Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Tim 4:13-16)
Over the years I have observed a movement among the “religious world” that says, “Doctrine divides; we all need to just love and accept one another; we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord.”
Several different denominations make this statement in hopes of erasing doctrinal divides. They want “all religions” to come together and be one. Some even believe that doctrine doesn’t even matter anyways!
Doctrine (teachings) are so important, that it can either cause a person to be saved or lost forever. Doctrine is such serious business, why would we want to neglect it.
We will see in this study that doctrine cannot be ignored just so we can have unity among denominations. Doctrine is the foundation of the church and it is what governs the way it operates. We are going to look at some issues and blessings concerning “sound doctrine.”
WHAT IS SOUND DOCTRINE?
The word “sound” in the Greek means; to have sound health, that is, be well (in body); figuratively to be uncorrupted (true in doctrine): - be in health, (be safe and) sound, (be) whole (-some).
The word “doctrine” in the Greek means; instruction (the function or the information): - doctrine, learning, teaching.
The term “sound doctrine” is used four times in the scriptures (1 Tim 1:10, 2 Tim 4:3, Titus 1:9, Titus 2:1) and denotes in each case that we are to have “sound doctrine" (uncorrupted, healthy, wholesome) when speaking and basing our faith on God’s word.
Sound doctrine is the teachings of the church. It is the guidelines and principles that helps the church live holy before God. It is God's word that established the teaching that is so good for us! It helps us resist sin!
THE VALIDITY OF OLD TESTAMENT & NEW TESTAMENT DOCTRINE
I often hear people say, “That was Old Testament; we don’t have to do that anymore.” They say this when we refer to a New Testament command or principle. But without going into a lengthy discussion, let’s consider a few points to this statement.
Just because Jesus came to bring the New Testament Covenant does not mean that God’s laws were thrown away. He said he “came to fulfill” the Law. The age of Grace allows us to live and walk in the Law through the power of His Spirit. All the moral laws still apply which includes everyday living, standards of godliness and holiness.
This subject about the law and grace is very deep. I will not get into that in this study. (Read the book of Romans and Hebrew for more on this subject)
For someone to know the teachings of the scripture, they must spend time studying (2 Tim 2:15, 1 Tim 4:13) the word of God. So many “manmade” teachings and religions are birthed from people who do not “rightly divide the word of truth.” That is why there are so many different denominations and doctrines today. It is through the study of doctrine that we become profitable in the Kingdom of God.
WHAT IS DOCTRINE FOR?
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2Ti 3:16-17)
The purpose of doctrine is to teach, reprove, correct and teach us how to live a righteous life before God. It builds a foundation for our present and future salvation. Doctrine is the fulfilling of the law… it is, and is based on the laws of God. Seeing God is the author of doctrine, we must love and seek to know it.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Act 2:42)
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (Rom 6:17)
Some say that we do not have to listen to what the Apostles taught. The two scriptures above point to the fact that we are to follow and obey the teachings of the Apostles. Why?
Jesus spent 3½ years teaching His doctrine to them. He told them to “teach all nations” this gospel. They were given the authority by Jesus to establish the church and it’s teachings. When we obey doctrine, it will convert our soul. As the first scripture reads… doctrine will even save us.
How can doctrine save us?
Obedience to the doctrine is very important. Those that do not obey the gospel (doctrine) will suffer the vengeance of the Lord (2 Th 1:7-8). It really is that important!!! As a matter of fact we will be judged by God’s word at the final judgment.
SPEAKING SOUND DOCTRINE
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: (Tit 2:1)
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, (1Ti 1:3)
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Tit 1:9)
In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. (Tit 2:7-8)
Paul instructed that we have to have “sound speech” when it comes to doctrine. In other words we have to teach uncorrupted doctrine. The reason we have to know and speak sound doctrine is so that we can answer those that may question us. Knowing and speaking the correct doctrinal teaching equips us to bless and help others know the mysteries of God.
The danger with teaching doctrine is “misinformation.” We had better of studied something out in scripture before teaching anything. And when it comes to subjects that are hard to understand or prove: we then must be careful what we say unless people condemn us for our lack of sound doctrine.
STANDING ON DOCTRINE
If 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; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings. (1Ti 6:3-4)
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Eph 4:14)
Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. (Heb 13:9)
The reason there are so many different doctrines out in the world is because people have a lack of knowledge for the truth. People, who do not know what the scripture say, have a hard time standing on truth; so when the winds of false doctrine arise; they are tossed and blown (confused) and often times fall into heresy.
