False doctrine/sound doctrine-part 4

For many years we have taught that Bible things ought to be called by Bible names.  I want to take that a step farther; Bible terms ought to be defined by Bible usage.  In other words, when we use a Bible term it must be used in the same way it is used in Scripture in order for it to be applied from Scripture to our lives today.  As I stated in part two of this series baptism meant a particular thing in Scripture.  Today’s meaning has changed.  In order to apply Scripture we must rely on the word’s Scriptural meaning.

Like the term “sound doctrine” the term “false doctrine” has changed in meaning.  Quoting from an article I read recently the term false doctrine was used this way,  “What false teaching IS, is teaching God’s inspired word to imply something that is not true or is not compatible with other verses dealing with the same subject.”  This may be a perfectly acceptable usage of the term by today’s standards.  The problem is that in today’s religious culture we have assigned a meaning to this word that is not compatible with the meaning assigned to it in Scripture.  This is the same problem we see with today’s usage of the term “baptism” as well as the term “sound doctrine”.  If we are going to understand the intent of Scripture it is essential that we maintain a common standard.  That common standard has to be the standard that was set down by the original usage of the term in Scripture.

1 Timothy 1:3-10 gives us a Biblical definition of “false doctrine”.  Verse 9-10 says, “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.   According to this text, false doctrine is teaching that leads to a lifestyle that is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of God.  Stated otherwise, false  doctrine is teaching that leads to a lifestyle which opposes the lifestyle produced by sound doctrine.

We see further evidence of this definition given by Scripture in 1 Timothy 6:3 when it says if anyone teaches false doctrine he does not agree with the sound instruction of our Lord.  The results of this false doctrine is described by stating such teaching leads to conceit and an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words which results in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction.

In Titus chapters two and three we see these same terms described to us again from Scripture.  Paul’s writing to Titus describes both terms in words that remain consistent to the description he gives to Timothy.  After describing “sound doctrine” Paul warns Titus in Titus 3:9-10.  He says, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.”  Paul again states in verse 14 of this same chapter that “our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.” 

According to the original intent of Scripture the teaching of sound doctrine is teaching that produces a lifestyle that honors our Lord.  False doctrine produces the opposite lifestyle.  It produces a life that is filled with sin, division and all that opposes honor to God. 

Today we have expanded these two terms to encompass so much more.  We  have expanded them to include definitions of words, thoughts and interpretations of Scripture.  While expanding these terms to fit our religious purpose we have diminished the original intent to the point it no longer matches the intent of Scripture.  Just as the world has changed the intent of the word “baptism”  we have also changed the meaning of the terms “sound and false doctrine.”  Changing the meaning of these terms has led to constant division.  This was one of the original warnings against false doctrine.  Have we in our intellectual pursuit  of truth missed what we so earnestly want? 

Truth is not found on man’s terms.  Truth can only be found on the basis of God’s intent.  We have built a portion of our religious identity around the terms “sound and false doctrine.”  If we fail to allow Scripture to  determine the intent of the terms can our identity be “sound?”

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4 Responses to False doctrine/sound doctrine-part 4

  1. 1 Middle Man says:

    I find this post very interesting…because what many brethren have said is false doctrine, most of the time is disagreement over matters of opinion. At the same time, while those who have engaged in immoraility are quickly labelled as perverse sinners, those who would be divisive and quarrelsome are said to be “good old boys who really don’t mean any harm.” Indeed, we cannot dismiss doctrine from Christian living. Blessings, Don

  2. If we will let context and intent determine the meaning of terms it changes much of what we have viewed as problems.

  3. Don Morrison says:

    When we think about our weaknesses as a Christian, we almost without variance think about moral weakness, as though that is the only place where we might fall short of the goal. But human weakness is not confined to the temptations of the flesh: we try to grasp eternity, but we can hardly realize it at all; we try to understand the reign of God here on earth, but it usually ends in disagreement; we can’t quite grasp the idea of the trinity… the list goes on and on about things we want to know more about. We all have ideas, but it is our human condition that limits pur understanding. So we used to sing, “farther along…we’ll understand it all by and by.” because we accepted the fact that our minds are, by their human nature, weak

    We have moral weakness, thinking weakness, devotion weakness – the plain fact is that we can and do fail in many ways. How on earth do people believe they’ve got it all down right when it comes to some doctrines? When they can realize so well that they are not truly capable of discerning divinity.

    We must put ourselves about the task of seeking God all our lives, realizing that even in finding him there arises the great mystery that there is always more to be found. And with our further understanding there is no guarantee of spiritual aptitude, for the wisest among us is always up for learning more. It is in foolish arrogance that we believe we have achieved what flesh cannot inherit. We must always depend on grace to cover *all* our weaknesses.

    Thanks for your recent posts Dell. It is good to reject our propensity for self-righteousness.

  4. Wayne McDaniel says:

    Don, Your words above are so refreshing. They clearly reflect the spirit of humility that is missing from many who speak of Jesus. He said, “…but not you say,”we see”, your sin remains.”-John 9:41 Our flesh is always quick to speak, only the indwelling Spirit restrains us to speak with the humility of an obedient child. Our flesh is inclined to look down on others who know less — but Jesus looks into our hearts for his likeness. “By this will all men know that you are my disciples…” To say Jesus is SAVIOR, is to admit our need to be saved, for each day we fall short of His glory.

    Repentance toward God (Acts 20:21) is expressed by confession of our sins. We may ask ourselves what we have confessed recently. Our claims to know this or that, usually blind us to our remaining sin. Because we refuse to practice James 5:16 and 1 John 5:16, we don’t have the joy of true community, but live as isolated prisoners, even though Jesus came to set us free.

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