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Guarding Doctrine From Pride

This article is part three of our five-part "Doctrinally Faithful" Text-Driven Podcast and article series throughout the month of October.

Every house with a front door has a lock on it. The lock is not meant to keep the family inside. Instead, the lock is to keep unwanted or uninvited guests out. The lock on the front door of every house is the home’s security system. The world that we live in is dangerous. Senselessness and sin are at a premium in our society. In some manner, we would say that it is foolish for a homeowner to own a house that does not have a lock on the front door. Having home security is essential.

If home security is essential for the safety of your family, then should not there be security on other matters of importance? As Christians, we need to realize that the same sinfulness that is pervasive in our society, which necessitates at the minimum a lock on our front door, is also pervasive in every area of our lives.

One area in particular that needs security is our Christian doctrine.

One area in particular that needs security is our Christian doctrine. Scripture is clear that Satan works to destroy the Christian faith through distorting Christian doctrine. We have an obligation as believers to know Christian doctrine and to defend Christian doctrine from the attacks of the Enemy.

In this article, we are going to see the admonition that God gives for Christians to guard doctrine. Also, we are going to see one of the great threats to Christian doctrine. You will be surprised to learn that this threat does not come from outside the church. This particular threat that we will discuss comes from inside the church. Not only does it come from inside the church, but this threat can come from anyone inside the church–including you and including me.

God Calls Us To Guard Doctrine

Scripture teaches that Christians are to guard doctrine. The world that we live in is inundated with attacks upon the veracity of Scripture. Skeptics are everywhere trying to undermine the truth. If not careful, many weak Christians will be “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). Paul admonishes Timothy, his son in the faith and pastor of Ephesus, to “guard the deposit entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20). Therefore, to help Christians know their faith and not be swayed from orthodox Christianity, it becomes increasingly important to guard doctrine.

The term “guard” that Paul uses in 1 Timothy 6:20 is quite vivid. The term has a rich history of usage in the Greek culture. First, the term was used during the time period of Aristotle to speak of the responsibilities of a watchman in a city. The watchman was tasked with the responsibility of staying alert throughout the night and watching for potential threats to the town. The watchman had to stay deliberately alert in order to protect the citizens of a city from invasion. In essence, you could say that the watchman was the first line of defense for a city. He was responsible for the safety of every citizen.

Second, the term “guard” is used in the gospels to describe one’s adherence to the Law. For instance, in Mark 10:20, the rich young ruler says that he has “kept” the Law. The ruler had “guarded” his actions in such a manner as to follow the Law. The idea that the gospel writer is communicating to us is that we must be mindful or alert to our keeping of the Law.

Third, the term “guard” is used in the epistles to speak of living by faith and guarding against teachings that are threats to the faith. Since the opening pages of Scripture, an attack has been facilitated by Satan against the authority of Scripture. This attack began all the way back in the Fall narrative of Genesis 3 when Satan asked Eve the question, “Did God actually say…” The intent of the question was not for Satan’s good; he was not seeking clarification to understand God’s Word. Instead, the question was designed to strike doubt into the mind of Eve by enticing her to question the authority of God’s Word. Because of threats to God’s authority, Scripture needs to be guarded if the church is going to remain doctrinally faithful. Look at some of these verses found in the epistles that encourage us to guard doctrine:

  • 1 Timothy 6:20 - “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.”

  • 2 Timothy 1:14 - “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

  • 1 John 5:21 - “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

  • 2 Peter 3:17 - “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”

As you can see, Paul, John, and Peter address the importance of guarding the teaching of Scripture and guarding ourselves against the threats of Satan to the authority of God’s Word.

What is a great threat to being doctrinally faithful?

We have already seen how Scripture calls us to “guard” doctrine from the attacks of Satan toward the authority of Scripture. In this section, I want us to think about one of the great threats to being doctrinally faithful. Normally, when we think of threats, we think of attacks from the outside. We routinely look outside the windows of our churches to see what the big bad world is doing that poses a threat to God’s Word inside the church. What if one of the great threats is not from outside the church? What if one of the great threats to being doctrinally faithful came from inside the church?

