Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 4

Leslie Basham: There’s one sure way to avoid false doctrine—embrace sound doctrine. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If we are not grounded in sound doctrine, we’re going to be susceptible to false doctrine. We’ll be easily swayed, easily influenced, easily deceived by things that may look good or seem good or feel good and may be very popular but aren’t true.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned. It’s Thursday, Februaury 9, 2017.

Nancy: Today we’re going to talk about doctrine. Maybe you’ve been scared by that word. Maybe it sounds boring or dated. But as we’re about to hear, doctrine is vibrant, and alive and important. We’re able to bring you this kind of teaching—the kind of deep teaching that may not sound easy or popular at first—thanks to listeners, like you, who support Revive Our Hearts financially.

When you make a donation of any amount, we want to send you my brand new book on Titus 2. It’s called Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. It is hot off the press this week, and I’m so excited we can send your copy. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959 and make your donation of any amount, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thanks Nancy. Let’s get back to our series on Titus 2.

Nancy: As I was driving to the studio this morning, there was this dense fog that had settled down on the area. It really made driving kind of difficult, and I found myself slowing down.

It was very hard to see at points. I turned on my lights as other people had done and just drove more carefully and hoped that the people around me were doing the same.

As I tried to make my way through that fog, I thought, We’re living in a fog today. The church today is somewhat in a fog. It’s a doctrinal fog, and there’s a lot of confusion.

We need to be especially careful today. You can’t assume that because you pick something up in a Christian bookstore or because you hear it on Christian media—radio or television—or even necessarily because you hear it in a church today that it’s healthy, sound, doctrinal teaching.

There’s a lot of confusion and a lot of things being taught. Some people even shared some things with me at the break here that are going on in places you would expect to really know about sound doctrine, where there’s a lot of confusion, a lot of unbiblical thinking.

This is a time in the history of the church when we need to be more careful. We need to turn on the lights, turn on the light of God’s Word, and we need to navigate carefully, or we’re going to find ourselves in some critical situations.

That whole fog this morning brought to my mind what we’re talking about as we look at Titus here. We’re going to end up in this very familiar passage in Titus 2 which gives instructions to women. But first we’re giving some background.

Paul starts out that chapter by saying to Titus, his son in the faith, “As for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine” (v. 1).

Now, Paul’s concern, as is ours today, is: How can the church impact, influence, and evangelize a pagan culture? That’s what Titus was dealing with on the island of Crete, where, we said, the Cretans were “always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12).

They were debauched; they were debased; they were detestable; they were disobedient—all these phrases that were used in Titus. They just lived out the full extent of their fleshly, sensual disbelief in God.

Paul was concerned about how the church could be a light in the fog of that generation. That question—about how the church can have the kind of impact it needs to have in a dark and difficult culture—that’s the question a lot of Christian leaders are asking today.

I subscribe to a number of email newsletters and printed newsletters and Christian magazines that are written for Christian leaders—some are written for pastors and preachers. There is a lot of talk about how the church can be effective today.

One of the big questions is, “How can it be relevant?” Now, I hope what they mean by that question is, “How can we effectively communicate the gospel and the doctrine of Jesus Christ to a generation that doesn’t value those things?”

But it’s interesting; as I read these discussions, it seems like a lot of authors and speakers and leaders are coming up with programs, with campaigns—redesigning their buildings, changing their names, changing their youth programs, changing their music, changing their service times or styles or day of the week, changing their preaching—a host of different changes are being made in order to be more appealing, to make the church more appealing to unbelievers.

Well, Paul had this same concern on his heart as he was talking to a Christian leader, a church leader, namely Titus. He was concerned about how to provide leadership for the first generation church. But Paul’s answer in this kind of situation, how to make the gospel effectively communicated in that world, may surprise you.

His answer is qualitatively different than much of what is being written and said today along these lines. Paul says to Titus, “As for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

Stick to the basics. Keep doing what you’re supposed to be doing all along. Don’t get distracted by all these novelties, all these new ways of doing things.

That’s not to say that change is necessarily inherently wrong, that we can’t change some of the styles. It’s not to say these things are never right. But it’s not the essence of the issue about how to get the gospel into our world.

Paul says what you do is preach to the believers the sound doctrine which will impact and change their lives; and then in their homes, their workplaces, their communities, they will live lives that are in accordance with sound doctrine. And that will make the gospel believable to those unbelievers around them.

I want to continue on this theme of sound doctrine for a few moments today and ask, “Why is sound doctrine important? What difference does it make?”

