3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. (1 Timothy 1:3–4, NKJV)
Is doctrine essential or nonessential to your faith and fellowship with God? Undoubtedly, there was a particular doctrine that was to be taught in Ephesus. All other doctrines were to cease. Timothy was to charge teachers to “teach no other doctrine” than the one that produces “godly edification which is in faith.” Doctrine means teaching, and it is essential that one’s teaching (doctrine) conforms with God’s truth, the Scriptures. Therefore, doctrine must be “sound” (1 Timothy 1:10), “good” (1 Timothy 4:6), given attention (1 Timothy 4:13), and continued in (1 Timothy 4:16). Doctrine must be God’s (1 Timothy 6:1), and it must conform to godliness (1 Timothy 6:3). Apostolic doctrine must be “carefully followed” (2 Timothy 3:10), it must agree with the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), and it must not be rejected (2 Timothy 4:3). Anyone who says doctrine is not essential to your salvation and fellowship with God is not teaching and applying 2 John 9 properly: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” Oh yes, doctrine matters.
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:20–21, NKJV)
Without a doubt, this passage warns Christians against falling away from Christ. The ones described here had escaped sin through knowing Christ; they had been untangled from sin’s snare by the power of the Lord (Romans 6:17-18). They had known the way of righteousness and the holy commandment of God, but now they had returned to sin’s filth and were overcome by it (2 Peter 2:22, 20). The Scriptures reveal the way of righteousness as the pathway of life (Proverbs 12:28). Wisdom travels its byways (Proverbs 8:20). Truth is spoke by its travelers (Matthew 21:32). The Lord knows those who walk its path (Psalm 1:6). He also knows those who turn aside to the right or to the left, leaving its holy commands for the unholy, sinful allurements of the world. Protect yourself against sin. Walk the path of righteousness in faith, guided by truth and strengthened with wisdom, and you will have life. If you have turned from its way, repent and return to the Father. He is ready and able to forgive you (1 John 1:8-9).
8 You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? 9 When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. 10 In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), 11 In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:8–11, NKJV)
Does Jesus care when your heart aches? Does the Lord see the trial you face when the enemies of faith are in hot pursuit, tempting you to yield to their persuasions to compromise conviction for convenience and conformity? Does God know when those you love turn their backs on truth and righteous living, and on you? Oh yes, He knows – and He cares! He knows the steps you walk in the middle of the night. He stores up your tears in a bottle and records your anguish in His book. He comforts the afflicted. They continue to praise Him through the agony. They put their trust in God and refuse to fear man. The threats, taunts and trials hurled at them by the unfaithful will not distract, deter or destroy those who live by faith. Be one who fears the Lord rather than men (Matthew 10:28). Trust in Him. He is your Redeemer and your refuge in the storm.
Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” (1 Samuel 17:37, NKJV)
The armies were arrayed on either side of the valley of Elah. The giant warrior Goliath had taunted and defied the armies of the living God for forty days. King Saul and Israel were greatly afraid, intimidated by the enemy. It would be a shepherd boy, unskilled in the art of war, who put his trust in the Lord and gained a great victory of faith (1 Samuel 17). What a stunning example that “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Let us resolve to have the courage that faith requires to face the giants that defy the living God in our day. Moral sins, doctrinal errors, false religions and secularism are but a few of the giants to be faced and fought by faith in the living God. Like David, God will deliver you “from every evil work and preserve” you for His heavenly kingdom (2 Timothy 4:18). Your faith, not force, gives victory over the world (1 John 5:4).
41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord— Your salvation according to Your word. 42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word. (Psalm 119:41–42)
The psalmist understood what is easily forgotten; God’s mercy is inseparably attached to God’s word. The mercy and grace of God that saves sinners is available to us all (Hebrews 2:9). Yet, God’s gracious mercy is only received by sinners according to the word of God. Sinners are saved “by grace, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is God’s part; faith is our part. Salvation by God’s grace is given to the person who dies to sin, not to the person who continues to sin in violation of God’s word (Romans 6:1-2). Like the psalmist, we trust in God’s word to answer those who reproach us for relying on the mercies of God. We trust in God’s word to establish and secure our faith. It leads us to God’s mercies and assures our trust in Him to save us by His grace as we walk by faith, doing His word. Thank God for His merciful salvation and the word of His grace in which we put our truth (Acts 20:32).
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22–25, NKJV)
God wants doers of the work; People whose faith is put into action by obeying His law of liberty. This passage explains why faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Faith is alone when it is not combined with doing what God command in His perfect law of liberty. We must use God’s mirror – His perfect law of liberty – to look at our spiritual imperfections (our sins) and then do something about them! God provides the correction of our sins in His Son Jesus Christ. We must have the faith to be doers of the word by doing the work God commands for our blessing (James 1:23, 25). Do not deceive yourself. God’s spiritual, eternal blessings do not come by only examining yourself in God’s mirror. You must see yourself as God sees you and then do what He says in His “perfect law of liberty.” Then, you will be blessed in what you do.
5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. (1 Timothy 1:5–7, NKJV)
To faithfully teach the gospel one must first be willing to be taught (see 2 Timothy 2:2). Commitment to the commands of God produce love from a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith. Love for God, for truth, and for others compels us to learn God’s word before trying to teach it. Desire to teach the gospel without having a knowledge of it may well result in leading a person astray from the very truth he desires to teach. Like zeal without knowledge, desire to teach that is not fettered to knowing the truth produces vain, yet confidently asserted babbling, instead of “godly edification which is in faith” (1 Timothy 1:4). Take time to study and learn God’s word. Examine your motive for desiring to be a teacher of the word. Is it “love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith?” And remember, faithful teachers never stop studying to learn and know the truth they teach.