Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them,
for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
I Tim. 3:16
Paul again admonishes his protégé Timothy. The wise apostle had some fears for him, for the arising new cults were couched in subtlety. The old legalism that Paul combated in Galatia was a fairly minor threat compared to the mixture and lure of intellectualism, ritualism, legalism, mysticism and asceticism which he confronted with the Colossians. But even that form of Gnosticism was mild in comparison to what was infiltrating the church of Ephesus.
Timothy needed to “take heed” because Satan himself was masterminding the moral and mental attack on the church. Satan was going after all those who professed to be believers. Paul would describe Satan as a “roaring lion.” Because of the reality of such attack, Timothy could not afford to neglect times of meditation of his God and the continuing study of His Word.
He was to heed, not only himself, but also “the doctrine.” That word “doctrine” appears so often in Paul’s letters. Doctrine is of great importance…the Bible says it to be so. We must not be like the man who, when asked what he believed, replied, “I believe what the church believes.”
“Well,” someone challenged, “what does the church believe?”
“Why,” he said, “the church believes what I believe.”
His questioner persisted, “Then what do you both believe?”
“To be sure,” replied the believer, “we both believe the same!”
Such an attitude or vagueness will not see us through the perils and attacks aimed at us.
Paul exhorted Timothy to “continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” Paul is not referring to salvation in this context. Rather this has to do with being saved, or rescued, from the false but diabolically clever teaching of the demonically inspired lies of the cults. The consequences are great… no higher stakes than that of the soul of a person. Failure to hold and teach sound doctrine leads to the spiritual downfall of both those who teach and are taught such falsehoods.
Wise counsel from Oswald Chambers on teachers in the church— “The test of an instructor in the Christian Church is that he is able to build me up in my intimacy with Jesus Christ; not that he gives me new ideas, but I come away feeling I know a bit more about Jesus Christ.”
May this church take heed to ourselves, that we grow in the doctrine and example that will always point us in the direction of Jesus… in grace and knowledge of Him.