Introduction

Standing by sound doctrine – Are you holding fast to the sound doctrine of our Lord in this present day?

We saw in my sermon last week – Time to Get Up and at It – that Jesus said, rise, take up your bed, and walk to the man who He had healed of his infirmity (John 5:8).  Scripture showed us that the man immediately began to testify of Christ to the Jews (John 5:15).  Now, as I often do, I then encouraged all of us who have been healed by God to do just as the healed man did – testify of the Lord.  You and I ought to be shouting and testifying of the Lord in our world today because of all that God has done for us!

Now, at the end of my sermon last week, we saw that as soon as the man began to testify of Jesus’ handiwork, there were some that tried to hinder him from testifying of Christ.  As he was hindered, we often find that we are also hindered when we walk for and testify of the Lord.  In most cases, it is those that still enjoy living in their sins that often try to hinder us from testifying of the Lord.  They set the rules for what you can or cannot say poolside.  Not only that, they attempt to set the doctrine by which you are supposed to live by in our world today!

Now, for the believer, this creates a workplace that can be hazardous and frightening.  What I mean by this is that, the conditions for the believer to testify of God are uneasy in our world todayI believe these conditions can cause the believer to do a couple of things.  Firstly:  these conditions can cause some to shy away from their testimony of the Lord because they are fearful of what others will think or say.  Secondly:  these conditions can cause some believers to conform their words to please the ears of those that may mock or criticize them.

So, I want to show you this week that you should not and do not have to shy away from your testimony nor do you have to cater your words to please the ears of those that would mock you because of faith in the Lord.   As you have heard me say before, your testimony of what God has done for you is powerful and you do not have to be ashamed nor do you have to be fearful of sharing your testimony in our world today. 

The Itching Ears of Today’s Age

We will see Paul say here in scripture today, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Tim. 4:3).”

This, Paul said of those who enjoy living in sin and do not desire to hear sound doctrine — sound doctrine being the gospel of God.  I believe that when Paul says, “The time will come,” that he is speaking of a time that you and I are now a part of.  In fact, I would tell you that time came before Paul’s life even ended. 

Not enduring the Word

You have probably heard me say this, but I will repeat myself again – we live in a world that is becoming more and more secular.  What this means is that we are living in a world that is moving further and further away from the principles of God.  I would even tell you that we live in a world that is becoming more and more prideful to be moving away from the Lord.

As Paul stated, people choose not to endure sound doctrine.  To endure means to stand or to be able to tolerate, which would then mean that to be unable to endure is to not be able to stand or to tolerate.  If I am being frank, people love to hear whatever will satisfy the itching of their ears.  Some will say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with listening to what will satisfy your ears.

Paul, on the other hand, said that those with itching ears would rather that itch be scratched (satisfied) by fables – falsehoods, lies, and fiction – rather than the truth (2 Tim. 4:4).  Now, I believe it says a lot about those who can hear the gospel and purposely choose to close their ears to the sound doctrine.  I believe it says a great deal about a person that can frown at God’s sound doctrine but be pleased by a doctrine of lies.  At the very same time, I believe it says a great deal about one who would bend and conform the gospel just to please and remain in favor of those who do not desire to endure sound doctrine.

We see in his letter to the Romans that Paul said to the believer, “do not be conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2).”  You and I, because we are genuine believers, have no reason to change who we are just because the world does not endure (accept) the sound doctrine of God.  We ought to stand firm in the sound doctrine of our Lord.

Not Ashamed to Testify

I want to briefly direct your attention to something that Jesus explained to the disciples that I believe many of us believers need to hear today.

Hated for the Lord

In John’s gospel, John records a moment where Jesus spoke of being the True Vine and also spoke of the world’s hatred towards Him and those that follow Him.  Jesus said,  “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15:18-19).”  

We, who genuinely follow after the Lord, are not of the world.  You see, we are born again believers which means that our birth is of the Lord – we are of God.  We are sanctified (separated) by the blood of Jesus which sets us apart from those that are of the world (of sin).  Because we chose to turn your attention to the Lord and walk in His way, Jesus tells us plainly that the world would hate us.  Hate – that’s such a strong word.

Now, why do you suppose Jesus shared this bit of information to those that would follow Him?  I believe there are a couple of reasons as to why Jesus made this statement.  Jesus, in my opinion, was always honest and real about the things that the saint would face in this world.  Jesus warned us that our walk of faith would not be easy and that we would have tribulation while on this journey (John 16:33).  So, in keeping it honest and in keeping it real with us, I believe that Jesus wanted His followers to be prepared – following after Christ would not be a popular decision to make.

Jesus was certainly well liked and received by those that turned their attention (their hearts) to Him.  Yet, at the very same time, Jesus was not well liked or received by many more people.  Every step He took in His ministry was met by equal, if not more, opposition and antagonizing.  Most of which we actually saw coming from people that thought they knew better.

In our world today, there are several genuine followers of Christ, but we are easily outnumbered by those that do not desire to endure sound doctrine.  In other words, I want you to understand that the true believers of Christ are a minority group.  So, Jesus told us that the world would hate us because He did not want us to be fearful or ashamed of our faith.  Jesus does not desire for us to be fearful or ashamed of the sound doctrine of the Word because of haters because haters are going to hate!   

I believe Jesus desires for us to stand by His sound doctrine by all means.  Jesus does not desire for us to shy away from walking for the Lord.  Jesus does not desire for us to conform and cater the word of God in a manner that will keep us in the “good graces” of those that do not endure sound doctrine.  When we speak God’s gospel – His sound doctrine – we ought to open our mouths boldly and have absolutely no fear and no shame (Eph. 6:19-20)!  We do not have to concern ourselves with haters because there is nothing they can do or say about you – Jesus has already overcome them so we do not need to fear them.

