“Watch your life and doctrine closely…”
(1 Timothy 4:16)
Paul’s areas of guidance for Timothy were normally very practical. With that understanding, we know that many new believers like him were also called to preach and teach. However, every believer was called to believe sound spiritual doctrine and consistently live with Christian integrity. This is why the doctrines we learn and the resulting values which we develop will naturally be closely associated.
The Apostle Paul was inspired to write,
“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them,
because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
(1 Timothy 4:16)
As the Lord’s disciples, our foremost Christian instruction must always be to – ourselves! Nothing about our faith or character should ever be compromised, nor can it be hidden from God’s sight (see Hebrews 4:13). This is true because His Holy Spirit indwells us as believers (see 1 Corinthians 3:16). He knows everything we think, and He observes everything we do, so we can have no hidden secrets from Him!
Through our Lord’s redeeming power, we were designed to steadily grow in our spiritual maturity. The Bible explains, “…he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind… a double-minded man [is] unstable in all that he does.” (James 1:6-8) We are therefore called to serve God with steadfast spiritual integrity. This requires developing unwavering Biblical convictions. Underscoring this reality, the Bible instructs us to “hold firmly to the trustworthy message” and “encourage others with sound doctrine refuting those who oppose it.” (Titus 1:9)
As Jesus’ disciples, we have the responsibility of becoming conversant with both the Old and New Testament Scriptures. We are also called to present, explain, and defend God’s eternal – Truth (see 2 Timothy:24-25)! Counterfeit teachings have always been among our enemy’s most effective forms of deceptive – “weeds.” Doctrinal error is utilized by Satan to infiltrate God’s “wheat” and damage His spiritual “harvest” (see Matthew 13:24-28).
Historically, the exact same theological heresies have repeatedly been espoused and rejected. Predictably, they will keep reappearing. However, they will typically be wearing new linguistic disguises. This is why, when studying the Scriptures, using time honored principles of interpretation will remain spiritually important. The Bible warns, “…false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Jesus said, “See, I have told you this ahead of time.” (Matthew 24:24-25)
As Christ’s disciples, we are commissioned to study, meditate, and develop spiritual wisdom. Through this upward process, we will become prepared to accurately present the tenants of our faith. To emphasize this process the Apostle Paul wrote, “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.” (Titus 2:1) By internalizing what the Bible calls sound doctrine, we can learn to share God’s unchanging message of faith, love, and joy, with Biblical integrity.
The Bible encourages us to live wisely and serve with Christian love. However, we are also called to combat spiritual ignorance by refuting the enemy’s spiritual activity. Paul explained this to Timothy saying, “…the Lord’s servant must not quarrel. Instead, he must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and not resentful. Those who oppose him, he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
As you pray for today’s opportunities to witness – carry this thought in your heart. If a new religious teaching sounds strange and you sense that it could be Biblically inaccurate, be on guard because it probably – is!
By Billie Hanks Jr.