God has that which will dissolve it.

Notice, then, in I Timothy, chapter 6:

I Timothy 6:

1Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
2And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
3If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9But 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.
10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

We will stop our reading there and call your attention particularly to the 6th verse:

I Timothy 6:

6But godliness with contentment is great gain.

It would follow that if godliness with contentment is great gain, godliness without contentment is a great loss.

This passage of scripture, “…Godliness with contentment is great gain,” emphasizes the importance of every child of God's being contented. Yet I think you will agree with me that the vast majority of Christians are a discontented lot. All that you need to do is to be with them for any length of time and engage them in conversation to find out how utterly miserable they are, having lost the joy of their salvation and not being glad at all for the privilege of being godly. They take the attitude that godliness opposes them in everything that they want to do and want to be. They are thoroughly miserable in most instances.

Source Of Discontent

I think that if we are able to determine the source of this discontent, we will be the better able to handle it. Of course, because we are speaking on the devices of the Devil, it would follow without my emphasizing it overmuch that the Devil is responsible for the discontent that lies in the hearts of individuals.

I would like for you to turn with me to the epistle of James, chapter 1, as I remind you of something that you might not have thought about before, and that is that the Devil would be helpless if it were not for the way we are made. The Devil could not do anything with us, and against us, if it were not for the way we are made. He would be helpless indeed.

James 1:

13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
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.

Will you notice in the 14th verse:

James 1:

14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

Notice the word lust . The word lust in our everyday language has come to have the connotation of something evil. When we speak about lust, we usually have in mind something evil. But when the word is used in the Word of God, it is used, unless the context indicates otherwise, as simply a desire. If the context indicates it, it may be a good desire, or if the context indicates it, it may be a bad desire. If there is nothing in the context that indicates one way or another, it is simply a desire—a normal desire which resides within your human breast, and which can be used for good or can be used for bad.

Desires Respond To Temptation

If God did not make us creatures of desires, the Devil would be absolutely helpless. You have never heard of the Devil's tempting a bench to do anything, have you? You have never heard of the Devil's tempting a stone to do anything. From time to time I meet people who say, “The Devil never bothers me. The Devil never tempts me.” That person must be dead, dead, dead, if the Devil never bothers him, if the Devil never tempts him. As long as you are alive, and as long as you have any desire in your breast, the Devil is going to test you.

I would like for you to keep in mind that the source of discontent lies in the fact that the Devil entices the desires that lie within your own heart, and when those desires respond to the temptation of the Devil, discontent is the net result.

There are at least three things which the Bible warns us against in relation to this matter of discontent—three reasons the Devil does so very well in making us discontented. I would like for you to notice with me some examples of those three things.

Disposition Responsible For Discontent

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Psalms, and notice Psalm 77. This Psalm was written by a man by the name of Asaph, who was discontented, miserable, and unhappy. No matter what he did to try to pull himself out of the doldrums in which he found himself, he was an utter failure. Will you notice Psalm 77, verse 1:

Psalm 77:

1I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.
2In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.
3I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

He said that in the midst of his trouble—great as it was, serious as it was—he could find no comfort at all. It was not because the comfort was not there, but because he refused to accept the comfort that was provided. His disposition was responsible for his discontent. A great part of the discontent that resides in the hearts of Christians can be traced to their dispositions. They are of a disposition that refuses to look on the bright side of life. They are of a disposition that refuses to look at what God has said in His Word concerning the comfort of those who are discontented.

The Psalmist never did get the victory over this discontent until he recognized that. Notice down in the 10th verse, after he had talked about how God had forgotten him, how God did not love him, and how God did not care for him, he said, “I came to the place when I said:

Psalm 77:

10And I said, This is my infirmity:…

“This is my weakness.” Then in an entirely different tone of voice and an entirely different attitude of heart, he said:

Psalm 77:

10…but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
11I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
12I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.
13Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?

You feel as if you have come out of a tunnel into bright daylight by the time you get to this portion of the Psalm. If you will notice in this 7th verse, for example, he said:

Psalm 77:

7Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?
8Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?
9Hath God forgotten to be gracious?…

You cannot get more discouraged than that, can you? God does not love you any more. God has forgotten you. God does not know what mercy is. But when Asaph recognized his discontent as related to his disposition and said, “By the grace of God, I will turn my eyes on God and on the works of God,” he began to talk about how wonderful God is.

Psalm 77:

13…who is so great a God as our God?
14Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.
15Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people,…

There is as much difference between the last half of this Psalm and the first half as there is between daylight and dark.

Beloved, the Devil knows when you are of a disposition to be discouraged. If you have had very much experience with him, you know that when your disposition is discouraging, that is the time he really lays it on. That is the time he really makes it hard on you. He wants you to be as discontented as you possibly can be. If you are inclined to be blue tomorrow, the Devil will slip up alongside you and say, “Did you notice the way Mary looked at you?” And you will stop and think, “Yes, I know. I never did think she liked me.”

