“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).”
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge; but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1,
NASB). “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge, but he that hateth reproof is brutish” (Proverbs 12:1, KJV).
“Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant (Jeremiah 1:9-10, emphasis mine)."
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:1-4, emphasis mine).”
“Let God be true, but every man a liar (Romans 3:4, partial).”
Scripture presupposes man’s inherent need for correction; it ever lays out its revelation of God and man’s need for godliness. The force of God’s Word by the agency of His Holy Spirit is designed to first identify man’s dispositional error, then to correct it, and only then to encourage him while he molds a new character by forming external habits of obedience corresponding to God’s internal promptings. The Lord desires to displace mankind from the inside out; the extrusion of His life from the heart outward to our extremities is an excruciating and tedious process—but a necessary one—if we are ultimately to manifest Christ in our mortal flesh.
Glory (which is the external emanation of an internal force or quality—the unseen demonstrated or manifesting) is our hope; our earthly glory is dead because it is transitory and Christ in us is our heavenly glory, which is eternal, made after an endless life. Once we are baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire, Christ arises from the ashes of our lives and displaces our natural glory. We are thus commissioned to allow God to be true (He is whether we acknowledge/believe it or not) in direct proportion to how much we deem ourselves to be liars (we are a vapor, a lie and as nothing within ourselves whether we acknowledge it or not).
Also, a revelation of His glory through us means a displacing or an inverting of our native glory: a revelation of our shame and inglorious state of being is as necessary as the revelation of His Almighty glory. The realization of Him is a realization of what we are not, and sound doctrine is a revelation of His life stemming out of our shame and death within our beings.
To endure something can be a little more than a grin and bear it mentality, however, when the process has ended, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness. Many Christians, however, do not understand His ways; His lovingkindnesses are indeed better than life and stronger than death and often expressed in a fullness that is hard to bear. Sound doctrine is an eternal and specific piercing laser that is devastating and perpetually evident; it never ceases to scrutinize the natural life. Natural life is offended by its monotonous and insistent demand; if we do not realize exactly what God is after—and rebel against this discipline—we will render ourselves useless for His honorable purposes.
Dying to self is the only way to get Christ into our
DNA. Blessed are those that are not offended in Christ; and woe to them that are! How pitiful is someone in the throes of woe; there is no remedy except to replace one’s natural foundation for praise and joy with an everlasting one. The crying over spilt milk, the loss of one’s natural vigor and life, is not worthy to long be sorrowful about in light of the ascending and displacing glory of the life of Christ within us. Unfortunately, we often do not understand this process viscerally; I say viscerally, because no matter how much we understand it in our heads and in theory, dying to self is more emotive than we can possibly imagine or conjure up intellectually. The dying of ourselves—realized at the pit of our beings—is always bitter, and it is impossible to genuinely predict exactly how we will behave while we endure its onslaught. The whole of our essence, being not fully orbed and understood by even ourselves, keeps us in the dark concerning our fate and our response to fate’s irredeemable outplaying.
Sound doctrine is more than a construction of truths to be artificially applied; it is the transmission of the life of Christ, the ruling disposition of the new creation essence within our souls. The word ‘doctrine’ in the Greek is “instructed or communicated by teaching” but implies it is delivered by “a teacher, doctor or master” of that which is taught; ‘sound’ means “to have sound health, i. e. be well (in body); fig. to be uncorrupt (true in doctrine).” When our Lord insisted His body was true food indeed—when He insisted they eat His flesh and drink His blood—the Lord Himself interpreted his own words to mean that they are spirit and they are life. In other words, the Master, the true Teacher, transmits more than a formulaic version of truth to His students; He gives of Himself, the embodiment of Truth—and sustains them with a Word.
Corruption is displaced only by this transmission of true food because corruption is more than an entrenched problem; corruption has permeated the very being or fiber of man down to a molecular level. A scientific observation has been made that every cell that constitutes the human body today will be completely gone, replaced by new cells, all within seven years; if we subsist on the Lord alone, foregoing foolish teachings and myths and fairy tales, we would start looking exactly like Him—we would be an exact replica of Christ—after only seven short years.
Thus, if we are to manifest Christ in our mortal flesh, we must eat and drink His words and Spirit and digest and assimilate the full impact of their meaning; our natural man, the first Adam, forever and surely becoming replaced from our mainspring outward with the spiritual man, the last Adam. First the natural, then the spiritual; as our Adamic nature grew imperceptibly at the molecular level until there was a growth spurt, so Christ in us will enlarge internally until it forces an external expression or manifestation.
Undoubtedly, everything that is hidden shall be revealed; every burying we make and every slippery subterranean path we traverse, will be inverted, laid bare and made completely evident in all its glory or inglorious splendor. In the Lord, this is already a reality because light and darkness are both alike to Him; “and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2, partial, KJV).”
Since God dwells in unapproachable light, then the essence of unapproachable light that was planted in us at the inception of our salvation in Christ is our only hope of not being consumed when we stand before Him. Indeed, the verse that follows the above one is: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure (1 John 3:3).” Corresponding this truth with the idea that only the pure in heart will see Him, and that we are instructed to awake and walk as children of the light, must mean that a growth of vision and purification must happen if we are to see ourselves as we are and Him as He is.
