WFW: Sound Doctrine
"Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." ~ 2 Timothy 1:13
How do we hold fast? By faith and love. Romans 6:17 states, "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered." That is how you hold fast; you love God and have faith in him enough to obey from your heart. It is not just a "going through the motions" feeling; it comes from the very center of you. Paul's admonition to Timothy came as a result of false doctrines that were being propagated; hence, Paul constantly refers to the "sound doctrine" of Scripture. This is why Proverbs 4:20-23 says, "My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." The very next verse in 2 Timothy 1 states, "That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us." Other Scriptures make it perfectly clear that it is by the spirit that we obtain faith and love. One in particular that is quite pertinent is Jude 1:20-21: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." See we can't "walk in love," as the Scriptures command, if we don't have faith in God; without faith it is impossible to please God, and when we do not keep God's commandments, we do not love God. Paul commands us to hold fast to what we are taught in the Word of God, not only so that we can be pleasing to the Lord, but also so that we can keep the "sound doctrine" of Scripture in the midst of our hearts so that we do not stray from God.
Even in today's world, there are so many different views, opinions, interpretations of Scripture that threaten to "swallow" us up if we are not careful; how can we know what is right and what is wrong? How do we keep ourselves from going with the flow "with every wind of doctrine"? Colossians 2:6-8 has the answer: "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." This sentiment is repeated throughout Scripture, but Paul specifically tells Timothy (2:15; 3:14-17), "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. ... But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 2:1 states, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." The Lord told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you; for My power is made perfect in weakness." If grace is power that is manifest in our weaknesses, how are we to be strong in it? When we are weak, He is strong. Why? Because of His Spirit, which is the Power: "the Spirit helps in our weaknesses," as Paul said -- and God gave us a Spirit of POWER! So what is our weakness? Paul specifies, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier." Hardship, sufferings, and trials, are our weaknesses. Paul even says that enduring these things can lead people to salvation as they see Christ in us: "Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." (2 Timothy 2:10) In addition, false doctrines are a weakness to us as Christians, because they pose a threat to the very essence of Christianity as they try to pull Christians away from the truth. In fact, in Galatians 5, some Jews were teaching a "gospel" of circumcision and were confusing the Christians; Paul told them that "faith working through love" was all that mattered, and that "You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?" (vs 6-7) Paul even called this a "different gospel": "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:6-8) This is why Paul says that we must be strong in grace. Paul tells us to endure these things and not get distracted; we must "fight the good fight of faith". Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us how: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints..." Notice that the Word of God is our POWER; it is through God's Word that we are made strong as the "winds of doctrine" and the storms of this life try to blow us around.
So what is the bottom line? It is this: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'" (2 Timothy 2:15-19) God's Word is the final answer; it is "sound doctrine," as Paul put it. His Word -- not man's -- will last forever. In order to keep ourselves from straying to other doctrines, we must immerse ourselves in the Word of God. Paul ends his letter to Timothy with these words: "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:1-5) We are living in that time now, and this is precisely why we need to "take heed to sound doctrine" as it is found in the Word of God. If we are not full of sound doctrine, we certainly will not be able to teach it to others, much less be able to keep ourselves from blowing around with every "wind of doctrine." Yet Paul commands us to "Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with longsuffering and teaching," because there will be many who will follow whatever doctrine sound good to them (and some even "pick and chose"). Are we prepared to spread the truth of this "sound doctrine" with them?
"...holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict." ~ Titus 1:9
"...in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you." ~ Titus 2:7-8