Week of Dec. 8

Sound Doctrine is Lived Doctrine

Read: 1 Timothy 5-6; Titus 1-3

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
Titus 2:1, ESV


Martin Luther once said, “The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” The underlying message is that the Christian holds himself or herself to a standard of behavior that is grounded in a source of authority. Luther stood on the word of God, taught the word of God, and applied it to his life. Let’s learn today about the importance of teaching sound doctrine and then living by it.

A Biblical Lens

Paul writes that Titus was to ensure that the content of his teaching was “sound.” He uses a participle that actually means “healthy.” Paul takes a word that had medical connotations and applied it in the letters to Timothy and Titus in a specific sense. He was not exhorting Titus to focus on developing “healthy souls”; instead, he meant sound doctrine as opposed to perverted teaching. Bear with me a moment longer, please.

Paul meant that these church leaders were to remain true to the body of teaching that had been validated by the apostles and “preserved by the office to which Timothy and Titus are called” (TDNT). Therefore, sound doctrine means, for example, not to slant the teaching on salvation in a direction away from that which was bedrock belief about Jesus Christ and the gospel (cf. 1:10-11; 3:9). Look. They had no seminaries in that day, but they did have a clear foundation of Jesus’ teachings represented in Gospel truth that was rooted in God’s Old Testament revelation. Time and time again, this source of authority was the basis for correction and direction in the church. Nothing has changed about the importance of teaching sound doctrine.

Hang in here with me. We all hear people say, “Well, that may be true for you, but I . . .” I say, in Ashlock speak, “No, no, no Nanette!” Our freedom to interpret and apply the word of God comes with a great responsibility to protect it, as well. Paul knew this so he “laid the participle” on Titus meaning continuous attention on providing sound doctrinal teaching. I’ll apply this later, but we have one other item to note.
Paul goes on to show Timothy how he was to apply, what I will term, an “ethic of truth.” This point is where you and I as church members become supporters of “sound doctrine.” The church members, old and young alike, were to be instructed in this sound doctrine and to pass it on to others (See 2:2ff, “sound in faith,” “teach what is good,” word of God may not be reviled,” “in your teaching show integrity,” and “in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Faith communities are to preserve and proclaim God’s word.

A Moral Crossroad

The “rule of law” represents a foundation of our democracy, so it is only good and right (ethics) that we, the people, protect and honor it. The greatest enemy of our nation lies not with an external attack but from within hearts that behave contrary to the rule of law. The phrase means “the principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced; the principle of government by law” (Dictionary.com). We have, for example, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution that guarantees a free press. The press, despite claims of “fake news,” has freedom to challenge what may be termed the “rule of men.”

This phrase refers to a situation where laws are ultimately made to be meaningless because powerful people can break those laws with impunity. This is what dictators do. No one’s life becomes safe when this occurs. It holds deep moral significance for life’s sanctity! Let’s step across this moral bridge by applying to our hearts the moral principle of adhering to sound doctrine.

For Your Heart

There was a time in my life when I was a Sunday School class member. We had a teacher of my high school class who was always well-prepared. The lessons were based upon the Scriptures, and he used his strong personality to instruct the class. He really connected with each of us. The difficulty lay with a theology that I will term to be "isolating.” I mean that it was not one that was well-grounded upon historic Christian truths, nor was it widely practiced in the larger congregation. It became apparent, even to my young mind, that there was a departure from “healthy teaching” when he encouraged our boys church-league basketball team to play the sport in ways that were contrary to proper Christian behavior. We had before us, so to speak, Titus 2:1, but verses 2 and following were not a part of communicating “sound doctrine” (cf. 2:6, 7a, “self-controlled,” “to be a model of good works”). Get it? Abuse of the truth occurs not only when there is false teaching, but when there is irresponsible living. Friends, “healthy doctrine” is embodied.

For Your Journaling

1. Doctrinal dependability includes moral accountability. Read James 1:19-22. Write down areas where you need to take the truth you know and apply it to the way you live.

2. We use the wrong calculus for determining church strength whenever we only measure doctrinal soundness by the “numbers that attend and the money flowing in!” Take time as a church to equip people in sound doctrine then show them how to apply it.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock