Beware of Doctrinalism

What is that?  By ‘doctrinalism’ I mean holding firmly, rigidly, even fanatically, to sound doctrine but not living the life.  Isn’t that Phariseeism?  No. not really.  The Pharisees were right on some things, angels, the resurrection, etc., but did not believe Jesus was the Messiah.  By doctrinalism I mean holding sound doctrine, biblical doctrine, Reformed doctrine, but not living it out.  Even the devil knows the truth but is extremely wicked.  A doctrinalist may be very sincere, or he may not, he may be a religious hypocrite.

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…” (John 14:6).  Those three aspects of the life of Christ are like a tripod.  A tripod is a very stable structure.  A bipod or a monopod have to be supported or they will not stand up.  But a tripod, on level ground and with the three legs more or less equal, is very stable.  Think of those three aspects of Christ’s life in us.  The Way is living the life, the way we live, living out the doctrine.  The truth is doctrine, the Word.  The Life is the power of Christ’s life in us by the Holy Spirit.  We need all three.  If we are true ‘Christians’ Jesus is all three to us.

This is illustrated by Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 37, the valley of dry bones.  The bones are like doctrine.  When they came together in proper order they were like a good systematic theology!  But very dry.  They needed flesh and sinews in order to live, move, act.  In other words, the flesh, muscle, can illustrate living the life.  The flesh is shaped by the skeleton beneath it, and supported by it.  Without the skeleton the muscle and sinew would be a heap on the ground.  But those reconstituted bodies needed the life, the Spirit blowing through them.  Only when all three were together did they become a living army.  The skeleton alone (doctrinalism) is not enough.  But the flesh and the Spirit without the skeleton becomes a writhing mass on the ground.  We need sound doctrine, lived out in godly lives, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

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