Paul's Passing Thoughts

Doctrine

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 10, 2011

Manuscript for Wednesday evening Bible study, Germantown Baptist Chapel, February 9, 2011

I begin this message tonight with some angst that has probably become normal among teachers of our day because it seems that the whole subject of doctrine has become taboo. A basic definition of doctrine from Dictionary.com is: “A particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government….something that is taught; teachings collectively….a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject.” Doctirne is a word in the Bible and concurs with the definitions just cited in regard to its biblical use. Doctrine is not to be confused with theology which is the study of deity, and may include information concerning the doctrines (systems of thinking) of many different religions.

My first point tonight will be: every living human being has, and operates by a doctrine – whether they are conscience of it or not. Here is a quote from an article I posted recently:

“….everybody on earth lives by a doctrine. Everybody that breaths. Atheism, for example, is a doctrine. Secondly, doctrine determines how you live, no exception. For instance, Nihilism is the doctrine of nothing. But yet, this was the doctrine embraced by the young man who recently tried to assassinate a US senator while murdering nine others. Lyrics from the song, ‘The Nothing Doctrine’ by Neaera, a rock band that promotes Nihilism, might give some insight into his actions: ‘Almighty uncreator, I am your eyes, I am your ears, I am your mouth, let your grandest hatred echo in my deprivation, a willing bearer of your creed to consecrate the void.’”

Romans 2: 21-23 validates the view that all live by a belief system, or doctrine:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”

In verse 22, their supposed wisdom is their doctrine, which resulted from their thinking (verse 21); specifically, “futile” thinking. There are only two choices presented here in verse 21: knowledge of God and all other knowledge. It starts with thinking apart from God’s knowledge, and leads to false wisdom/doctrine.

This brings me to my second point: thinking forms our life. When we choose a path of thinking apart from God, that thinking is futile by the very definition of being apart from God, a system of false doctrine is formed, whether a religious flavor or not, and the thinking thereof forms our life. Proverbs 23:6 states it this way:

“Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; 7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is….”

Proverbs 27:19 says: “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart [mind].”

As can be seen in Matthew 9:4, “heart” is an idiom for the mind: “And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?” Luke 9:47 says, “But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side….” Therefore, Proverbs 27:19 says that a persons life reflects their thinking.

The fact that thinking forms life can also be seen in the previous text we were looking in, Romans chapter 1. In verse 21, they reject the knowledge of God. In the latter part of verse 21, their thinking becomes futile, dark and foolish. In verse 22, they are deceived into thinking that are wise. Then, further descriptions of their thinking is interwoven with a downward spiral concerning life. In verse 24, their minds are consumed by lust. In verse 25, this all happens because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie. In verse 26, the mind becomes totally dominated by passions. And in verse 28, since they did not see fit to knowledge God, they are given up to a debased what?….Mind. Get the picture? In Genesis 6:5, we read the following:

“ The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”

Now my third point: Thinking also forms the life of a Christian for better or for worse. Regarding the spiritual life of a Christian, how we think is everything. In fact, the mind is the battleground of the Christian faith, and doctrine organizes and defines those thoughts; therefore, doctrine is of paramount concern. Christ’s mandate to the church was to make disciples, and then teach them to observe all that He commanded. Throughout the Gospels, Christ prefaced his teachings constantly with this statement: “What do you think?” In Matthew alone we see: Matthew 5:17 “Do not think….” Matthew 9:4 “Why are you thinking evil….” Matthew 10:34 “Do not think….” Matthew 17:25 “What do you think, Simon?” Matthew 18:12 “Do not think….” Matthew 21:28 “But what do you think?” Matthew 22:42 “What do you think….” Matthew 24:44 “….do not think….” Matthew 26:53 “Or do you think….” Matthew 26:66 “What do you think?”

Ephesians 4:20-24 makes it clear that as Christians we endeavor to transform our mind through the Spirit and His word:

“That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

These verses are the crux of sanctification. Old thinking is to be put away and replaced with new thinking which renews the mind and results in righteousness. To the degree that we do that, we grow spiritually. Everyone here tonight has an ample supply of thinking that needs to go bye-bye, and as far as new thinking, the mind of Christ is the goal.

