Sound Doctrine at the End
By Benjamin H. Liles
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. ~ 2 Timothy 4:1-5, New American Standard
I believe when it comes to teaching right, it has to always come as close to possible to being right. What you teach to someone else has serious consequences. There is no room for error. I know I've always been serious when it comes to teaching God's word to all of you. The reason is that, and it's my opinion so it's not a fact, I want to show myself as being approved to and by God. If the message I give seems heavy it's due to Him giving His stamp on it. On the other side of that same note, teachers are always held accountable for how they teach and lead others. Am I teaching right? Am I leading these people in the right way to go? Am I giving them the best possible service I can? These are always on my mind when I put something new up I believe God wants to be known.
All of that goes so far to say this: when you see the word or words sober or sober-minded in scripture it means to be clear-minded, to be serious. I think being funny throughout a lesson or point is disgraceful. There is a time and place for humor, and when handling the things of God there's not a great deal of humor in it. Not always.
Don't get me wrong, Jesus was no party pooper. He knew how to get down, have some fun, mingle with others while showing them God's Kingdom and just how close it was in fact. But when it came time to tell them something important, you never saw Jesus shy away or making fun of the things of God. He always said what was on his mind and how we need to see and do things. I feel that's enough of a tangent there.
Paul is telling Timothy in this passage to hold on to, to teach in all seriousness the things of God. He's encouraging and admonishing the young pastor, I suppose he is, to hold fast to the message God has for one and all. He's telling Timothy that when the days start coming to a close, when Jesus is about to return, people will go their own way. They want, as the prophet says, "prophetic illusions."
"They say to the seers, "Do not see," and to the prophets, "Do not prophesy the truth to us. Tell us flattering things. Prophesy illusions" (Isaiah 30:10, Holman Christian Standard). Are the things of God that scary and detrimental to you and your life?
No, I think they will tell their leaders, their teachers, not to give them sound doctrine because they don't see sin as ultimately being sinful. They don't see the pig sty for as it is: filthy. Their eyes are dim, when they think they see just fine. To this kind of thinking Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17, Berean Study). Those who are truly desperate and tired of being and living in the filth and mire of this life end up having their vision restored by Jesus right where they are. They see their own need for a Lord, for a Savior, so they come, in desperation and maybe also faith in who Jesus says he is.
If we were to see why Jesus spoke the way he did at times, it's due to the fact that, he wanted those who could actually see to do something about their condition. The disciples of Jesus knew he spoke to the people in parables and they desired to know why he did so. They came to him and asked, to which Jesus told them this: "For this people's heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back--and I would cure them" (Matthew 13:15, he quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 to them).
Jesus then tells his disciples, "But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see but didn't see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn't hear them" (Matthew 13:16-17). The reason the disciples were being allowed to see and hear is that they were already ready to see and hear the things Jesus was saying and doing. When you read the gospel narratives you see Jesus serving people, telling them things, healing them and the like, but they are not the end of things in and of themselves. No, Jesus was born to die on the cross on our behalf so we can have access to the Father. He clothed himself with our mortal body to come into the nastiest parts of our lives, to redeem us from that which has enslaved us. And then he reconciled us through his shed blood so we can have his righteousness, should we desire it, with the Father.
So, the whole point for giving sound doctrine is to be afraid of and to refrain from sin and death. Why? Paul exhorts Timothy, "Those who sin, reprove in the sight of all, that the rest also may be in fear [of sin]" (1 Timothy 5:20, World English, what's in the brackets are my words added on, but some texts have the ending phrase, "be in fear of sin."). Just because we come to God while we are still in sin and therefore known and called as sinners doesn't mean we remain that way. Paul tells us, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2, Berean Study).
Rather once we see and hear that we are stuck in the muck and mire of the pig slop of sin and death, once we come to that realization, we desire to be made clean. I hope you're still with me. I'm wrapping this up as quick I can at this point, so bear with me. All of that to say once we realize the condition we're in and our desire changes, to be made right with God, we see sin as it is, exceedingly sinful. We realize even though we may and still will do so, it's not that we do it for enjoyment, it's just a slip up, a mistake if you will. We confess our sins to Christ, he forgives us, and we continue on allowing Christ to make us more in his image, the way he is. That's the whole reason for sound doctrine. It's to make sure we are truly his. Biblical doctrine isn't this thing to be feared, to be shunned, to run away from. It's there to show us how we can access the Holy and Living God who has desired a relationship with us from the beginning. I pray this has helped you in your walk, where ever you are at in it. I pray God's blessing and protection on you. And that the peace Jesus has is surpassed in your life. I pray all of this for and over you. Amen.