"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 1:13).
When Paul wrote to his two young disciples, Timothy and Titus, he stressed again and again the vital importance of maintaining sound doctrine in their churches.
"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome |same word as 'sound'| words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness" (I Timothy 6:3; see also 1:10). "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine" (II Timothy 4:3). "That he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9). "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine" (2:1; also 2:8).
If the great apostle was so concerned that his pastoral disciples guard the doctrinal integrity of their first-century churches, he would surely be even more exercised today. These are times when false doctrines are rampant, and when sound (that is "healthy" or "whole") doctrines are often the object of compromise and distortion, or (even more commonly) simply ignored, even in evangelical churches.
Paul's command was to "hold fast the form" of sound words. Not only the so-called "spirit" of the words in Scripture, but to the words themselves.
Such strict guarding of doctrine is vital for the spiritual health of the churches. Furthermore, such doctrinal integrity does not lead to cold orthodoxy, as some would allege, but is centered in the "faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." It is "the doctrine which is according to godliness." It is doctrine which is not only sound in the faith, but also "in charity, in patience" (v.2).
After all, it is the doctrine of Christ Himself who is not only "the truth," but also "the way" and "the life" (John 14:6). HMM