Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 3

Leslie Basham: What do most people think of when they encounter the word “doctrine”?

"I think people think of denominational rule."

"Usually, they think we’re going to say something that’s going to offend them the way they see how life should be."

"Just this week I had someone share with me the difference between principles and doctrine, and the reason why they don’t like to hear doctrine is because it divides."

"I think they would think, 'dry, boring, not really something I’m interested in, not exciting, not applicable, not practical.'”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of the brand new book, Adorned. It’s Wednesday, February 8, 2017.

Today Nancy will help you define an exciting word—that word is “doctrine.” But first, Nancy, your brand new book was released yesterday. It’s called Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel. How does it feel to know it’s finally out there?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Yes, Leslie, after literally years of laboring over this book, I'm so excited that this week it releases into the hands of women for the first time. I hope that women won't just get this book in their hands, but that its message will reach their hearts and change their lives.

We’d love to send you a copy of Adorned, hot off the press, when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Support from our listeners is crucial to make this ministry possible, and it allows us to bring you the kind of teaching you’re about to hear. Be sure to ask for the brand new book, Adorned, when you call with a gift of any amount. The number to call is 1–800–569–5959, or make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: The book, Adorned, is based on Titus 2:1–5. So is our current series, "God’s Beautiful Design for Women." Let’s listen.

Nancy: When I say the word doctrine, what comes to your mind? When most people hear the word doctrine, what do you think comes to their minds? How important is doctrine to you? Do you know what your doctrine is? How much do you care?

Do you know what doctrine your kids are being taught in their youth group? Do you know what doctrine your kids are being taught in school? Maybe you’re thinking, Oh, my kids are in public school. They aren’t being taught doctrine. Oh, yes, they are! Every day, every class, whatever kind of school they’re going to, your kids are being taught doctrine.

Have you ever stopped to evaluate the doctrine of your favorite T.V. shows. What's the doctrine of the books that you read? The magazines that you subscribe to?

The word doctrine simply means "teaching." Wikipedia says doctrine is "a code of beliefs." It’s what you believe. It’s your system of belief.

Everybody has doctrine. Atheists have doctrine, and they’re aggressively promoting it in our culture. Oprah has doctrine, and she teaches her doctrine to millions of women every day. I saw a report on an Oprah show that aired last fall entitled “237 Reasons to Have Sex.” The guests on this particular show advocated a range of abhorrent sexual behavior, including one-night stands and the use of pornography for couples to enhance their marriage.

I read an interview on Oprah’s website related to that program—an interview with a couple that was actually promoting the concept of “open marriages.” In case you’re not familiar with that, that means you have a husband and a boyfriend, but you both know it about each other, and everybody’s comfortable with this. It just kind of “freshens up” your marriage.

You say, “Well, that’s not good doctrine.” The point is, doctrine is crucial. It’s crucial to everyone.

The apostle Paul, as we come to the book of Titus, is concerned about what kind of doctrine we believe and what kind of doctrine we teach. So when we come to chapter 2 of the book of Titus, verse 1, Paul writes to Titus—his son in the faith, this young pastor—and he says, “As for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

We spent the last couple of sessions giving you a backdrop and an overview of the book of Titus, and now we come to chapter 2, which is one of the key passages for women in all of God’s Word. And we begin at verse 1, which says, “As for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

Now, the tendency might be to skip over this verse and go right to verse 3–5, which give us a list of qualities that are supposed to be true of women of God. That’s the “practical stuff,” and that’s where we might want to start. But verse 1—“As for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine”—is a crucial setup for those practical characteristics and qualities described of women in verses 3–5. We can’t skip verse 1.

We saw in these first two sessions on the book of Titus that the culture in which Titus was living—the culture in which Paul was living—was a pagan, ungodly culture. The culture on the island of Crete, where Titus was overseeing the churches, was a pagan, ungodly culture. In verse 12 of chapter 1, Paul quotes one of the ancient Cretan philosophers, who said of his own people, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

And Paul says this testimony is true. Their philosopher was right; he wasn’t overstating it. This was a wicked culture. Paul goes on to say that these people are detestable. They’re disobedient. They are unfit for any good work (see v. 16). That’s a pagan culture.

