Doctrines matter. Then again, so does attitude. Does anyone doubt this?
Which is more important?
Is that a trick question?
If so, why?
Doctrines, simply put, are teachings. It is what you are taught about a particular subject. It is what is written. It is what is said. We can complicate this with official doctrines and unofficial teachings, but in the end, it is the entire package that matters.
Attitudes are very important as well. Jesus said the two greatest commandments were of love. Love, Godly love that is, is an active, doing, helping, outgoing driving force behind what we do and what we say.
So, which is more important? Which comes first?
Some people read the Bible through and through. Yet, they never grasp the message. Some get up in pulpits, put on long robes, put on a big smile, pay for TV stations even, and yet they never really get the point. What good is doctrine if you do not understand it?
The Church of God has been filled with people who have been exposed to the plan of God in all its facets, which is significantly more of a three dimensional view than what traditional Christianity offers. Yet, when an offense comes, when permission to do what wasn’t allowed before is obtained, when told something that sounds good to the ears is spoken, a falling away occurs. All of the previous struggles and trials were for nothing. All of the experiences in spiritual growth are tossed like dirty rags into the fire.
Some people help out the homeless, donate to charities, visit people in jail and live a life of sacrifice. Yet, even Mother Teresa complained that she “felt no presence of God whatsoever”. So, what good is that?
Can you have love without true understanding (doctrine)? Can you have true doctrine without love?
I submit that true love will yield an attitude that leads to the truth. I also submit that understanding the truth will lead to true love. However, in addition, I submit that one carnal attitude can derail the entire process. That’s why God must intervene in our lives, bring the truth about our attitudes and carnality to the surface and confront us with it.
That’s why love and commandments are often tied to one another. Sometimes, we see that keeping the commandments is equated with love.
4I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
5And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
And, that is also why sometimes we see that the commandments rest upon love.
9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Romans 13:9, King James Version)
Without God’s intervention, the normal carnal pattern is for being caught in a cycle of deception that does not lead to love, truth or fulfillment.
Simply put, keeping the Law does not save you. By definition, you would not need saving if you kept the Law perfectly. However, the gift of God is that Jesus the Christ died so we don’t have to. He was and is the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
However, we must not be tempted to treat this gift lightly, neglect it or trample upon it. Freedom from sin means just that: Freedom to live as Christ lived – a perfect, blameless life. He proved it can be done. However, if our attitude is bitter, dulled or neglectful, then we are in danger of trampling upon His free gift and even losing it.
We cannot save ourselves. It is a gift. It is a gift to be grasped. However, we can throw the free gift away if we so choose.