â€œHold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.â€ (2 Timothy 1:13)
When Paul wrote to his two young disciples, Timothy and Titus, he stressed again and again the vital importance of maintaining sound doctrine in their churches.
â€œIf any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome [same word as â€˜soundâ€™] words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godlinessâ€ (1 Timothy 6:3; see also 1:10). â€œFor the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrineâ€ (2 Timothy 4:3). â€œThat he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayersâ€ (Titus 1:9). â€œBut speak thou the things which become sound doctrineâ€ (Titus 2:1; also 2:8).
If the great apostle was so concerned that his pastoral disciples guard the doctrinal integrity of their first-century churches, he would surely be even more exercised today. These are times when false doctrines are rampant, and when sound (that is â€œhealthyâ€ or â€œwholeâ€) doctrines are often the object of compromise and distortion, or (even more commonly) simply ignored, even in evangelical churches.
Paulâ€™s command was to â€œhold fast the formâ€ of sound words. Not only the so-called â€œspiritâ€ of the words in Scripture, but the words themselves.
Such strict guarding of doctrine is vital for the spiritual health of the churches. Furthermore, such doctrinal integrity does not lead to cold orthodoxy, as some would allege, but is centered in the â€œfaith and love which is in Christ Jesus.â€ It is â€œthe doctrine which is according to godliness.â€ It is doctrine which is not only sound in the faith, but also â€œin charity, in patienceâ€ (Titus 2:2).
After all, it is the doctrine of Christ Himself, who is not only â€œthe truth,â€ but also â€œthe wayâ€ and â€œthe lifeâ€ (John 14:6). HMM