Hold to a Godly Reputation
Copyright © 1986, Indian Hills Community Church, Lincoln, Nebraska
The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh, Senior Pastor at Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, NE. The text has been edited and condensed by IHCC staff for use as a Bible Study aid.
Paul opened this chapter by encouraging Titus to speak those things that are suitable for sound doctrine. He has been focusing on different groups within the church, starting with older men and older women.
The older people are to be leading godly lives which will serve as an example to the young people. He has developed the responsibility of the older women to be teaching and encouraging the young women in their responsibilities.
The young woman's realm of responsibility is her husband, children and her home.
Proper conduct in this matter is crucial so that the Word of God will not be dishonored.
Paul now turns Titus' attention to the young men. (v. 6), to Titus himself (vs. 7,8), and to bondslaves (vs. 9,10).
"Likewise" closely connects to the preceding comments which he has to say regarding the young men.
The comments to the young men - "be sensible" - seem brief when compared to the comments to the young women. One commented that this is the most you can hope for them.
Probably the instructions to Titus are to a young man and so are seen as tied to the young men as a whole.
"To be sensible" (sophronein) is a word that was used in verse 2 and verse 5. The word carries the idea of "self-control." We see that it is crucial to godliness that a person have himself under control (cf. Prov. 16:32).
"In all things" (v. 7) may connect with the end of verse 6 rather than with verse 7. So then the young men are "to be sensible in all things."
Titus is now called to be an example of godliness. The emphasis is on "yourself."
"An example" (tupon) - The teaching of Titus must be supported by a life that demonstrates the reality of what he says. This exhortation was also given to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12.
Paul expected that those who ministered the gospel should have lives that would serve as a pattern for others. He encouraged others to imitate (mimetai) the example (tupon) they had in him (cf. 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 2 Thess. 3:9).
It is characteristic of false teachers that the way they live conflicts with what they profess to believe. (cf. Titus 1:16). It is crucial that those who are true believers maintain consistency in their conduct.
Paul directs attention to the teaching of Titus. It is to be characterized by "purity" (aphthoria). This word marks something that is "untainted." Titus must teach the pure Word of God, untainted by error and falsehood (cf. 2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2).
"Dignified" (semnotes) - Denotes a proper seriousness or gravity which brings respect. This should characterize his teaching also.
"Sound in speech" (logon hugia) - This is the fifth time Paul has mentioned being sound or healthy (cf. 1:9,13; 2:1,2,8).
"Beyond reproach" (akatagnostos) - There are no charges that can be brought against Titus' teaching which will stand. It is speech that cannot be condemned.
The purpose behind encouraging lives and teaching, that are sound and biblical, is to prevent those who oppose the gospel from having anything bad to say about its representatives.
"That the opponent may be put to shame" - Those who oppose the gospel will be shown to have no basis for their opposition. It may also imply that this will be a means for some of them to come to Christ.
One of the great detriments to the effective impact of the gospel is believers whose lives and teaching are not in accord with the Word of God.
Paul now turns his attention to the conduct of those who are slaves. Large numbers of people in the Roman Empire fell into this category. Evidently, significant numbers of them were among those who came to trust Christ, for they are addressed in several of the New Testament epistles.
Note four facts about slavery in the New Testament:
The principle that covers those who are slaves and become believers is stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:20-24.
The focal point of the gospel is the transformation of hearts, not society. It is the heart that is "more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick" (Jer. 17:9), and it is from this sin-diseased heart that all problems and abuses in society come (Mark 7:21,22; James 4:1,2).
It is God's intention to transform man from the inside by giving him a new heart (cf. Ezek. 11:19). This is accomplished by the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16) and results in a person becoming a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
When a person is "born again" and becomes a new creature in Christ, there will be a change of life and life-style. If a significant number of people in a society are transformed by the gospel we will see changes in that society.
This is true of an issue like slavery. The foundation for recognizing the worth of a person is the fact that every human being is created in the image of God. That establishes a universal equality and worth.
However, Christianity is able to function within a variety of imperfect conditions in any given society; It is important that Christians do not get distracted from their prime task of representing Christ by their involvement in trying to change society.
As a religious people moves away from an emphasis on the transformation of lives through the power of the gospel, it fills the void with an emphasis on the changing of society by political and social activity.
This helps us understand how Paul could exhort slaves "to be subject to their own masters in everything." This is consistent with the admonition given to slaves in other New Testament epistles (cf. Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 3:22-25; 1 Tim. 6:1; 1 Pet. 2:18-20).
This submissiveness is to be with the proper attitude, "well-pleasing, not argumentative." This may mean not arguing or disputing the master's commands or instructions.
"not pilfering" indicates he must avoid those practices which might be a great temptation to him in his situation. The slave should display "all good faith" in his dealings with his master. The believing slave should be absolutely reliable and trustworthy.
Paul gives the reason why this is so important as "that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect." He began this chapter with clear instructions to Titus along this line (cf. 2:1).
In verse 5 he gave the negative motive behind godly conduct. Now he states it positively. These slaves had the glorious privilege of adorning the gospel by their conduct. It is important that they not be distracted by the unpleasantness of their situation.
For Paul everything is seen in light of how this reflects upon the gospel that he preached.
Are our lives indeed fitting for sound doctrine? Are there areas of our conduct that cause the Word of God to be dishonored? Are we adorning the gospel in every respect?
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, © Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. All quotations used by permission.
Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.
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