Then you walk down the street a little bit farther, wherever you happen to be, and the old Devil will say, “Why did John snub you like that? What did you do to him?” And then you will say to yourself, “I know it. He never did like me. He always just put up a front. He never did like me.”

The first thing you know, you will be so discontented and miserable that there won't be anything that looks good to you or smells good to you. The Devil will have you in his grasp. He will have you exactly where he wants you.

There is only one way to gain victory over the Devil in this respect. That is to recognize that your disposition is to look on the dark side of life, and by the grace of God, look on the bright side. Instead of wondering why Mary looked at you that way, and why John spoke to you that way, look at all the good there is about you in everything.

Associations Create Discontent

Turn with me now to the book of Numbers, chapter 11. In this chapter, we have another illustration of another sort of discontent for Christians. We are going to begin reading with the 4th verse. So that we will not jump into cold water that may be too shocking to us, let me remind you that the children of Israel were told by God to leave the land of Egypt, but they did not do entirely what God said. They had made friends while they were in Egypt. They had intermarried with the Egyptians. They had acquired servants while they were there, even though they were slaves. When they were ready to leave the land of Egypt, instead of the Israelites leaving (the Israelites who had known God and were used to the ways of God), a group of people left which are referred to as the mixed multitude. They were not pure Israelites. They were a mixed multitude, and in the 4th verse of this 11th chapter we read:

Numbers 11:

4And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
5We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:
6But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
7And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium.
8And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of Fresh oil.
9And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.

If you are familiar with the history of the nation of Israel, you are familiar with what this passage of Scripture is talking about. When the Israelites left Egypt, God made provisions for them in the wilderness through manna. The manna was a heavenly food. There was not anything on earth to be compared to it. God compressed into a little wafer all the food that the Israelites needed during their wilderness journey. It had all the vitamins in it. Everything they needed, God compressed into that little wafer of manna. God arranged it so that it would meet their needs during all of their wilderness journey. If you study very carefully the story of the Israelites, you will find that they themselves would have been happy with that for forty years.

But there was a mixed multitude among them. You will notice who it was that fell a-lusting. It was not the Israelites to begin with. It was the mixed multitude—the mixed multitude who were not really Israelites, who were not really yielded to God. They began to talk about the meat they had back yonder in Egypt, and how much better the leeks and the garlic and the onions were than the wafers of manna that God had provided.

You will notice that as soon as the mixed multitude had fallen a-lusting, in the last part of the 4th verse, the children of Israel also wept again and said, “Who shall give us flesh to eat?”

Down in the 6th verse, the children of Israel, still griping and discontented, said:

Numbers 11:

6But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.

These Israelites remind me of some modern day Christians who are enjoying the blessings of God, and who have had much, much more since they came to know the Lord than they ever had before they trusted Christ. But they are discontented with the blessings of God, and say that there is not anything to do when you are a Christian. You cannot do anything at all. If you are a Christian, you cannot do this, and you cannot do that, and this is a miserable old life to live. The old Devil has got them discontented, and he has won a victory.

Do you know where the discontent came from? The people they had associated with—a division among the people of God. Let me tell you something: the Devil is wise. He does not like for me to tell you that, but he is. The Devil will see to it that you are thrown in with people who have no spiritual insight. He will see to it that you are thrown in with people who do not love the Lord. He will see to it that you are thrown in with people who do not understand the Word of God. They will begin to say things in your hearing that the Devil will magnify, and the first thing you know, you will be the most discontented Christian in the world because you are trying to look at the things of God through the eyes of a person who does not even know God. There is nobody in all the world so miserable as a person who is trying to be good, but who has never been born again. There is nobody in all the world so miserable as a person who is trying to live like a Christian while he is still a sinner. It is the most miserable experience in the world.

Read the 7th chapter of the book of Romans, and there again is Paul's experience. You will realize why it is that so many people say, “I do not know why you want to be a Christian. I tried and failed.” That is why they do not want to be. They never were one. If they had been born again, and the Holy Spirit had taken control of their lives, then they would have been looking at things from the standpoint of a new creation. Their whole aspect and outlook would have been different.

Let me suggest to you that if you want to be content and godly at the same time, watch the company you keep. You cannot run with a mixed multitude and be happy in the Lord. You cannot run with a mixed multitude and be contented to be godly.

Fear Of Being Different

Turn with me, for the third example I want to leave with you, to the first book of Samuel, chapter 8. This chapter tells us the first real step in the downfall of the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel had been brought into being, into existence, by God, and God said to the nation of Israel, “I am your King. I am going to meet your needs. I am going to bless you. I am going to take care of you. I am going to fight your enemies. I am going to do everything for you that needs to be done. The only person to whom you will owe any allegiance is Me.”

