What is doctrine? In the simplest terms, doctrine is what a person believes about God.
The phrase “sound doctrine” is repeatedly found in the writings of Paul, where he would urge young pastors to pursue it. Sound doctrine is right believing about God; meaning that it lines up with what God has revealed about himself. The original word used for “sound” is actually the same word used to describe someone as healthy, free from any danger or disease.
I love that idea. We should have healthy beliefs about God, we should have healthy doctrine.
In order to have healthy doctrine, what we believe must be based on what God has revealed to us about himself in the Bible. It can’t be based on what we personally think or feel, it can’t be based on another person’s opinions, and it can’t be based on what’s spiritually popular within our culture. None of those are God’s revelation of himself, but merely human speculation.
Healthy doctrine is based on the truth of God’s Word alone. It’s the explanation of what God has done, why he’s done it, and why it matters today.
Here are five very practical reasons that healthy doctrine matters for you and me:
5 Reasons That Healthy Doctrine Matters
1. It connects you to God.
The beauty of healthy doctrine is that it is God revealing truth about himself, through the Bible, not simply for the sake of knowledge, but for the sake of a deep relationship with you. God has created you for relationship with him; he wants you to be a part of his family. And it is through this real relationship that God is worshiped and glorified by you.
2. It makes you more like God.
God has given us all we need in life to become like him. That’s one of God’s good gifts to his children. And how do you receive that? The Bible tells us that it’s through knowledge of God (2 Peter 1:3). You actually need to know God intimately to connect with him. You need to know him directly to become like him. You need to know him personally to have an abundant life with him. That’s why we seek after the knowledge of him with healthy doctrine—so that we can truly know him.
3. It protects you from disconnecting from God.
Just as there is great beauty in healthy doctrine, there is also great danger in false, sick, diseased doctrine. If you believe false truths about God, it can actually lead to a broken relationship and disconnection from him. False doctrine leads you away from God in the same way that healthy doctrine leads you toward him. False doctrine leads you to false gods (anything you value more than God) and a false understanding of the true God. What you believe really matters—not just for the sake of knowledge—but for the sake of relationship with God.
4. It reveals your true identity in God.
You are created in the image of God. That has huge implications for everything you desire to become or accomplish. Knowing the truth about God helps you know the truth about yourself. Why are we so driven toward relationships? Why is loneliness so devastating? Why do we long for true love? Because God, in his very nature, is a relational person. He has always been in relationship and will always be in relationship. And because you are made in his image, you are created with his relational nature. Healthy doctrine reveals this truth about you.
5. It leads you to Jesus.
When Jesus was born on earth, it was God taking on flesh and blood and moving into the neighborhood. Jesus was God’s ultimate revelation of himself. Jesus is the truest doctrine to ever be breathed, uttered, or lived. To pursue healthy doctrine is to pursue the heart of Jesus—not a theological system, denomination, or religious book. To live with healthy doctrine is to live like Jesus. That’s why you can’t separate healthy doctrine from wanting to know Jesus.
Doctrine doesn’t stop at the mental level. Your doctrine isn't merely what you believe, it's how you live out what you believe. There are few things more beautiful in this life to see someone live out the healthy doctrines of God. To see them live with love, grace, redemption, restoration, truth, boldness, gentleness—to see them live like Jesus.
May we be a people who seek to know God deeply and live for him fully through healthy doctrine.