Friday, August 11, 2006

Watch Yourself and Your Doctrine

1 Timothy 4:16 - Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

This was the passage that C. J. Muhaney recently focused on in the Together for the Gospel conference. The impact of this verse is staggering. It begins with a command. "Take heed." It can also be translated to "watch closely." To often we just float through life. We go from morning to evening, week to week, year to year without a thought about how we are living. But Paul doesn't let us off the hook. He says we must take heed. We must watch closely.

We must take heed to two things. First of all, we must watch our life. We have to watch how we live. We must be careful to pay attention to how we live in public and in private. We can't assume that because we have a title or position (like Pastor). We can easily fool ourselves into thinking everything is alright, when in fact, we are walking down the wrong path. We must watch our lives. We must put ourselves in a position where we are protected from sin. We must repent of and confess our sin and renew our walk with God. We must get other people around us who can help us watch.

The next thing we must watch is somewhat easier for us theological types. We must watch our doctrine - our teaching. We had better pay attention to what we believe and teach or we will easily go down the broad road to heresy. This has never been more obvious than recently with so many who used to be orthodox espousing views like Open Theism and the New Perspective on Paul. If they would watch their doctrine closely, they might not have gone down these paths. Again, it helps to have others around to keep you close to the truth.

Now comes the kicker. The result of this will be both our salvation and the salvation of those who hear us. Did you see that? God has ordained (sovereignly) that the means of salvation for ourselves and our hearers will be us keeping a close watch on ourselves and our teaching. The opposite must also be true. If we don't watch, we forfeit the means of our salvation and that of our listeners. This verse has eternal consequences. There is an urgency here that we dare not ignore. If we long for the salvation of our hearers, then we must obey the first half of the verse. We must keep a close wathc on ourselves and our teaching. The promise is that God will work through us to save others. What a glorious part we can play in God's work of salvation!