One of the ways we guard our hearts and ensure that the pathways of our lives are steadfast is to deliberately direct our attention to good and godly things. In the words of Proverbs 4:25: “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
Some examples of good and godly things would be neighbourly love, personal virtue, and working for justice.
But a church father from the 5th century named Cyril of Alexandria also included sound teaching and doctrine in this category of good and godly things which should attract our gaze. He wrote: “To slip away from the rightness of holy doctrines would be nothing else except to sleep in death.”*
He is right. False teachings lubricate the landslide to depravity.
Today, the word “doctrine” is not popular. To some it can sound harsh or unsympathetic. But that’s a comment not so much on the concept itself as it is on our society’s weak stomach for admitting there might actually be a higher authority who knows a thing or two more than we do.
A doctrine is simply a ‘teaching’ which carries a certain authority. In matters of faith, this authority and teaching is from God as revealed in the Bible.
Loving your neighbour is a doctrine, as is the capital importance of forgiveness and the resurrection of Jesus.
Sound doctrine is one of the ways we fix our gaze on good and godly things, and which pours abundant life into our lives.
Read and study the Bible—not just bits here and there but the whole shebang. Talk about its wisdom with others. Sit under sound preaching and teaching. Be receptive to historic wisdom and from the insights of those who have walked the path before you.
Don’t sleep in death. Value doctrine.
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.