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Summary: Not women only, but all who are placed in the congregation of the Lord, are called to consider how to live so as to honour God.

“As for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” [1]

North American churches have trended toward specialised ministries for many years. Often, these ministries have found their genesis in current social trends leading the churches into areas that are impossible to justify with what has been written in the Word. Often, the ministries developed have dramatically altered the concept of the congregation, the novel face of the assembly often rendering as unrecognisable the New Testament church.

One major factor in this descent into irrelevance is a failure of sound instruction from the pulpit. In some measure, this failure has been driven by the demands of unconverted church members who are convinced that the services of the congregation should be adjusted to satisfy their lust for entertainment. Tragically, church goers have become either incapable of thinking deeply or they are now unwilling to confront their own froward attitudes.

ORTHODOXY MUST LEAD TO ORTHOPRAXY — “Teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

In earlier years, evangelical believers consistently emphasised orthodoxy. The standard has slipped during the past several decades; and with the absence of emphasis on orthodoxy has come a notable dismissal of orthopraxy among the professed people of God. Let me remind you what these two terms mean. Orthodoxy simply means correct doctrine. The term speaks of teaching that measures up to the biblical standard, teaching that is true to what God has given through His Word, instruction that reflects the mind of the True and Living God. Orthopraxy refers to correct actions. When an individual embraces correct doctrine, that person will also endeavour to live in a manner consistent with what is professed.

You may recall a previous message from this pulpit that spoke of the purpose of the law. [2] Turn back to the text for that message, “The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” [1 TIMOTHY 1:9-11].

In this passage, we discover a series of actions that are obviously detestable before the Lord are listed as necessitating the Law. Then, in order to include summarily all that displeases the True and Living God, Paul speaks of “whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” The passage expresses an obvious relationship between sound doctrine and sound action. Again, bear in mind that the term “sound doctrine” speaks of teaching that is spiritually healthy.

Throughout the Word are a number of passages urging believers to act in a manner consistent with the Faith. These passages are provided with the assumption that those reading them hold to the truths that define the Faith. Think of a few of the passages in question.

Here is the first of several passages that are indicative of God’s demand that we live according to what we profess. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” [1 CORINTHIANS 6:9, 10].

Keep in mind that the Apostle is writing “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” [1 CORINTHIANS 1:2]. Though the Corinthian congregation may be dysfunctional, these are Christians! They are identified as belonging to God, as declared holy in Christ Jesus and thus identified as God’s peculiar people. However, redemption did not instantly qualify them as living righteous lives. They still needed to be taught. Just so, though a congregation in this present day may be composed of those who are saved, those who are known by God and who are declared holy in His sight, this does not mean that they automatically choose actions and lifestyles that qualify as righteous and godly.

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