Preach the word

Now, with this said, I want to turn your attention back to more words of encouragement from Paul to Timothy, and therefore to us as well.  In his second letter to Timothy, Paul had been speaking about ministering the word of God.  Paul encouraged Timothy, “Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”  I believe Paul was telling Timothy to preach God’s gospel boldly in the world. 

2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

KEY VERSE – 2 TIMOTHY 4:2 NKJV

I say this because earlier in this letter, we can see where Paul told Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord (2 Tim. 1:8).  If there is something you should understand about Paul it is that he was a very courageous and bold man of faith in the Lord.  Paul was one of those people of faith that just never seemed to get phased by much.  He had grown to the point in his faith that he understood he would face trials, tribulations, afflictions, and hindrances but that they were nothing that his God could not handle.  

Again, he was a man that was bold in his faith and he did not much care for what others thought of him in his faith.  This man would tell anybody that he was not ashamed of his faith because he knew who he believed in (2 Tim. 1:12).  The one that Paul believed in  was the one who put him on the right track when he was on the wrong track.  The one he believed in healed him of his infirmities, and saved him from his sins.  So, Paul would likely ask someone why should I be ashamed of the Lord and afraid to further His gospel?  He was trying to influence Timothy to have this same mindset.

It makes you wonder why don’t we share that same type of mindset?  God has done the same thing for all of us, right?  Has the Lord not put us on the right track when we were on the wrong track for so long?  Has God not healed us from our infirmities – physical and spiritual?  Has the Lord not saved our soul and made it whole?  God has done all of those things for us!  So, with God doing all of this for you and me, why should we be fearful or ashamed of furthering?  I say to you today, forget what any hater has to say about you and God, and preach the word of God!

Now, for those of you that will say, “I’m not a preacher,” let us note that to preach means to proclaim.  To proclaim means to declare publicly, typically insistently, proudly, or defiantly and in either speech or writing; to give outward indication of; to praise or glorify openly or publicly.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with you, whether you are a preacher or not, proclaiming – letting the world know – that you are blessed and that God blessed you!

Take a moment to notice that Paul does not say to preach about the Bible.  You will also notice that Paul does not say preach from the Word.  Paul simply said preach the word.  I point this out because there is a habit that some believers get into where they enjoy waving the Bible in people’s faces or they like to simply lift a scripture and hold it over others in their ministry.  In other words, they believe that this is preaching the word.  I want you to understand, there is a word that the Lord has worked in you that you can and should proclaim to the world.

Standing by the Word

Now, I don’t want anybody to think that there is anything wrong with scripture or the Bible when I make that statement.  

The reason God works in us

As I said last week, I truly believe there is a reason why the Lord has healed us and continues to work in us on a daily basis.  The Bible, I believe, is there to teach us, train us, and help us in our growth in wisdom and knowledge of God.  At the same time, I believe the Lord is active in our lives for the same purpose – growth and wisdom of Him.  His work in us makes His Word plain to us.  

As Jesus was healing and making people well, the Lord is active in our lives so that we can know Him but also so that others can know Him through our testimony!  This is the Word being active in us and I believe God desires for us to testify of His word; He wants us to let someone know that the word of God is still living and is still true!

Scripture is very powerful but I have found a couple of things to be common when it comes to scripture.  Firstly, scripture can be very difficult to interpret and understand.  This is why we have to be diligent in our studying of scripture.  Secondly, I have also noticed that with the misunderstanding of scripture, and the lack of studying scripture, many Bible thumpers will lift scripture and then teach scripture out of context.  This often leads to the questioning and doubting of scripture which is certainly not good.

For those that say, “I’m not a preacher”, understand that your testimony is just as powerful as scripture.  I believe this to be the case because our testimony of what we have gone through and how the Lord brought us through is easier to understand and it is also relatable.  Every person walking the earth is going through something and has struggles, and we can all relate to the blessing of making it through a storm or walking in a wilderness.  Sharing the blessings of God’s current work in our lives is something that can easily help encourage others to turn to Him and give the Lord a try.

Holding fast to sound doctrine

Paul encouraged us to  “hold fast the pattern of sound words (2 Tim. 1:13).”  To all of us he encouraged us to convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

Because of all that God has done for us, it should be hard for us to keep our mouths closed about Him.  Yes, in this world that hates sound doctrine, we should never stop talking about the word of God and what He has done for us!  We ought to convince, which means we should persuade.  We should rebuke (correct) the doctrine of fables for sound doctrine – truth.  Our offering of rebuke should be done so boldly as this shows we love and care for all of those that are around us.  We should exhort (which is to comfort) and proclaim this sound doctrine of the Lord with all diligence and all patience.  

If someone tells you that they are sick and tired, annoyed, by your testimony I tell you to hold fast to sound doctrine.  We should proclaim all that God has done for us even when we feel we are being ignored and mocked.  Shout loudly your praises of God and your testimony of Him!  If it is just one person that will listen, that one soul is still very significant.  

As James said, “if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins (Jas. 5:19-20).”  I hope today that you understand the significance of your testimony.  Your testimony can save a soul.  Again I encourage you to let somebody, somewhere, know that you are blessed and the reason that you are blessed is because God is the one that has blessed you.  

Continue to proclaim the Lord all the days of your life and you will be rewarded for decisively fighting the good fight of faith and running the race.  You will receive your crown of righteousness for standing by sound doctrine in a world that is filled with itching ears for fables (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

Thought: Standing by Sound Doctrine

By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – October 17, 2021
Responsive Reading – 2 Timothy 1:6-14; 4:1-5
Key Verse – 2 Timoth 4:2