As I urged you… so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. I Timothy 1:3-4
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion… I Timothy 1:5-6
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this some have made shipwreck of their faith… I Timothy 1:18-19
The Eat This, Not That magazine popular in today’s culture suggests healthy food substitutes for unhealthy choices. Paul contrasts true and false teaching in the church in a similar manner. Paul deals elsewhere with specific doctrinal issues, but his point here is clear. Teach truth, not error. Hold true to this, not that; be devoted to this, not that. True teaching and sound doctrine leads to life, not just in the here-and-now, but for all eternity. Solid biblical truth results in spiritual health, sincere faith, a clean conscience, a good testimony before men, transformed lives, and kingdom expansion.
False teaching and unsound doctrine leads to spiritual decline and death. Just as infection spreads throughout the physical body during a severe illness, false teaching spreads throughout the church, resulting in compromised faith, hypocrisy and sin, a guilty conscience, and a ruined testimony in the world. Kingdom growth falters as endless speculations and myths spread. God’s goal for Christians is transformation, not speculation; godly transformation is impossible without sound instruction. Replace this with that; listen to this, not that; forsake this, not that.
Navigators, in order to reach a particular destination, on land, at sea, or in the air, know the importance of holding steady to a directional course. Christians must also set a course of doctrinal truth and hold steady lest we set ourselves and others up for spiritual shipwreck. Sin’s hold is pervasive but we have a Savior who came into the world to save sinners. We have God’s written Word and faithful teachers and preachers. Wage the good fight against sin in the strength of Christ, equipped by His Holy Spirit, and in company with other faithful believers. Hold steady; don’t swerve!