INTRODUCTION – We are jumping into chapter two of Paul’s letter to Titus this morning if you would like to turn there in your Bibles. As Elizabeth taught us last week – this letter is considered to be one of the pastoral epistles – which are epistles or letters that were more specifically written to help the church know how to how to be the church in the midst of the darkness and perversion all around her.
While this letter to Titus is one of the three pastoral epistles, I do not believe Titus himself should be seen as a pastor. Pastors or elders or overseers are called to shepherd the sheep in a given location. They are to dig their heels in a particular city or region and do their part to see the saints equipped, and the sheep in that given city or region shepherded, and the lost saved. They are to lay their lives down to see Christ’s kingdom come and His will done in their region until Christ clearly leads them elsewhere, if He ever does.
An apostle on the other hand, tends to not be confined to one locale or one congregation. An apostle typically oversees a number of churches and/or ministries and is given more to travel and to equipping equippers – and pastoring pastors.
While Titus is never called an apostle in scripture, he functioned more like an apostle than a pastor. Paul calls him his “partner and fellow worker” in II Corinthians ch. 8. Titus ministered in Corinth for some period of time. He traveled with Paul to Jerusalem at one point in Paul’s journeys. He traveled to Dalmatia for ministry at one point. And now we see him appointing elders in every city in the island state of Crete.
Now, one of the aspects of church life that is designed and intended to give God glory in every place where the church has been established is that its members look more and more like their Savior. For young churches like these newly planted churches in Crete, there were not many – if any seasoned, mature believers to learn from and to model after; so Paul gave Titus in this letter some specific character targets to shoot for in the various age groups and stations of life.
He starts off as he should with Titus himself. vs. 1 & vs. 15
“But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.” Vs. 1
“These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” Vs. 15
Please note the intended contrast in vs. 1 with the divisive men in 1:10,11 that the phrase, “But as for you” tips us off to. Paul warns Titus in that passage, “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”
Titus, on the other hand is to teach these new believers and try to ground them in sound doctrine. His every word in any context – official meeting or casual conversation – should help establish whomever he is talking to in sound doctrine, sound thinking, and thus sound behavior all centered on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is to do it faithfully and firmly, knowing it is crucial for the health and well being of Christ’s church, regardless of opposition or resistance.
One of the greatest responsibilities any apostle then or today has over any church is that it be grounded in sound doctrine. That’s why Paul brings up doctrine four times in this short letter. And he also speaks of it in the other two pastoral epistles – I & II Timothy.
What is doctrine? Well doctrine is basically the body of truth given to us in the scriptures. It is everything the King would ever want you to know about His kingdom, again as communicated in the Scriptures.
One of the many expressions of God’s goodness to mankind is that He hasn’t left anything to chance or doubt. He could have just given us one book instead of 66. But He loves to share His secrets with His people. He loves to tell us about Himself. He loves to reveal His ways and His deeds or works. He wants us to know how He has dealt with mankind since the very beginning. And He wants us to know what can be expected of and from Him in the now; and He wants us to know how things are going to end up (generally speaking) in the future.
Sound, Christ like, and God pleasing behavior rides on the back of sound, Christ centered doctrine. Sound doctrine protects Christ’s church from confusion and deception. It helps her rightly examine the more subjective aspects of kingdom life like prophetic words, dreams, visions, trances, etc. It provides guard rails for the life of the Spirit.
Satan knows this better than we do sometimes I’m afraid. And that is why one of his main weapons against the church is raising up false teachers, false prophets and false apostles, who like him seek to deceive and spread false doctrine, but who are very cunning and seemingly religious or spiritual in the way they do it.
How we are to be grounded in sound doctrine in the church is a whole other discussion that our teaching team is beginning to grapple with. One thing we know for sure is it was never meant to be confined to one man doing all the talking and teaching. All of us can and should play a role in the building and preserving of sound doctrine. I find it interesting that the believers in Berea – even after hearing the teaching of the greatest theologian (other than Jesus) ever to live, still “examined the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so”; and the Holy Spirit through Luke calls them noble minded as contrasted with the believers in Thessalonica. You can read about that in Acts chapter 17. But again – more on that perhaps in the near future.