Part of that answer is, if we are not grounded in sound doctrine, we’re going to be susceptible to false doctrine. We’ll be easily swayed, easily influenced, easily deceived by things that may look good or seem good or feel good and may be very popular but aren’t true.

For example, in Ephesians chapter 4 Paul says we are to so center our lives on Christ and the truth that we will no longer be infants, spiritual infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching [see verse 14]. That’s that word doctrine.

There are a lot of winds of doctrine today, in the church and out of the church. And Paul says if you get your life grounded in the truth, in biblical truth, then when these winds of doctrine come along, these false winds, you’re not going to be tossed and turned and blown about by those winds of doctrine and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

This is why it is so important for young believers to get grounded in doctrine. Sometimes we think that doctrine is something for older believers. No, doctrine is something foe every believer. You need to be grounded in your faith so that you know what to believe and you know how to discern truth from error.

If you are not grounded, then you will walk into a Christian bookstore today, pick up a book by even a reputable or popular author, and find yourself being taken in by teaching on a variety of subjects that is just not in accordance with Scripture. There is so much of this, so much of this fog in the Christian world today.

That’s why I want to urge us as women to think about the importance of sound doctrine. Not only is sound doctrine important to keep you from being taken in by deceptive doctrine; but doctrine—that is, what you believe—determines how you live. And the way that you live reveals what you actually believe.

You may claim to have true doctrine, biblical doctrine. In your head you may know true biblical doctrine. But if you’re living in a way that is contrary to the true biblical doctrine, then what you really believe is not true doctrine. Doctrine and life have to match each other.

I have really come to believe (I was thinking about this this morning) that every failure in Christian lives—the failure of any Christian marriage; the failure of our morals; failures in our relationships, when things are off, when they are not as they should be; disorders; addictions; these things that are so common, that Christians do struggle with—every one of these issues is somehow connected to doctrine.

Either we’re not knowing and believing sound doctrine . . . And you can be, sadly, in many churches today for a long time and not get doctrine. You may get a lot of feel good, sound good teaching. But if it is not biblically based, it's not base. So either we don't know doctrine, or we’re not practicing the things that accord with sound doctrine.

Some people have just not been taught. They are spiritually, biblically illiterate. They just don’t know the truth. And some people have been around Christianity for years and years and that’s still true of them, and that’s why they live lives that are not consistent with Scripture.

But some of us have had the privilege of growing up in churches where we’ve heard a lot of sound doctrine; but we’re not practicing the things that accord with sound doctrine, the things that are fitting with sound doctrine. We’re not putting shoe leather to the doctrine we’ve heard.

So it’s really important that we have sound doctrine so our thinking will be straight, and then our living will be straight and spiritually healthy.

Now, we’ve commented in this session and the last that a lot of people have misconceptions about doctrine and think of it as boring, dull, something they would not be interested in. We need to remember that biblical doctrine is not just a matter of some abstract theological concepts.

Doctrine is always connected, in the Scripture, to duty. It’s connected to life. It’s not just some vague abstract stuff up there. Real-life applications connect to doctrine.

  • Sound doctrine requires us to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord.
  • Sound doctrine motivates us to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord.
  • Sound doctrine enables us to do that which we want to do, and that is to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord.

In Titus 1:9, Paul says that the elders, the leaders of the church, are to “give instruction in sound doctrine.” Doctrine is the biblical, theological foundation for the Christian life. You can’t build a house without a foundation.

Doctrine is the “What?” What is true? What do we believe?

But then Paul also says, beginning in 2:1, the verse we’ve been looking at, “As for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.” That is the “So what?” That’s not just the foundation of sound doctrine; it’s the personal and practical application of sound doctrine.

  • In the church we tend to go to one extreme or the other. It’s hard to stay in balance. Some churches really, really, really emphasize doctrine, and they get the foundation but they never get to the “So what?”
  • Then you have churches that are all about the “So what?” but there’s no “What?” There’s no foundation. They’re all about application because they don’t want to turn people off. They don’t want to bore people. They don’t want to be concrete and practical.

But if your practical application is not rooted and moored in sound doctrine, what’s to give you the basis for how you’re supposed to live? There is no basis. You’re set adrift on a sea of shifting moral values if you don’t have the sound doctrinal foundation.

You’re set adrift on a sea of shifting moral values if you don’t have the sound doctrinal foundation.