The Israelites got tired of that arrangement. They began to beg for a king. Samuel, in this chapter, reasons with them and remonstrates with them and says, “You do not know what you are asking. If you have a king, he is going to take your children and put them as slaves in his palace. He is going to tax you so that you won't even be able to exist until the taxes are paid. You do not want a king. You really don't.” “Oh,” they said, “we do.” So in the 19th verse, will you notice:

I Samuel 8:

19Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

Watch this:

I Samuel 8:

20That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
21And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.
22And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.

It was the first step in the downfall of the nation of Israel when they said, “God, we do not want what You can give us. We want to be like everybody else. We want a king.”

The Israelites traveled about, and foreigners would say to them, “Well, who is your king?” First they said, “Well, you know, we do not have a king. God is our king.” Everybody laughed at them. It is so hard to be laughed at, isn't it?

The next time they traveled about, they did not say that quite so quickly, because they did not want to be laughed at. By and by the word began to spread around, and they said, “You know, it is just unbearable. I just hate for us to go traveling and have people say, ‘Who is your king?' and we say, ‘We do not have a king.' That is just terrible. Everybody has a king. We ought to have a king.”

Samuel said, “You do not need a king. God does everything that a king could do for you and more. He doesn't charge you for it, either.” “That is all right. It does not matter what it costs. We are not going to be different. We are not going to have people laughing at us. We want a king!”

When the Devil got the Israelites to want to be like others with a wicked device, he had won the victory over them

Listen to me, for everyone needs to heed this. When the Devil gets us to the place where we have got to be like everybody else, he has won a tremendous victory. He has snared us, and he has got exactly what he wants because the greatest detriment to a clear Christian testimony is the desire to be like everybody else, the fear of being different.

I do not mean that you need to go around and brag about how different you are. I do not mean that you need to go around and point out to everybody, “I am different from you.” It is not that at all. I mean that by the grace of God you should be so willing to live your testimony that they will come to you and say, “Why are you as you are? Why are you the way you are?” Instead of saying, “Well, I am really no different from you. I am just like you—oh, really I am,” you should say, “Yes, I can tell you why I am different. I am different for a number of reasons. One of them is that I know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. Do you know Him? Another reason is that the Bible is the plainest guide book there is in the world, and I can see from the Word of God certain things that I ought to do and I ought not to do. Do you read your Bible?”

You see, the best opportunity of witness is a quietly different life before the Lord, not waving a flag and saying, “Look at me. Look at me. I am different. I am different.” It is not that. It is being so different that they notice it and wonder why you are, and are interested enough to inquire.

Of course the Devil will say, “You know you cannot afford to let them think you are different because they will laugh at you. And, of course, if they laugh at you, you will drop dead right then. You will. You do not dare to be laughed at. So don't for the world let them think you are different. Even lie about it.”

Do you know what a hypocrite is? A hypocrite is a Christian who is ashamed to admit that he is a Christian. That is a hypocrite—a Christian who is born again and who is afraid to let people think that he is a Christian. He falls right along in line with everything they all want to do.

Seriousness Of Discontent

I want you to think with me for a moment about the seriousness of this thing. You know we fall into a very bad habit of saying, “I do not do anything very bad, but I do get a little discontented sometimes,” as though that is not anything. I want you to realize how serious it is for a child of God to be discontented.

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the 13th chapter of the book of Hebrews. Will you notice verses 5 and 6:

Hebrews 13:

5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
6So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Why did God say in this passage of Scripture, “Be content”? Why? Because He said, “I am with you. I am going to take care of you. I am going to supply every need that you have. I am going to be your helper. You do not need to be afraid of anything that is going to come your way. I am by your side.”

Listen to me carefully. When you are discontented, you are disregarding the presence of the Lord in your life. When you are discontented, you are disregarding the promise of God related to His presence, and you are saying in so many words, “I am all alone.” You are ignoring the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Need I make any application of how that must make Him feel, and how that must displease Him?

Go back to the Old Testament and notice in Psalm 106, verse 13, these words, speaking of the Israelites again:

Psalm 106:

13They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:
14But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.
15And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

Do you see what we are talking about? The seriousness of discontent. They were not content with the manna that God had provided. They said, “We want flesh.” They kept saying it, and kept being miserable, and kept telling God how miserable they were, until finally God said, “All right. I will give you what you want.” And He did, but they paid a tremendous price for it. He sent leanness into their souls.

You go on. Keep being miserable and discontented in your relationship with God. Keep on complaining about your lot in life, where God has placed you, and what God is doing. Pretty soon God will say, “All right. You can have your own way.” The most miserable people I know are the people to whom God said, “Well, all right. If you want your way, you can have it.” And they have it, and they would give their right arm, so to speak, if they could have God's way again.

