«As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine» (l Timothy 1:3).
THE MESSAGE (which is always above the messenger) can and should be adapted each place and culture. However, it must be kept in its original purity.
Therefore, Paul commands Timothy not to teach a different doctrine and not heed rabbinical fables or tales, nor look at endless genealogies trying to discover a nection to David’s family (l Tim. 1:4).
We are saved by His grace in order to live in harmony with His will. This is the gospel; this is guarding the doctrine. Discipleship is relational yes, but first and foremost is relational to the Lord and His doctrine. To follow the Lord is to follow His doctrine. That is why Martin Luther assures us that any teaching that does not fit with Scripture should be discarded, even if it makes miracles rain down every day.
Paul used different, emphatic imperative words such as «I command you» (1 6:13) or «I charge you» (1 Tim. 5:21; 2 Tim. 4:1), to guide Timothy. Not only to him that he was pastor of Ephesus, but also a soldier of the heavenly army.
Timothy had to maintain true doctrine, the true Word, and dismiss false doctrine and vain talk. (1 Tim. 1:6).
At that time false doctrine was an inadequate interpretation of God’s Law. They tended to remove people from the slavery of sin to lead them into the bondage of legalism. A law, as we have already said, is not meant to save, but to show us our sin and us to Jesus. We are saved by grace, which we receive by faith, but the law maintains validity and its value.
Biblical truths are the heart of Christianity. If we allow false doctrines to enter, we distort the message. When we respond irreverently, we blaspheme; when we publish a controversial theory that opposes biblical truth, we become heretics; and when renounce or abandon our faith, we fall into apostasy. If we do not oppose false doctrine, we approve it; if we do not defend the truth, we deny it.
False doctrine can be disguised as tradition, personal experience, feelings, and opinions of our own. «If private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless and if they disagree, they are false» (John Owen). That is because, in short,
«It is not the church that must determine what Scripture teaches, it is Scripture that determines what the church teaches» (Martin Luther).