When it comes to doctrine, it does matter! A teaching is either truth or it is not. Any doctrine that is not truth is a lie. Man’s doctrine and traditions often fall into this scenario.
DOCTRINES OF DEVILS
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2Ti 4:2-4)
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (1Ti 4:1)
What is meant here when Paul says, “doctrines of devils?”
The term "doctrine of devils" denotes doctrine that is corrupted by the devil. It’s teachings that are inspired by demonic spirits. Because satan is a liar; he corrupts and seduces people into believing a lie (false doctrine). That is why John said to “try the spirits” whether they are from God or not.
The true test to see if a doctrine is from a false teacher or not…is; is it a sound doctrine that can be proved with more than two or three scriptures. Remember; anyone can twist scripture, but we must allow scripture to interrupt scripture to prove a doctrine. Man’s opinion does not count!
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1Jo 4:1)
When we speak of doctrine, we must also bring up the subject of the teacher. John tells us to “try the spirits” (teachers) to see whether they are from God or not. Discerning a preacher (teacher) is a must when living for God. When a teacher speaks, are they teaching the uncorrupted doctrine of Christ? Are they telling the whole truth?
We must always judge whether the teaching that is being taught is truth or not. How else can we hold to sound doctrine if there is no discerning of doctrine that is being preached. We must discern if it is truth or not.
SHUNNING FALSE DOCTRINE
This is the part that a lot of people fail to believe! Not all denominations preach the truth. Not all are saved! Not all are right with God. Not all serve the same God!
Does doctrine divide? Read these…
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Rom 16:17)
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed: (2Jo 1:9-10)
Those are pretty strong scriptures there. There are two things taught here;
False doctrine is a dangerous thing. The Lord strictly said that we are not be deceived or to change His Word. By avoiding people with false doctrine, we are preserving the doctrine of Christ and keeping ourselves right with God.
I also should state here, that we have to discern if a person is open to the truth or not. Sometimes we have to be patient and work with people who are in doctrinal error. There is a difference between a hungry person who wants to know truth (who teaches doctrinal errors) and someone who “thinks they know it all” and is closed to any further understandings of doctrine.
We must be sensitive to what direction they are heading in. But on the same token, we must also watch out that false prophets do not change our thinking when we know something is the absolute truth. There is a fine line when it comes to avoiding someone who doesn’t have the full revelation of truth.
THE BLESSINGS OF SOUND DOCTRINE
Standing up for truth is not always a popular thing today. Truth goes against the grain of modern thinking and religions. But there are many blessings with sound doctrine.
They are; sound mind, hope, peace, unity with God, unity with brethren in the Lord, power over devils, authority to lay hands on the sick, safeguards the teachings of the church, keeps oneself saved, leads and guides us into all truth, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. The list could go on!
Obeying and adhering to doctrine is the most beneficial thing that a human being can do. Obeying doctrine will divide truth from a lie, but it also unites and empowers the true church with authority and power.
Does doctrine divide… most certainly it does. It divided Jesus from the Scribes and Pharisees didn’t it? Jesus went against their man made traditions and their corrupted, keeping of the law. They added and took away from God’s word.
Did Jesus ever talk about division? Most certainly! He even said…
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: (Luk 12:51-53)
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. (Mat 10:34-36)
Jesus said this to let people know that there would be division because we love Him and obey His doctrine. And so will there be division amongst the religious of our day and even family members. Jesus knows what effects living for God and obeying doctrine was going to have amongst religious people.
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Act 5:27-29)
If you were to read the whole account, you would see that they were beaten because they preached the doctrine of Jesus. You can see it all through the book of Acts, the first original church was always being persecuted. It wasn’t sinners who persecuted the early Christians; but the religious Jews who didn’t believe the doctrine of Jesus!
Persecution and division is what separates truth from a lie. It is a war that has been raging since the beginning of time. And it will never end until the world ends.
Doctrine is not a bad word! Doctrine is the beautiful teachings of Jesus Christ. He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments (doctrine).” Not only does Jesus love us, he also has the right to give us some precious commands that will guide HIS CHURCH and not our man made traditions or thinking.
What a blessing to know and love the doctrine of Christ and the Apostles!!