We are instructed to awake and throw off the deeds of darkness; sleeping and blindness are only perversions of watchfulness and the requisite sight to watch. They are sins of omission and are rooted in spiritual indolence; and it is this laziness alone that keeps many of us from obtaining our full inheritance. What God works in we must work out; indeed, anyone that wants to be naturally strong must work out by creating tension against the muscles being strengthened. Likewise, becoming strong spirituality can only be accomplished by exercising ourselves unto godliness. It takes spiritual pluck to move about under the weight of His glory.
Enduring sound doctrine is enduring the onslaught of every word of God that both destroys us (removing our natural vigor—likened to breaking down the muscles first before they can grow) and builds Christ (the essence of our spirituality and the flexing of God’s muscle through us); it is to never cease striving with the grace or to never cease pressing towards the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
When Jeremiah was commissioned as a prophet to the nations, God touched his mouth and laid out for him exactly what his words were going to accomplish. His words were designed to do six things:
1. To pluck up
2. To break down
3. To destroy
4. To overthrow
5. To build
6. To plant
It is noteworthy that six is the number of man and that four actions are seemingly negative and two positive. Man is a tripartite being consisting of body, soul and spirit; God’s interaction with our bodies and souls seems mostly negative, while our spirits are the gateway of God to inject all that is positive into our spirits and ultimately outward to the whole of us. In other words, God’s intention is always positive, transmitted through our spirits, and designed to place Christ in us all the way outwards into our flesh. To do this, He must weed, break, destroy and overthrow so as to prepare a suitable ground and environment to plant this new life into us.
To pluck up means to “tear away or pluck something out fully by the roots.” To break down means “to tear down, beat down, or break down.” To destroy means “wander away, i. e. lose oneself; by implication, to perish.” To overthrow means “to utterly pull down or into pieces.” To build means “to make, repair, obtain children.” To plant means “to strike in, i. e. fix; spec. to plant (lit. and fig.).
I believe there is a correlation between God’s six part instruction to Jeremiah and our tripartite nature: the first two actions of to pluck up and to break down speak of our flesh and a tearing away and a bloody organic destruction of the force of the life of the natural in us; but we “are not in the flesh but in the Spirit (Romans 8:9, partial);” the second two actions of to destroy and to overthrow speak of our soul and its inclination to wander off the path of life and our need to ever overthrow its exalted imaginations, futile thoughts and arguments: “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations (a soul function), and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought (a soul function) to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, my insertions);” the third two actions of to build and to plant speak of our spirit and its function as the seedbed of all good things within our lives: building and planting, however, still involves cleansing and perfecting elements as (2 Corinthians 7:1, partial) says, “let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
God calls things that are not as though they are and He deems us His children before we even respond; once we do respond, however, He fashions us into His image virtually in spite of us. We are already like Christ positionally; we become like Him in our experience as we realize and assist the agency of His Spirit in forming Christ throughout our entire comportment and person. Jeremiah applied this truth formulaically: a 2/3rd or 66.67% punitive or corrective application and a 1/3rd or 33.34% praiseworthy or affirmative one. His words tore flesh, rebuked the soul, and built up the spirit in essentially these proportions; forming Christ within us involves the removing of baseness (flesh), the correcting of mind and sentiment (soul), and affirmation of the new creation (spirit).
I think it is of no coincidence that the negative 66.67% application against man’s nature looks an awful lot like the 666 of the sign of the beast; without the uprooting and overthrowing function of God’s word, man is doomed to become a monstrosity (a beast): the epitome of the first Adam in full flower, to be forever sealed within a state without Christ and without any hope of a proper expression of what he was meant to be (no hope of glory). It is indeed a hopeless situation without Christ; our native glory is a fading and dying one that can only be classified as an expression of shame. And shame is simply an imploded or inverted glory; fallen man’s expression is little more than “wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam (Jude 1:13, partial).”
I find it further interesting that when fallen man (ultimately) or our carnal nature (immediately) is increasing rather than dying, God considers its expression to be sin and will judge it; “As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame (Hosea 4:7).” To continue (after hearing the gospel) as an unregenerated man is a grievous and foolish decision; to remain a carnal Christian (in light of the gospel) is hardly any less a grievous or foolish decision. The wonderful gift of salvation is for anyone that wills; even the carnal Christian rejoices in it, however, enlargement of soul and the fullness of his purpose or design will not be realized if he perpetually refuses to allow the cross to circumcise his heart.
When Paul said: “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things (Philippians 3:19),” he could have been speaking about many Christians just as easily as the unregenerate. We certainly do not want to be destroyed by the brightness of His coming, but being ashamed when we see him is a measure of being destroyed by the brightness of his coming; a realization that we have foolishly squandered the opportunity to become what He has made us to be will gnaw at us forever. We intuitively know our disfigurement—our inherent sin—and there is nothing like God showing up on the scene to expose this nakedness; this is the insertion of the gospel message and precedes our desire for a covering. There is entirely too much placating of mankind today; this inordinate amount of accentuating the positive becomes extremely negative when no amount of uprooting or overthrowing is leveled against our native nature.
