“As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.” (1 Timothy 1:3–4)
As Paul left Timothy at Ephesus, he gave him very explicit instructions concerning his duties. Timothy had three things to do:
- Charge them to teach no other doctrine.
- Command them to not listen to religious stories and tales that stir up doubts in people.
- Charge the teachers to edify the people in the faith.
Note that there are three things one must do when it comes to wrong doctrine:
- We must not teach it.
- We must not listen to it.
- We must teach the truth in order to build people up.
Brothers, we must be established in what the truth is in order for these things to have a place in our ministry. We can only discern the doctrine that is not good by knowing the true doctrine. Sadly we are finding ourselves in the times of which Paul later told Timothy, times in which people would rather hear tales and stories rather than true doctrine (2 Timothy 4:1-8). Even in the pulpits of conservative and fundamentalist churches there is little concern for sound doctrine. A man who studies and spends time teaching and preaching doctrinally is an oddity who is often looked upon as out of touch and potentially dangerous. This should not be. Brothers, we must be established in doctrine. We must spend time studying doctrine, and we must saturate our preaching with doctrine. The very basic truths of the faith are often considered as deep things which cannot be understood. This is not only sad, but it is very dangerous. We must be established in the truth that we might teach the truth in opposition to fables.
We must not listen to unsound doctrine. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) Bad company and unsound teaching will lead to ungodly behavior. Brothers, if it takes calling people by name, we must stand in the pulpits and warn people against those who teach unsound doctrine. There are those who write books, appear on TV, and are on the radios, of whom we should warn the people. They do not need to hear it. If they hear it, they will be tempted to accept it. In accepting even a little bit of untruth, God’s people can be led astray into ungodliness. Brothers, notice that we cannot say, “Well, I simply want to teach the people how to live right: I’m not to concerned about academic and intellectual pursuits.” That will not do. Doctrine is necessary to right living (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17). We must teach and preach sound doctrine if we are to lead God’s people into holiness. We must also realize that we must combat falsehood by commanding God’s people to not listen to it.
Finally we must teach the truth in order to build up. Timothy was to command the ministers and teachers at Ephesus to edify in the faith. The faith is the doctrine God has given to the church. It is the truth which we believe when we are saved. It is the doctrine which helps us gain greater assurance. It is the teaching that increases our love for God. The faith is the doctrine that teaches us how to worship God and honor Him in every aspect of our lives. The faith is doctrine that builds us up. It is the duty of those who lead the flock of God to teach them in order to help them to grow. Brothers, we cannot help people be established in the faith if we do not teach and preach the faith. We cannot build up our brethren without presenting doctrinal truth to them. We can lead the flock to worship and serve God acceptably without informing them of who God is and what He expects from us. Edification comes through the faith, which is our doctrinal foundation.
There is a great deposit given to the people of God. It is the “faith which was once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) This great deposit is ours to uphold, as the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (See 1 Timothy 3:14-16). We have young people who are starting their families, and they need the truth so that they can raise their children aright. The children need to be instructed in the truth from their youth that they might believe it and be saved. Old people need to be reminded of the truth so that they might maintain holiness in their later years and not let it slip away. When the true doctrine is taught, believed, and put into practice, it will establish us in holiness (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
Brothers, let us saturate our preaching with doctrine! As far as the unsound doctrine goes, don’t teach it and don’t listen to it. The faith will edify us all.