So we need both. It’s not either/or. Without the application . . . and I come from a background of sound doctrine. I thank the Lord for growing up in churches where I've had tons and tons and tons and tons of sound teaching. I’ve been indoctrinated, and I mean that word in the best possible sense, in sound doctrine since nine months before I was born.

But I want to tell you, without application, without what accords with sound doctrine, without the lifestyle emphasis, sound doctrine is just going to stay in our heads and in our notebooks, and it’s never going to make a difference in how we live, and it’s not going to make a difference in our culture.

Some of us need to get our notes out of our notebooks and out of our heads and into our lives. We know so much. If we’d just live a fraction of what we know, we’d be like spiritual giants instead of spiritual pygmies.

If we’d just live a fraction of what we know, we’d be spiritual giants instead of spiritual pygmies.

Some have not been exposed to it because they just didn’t realize how important it was to have that foundation of sound doctrine. Let me give you an illustration of the importance of both.

Turn to Titus 3:4. Here’s a paragraph that gives you the “What?” This is a doctrinal paragraph, and maybe someday we’ll take time to teach this whole paragraph. It’s such a rich one, I wish we could just park here.

This is sound doctrine—verses 4–7 of Titus 3:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Now, that is one of those run-on sentences for which the apostle Paul is famous. It’s what makes Scripture memory difficult and challenging sometimes, because there are no periods until you get to the end of that whole big long paragraph.

But it’s like Paul, who didn’t sit down to write these things—actually they were probably orally communicated to a scribe—is pouring out his heart, and his doctrine is doxological. I mean, he’s almost beside himself with fullness and enthusiasm for what salvation and the grace of God are all about, and he just gets into this whole big run-on sentence, like I’m doing right now and like I do a lot of the time.

But he gives us this grand paragraph that describes the “What?” of the gospel. I mean, in there he’s got justification and the loving kindness of God and imputed righteousness and salvation and mercy and regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit and heirs.

You’ve got, I don’t know, fifteen doctrinal, theological concepts embedded in that one little paragraph. That’s the “What?” It’s glorious! But it doesn’t stand on its own.

Look at verse 8. Here’s the “So what?” and you’ve got to get to verse 8. “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things . . .” That’s the “What?” the sound doctrine.

“So that . . .” Here’s the “So what?” Why? What’s the purpose of all this? “So that those who have believed in God [those who have sound doctrine] may be careful to devote themselves to good works.”

There’s the outflow. There’s the overflow. These things, he says, are excellent and profitable for people. Doctrine is excellent; doctrine is profitable. Doctrine has to result in being lived out in our lives.

Paul says, “If you have experienced this glorious doctrine of salvation, justification by faith in Christ alone and all the hugeness of that great gospel declaration we just had in verses 4–7, now you’ve got to get to the ‘So what?’”

And the “So what?” is, when you have experienced this, you will be motivated to devote yourself to a life of good works because of the generous grace that God has poured into your life. You will want to give it out to others.

There are other “So whats?” sprinkled throughout this book. When we get to Titus 2:3–5, which is what you’re all hoping we’ll get to soon, we’ll see some more “So whats?”

But you see the connection between sound doctrine and the things that accord with sound doctrine? There’s the “What?” and then the “So what?” of godly life is the outflow, the overflow, the evidence of sound doctrine. If you don’t have the foundation of sound doctrine, you have no basis on which to have a proper, biblical “So what?”

Last Sunday in my church, I went to Sunday school and service back to back and heard two fabulous messages right out of God’s Word; the teaching of sound doctrine, two different passages. The pastor and the Sunday school teacher are in the midst of two different series, one on the gospel of Luke and one on the book of Romans (which my pastor has been preaching through for five years).

In those two sessions by two men of God who love God and are just expositing and opening the Word of God, I heard lots of sound doctrine. These are men who have not only a heart for sound doctrine, but for what accords with sound doctrine.

I want to tell you, as I was sitting there listening . . . and I go to church asking God to speak to me. I ask God to make the Word quickened in my heart. I don’t want to just fill my head or my notebook. I want a life that is rich with Scripture, so that’s the mindset I have as I go to church.

As I was sitting there listening in these messages, the “So what?” of both these passages just started to explode in my heart. I mean, the Holy Spirit was stirring within me, and I found myself thinking, What kind of woman am I supposed to be in light of what this passage says, in light of what I’m hearing here?

I started realizing that there were some areas of my life, two different messages of two different areas, that the Lord was dealing with that weren’t measuring up. The “So what?” isn’t in accordance with sound doctrine.