Paul is also concerned about the fact that within that culture there is this onslaught of false teaching. There’s a lot being taught about religion that is not true; it’s not accurate. Paul says in chapter 1, verses 10 and 11,

There are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They . . . are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

These are two huge issues. The culture is fallen. It’s depraved. It’s not seeking after God, and the things people are teaching people—the best-selling books and the most popular television programs and talk-show hosts, to put it in contemporary terms—they are teaching things that are not true. So Paul turns to Titus and says, “In this culture, where all this is happening, here’s what you must do.”

So we come to chapter 2, verse 1: “As for you”—in that culture, where all this is going on—“teach what accords with sound doctrine.” That’s Paul’s solution, to turn to the spiritual leaders and say, “Teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

As we’ve said, a lot of people today think of doctrine as being dry or dead or irrelevant or uninteresting. That may be because we’ve not been taught what accords with sound doctrine: the practical implications of our doctrine, what flows out of sound doctrine.

We’re going to see throughout this study that sound doctrine is radically transformational. If we live it out, it changes everything about us. Ultimately, as it changes us, it transforms the culture around us. It is no small matter that Paul says to start by teaching what accords with sound doctrine.

Now, this term "sound doctrine" mattered a lot to Paul. He uses it nine time in the three pastoral epistles—1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. He uses it five times in the book of Titus.

What is sound doctrine? Well, the Christian faith, as you know, is based on the good news—the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. Christian doctrine, sound doctrine, is the complete body of truth that explains and defines that faith. It explains:

  • who we are
  • what it means to be a Christian
  • what the gospel is
  • who Jesus is
  • why He came
  • why He died

That is all what embodies sound doctrine.

The word sound, in the original Greek language in which the New Testament was written, is hugiaino. Now, if you look at that on paper, hugiaino, you’ll see that it’s closely related to the English word hygiene. It means to be healthy. To be sound is to be healthy. Sound doctrine is what makes sick people well. It’s that which is wholesome. It’s that which gives health.

We probably all know people—and maybe this includes some I’m speaking to right now—who are really, really in to physical health and fitness. These are people who are exceedingly careful about what they eat. I have a friend who actually washes down the outside bags in which her groceries come—the bags like what her potatoes are held in. Anything that might get close to that food that might defile it. She's really fastidious about washing it down. Maybe I should be more careful that way. 

Some of you are really, really careful about what you eat because you know you are what you eat. So what you take in to your system matters to you. You care about that—and we all should probably be a little more careful about that—but some people are really into that. You read labels. You shop at health-food stores. You pay more for organic foods—and now I’m already telling you more than what I know about this subject!

There are people who are really into physical soundness, physical health, but it astounds me that some of those same people can be utterly unconcerned about what kind of doctrine they ingest—what they take into their minds, what they take into their hearts. So they’re super, super, super, super careful about what physical foods they put into their bodies and about not touching germs or getting contaminated, but they have utter disregard for the doctrine they’re taking into their systems.

Healthy, sound doctrine is doctrine that is pure. It’s hygienic. It’s safe. It’s free from error. It’s uncontaminated. Healthy, sound doctrine will produce spiritually healthy believers, and spiritually healthy believers produce healthy churches.

So if the churches are not healthy, it’s because the believers are not healthy. And if the believers are not healthy, it’s because they’re not taking in sound doctrine—or they’re not taking in what accords with sound doctrine, meaning that they’re not knowing the implications of sound doctrine. That’s true of healthy, sound doctrine. It produces healthy believers and healthy churches.

What about unsound doctrine—unhealthy, unhygienic doctrine? That’s doctrine that is false; it’s not pure. Now, it may not be totally false. The thing is, if it’s totally false, most people will reject it. What’s really dangerous is doctrine that is a mixture of truth and error—maybe mostly true, but just a little bit of error mixed in.

I just want to ask you, how much arsenic are you comfortable having in your drink or your food? Is just a little bit okay? No. Just a little bit can be very, very deadly. But you may not recognize trace amounts of a toxin or poison in your food. It’s also sometimes very difficult to recognize trace amounts of unsound doctrine, but a little bit of unsound doctrine makes the whole doctrine unsound and unhealthy. An unsound doctrine produces spiritually diseased, sick, or weak believers, and spiritually sick or weak believers produce spiritually unhealthy churches.

Now sadly, we have little tolerance in the church today—this is not true of all churches, but I would say it’s true of many, many, many churches and many, many professing believers—we have little tolerance for sound doctrine. We have more of a consumer mindset. We want to be entertained. We want to be comfortable. We don’t want to have to think.

