Is the practice more important than the doctrine?02-04-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet
Some of Paul’s letters are notable for their classification of doctrine and conduct. Theory and practice. So, the first 11 chapters of the Roman epistle teach about who God is, the content of the Good News, the position of Israel, etc., while chapters 12 through 16 are focused on the conduct of believers. The same we see in the Ephesian epistle. The first three chapters highlight doctrine, while chapters 4 through 6 deal with the walk of the believers. The first three chapters are about the believers position “in Christ” (1:3, 2:6, 2:10), while the final chapters talk about their walk in the Lord. The latter, of course, can not exist without the first. How could one “walk worthily of the calling” (Eph.4:1), if one has no idea about the calling, as such? It is a persistent misconception that the conduct of the believer is more important than the doctrine of God. Or that the doctrine ultimately and primarily is about the conduct of the believer. It is exactly the reverse. Paul writes to the slaves (Tit.2:10) that they should please their masters in everything, in order to so adorn “the doctrine of God our Savior”. For, continues Paul, the saving grace of God has appeared to all men (Tit.2:11). It’s all about this outstanding teaching of God, our Saviour, i.e. the Savior of all men, specially of believers (Tit 2:11; 1Tim.4:10). Without this doctrine or teaching, it is impossible to adorn the teaching of God. The conduct of the believers serves to show how beautiful the teaching is! If a slave pleases his master in everything (regardless of how the master treats the slave), he demonstrates God’s grace that is for all mankind which, after all, is unconditional and without limitations. The doctrine which Paul sets forth concerning the multifarious wisdom of God is ever so much wider, greater, higher and deeper (>Eph.3:18) than our everyday existence. Whoever asserts that doctrine, ultimately, is all about our daily walk, has no idea what “the teaching of God” is! Our daily walk can only be “worthy of the calling” when it reflects the value of that calling. Ideally, everything in our lives is to refer to- and be subordinate to that calling. It’s not about a set of do’s and don’ts. That’s just an empty form and “law”. Our walk is worthily (=valuable), when it is filled with “the ideal teaching” that makes happy and gives peace!