READ: Exposition on 1Timothy 4:16 (Attitude Or The Doctrine) by Rev. Ade Adebayo

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I've heard many people say that the word is not working and as such claim the man of God must first pay attention to his attitude before paying attention to doctrine. This kind of thinking is very misleading. Some cite Paul's instruction given to Timothy - 1 Timothy 4:16; "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."

Paul's instruction to Timothy never suggests neglecting doctrine so as to work on attitude issues first. This verse simply means Timothy should take heed unto himself in view of the doctrine. It is not that he should watch his life and then follow doctrine but that he should watch his life by paying attention to doctrine. It is the doctrine that will bring the transformation! We can't be seeking good works outside our faith in Christ (Eph 2:10; Titus 2:14). We can't tell a man to forsake doctrine to get good behavior. The right thing to say is to tell a man to let doctrine yield in his life. In fact, if you read 1 Timothy 4:16 in context, you would see how Paul never spoke of doctrine as a secondary thing but as a primary influence for the man of God.

At 1 Tim 1:3, he instructed that some teach no other doctrine. This is because it's sound doctrine that births good christian conduct.

At 1 Tim 1:9-10 he spoke of certain wrong attitudes, lascivious behaviors as things contrary to sound doctrine. Doctrine can never be responsible for these!

At 1 Tim 4:6 he speaks of being nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine.

At 1 Tim 4:13 he says Timothy should give attention to reading, to exhortation and to doctrine! This was what he said before writing verse 16 which some have hijacked to say one must watch his life first before paying attention to doctrine. At verse 15 he says to meditate upon these things so that his progress would appear to all men.

Paul never downplayed the influence of the word, which is the doctrine of Christ, in all of his letters. His ministry was fully Christocentric and doctrinal.

At 1 Tim 5:17 he says those who rule well are those who labor in the word and doctrine and should be counted worthy of double honor. People celebrate men for several reasons today but unless a man is pursuing doctrinal purity, he has no credibility in ministry. This should be the basis for honoring men of God - word and doctrine.

At 1 Tim 6:3-5 he says if anyone doesn't consent to the doctrine of Christ which he describes as wholesome words, he is proud and should be shunned. Doctrine is again the basis for choosing who to listen to as a believer.

At 2 Tim 3:10 he commends Timothy for following his doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith and so on. The first in the list of things to follow is DOCTRINE.

At 2 Tim 3:16 he says all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Scriptures are profitable for doctrine! It's doctrine that serves as a basis for reproof, correction and instruction.

At 2 Tim 4:3 he spoke of a time when men will no longer endure sound doctrine! It's neglect of sound doctrine that breeds unhealthy conduct. Nobody can truly claim it is sound doctrine that brings irreverence and misconduct. I could go on and on to show you from all the epistles of Paul the importance and significance of sound doctrine in bringing a man to maturity and setting right those who are erring. We must pursue doctrine first if we desire to see any meaningful change in attitude and behaviors.

Rev. Ade Adebayo

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