After giving Titus specific instructions for his life and ministry there in Crete, Paul now turns to the older men there in the church. vs. 2 “Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.”
I want to make a few comments on this characteristic of being Sensible. We were told in ch. 1 that elders are to be sensible; as are old men in vs. 2, young women in vs. 5, young men in vs. 6, and then all of us as seen in vs. 12. This characteristic is obviously of great concern to the apostle Paul.
Translated “sensible” in the New American Standard version; the NIV & NLT = self controlled; It has the idea of being in control at all times of our passions and drives or lusts.
Why is this quality necessary for older men in the church? Well possibly because older men tend to think they’ve put in their time; they’ve worked hard all their life; so now they are entitled to sit back in their easy chair and enjoy their favorite shows or sports or both on their wide screen T.V.’s ; while enjoying a big bowl of ice cream to boot – every night!
Now I’m not saying thou shalt never as an old man watch t.v. or eat ice cream. But if you as an older man are going to be sensible or self controlled, which is a fruit of the Spirit by the way, then entitlement to the American way has to go. Older men if they are born again and thus baptized or placed into the church by the Holy Spirit; are therefore temples of the Holy Spirit; and therefore He the Holy Spirit would prefer to make the judgment or determination on how His temple spends their time, and what they eat or drink, or how much they eat or drink, and what they watch, etc.
The lie of the evil one, besides this entitlement lie, is that older men are washed up and cannot bear any significant fruit in their old age. The good news of the kingdom of God is that our fruit will only get riper in old age as we learn to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh.
Psalm 92:12-15 has been a guiding light for me as people sometimes ask me these days if I have retired, or if I am soon planning on retiring:
“The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” This is normal kingdom life and expectation for older men (and women).
Speaking of older women, let’s read Paul’s instructions for them – vs. 3,4a
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women….”
Older women likewise are notto see themselves as “retired” or having earned a life of ease and pleasure after years of hard work raising children, and perhaps grandchildren, and/or working in the workforce. Nor should the church see them as such. Older women in the kingdom of God are the key to seeing younger women thrive.
As long as there are younger women around, older women can bear fruit by imparting to them the life of Christ and the life of the Spirit that they have learned over the years, and are still learning hopefully.
Please note the first of four “So that” purpose clauses in this chapter that shows up in vs. 4 “so that they may encourage the young women….”
In the kingdom of God, this is what older women were designed to do. But as some of you older women (and men) might have learned – this doesn’t just automatically happen does it?
Older women and we older men have to cultivate the kind of spiritual life and character that causes younger women (or younger men) to feel safe with us and therefore dare to open their lives to us. And that first of all requires that we learn to listen and not react, not unrighteously judge, and not preach.
The more an older woman gives herself to becoming the kind of godly woman vs. 3 describes, the more she will see doors open to impart this life to younger women.
Sometimes there is a tendency in older women (or men) in the church to want a platform to teach the younger women (or men), rather than taking the time to cultivate the piety that ultimately opens more doors than any platform ever could. Piety ultimately bears far more fruit in terms of generational transfer than platforms (even organized men’s and women’s ministries) ever will.
OK. What about younger women? – vs. 4b, 5
“…to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
Here is the second “so that” purpose clause in this passage: “so that the word of God will not be dishonored. When younger women are known to be Christians, but are not known to be Christlike, God’s word is mocked, and the lost who know them chalk this up as one more hypocrite to add to the long list. But of course the converse of this is when younger women walk in this kind of godly character, the word of God is honored and respected even among the lost.
Titus has a few words for younger men – vs. 6-8
“Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”
Here’s the third “so that” purpose clause: “so that the opponent will be put to shame…” godly young men can actually cause the opponents of the church to shut their mouths.
What about Bondslaves? – vs. 9,10
“Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”
Here’s the fourth purpose clause: “so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect”. Doctrine can actually be adorned or beautified and magnified by the behavior of slaves.