In John 16:7, Christ said that He would send us the Helper, and in John 17:17, He said that we are sanctified with the truth, and God’s word is that truth. So, we have all we need – the Spirit and the truth, God’s word. Matthew 4:4 says we live by every word that comes from the mouth of God – not some words from God and some from Oprah Winfrey. Not some from God and some from Sigmund Freud. Again, if we revisit Ephesians 4, prior to verse 20, and 21, it is implied that there are only two ways to think, or two ways of life to be learned: the way of Christ and all other ways.

This whole concept of thinking being the primary battleground of sanctification can be seen in 2Corinthians 10:3-6:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

We take every thought captive (our own thoughts and the thoughts of others) and make them obedient to Christ. Every bit of knowledge that doesn’t align with God’s truth is a pretense against His word, and we are to demolish them. That’s the warfare. Paul also said the following in Romans 12:2:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [how are we transformed? By the renewing of what? And the condition of our minds are determined by what? Our….thinking. And Ephesians 4 says we change that by….]. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” We read the following in 1Peter 1:13-15 [Read 1Peter 1: 13-15 ]. Why is it always important to prepare our minds for action? Because that’s where the battleground is. And what is the battle? That our thinking would not be conformed to anything but the truth of God’s word. Period.

Therfore:

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1Timothy 4:16).

Sound doctrine organizes God’s truth and reveals old thinking that needs to be demolished. It is shocking that Christians have bought into the whole idea of tolerance towards pretenses that set themselves against the knowledge of God. It is shocking that Christians have bought into the idea that there are appropriate / inappropriate venues for sound doctrine. Our venue is anywhere thinking is going on.

Fourthly, our doctrine must be what Peter called the “pure milk” of the word in 1Peter 2:2:

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation”

Not tainted, and nothing mixed in. In John 16:7, Christ said that He would send us the Helper, and in John 17:17, He said that we are sanctified with the truth, and God’s word is that truth. So, we have all we need – the Spirit and the truth, God’s word. Matthew 4:4 says we live by every word that comes from the mouth of God – not some words from God and some from Oprah Winfrey. Not some from God and some from Sigmund Freud. Again, if we revisit Ephesians 4, prior to verse 20, and 21, it is implied that there are only two ways to think, or two ways of life to be learned: the way of Christ and all other ways. Therefore, doctrine must be apart from the world, and it must be according to pure biblical truth. Religious doctrine always contains truth tainted with unbiblical thinking. Therefore, Paul instructed Timothy accordingly:

“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer “ (1Timothy 1:3).

Hence, pastors must be able to defend doctrine:

“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).

It is shocking that Christians are defensive when their thinking is challenged, as if they have very little thinking to put off and put on. A growing Christian can point to consistent markers in his life where wrong thinking is exposed by the word of God and replaced with true thinking, and applied to life accordingly. This is why we are always in the word and sitting under sound doctrine: because we are looking for old thinking to put off, and new truth to put on, and instruction regarding how that truth is skillfully applied to life. As a Christian, can you point to those markers and say it is true of your life?

As a church, can we point to markers where old thinking doesn’t align with God’s word and new truth is applied accordingly, or have we arrived? If we haven’t arrived, where is the old thinking? Brothers and sisters, in our minds and In the church, it is surely lurking about somewhere. Where there is change, there is life, where things stay the same, death. Christ is serious about this. He was teaching one day when his family came to speak with Him:

“Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’  21 He replied, My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’”

In Luke 11, we observe the following:

27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” 28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Jesus is well aware of His own greatness, what He wants is the perfect will of God proven on Earth.

Learning the word to expose old thinking, learning new, and applying it to our lives; that’s the primary business of a Christian. Again, noting Romans 12:2, when we are doing this as individuals, and together as a church, that is when we can prove the perfect will of God, but only when that is, in fact, what we are doing.

At salvation, we are given a love for the truth as noted by contrasting us with the world in 2Thessalonians 2:10. We have been given the Helper, and we have been given God’s pure milk. Let us take these and prove the perfect will of God.

Let us pray.

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