You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1)
Remember, the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible are man-made. This statement goes well with everything else Paul has just said in reference to rebuking false teachers. It is also, as we will see later, a good transition statement leading into his next section.
I would like to focus on the word “doctrine” for a moment. Its Greek source is “didaskalia,” which means “teaching.” So doctrine is simply teaching, and sound doctrine is good teaching, or true teaching.
Several years ago I heard a community Bible study leader say, “We don’t get into doctrine. We just teach the Bible.” I know what he meant. He meant as a community Bible study leader he attempted to avoid church denominational positions that have a tendency to polarize a discussion, and cannot always be supported Biblically.
Of course the flaw in this perspective is that a leader almost always infuses his respective positions into his teaching. The better approach, I think, is to come clean and say, “In the church I am a part of, this is a position we take on this passage, but I realize there may be some other positions that also have validity.”
It is also impossible to teach the Bible without teaching doctrine. Sound doctrine is good teaching, which means the word “doctrine” is synonymous with Biblical truth.
If I were to identify three roles doctrine plays in our walk with the Lord they would be 1) the basic facts regarding Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, burial and resurrection, 2) the “whole counsel of God” which refers to the broader themes and teaching of the Bible (such as sin, grace, love), and 3) the instructions for a holy life, for individuals and the church community.
There are many other categories, to be sure, but these seem to cover most of the areas we focus on as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Respectively, what we know about Jesus is the foundation of our relationship with Him, what we know about the “whole counsel of God” teaches us to live through His eyes, and instructions for holiness give us the practical advice we need to outwit the devil and be the salt and light to the world.
I am a self-proclaimed handy-man and love to fix mechanical devices, including appliances, cars, and small electronics. I am not saying I am that good at it, but I have learned the key to any level of success is a good set of schematics and the right part. All of the effort in the world won’t help if I am working off of the wrong page and am trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
So it is with doctrine. Doctrine matters because my perceptions of reality are skewed by my fallen nature, and my sense of right and wrong are corrupted by my own deceptions and delusions. Looks like I need to spend as much time as possible with the Word of God.
Dear God, thank You for teaching me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.