Turn with me once again to the book of Numbers and notice the 11th chapter, verse 1:

Numbers 11:

1And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
2And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire was quenched.

I am not going to tell you that if you keep on complaining, God is going to send fire among you, and God is going to consume some of you. I am not going to tell you that, because I do not know. But I am emphasizing to you from this passage of Scripture how serious it is to complain and to be discontented in the thing that God has provided for you. God consumed these people, and, if you look down farther in this chapter, you will see how God took away a blessing from a man because he was discontented.

An Illustration Of Moses

I have always appreciated this passage of Scripture about Moses. Look down at the 10th verse. Poor old Moses got weary and tired, and he got fed up. He got sick of it. He got to the place where he could not stand it any more, because everywhere he went, somebody was discontented. Somebody was complaining. Somebody was saying, “Why does it have to be this way?”

Finally, when Moses got full of it, he went to God about it. You will notice the 10th verse:

Numbers 11:

10Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.
11And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?
12Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?
13Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.
14I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.
15And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.

That is a real complaint, isn't it? “Lord, I want to die.” That is what he said. “I have had about all I can take. Everywhere I turn somebody complains about something, and, Lord, if I cannot get out of this job any other way, just knock me in the head.” That is what he said. Well, you know God does not make anybody do anything he does not want to do. He wants willing servants.

Look at the 16th verse:

Numbers 11:

16And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.

“You want some help, Moses? All right, I will give you some help. You do not want to do this by yourself. All right, I will give you some help. Go find seventy men of the elders of Israel and bring them before me and—” in verse 17:

Numbers 11:

17And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.

Moses was not any better off, was he? “Oh,” you say, “he had more help.” No, he didn't. Do you know what God did? He took the spirit that was upon Moses and divided it seventy-one ways. That is all He did. He said, “Now, Moses, I would be just tickled to death for you to do this job, and here is all the strength that you need to do it.” But Moses said, “I am tired. I want to resign unless I get some help.” And God said, “Well, all right, get the help.” And then He said, “If you are going to get help, you don't need all My help. I am going to give My help to some of these other fellows.” And He divided it seventy-one ways.

Do you see the privilege that Moses lost because he was discontented, because he was complaining against God?

Solution For Discontent

What is the solution for it? Turn with me to the 4th chapter of Philippians, and listen to the testimony of a man who had won the victory over discontent. He was speaking about an offering that the Philippian believers had sent to him. In the 10th verse, he said that he was really glad to get it, but in the 11th verse, he said, “Now I don't want you to misunderstand me—”

Philippians 4:

11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Go back to that 11th verse and notice the word therewith . As soon as you have looked at it, forget it. It ought not to be there. It is in italics, and that means it is not in the original. The translators just put it in because they thought it would help, but instead of helping, it hinders.

God does not expect you to be content with any circumstances you meet. God does not expect you to be content with the house you are living in. He expects you to be content in the house. There is a big difference. He does not expect you to be content with the car you are driving, but He expects you to be content in the car. He does not expect you to be content with the clothes you wear. It is all right for you to want a new suit, but until God gives you a new suit of clothes, be happy in what He has given you. That is the thought of this verse:

Philippians 4:

11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

That is the original rendering of the verse: I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content.

The Secret Of Sufficiency

Do you know what the word content means? This is really the secret of the whole thing. It means “to be sufficient”—to be self-sufficient. “I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be self-sufficient. I do not need another thing. I have the Lord, and I am content.”

You will notice in the next verse, the 12th verse:

Philippians 4:

12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Will you notice the phrase, “I am instructed.” Literally that is, “I have been initiated.” “I have been initiated into the secret of knowing how to be full and how to be hungry, how to abound and how to suffer need.” No, this thing did not just happen to him, you see. He had to learn the secret, and that is what you have to do. That is what I have to do. We have to learn the secret of sufficiency, and where is that secret of sufficiency? It is in the 13th verse:

Philippians 4:

13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I can be content in the midst of discontent, through Christ who strengtheneth me.

Look at that 13th verse again: “…through Christ who strengtheneth me.” So many times we have a picture of Christ lending us a helping hand. He strengtheneth us, you know. He lends us a helping hand. That is not what it means. It means that we can do literally everything that needs to be done through Christ, who literally infuses His strength into us. It is not a question of His putting a hand under our elbow and helping us a little because we are weak. It is a case of His putting His strength within us. That is the promise He has made to everybody.

Let's face it. If you are discontented, you are discontented because you want to be. If you did not want to be, the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ would dissolve the discontent and give you the victory.

If the Devil keeps you discontented, he has won a victory. The Bible says, “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” If he has a tendency to get you discontented, resist him that you may have the victory over him.

Home Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting