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Doctrines and life
- Jacob Ninan
Some Christians take the view that their goal is to live a simple, sincere life before God and that they would not like to enter into discussions on doctrines. There is some truth in this, because they have realised that living a life before God is far more important than learning doctrines. There are many examples of godly men and women who became very Christ-like in their lives but who did not know enough doctrines to be able to argue with people. What is the use if we become Bible scholars if our practical lives do not reflect Christ?
On the other hand, knowledge of God's teachings (doctrines) will be of great help in our pursuit of becoming like Jesus, avoiding ways of deception and helping us to instruct other people about the way they should walk.
It is as we understand doctrines from the Bible that we can learn about our sinfulness, God's salvation, how to deal with temptations, how to deal with other people, etc., and much more. God has provided His word for us just for this purpose (2Ti.3:16,17). It is when we allow His teachings to remain in our heart and mind that we will know to face the different challenges of life (Ps.18:28,29). For example, when we know the differences between justification, sanctification and glorification and how each of them works, it becomes easier for us to know to deal with our situations at each point in our lives.
If we are not thorough with the right doctrines, it is easily possible that we may get fooled by false doctrines that are going around us (2Pe.2:1). It is an extremely sad thing to look around and see how false teachings have crept into many churches in different forms and how these doctrines have distorted the understanding of many people and made them ignorant of the truth. It is the responsibility of pastors to protect their sheep from this onslaught, but unfortunately many of them are also influenced by false doctrines.
When new people come to the Lord and are born again through their repentance and faith in Jesus, it is not automatic that their understanding will fall into the right place. Far from it. They come from a background of wrong teachings and practices which they may carry over for a long time into their lives. And because they do not have enough of right teaching to start with, they may also get locked into one or more of the wrong teachings that are going around.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," says God (Ho.4:6). But we don't have to. God has given sufficient teaching in His word from which we can learn and derive strength. He has also given warnings for us to watch out for and to expose false teachings. God has also raised up many teachers who are themselves godly and able to instruct others. If earning money, getting an education and doing a job are necessary to survive in this world, isn't godliness more important, for this life and the one to come (1Ti.4:8)? The reward of godly understanding is closeness to God Himself.