Now, I bet you are thinking of someone right now in your church who you would consider to be a great threat to the church. Naturally, we all like to point the finger at someone else. However, one of the greatest threats to doctrinal faithfulness is not someone outside the church or even another person inside the church. One of the greatest threats to doctrinal faithfulness is the sinfulness of our own heart–pride. Personal pride destroys doctrinal faithfulness.

One of the greatest threats to doctrinal faithfulness is the sinfulness of our own heart–pride. Personal pride destroys doctrinal faithfulness.

We need to consider two portions of Scripture. First, Paul warned Timothy about pride in the congregation where Timothy pastored. Consider what Paul said, “Certain persons, by swerving from these [verse 5 - pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith], have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law…” (1 Timothy 1:6-7). Through their desire to be teachers, these church members in Timothy’s congregation left their “sincere faith.” In essence, these church members due to their pride ceased to be doctrinally faithful. The result of their pride was that their faith became shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19-20).

The desire to be a teacher is not a bad aspiration. The pride described in 1 Timothy 1 is not a result of someone wanting to be a teacher. The pride is that the individuals described in 1 Timothy 1 desired to be a teacher without knowledge. These teachers thought that they knew enough already to begin equipping their fellow believers. Their reliance was upon themselves. They thought they had enough knowledge. They thought they had something to share. They thought they were ready. It is important to guard against the pride of self-importance and self-qualification. If the Lord wants you to be a teacher, study and prepare yourself; at the appropriate time, God will give you the opportunity, if He so desires.

The second passage that we need to consider about the threat of pride to be doctrinally faithful comes from the actions of the Apostle Peter. Paul confronts Peter about his actions with the Judaizers in Galatia. Peter’s pride came in the form of fear of man. Peter had an inflated view of himself that led him to be worried about what others would think of him. Paul’s confrontation of Peter’s pride is recorded in Galatians 2:11-14. Notice how Paul describes the situation, “But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel…” (Galatians 2:14). You will notice that Paul shows how Peter’s fear of man and pride resulted in Peter no longer being doctrinally faithful to the truth of the gospel.

We often find ourselves in similar situations as Peter. We claim Christianity. We believe in the gospel. But when people come around us who we want their approval, we shrink our Christianity into the shadows and we silence our gospel witness in order to be approved by them. This kind of hypocrisy causes us not to be doctrinally faithful.

How to guard against pride?

We must guard against the pervasiveness of pride so that we remain doctrinally faithful. In order to guard against pride, first, we must be aware of the glorious message of the gospel. Pride is the elevation of self. The gospel teaches the wretchedness of self and the glorious grace of God. When our view of self becomes inflated it is because our view of God has become deflated. Second, we must battle to take every thought captive. Pride begins in our minds. Scripture teaches that we have a tendency to “think too highly of ourselves than we ought” (Romans 12:3). Because of this temptation towards pride, we have to renew our minds daily (Romans 12:2). The way that we renew our minds is by consciously assuming the position of a sacrifice (Romans 12:1). When we lay down upon the altar, we are putting to death our pride. Finally, we can serve one another expecting nothing in return. Being a servant destroys pride. For a servant lives only for the purpose of others. God has called us to be servants of Him and to serve one another. Therefore, look for practical ways to serve someone at your church. Ask your pastor how you can help him and the volunteers. When you ask how you can help, be prepared to say, “yes” no matter what task is given to you.

God’s Word is clear. We are to guard doctrine so that we remain doctrinally faithful. God’s Word is clear. Pride harms doctrinal faithfulness. Therefore, we have an obligation for the sake of our spiritual health and the health of God’s people to put to death pride in our lives.

To learn more in this series entitled "Doctrinally Faithful," listen to the Text-Driven Podcast at


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