When Paul instructed Timothy to ‘reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction,’ he did so because he knew that the time was coming when they would not ‘endure sound doctrine.’ I am not so sure this was exclusively some end time statement or future concern as much as it always represent the immediate future of any individual Christian of any era that has—as his/her goal—the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (or maturity); will we, indeed, endure sound doctrine, the ravages of the cross, and death to ourselves to achieve this maturity?
Jeremiah bore the yoke of suffering in his youth; we would do well to endure hardship now before we are old and without enough strength to continue or maintain hardship. There is a crystallization of character that tends to occur as one ages; without an extraordinary or miraculous intervention by God, a person’s fate hardens and his character becomes permanently solidified as he grows older. What that solidified character says or whose image it ultimately reflects, however, is a critical question that demands a certain answer.
Without suffering the loss of our native soul’s expression, our character cannot but reflect our shame; being made in God’s image, we are designed to reflect God—and that becomes our glory. Any fire or emanation that originates from within our first Adam is a strange fire, and its glory is really an expression of shame. Christ in our spirits is designed to enlarge and become Christ in our souls; Christ in our souls eventually transfigures our very nature and character until our face glistens and our bodies begin to shine.
To accomplish this glorious purpose, God must displace us; the suffering this causes is not worthy, however, to be compared with the glory that is eventually to be revealed in and through us. God is love, and its greatest expression is Christ suffering to restore mankind; to know and appreciate that love requires that we—in some measure—share in that suffering. There is a loss of dimensionality, a metaphysical loss of spiritual mass that accompanies an expression of a soul that knows no suffering. Our capacity for sorrow digs out our capacity for joy; those that really want Him must drink the same cup that He drank.
Oh, how little enduring a sound doctrine has to do with enduring a proper theological construction! To receive ever increasing revelation that invigorates the Christ in us while simultaneously judging and deadening our native nature is what enduring sound doctrine means.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy is very much like God’s instruction to Jeremiah; there is a similar proportionality: 2/3 to 1/3 or 666 to 333 (roughly) construction shared by both examples. Specifically Paul’s points of instruction to Timothy (in 2 Timothy 4:2) were as follows:
Reprove means “to confute, admonish:--convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.” Rebuke means “to prize a superimposition” or “to tax upon, i. e. censure or admonish; by implication, to forbid.” Exhort means “to call near, i. e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation).” The Greek scholar Wuest fleshed out this verse very well; here is his expanded translation of 2 Timothy 4:2 and verses 1 and 3-4 for context:
I solemnly charge you as one who is living in the presence of our God, even Christ Jesus, the One who is on the point of judging the living and the dead, I solemnly charge you as not only living in His presence, but also by His appearing and His kingdom;
Note the power and sharpness of expression that the above verses convey; they are certainly not written to initially comfort us. Once again, the administration of His word here in the New Testament has a three-pronged application; it addresses the whole of tripartite man and gives to each part what it needs in order that Christ might reign within us and express His kingdom through us.
Indeed, to reprove is to tell a fault to our outer man, to smite him with open rebuke and never allow his baser expression to define us (this is the gospel in relation to our flesh); to place over or above something is the definition of ‘superimposition’ and to ‘prize’ its application suggests a voluntary allowance to be reproved or rebuked –censuring ourselves and forbidding our soul to express itself as a first cause of action is the dying to self that God requires if we are to actually gain ourselves in the ultimate sense; our God is a consuming fire that we are invited to come near to –our spirits are already addressed and affirmed as perfect, but it takes the continual perfecting of ourselves within the flames of intimacy to maintain this perfection.
We must ever diligently guard our hearts (spirits) from being polluted by our flesh and soul. As the natural heart dictates life by pumping nutrient-rich-blood all throughout our bodies, so our spiritual heart pumps Christ throughout all of us. If one of our heart’s valves malfunctions and causes a backflow, we perish; likewise, when we allow the polluting influence of our flesh and soul to bleed backwards into our spirits, we perish. Indulging the flesh is inclusive of our soul’s machinations; it subsumes both base and exalted forms of carnality into one expression that God has always called ‘flesh’ ever since the fall of mankind. It is unclean, and we are never, as priests unto our God, to touch any dead thing; when we indulge our flesh we are touching dead things and birthing deadness and carnality. We must never invert the Christ and prostitute ourselves; if we do we become like Moab and Ammon, birthed out of incest. These represent pseudo-Christians, carnal Christians that have to be made very small in order to have entrance into His kingdom. God testifies that He is no respecter of persons, yet we see in the book of Revelation, that in the final analysis, there stood before Him both the small and the great; how so? I would suggest it has nothing to do with gifting, but rather in how much of Christ is allowed to displace carnality; some are willing to suffer—and some are not. Everything is going to be judged (scrutinized) by God someday; it is therefore quite foolish to avoid the suffering of the cross now (being that it is the only way God uses to purify and ready a people for the day of their eternal determining examination). We do not, however, have to be judged unto a small victory that lies entirely too close to condemnation; we can be wise, endure sound doctrine, and be made large or great. The choice is ours.