“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1 Timothy 1:5)
Much of modern, self-oriented Christian preaching and writing has tended to downgrade biblical “doctrine” in favor of an emphasis on “love” and “fulfillment,” the “pursuit of happiness,” “sharing and caring,” and other such sentiments. Some popular religious leaders major on “confident living,” “self-improvement,” “personal success,” and the like.
Doctrine is thus downgraded in favor of practice, and “works” are considered more important than the Word. But this type of emphasis places the cart before the horse and can never succeed for very long. “Doctrine” is simply “teaching,” and true teaching must come from God’s infallible Word, whether that teaching relates to great divine truths (creation, atonement, sanctification, etc.) or to the daily Christian walk.
As the apostle Paul reminds us, “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33). “Profane and vain babblings . . . increase unto more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16). We cannot escape being taught doctrine somewhere. If we will not receive true doctrine from God’s Word, we will inevitably become indoctrinated with the world’s humanistic deceptions, for these impinge upon our thinking continually, from classroom and journal, from television and (unfortunately) sometimes even from the pulpit.
If we are really concerned about love and happiness and such things, we must acquire them from the right source, the doctrinal truths of the Word of God. It is knowing and obeying the commandment, as our text says, that generates pure love, a faithful heart, and a daily life that supports a clear conscience.