We’re constitutionally lazy, and we don’t want to be perceived as being narrow or exclusive, and we don’t want to turn off people who believe differently. So we’ve bought into this whole modern mindset of live and let live: “Okay, you have your mindset, but they have their mindset. Don’t get too upset over people not seeing things eye-to-eye.” We don’t have a high tolerance today for sound doctrine in the church.

I see my friend Kim Wagner sitting here in the room, and Kim shared with me a story the other day that illustrated this perfectly. Kim, you can tell it better than I can. You had an experience where you saw this concept of people not having a tolerance for sound doctrine.

Kim Wagner: Recently, I was at the doctor’s office with my dad. I was in the waiting room while he was in with the physician. I was reading a book. I don’t remember the exact title of the book I was reading, but a gentleman in the room became interested in what I was reading, so I started sharing with him a little bit about the topic of the book.

He realized I was a Christian and said, “Oh, I’m a Christian, too,” and we started talking about our churches. He shared with me about his church, and he said, “Now, at my church, we don’t believe in doctrine. We just talk about Jesus.”

Nancy: Isn’t that a picture of how so many people think today? “We’re not interested in doctrine; we’re just interested in Jesus.” Let me tell you, you can’t talk about the true Jesus without talking about doctrine. There is true doctrine about Jesus, and there is false doctrine about Jesus. You may not know all the big, fancy theological terms, but you do have a doctrine when you’re talking about Jesus. It’s important that that doctrine be sound, that it be rooted in the Scripture.

I think this intolerance for sound doctrine in the church today is a result of something we’ve heard in the past generation. That is this concept, as people will say, that “Doctrine divides; love unites.” So we’re not supposed to have all these different doctrines that divide. We’re supposed to love each other.

There is some truth to that concept. There are some things that Scripture is not absolute or clear about that we are free to see differently as believers. We ought not to let those things divide our fellowship and our relationships with each other. We ought to love each other in spite of those differences, where Scripture is not clear or does not address those issues. But that concept—doctrine divides; love unites—is also very wrong.

Doctrine has to be based in truth. It has to be sound. Paul says at the end of Titus chapter 3, “Greet those who love us in the faith” (v. 15). That’s what unites us: a common love for Christ as He is portrayed and seen and taught in the Scripture. Sound doctrine, biblical doctrine, is what ultimately unites us and gives us the capacity to really love each other as we ought to.

This lack of heart for sound doctrine is something I find very disheartening today. In fact—and I don’t want to be critical here; my heart is not critical—it breaks my heart to see how many women’s ministries, how many churches, and how many women’s conferences today are giving out what I call “doctrine lite.”

They don’t want to turn anybody off. They want to attract lost people. They want to attract spiritually immature people, and they don’t want to rebuff them. They want to draw them in. So their thinking is, therefore, “Let’s just give little tiny doses of doctrine. Don’t give anything that really makes them think. It may not be false doctrine, but you don’t want to give them serious doctrine. You don’t want to weigh them down. You don’t want to turn them off.”

That’s exactly what the apostle Paul said would happen in our generation. Turn in your Bible over to 2 Timothy chapter 4, and look at verses 3 and 4. Paul says,

The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions [people who will tell them not what they need to hear, but what they want to hear] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

We’re living today, in our generation, with the consequences—even in the church—of generations of unsound doctrine or doctrine lite—“Easy on the doctrine; hold the doctrine; I don’t want the doctrine.”

Somebody sent me an article recently, a heartbreaking piece about a whole series of high-profile moral failures in different mega-churches and ministries. As I read this, it was interesting to me that, in that particular piece, all the churches and the denominations that were represented are groups that are known for consistently teaching either unsound doctrine or very little doctrine. I thought, Isn’t that interesting?

Now, that doesn’t mean that if you teach sound doctrine that you can’t also fall into moral failure and sin; some do. But it was interesting that in this particular piece, all the groups that these people came out of were groups that either aren’t teaching doctrine at all, or have very little biblical doctrine, or have unsound doctrine—they’re teaching things that are not biblical.

As you live in this culture that has turned away from sound doctrine, where people don’t endure sound teaching, where they’re wandering off from the truth and wandering off into myth, what do you do? Do you just throw your hands up in despair? Do you go on a rampage against those people? Sometimes, I admit, I’ve been tempted to do both—either to just retreat and give up or sometimes just to say, “I’m going to tackle this and mow those people over.”

