“As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines” (1 Timothy 1:3). Sometimes it amazes me to see how much space God has devoted in His word to the importance of sound doctrine and yet how men belittle it in our day.
‘What matters is that we follow Jesus’ or so the story goes. But what does it mean to follow Jesus? Without sound doctrine no one can know how. It is a strange doctrine that will cause a believer to shipwreck and will keep an unbeliever from getting saved. “Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.” (1 Timothy 1:19). Shipwreck seems pretty bad to me, it was bad enough that Paul said he was handing Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan, so that they would be taught not to blaspheme, (verse 20).
One of the definitions of blaspheme is to speak lightly of, to slander, or profane sacred things. There is nothing more sacred than God’s word. The longest chapter in the Bible is the one that gives the longest running praise to God for His word, Psalm 119. Jesus said, when speaking to God the Father, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). It is very bad to speak lightly of, slander, and by so doing profane God’s word.
The teacher who says, “Doctrine divides” inevitably says God divides, because God is the author of doctrine. Doctrine is a teaching and that is what God’s word does, it instructs in the ways of God. Paul stated back in verse 3, that Timothy should instruct or (command in the Greek) not to teach false doctrine. Then in verse 5 he tells us what is the goal of commanding teachers. “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
So then, the end result of sound teaching, as over and against false teaching, is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Sound teaching instead of being divisive produces a pure heart, rather than a ad-mixture of good and evil, a good conscience over and above a defiled conscience from doing evil things, and a sincere faith instead of hypocrisy. It is sound doctrine that produces these things, as the Holy Spirit takes God’s word and applies it to the heart of the believer.
In conclusion, Paul gives us in verses 8 through 10 a short list of evil sins, which he says is contrary to sound teaching. Sound teaching, when received by faith, always results in godly and sanctified behavior, which gives God glory. The teaching of His word produces obedient and submissive men who love and serve God out of appreciation and thanksgiving. Just telling men to love God and follow Jesus without going into the dynamics of the Gospel accomplishes nothing. And to make light of sound teaching is a form of blaspheme.
Do not fall into the trap of modern teachers who disguise their hypocritical disobedience with flowery words of “love”, while all the time blaspheming the Word of God that is blessed forever, amen.
Final thought: In the church there are matters that are determined by individual conscience (Romans 14). We call these matters of preference; they are not clearly defined or commanded in scripture. An example is the kind of clothes we wear. There are also clearly defined commands either by statement or principle. An example is the 10 commands as a general overview of all the law, which is a law of love for God and man. We call these matters of principle. Confuse principle with preference and you will reek havoc in your own life and the lives of others.