Before we can really understand and embrace the importance of sound doctrine, we must know what sound doctrine is. So let’s define it up front: Sound doctrine is the well defined standard of truth set down in the Gospel by our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles (1 Cor.15:1-3; 1 Tim.1:11; 6:3ff; 2 Tim.1:13). Sound doctrine constitutes what Paul and Jude called “the faith…once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3; 1 Tim.1:2,11,19; 3:9,13; 4:6; 6:21). Sound (literally, healthy) doctrine is said to be healthy because it alone has the intrinsic power to restore genuine spiritual and moral health to those who accept it into their lives.
Another way of viewing sound doctrine is as the throne on which Christ sits. Just as the Gospel is the chief instrument that Christ uses to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men, sound doctrine is the chief instrument by which Christ washes the saved man and fashions him into His likeness. Sanctification is inextricably tied to the doctrine that Christ gives. It is through His truth that He rules the church and sanctifies His people (John 17:17-18). “Doctrines are the shovels and tongs of the altar, while Christ is the sacrifice smoking. Doctrines are Christ’s garments; which smell of myrrh, and cassia, and aloes, but it is not the garments that a man of God cares for, as much as for Christ Himself.” Christ comes to us clothed in the garments, or the doctrines, of the Gospel.