Now, it’s not like I’m off on some great deviant behavior, although you get off into deviant behavior by a matter of small degrees. So God was showing me small degrees of things—relatively small; there’s no small degrees with holiness—but relatively small course adjustments that need to be made in my thinking and my living.

I found myself pondering this and grappling with it. Sunday evening I got together with a couple in our church and said, “Can we just talk about some of these things?”

I didn’t want to just go home and drown out the conviction in Sunday lunch and take my nap and go into my week and forget what I heard. I want the Word to become a part of the way I think and live.

So we sat down for two hours in my living room Sunday night and talked about one of those messages. I said, “Here are some things where I see that my life isn’t in accord with this passage. Can we talk about this? Can we pray about this?”

All week long I’ve found myself repenting, grappling with the implications of sound doctrine in these specific areas, changing the way that I think, the way that I live. That’s dynamic, transformational Christianity.

What I just described there isn’t supposed to be some great exception that happens in your life every twelve years. That’s the way we’re supposed to be living.

As you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts and whatever program precedes it and whatever program follows it, thank the Lord for the David Jeremiahs and the John MacArthurs and these great men of God teaching the Word, and for your pastor and your Sunday school teacher.

Their desire and God’s, as we listen to these messages—my desire as women listen to me teach—is that the Spirit of God will do in your heart what He was doing in my heart as I sat in church on Sunday, and that is stirring and hovering and exploding the “So what?” in your heart.

Now, as we come to Titus 2, what we see in this chapter is, “What does doctrine look like in real life?” Men, women, older, younger, slaves, every position in life—doctrine has practical applications for each gender, each season of life, each social position.

The world is going to scrutinize not what we say we believe but the outworking of what we believe in our lives. That’s what will impact their perception of Christ and their openness to the gospel.

So when you say, “We live in a wicked culture much like the one in which Titus lived, the culture of Crete” (there are a lot of similarities between his day and ours), and you say, “What are we to do? How can we impact?" We say, "We just need more modern methods. We just need more dynamic programs. We need louder this or more of that or less of this or change this . . .”

Paul says, “As for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

So what difference does that make? We say, "What we really need is better laws or more laws, or we need new structures, new systems, or we need to overhaul the judicial system or the schools or the government. We need a different president. We need a different congress. We need more social programs.”

There’s nothing wrong with those things if they’re patterned after Scripture. But Paul says that’s not the key thing we need. The key things we need are:

  • Christians who are biblically grounded in sound doctrine, who know what they believe and who live what they believe
  • Christians who are good and wise and kind, who speak the truth, who are not hostile but loving toward each other, who are courteous and gentle and hospitable and gracious and who have ordered family relationships
  • marriages that actually work
  • Husbands and wives who actually like each other
  • Wives who submit to their husbands
  • Husbands who provide godly, wise leadership for their wives and their families
  • Children who respect their parents
  • Women who reverence and respect their husbands

All these things we’re going to read about in Titus 2—that’s what makes an impact in our world. That’s what adorns the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s what causes people to look at Christians and say, “You make Christ believable. Tell me about Him.”

There’s no more powerful tool of evangelism. There’s no more powerful tool of social and structural change in our world than for Christians to believe and live out the doctrine and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what difference does it make, you may wonder, if you or I live out a godly life in an ungodly world? You know what? Your life, your family, may be one tiny island of godliness in a sea of wickedness. But that’s how the kingdom of God spreads.

Don’t underestimate the impact of a life that is based on sound doctrines and lives out the implications of the gospel, because the day is coming when the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea [see Habakkuk 2:14].

And it will be the result of God’s providence and God’s timing, of you and you and you and you, and your marriage and your family and you as a single woman in your workplace and you as an older woman in that retirement community and you as a teenager in your school living out the implications of the sound doctrine of Jesus Christ. That’s what makes Him believable.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been explaining what doctrine looks like when it’s lived out in the real world. It’s so important to stay on track, yet so easy to drift. The best way to know sound doctrine and to live it out is to study God’s Word.

That’s why Revive Our Hearts brings you teaching series like this one. We’re in a study of Titus 2: 1–5. You can also get to know this passage in more depth by getting a copy of Nancy’s brand new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. We’ll send you a copy as our thanks for supporting Revive Our Hearts with give any amount. Ask for Adorned when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow we’ll hear from a couple of pastors’ wives who have learned how to give wise advice when the problems seem very complicated. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth never gets tired of exploring sound doctrine, and is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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