Today: [Titus 2:] What Claims Does the Church Have on Your Personal Life? In Titus 2 Paul gives Titus instruction that calls upon him to speak very invasively into the lives of the believers in Crete. If a Christian leader came to you and began to point out and correct behaviors in your life would you tolerate it or reject them as being out of order? The answer delineates for us just how wide the disparity is between the church as we know it and church as God wants it (according to the testimony of His word).
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[Tit 2:1-15 KJV] 1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine [shewing] uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. 9 [Exhort] servants to be obedient unto their own masters, [and] to please [them] well in all [things]; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
Beginning in chapter 2 Paul instructs Timothy to teach the people things that become (or enhance) sound doctrine. Paul finds Timothy’s doctrine to be correct but emphasizes that doctrinal correctness is not all that matters regarding the reputation of the church. He goes on in the remaining verses to stress the character of the people receiving that doctrine. What Paul essentially is saying that right doctrine is not enough. What good is sound doctrine if the older men in the church (v. 2) are not known to be sober, temperate, sound in faith, love, and patient in spirit? To what extent is the benefit of sound doctrine if the more mature women in the church are falling short of holiness, not being false accusers, not given to much wine and being teachers of good things? In speaking of older women, we need to bear in mind that the median life expectancy in Paul’s day was 38 years of age. The older women he is referring to would be women in their late 20’s to mid-’30s.
The older women were to teach the young women which presumes that the younger women were expected to be willing to be taught. Generally in our culture older women speaking into younger women’s lives is seen to be impertinent and unwelcome. What are the older women to teach younger women? To be (v. 5) discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good and obedient to their own husbands.
According to the US Department of Labor here are the statistics: In 1967, 49 percent of mothers were stay-at-home mothers. That proportion steadily dropped over the decades until 1999, when only 23 percent of moms stayed at home. Since 1999, the percentage of mothers who stayed at home began to increase again, rising by 6 points to 29 percent in 2012. Now to suggest that a career woman with children in the house should make a different choice would be fighting words today, but we must allow these words of the apostle Paul to give us pause if we claim to venerate the scripture.
Paul also says that a woman is to be obedient to her husband. Again these are thoughts that most couples want to hear nothing of. Most husbands, particularly young husbands have no interest in their wives looking to them for leadership because they don’t want the responsibility. Their mothers coddled them as children and in many men’s thinking marriage is going from being spoiled by one woman to being spoiled by another. The husband simply takes the role of the oldest child in the house with the exception that he has conjugal rights and what’s wrong with that picture? Likewise, most women chafe at the thought that they should be expected to obey anyone least of all their husbands. At the same time often the issue of obedience only comes up as an excuse to dial the character of family and personal decisions in the home down to the lowest common denominator under the pretense of being subservient as long as the flesh is indulged. If you look up the meaning of this word obedient in the greek you will find it describes a virtue both husband and wife would be benefited to incorporate in their relationship one with another:
“A voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.”
In v. 6 young men are admonished to be sober-minded. They are in all things to show themselves a pattern (or example) of good words, doctrine, incorruptibility, gravity, sincerity, and sound speech that cannot be impeached or condemned. The sincerity and gravity of the young men in the church is to be so evident as a group that any other of the younger men in the church community would be ashamed to show themselves as not being likewise minded. This implies that the men in the church young and old were connected in such a way as to have a profound impact on one another’s lives. Likewise, the women having such an influence as described had to have a relationship with each other that was far more than looking at the back of someone’s head once a week during a performance of church as entertainment.
In v. 9 Paul brings up again the subject of servants being obedient to their masters. We will remember that these were not employees as we understand them but rather slaves. We think that slavery doesn’t exist in our day but just quit your job and you will find out who is in charge of all those things you think are your own and just how free you are or are not. We are to willingly from the heart to seek to please those we answer to for our livelihoods. We are to refrain from any kind of taking advantage or God forbid – outright theft (Paul is writing to Christians here). We are to show “all good fidelity…” Why are we to do any of these things? Merely for our own benefit? Remember as v. 10 reminds us that Paul says we should adopt these behaviors that we might adorn or endorse by our good character the doctrine being taught by our leaders.
When you mention doctrine today the immediate response is often “we aren’t into doctrine at our church… we just love people…” Well, that is a doctrine. The word doctrine means “teaching…” The Greek word for doctrine (doxa) is the same word for “glory.” If you are not into doctrine you are not into the glory of God (and you probably won’t see too much of it either). The presence of God is not authenticated by the electric guitar or the smoke machines used in what we describe as worship. The presence of God is authenticated by our love of the truth and our commitment to good character in the pursuit of portraying to the community around us that our lives are not our own, but we have been bought with a price. There should be a clear and prominent contrast between the character of the people in our churches and the people outside the faith. The travesty is that the message for decades projected by the church to the unchurched is “we are just like you – we are all the same…” and the answer from the unchurches is “we know that – that’s why we aren’t attending your meetings!” Influence is not achieved by establishing affinity with those around us but rather by striking the contrast of authentic life in Christ that is far different than that of those without faith. You can’t control the decisions your church may or not make regarding this, but you can choose to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem in this regard.
In v. 11 Paul speaks of the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared (or is available) to all men? What is the message? That God loves you just like you are? That statement without further explanation implies that God requires nothing of us and that would not be true. The salvation (v. 12) that has appeared to all men comes with a dogma, a doxa or teaching (v. 12):
Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.
What is ungodliness and what is lust? If anything I want is ok or right simply because I want it or because it is my personal choice does lust or inordinate desire even exist? Lust is a strong desire for what God has not ordained. In today’s culture, the thought is if something is my choice it must be right because it is right for me. There is no sense of higher accountability beyond “I’m ok, your ok” and “to each his own.” Is this the liberty that our forefathers envisioned? Secularism in the absence of respect for institutions of faith becomes its own religion of total abandonment to self-license and a level of individualism that is destructive to the fiber of our society.
What possible motivation is there for us to live lives of higher accountability? Because (v. 13) we are looking for and expecting the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself to redeem us from iniquity (wrongfulness) and to purify us unto Himself that we might be a people zealous to good works as defined by the doxa of the writings of the apostle Paul that we claim to venerate as the rule of faith and conduct for those of us that believe.
If Jesus came to redeem us from iniquity what is iniquity in the first place? The word iniquity means “wrongfulness.” If you ask many today about society’s wrongs that need to be dealt with and avoided right at the top of the list would be the “wrong of telling anyone else how to live their lives or that they can’t love who they choose to love, etc., etc.,” This maxim is repeated in the media continually but make no mistake about it – a Christian leader is (v. 15) to speak on these things, to exhort and rebuke with all authority not allowing anyone to despise them. If a Christian leader knocked on your door and began to bring up these issues (regarding conduct in the home, among married couples, on the job, etc.,) would you despise them or welcome them with deference and sincere respect? The leader that would dare to do today what Paul commands Titus to do here in these passages would not be a leader in the first place in the modern church because we would not tolerate that level of intrusiveness into our lives. Such is the authority of an apostle and are you really sure you are ready or willing to have one in your midst?
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