Continuing our study of Titus, today we are in Titus 2:6-10.
The term that shows us the umbrella under which these next phrases are written. Under sound doctrine, likewise, the young men must be taught what is most important for them to grasp as the church at Crete is founded. Or, as the church in any place in any generation is growing. Young men must be sensible, similar to verse 2 and 5. Sensible, sober minded, self-controlled. Mastery over self (the self that is crucified with Christ, and must be put off). Incorporating or putting on all that is of the new man, all that is sensible. Think of how this touches on everything already mentioned, already taught in other epistles.
Self control, the fruit of the Spirit, will impact the emotions, the will, passions and desires, thoughts and thought patterns, logic, growth in wisdom and prudence, trustworthiness and honor; it means being quick to listen and slow to speak and even slower to anger, it means keeping–as John Stott points out–bodily appetites and sexual impulses in line with Scripture.
Let’s back up then, we do not merely pass on this information. We urge young men. Titus was instructed to urge them, there is urgency here. We implore, we use emphatic teaching, we disciple in this area with great fervor. This is not a one time event, or the mere handing of a book “here, read this.”
Vs. 7-8 are directed again at the one who is to teach Sound Doctrine in the church. Titus, a young man, must show himself to be an example of good deeds. Good deeds will be mentioned a few more times in the upcoming weeks–Remember, in Him we are fruitful! A young man like TItus must not be dissuaded from the important role he plays in Christ’s Body. He is an example, his good deeds will be encouraging to the rest of the Body. But they will also be noticed by “opponents.”
Purity in doctrine. Pure, with nothing mixed in. Nothing new, nothing updated, nothing added or taken away from God’s Word. (time meditating on Hebrews 1:1-4, 1 Corinthians 2, 2 Peter 1, and Luke 24:25-27, 44-45 will greatly help you grasp Jesus’ desire for us all to be pure in doctrine).
Not a word used much, as we describe what a disciple looks like, or who is a godly person. Yet, Titus sets the example that we may follow. We ought to see dignity in our elders, but also we should aspire to emulate this character quality. One who is dignified is serious, and has earned our respect. We trust him, he will not turn our situation into a joke–so we can seek help, wisdom, etc. He will admonish without belittling. He will empathize without condoning, or without turning us into a byword or running joke. He will not ask us to lighten up as he mocks us, he will take our needs and concerns seriously.
Sound in speech which is beyond reproach. This disqualifies most believers who are on twitter and IG and FB. Throwing out one liners for dramatic effect has done great ruin in the church. His words will not bring shame to God, but will bring glory to God. His words will present the ideas of Scripture without incurring any backlash for contradicting Scripture or for straying from the heart of Scripture. “The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” so we do not accept all hearers to accept what Titus (or any other believer) speaks. Yet, his speech will be sound, wholesome, lifegiving. And therefore, the opponent will have nothing bad to say about us.
The worse thing the opponent should say is “I do not like Christianity.” The opponent ought not to say “he is so argumentative! He is so demeaning as he speaks to me… He commits logical fallacies all over the place! He is setting up new laws! He adds to Jesus’ words! He cut up the Bible and created his own version! He has no respect towards his audience!”
Paul never condones slavery. Jesus never condones slavery. God has, all through time, given us the freedom to sin. And in that freedom, many have chosen to sin in heinous ways, including enslaving their fellow man. Here, as in other epistles, Paul is not addressing what to do about slavery. He is writing about establishing a church. And within the church, PRAISE THE LORD, many slaves had come to know Christ! These slaves are addressed personally by Paul. This does not mean Paul is endsorsing slavery.
When you look back over all of Scripture, here included, it is not a book of “do this and don’t do this.” Nor is it God’s prerogative to annihilate all people everywhere the moment they sin. He is patient, He has been working out His plan of redemption since He created the world. In this moment, He is still patient. God hates slavery much more than we can imagine. This topic has been covered succinctly here: John Stott. Guard the Truth. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996).
A word to bondslaves
Vs. 9-10 quite often, the sins that inhabit a whole culture, people group, nation, etc are unwound slowly by a Patient, Gentle Shepherd who does not want to destroy the wheat whilst pulling up the tares. So with this verse, we must not mistake Paul as overlooking the evils of slavery, but as is the case, he knows slaverly will be untangled slowly, put off in a way that works toward all the good that God has in mind–yet slower than we would choose. Paul is not endorsing slavery, and remember these verses are inspiried by the Holy Spirit–the Spirit is showing those who come to Christ while oppressed that they too are the light and the salt of His Kingdom while in this fallen world.
Titus is instructed to encourage bond slaves to do their work in a way that displays the glory of God. If they work in this manner, “they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.” This is the loveliest goal of Christianity–one we all ought to embrace.
To adorn, not merely to put it on. Think of an extravagantly beautiful outfit–prom perhaps? Or dressy night on a cruise? Or if not, perhaps simply your favorite outfit. Not the work clothes, not the worn out jeans I put on while pulling weeds in the garden beds. To adorn, to display beauty and accent the shalom in my soul. Much like Romans 13:12-14.
May we all aspire to adorn His doctrine with grace and dignity, and to the health and wholesomeness of our brothers and sisters in Christ, that the Word of God would not be maligned!
photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.