Well, Paul says in 2 Timothy 4, verses 1–2, “Here’s what you do.” He’s speaking to a pastor, and he says,

I 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.

People don’t want to hear it. What do you do? Preach the Word. People aren’t interested; they don’t endure sound doctrine; they don’t have a stomach for it; they don’t have an appetite for it. What do you? Preach the Word.

Paul continues, “Be ready in season and out of season”—preach the Word whether it’s in or it’s out; whether it’s in style or it’s out of vogue—“reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience”—which it takes today—“and teaching.”

That’s God’s antidote to this whole era where people don’t have an appetite or a stomach for sound doctrine. Teach the Word. Keep teaching the Word.

As I think about the issues that women in our churches are facing today, the issues of divorce, remarriage, rebellious children, broken relationships, sexual disorders, addictions, bitterness, eating disorders—all these issues—the temptation sometimes is just to teach “how-to” messages dealing with some of these practical issues.

But God’s Word challenges me that what will really help people at the core of their lives is to teach sound doctrine: who God is, who Christ is, what the gospel is, what difference it makes, and how we’re to live that out. That healthy, sound doctrine becomes the basis of healthy, sound living.

Paul says to the elders and the pastors in the churches, “That is your number-one responsibility.” That’s the number-one responsibility and calling of your pastor and of the elders in your church: to provide spiritual direction and protection for the members of that flock. Paul says, getting back to Titus, that they must hold firm to the trustworthy word so that they may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it (1:9). That’s the calling of the shepherds of the flock—keep sound doctrine, and correct those who deviate from it.

My home church has just gone through a two-year process of looking for a senior pastor. My pastor of thirty-nine years retired recently. He knew he was going to be retiring, so while he was still there, the church went through this lengthy search process, and the new senior pastor has just come. There was just a six-week gap between the two.

The people of the church are really thrilled with what they believe has been God’s rewarding of their search. But early on in that search, the search committee and the congregation had a lot of conversation about, “What are we looking for in a pastor?” They knew the spiritual qualifications for what kind of person he should be, but what’s he supposed to do? What’s he supposed to be able to do?

Let me tell you, from God’s Word, that they do not have to be great orators. They do not have to be—as far as God’s Word is concerned—entertaining. They do not have to be fabulous administrators or natural-born leaders. Now, some of those qualities can help, and there’s nothing wrong with having those gifts. But they don’t have to have great charisma. Biblically, they don’t have to have the ability to build a huge church.

What they do need to be able to do is two things: To give instruction in sound doctrine, and to rebuke those who contradict it—to “exhort and rebuke with all authority,” as Paul says in Titus chapter 2, verse 15. That is the calling of the pastors and elders who lead our churches. They’ve got to be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and to correct those who go from it.

A lot of our pastors today are being criticized because they aren’t gifted at all the other things that are nice if pastors can do. But I’m telling you, those other things are not essentials. What is essential—this is what’s been gripping me as I’ve been living in the book of Titus; this is the calling on men of God today who lead our churches—is to give instruction in sound doctrine and to correct those who deviate from it.

If we have sound, healthy, hygienic doctrine, we’ll have sound, healthy believers, and we’ll have sound, healthy churches. That is what will make a difference in our culture.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to pray.

She’s been showing us the beauty and importance of doctrine. It’s not a stale concept, but it’s refreshing and life-giving when you really understand it. In our current series, "God's Beautiful Design for Women," we’ve been looking at important concepts from Titus 2. Every woman needs to understand this passage.

Nancy’s brand new book will help you get to know Titus 2 in a deeper, more vibrant way. It’s called Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. You’ll get so much from this verse-by-verse study of Titus 2. We’d like to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Ask for Adorned when you call 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

There’s one sure way to avoid false doctrine. Tomorrow Nancy will tell you what it is, and right now, she’ll lead in prayer.

Nancy: O Father, I pray that You’d forgive us for not having a stomach and an appetite today for serious and sound doctrine. Thank You for the gift of sound, healthy teaching in Your Word that is so very practical. I pray that You’d help us to love it, to love You more because we’ve been grounded in sound doctrine, and to know how to live it out and bring You glory in that way. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live out the beauty of the gospel, and is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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