Why should older men and older women and younger men and women and slaves give themselves to the pursuit of godliness and holiness? Because when they do –
younger women will receive the encouragement from older women they so desperately need
the word of God will not be dishonored in Christian marriages
the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about the church
the doctrine of God our Savior will be adorned and wonderfully displayed
All of this of course is only possible by the empowering grace of God
Paul wants to make sure we know that, so he is now going to speak of four wonderful things the grace of God does in the world and in the church in vs. 11-14.
First of all it brings salvation to all men – vs. 11
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,”
God has always been a God of grace. A God who gives lavishly to men what they could never deserve or earn. Jesus Christ, as John the apostle tells us in his gospel – – walked on our planet in plain view as one “full of grace and truth”. Those who met Him and knew Him John says received “grace upon grace”. Grace exploded on planet earth in and through the Savior Jesus Christ, and it is extended or freely offered to every man, woman, young person and child – regardless of ethnicity, or privilege or economic status, etc.
Second, the grace of God instructs those of us who have been born again by the Spirit of God to deny ungodliness and worldly desires – vs. 12a
“instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires…”
When we begin to see how unworthy (not worthless) we are; when our eyes are opened to how utterly sinful in our flesh we are; and when we see how great His grace is towards us – – when we see and begin to taste how great His love and unconditional acceptance is; when we begin to experience His favor and power poured out on us all because of the goodness of His heart – – we gladly deny all matters of ungodliness and worldly desires. They lose their grip on us. Praise God!!
Third the grace of God instructs we believers to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age – vs. 12b
“instructing us to ……live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”
The grace of God, defined by some as unmerited favor and blessing, but also defined as enabling power to please God and become like Him – – this amazing grace teaches us how and motivates us to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the midst of the perversion and corruption that surrounds us.
Finally the grace of God instructs us to look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus – vs. 13
“looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”
The grace of God as we begin to taste it and experience it, enables us to break all illicit ties with this world, and look forward to and anticipate the glorious return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Death is no longer feared, but rather embraced as our pathway to unhindered intimacy and fellowship with our great Savior.
What is so “great” about Him?
Well first of all He gave Himself for us. vs. 14 a
“who gave Himself for us….”
He willingly walked back into Jerusalem on that fateful day, knowing the Jewish religious leaders were going to capture Him and unlawfully arrest Him and unlawfully try Him; and unlawfully and brutally beat Him, and finally crucify Him on a criminal’s cross. He did that for you and me. And He did that to accomplish a number of things, two of which Paul emphasizes in this passage: –
First to redeem us from every lawless deed – vs. 14b
“who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed,….”
Before Jesus invaded our lives and saved us from our sins and made us new creatures, we were slaves to sin and lawlessness. By that I don’t mean we necessarily broke major laws of our land; but we broke God’s laws – on a daily basis – – the greatest one being to love Him with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind. Jesus died to set us free from this awful bondage to sin – – a bondage that was more awful than most of us realize.
The second reason Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood was to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds – vs. 14c
“who gave Himself for us ….to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
The most wonderful purifying and cleansing agent in the universe is the blood of Jesus. There is no sin, no bondage, no addiction, no generational long time sin pattern that it can’t cleanse. The blood of Jesus can take a Corinthian church and turn it into a Philippian church.
You know, God’s strategy for reaching the whole world with the wonderful news of His saving grace has never really changed. He has always been about forming a people among whom He could dwell and manifest Himself, so that His manifested presence in our midst first purifies us of all defilement, and then spills out on all those within reach with God appointed and Spirit directed good deeds.
Do you sense Him calling you out of the world, or rather calling the world out of you in these days brethren? I know some of you do. Oh the joys that are ahead of The Well – Los Osos – – when we get serious about breaking our friendship with the world. Oh the zeal for doing every good deed that is going to be increasingly ours – – as we finally begin to hate the things He hates and love the things He loves, and therefore find ourselves free from all the things that used to trip us up.
Jesus said in the sermon on the mount to a crowd of disciples, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they (plural) shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8). There is no greater happiness in this earthly life than allowing our great Redeemer and Savior to clean us up from the inside as a people so we can see Him as He is, and experience Him in our midst, and thus have His intended impact on the outside watching world.
Can we pray into this some as His people this morning?