many years Monterey, a California coast town, was a
pelican's paradise. As the fishermen cleaned their
fish, they flung the leftovers to the pelicans. The
birds grew fat, lazy, and contented. Eventually,
however the leftovers were utilized to make another product,
and there were no longer any snacks. When the change
came, the pelicans made no effort to fish for themselves.
They waited around and grew gaunt and thin. Many starved to
death. They had forgotten how to fish for themselves.
The problem was solved by importing new pelicans, birds
accustomed to getting food for themselves. They were
placed among their starving cousins, and the newcomers
immediately started catching fish. Before long, the
hungry pelicans followed suit, and the famine was ended
(Bits & Pieces 94). We live in a world where people
are starving spiritually. Can we as Christians show
them a better way?
In the opening of Titus, Paul told his trusted ally Titus to
set in order some things that were lacking in the churches
scattered throughout the island of Crete. Paul gives
his advice on how to deal with deceivers in the rest of
chapter one. In chapter two, he tells him how to deal
with members. Paul knows that the members' actions
will either be a stumbling-block or a stepping-stone to
converting the unbelievers of Crete, where so much of this
wicked culture was known for its lying, drunkenness,
licentiousness, piracy, and trickery. Let's look at
four ways that Paul tells Titus to deal with members.
First of all, concentrate on specific behaviors. There
are five groups mentioned in verses 1-10. See if you
can discover them. Let's read this passage now: "But
as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound
doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate,
sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women
likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers,
not given to much wine, teachers of good things―that they
admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love
their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good,
obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not
be blasphemed. Likewise, exhort the young men to be
sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern
of good works, in doctrine showing integrity, reverence,
incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned,
that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing
evil to say of you. Exhort bondservants to be obedient
to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not
answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good
fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior
in all things." In contrast to the false teachers, Titus
is to provide sound or healthy teaching. The healthy
teaching are the specific behaviors on which each group
should concentrate. The elderly men are to be sober or
dignified, reverent or serious, and temperate or not given
to access in anything. These traits are very
counter-cultural and go against the grain of what Cretans'
highly valued. Paul is revealing to us here God's
desires for these various groups. Then he tells
elderly men to be sound or healthy in faith, in love, and in
patience. Next Paul gives the elderly women several
instructions. They are to be reverent or serious
(there it is again; the same word as applied to the elderly
men), not slanders or false accusers, not given to much wine
(against a culture that was very prone to drunkenness),
teachers of good things (and this was probably not classroom
teaching but informal teaching). It is interesting
that Paul gives the assignment of teaching and admonishing
the young women to these elderly women, and not to the
elders nor to the evangelist. It is good to see in our
Ladies Bible Class, which meets weekly, that the women are
teaching and admonishing one another. Next, there are
many instructions for the young women. Each of them is
to love her husband and her children (remember that most of
the marriages in Roman society were arranged by families and
were not the result of any romantic courtship). They
are to be discreet or devout, chaste or sexually pure,
homemakers or keepers at home (which is counter-cultural for
us), good, and obedient to their husbands. Why were
there more instructions for young women than for any other
group? Someone made this interesting observation: "The
world still judges Christianity by the character of the
young women produced by the church" (Coffman). What an
awesome influence a godly young women can have when she
makes her family her second priority! The young men
are encouraged to be sober-minded, and Titus is admonished
to set an example for them by focusing on integrity,
reverence (that's the same word again as we saw earlier),
incorruptibility, and sound speech (the young men should
also follow Titus' example). The slaves in Roman
society often had a very difficult life; they had no "legal,
civil, or natural rights of any kind" (Coffman). Titus
is to admonish them to be obedient, to be well-pleasing, to
hold their tongues, to avoid taking a portion of whatever
has been entrusted to them, to show good fidelity or
reliability, and to adorn or to display God's teachings in
all that they would do. Christianity should make a
difference in how we live, and it is interesting that Paul,
inspired by God's Spirit, had certain behaviors in mind that
he saw very fitting for each group. Someone has noted
that we aren't too good about making up our own rules: "If
ethical behavior is to have any meaning at all, it must be
anchored in authority that is external to man. Without
that guiding restraint of external authority, morality is
progressively downgraded until it disappears altogether"
(Coffman). All of these practices would still be valid
for each of us to put into practice in our lives as well.
Concentrate on specific behaviors.
Next, strive to live above others' reproaches. Notice
three expressions in verses 5, 8, and 15. Notice that
at the end of the instructions for the young women, there is
the expression: "that the word of God may not be
blasphemed." Now notice the ending of v 8: "that
one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil
to say of you." And then notice the ending of v
15: "Let no one despise you." People around us
are watching us closely, and they are evaluating
Christianity by way we live. Isn't Paul telling the
Titus and the brethren at Crete that they should live such
exemplary lives that others can't look down on them or say
much critical against them? Such good lives cause the
word of God to be admired rather than blasphemed.
Strive to live above others' reproaches. Paul
admonished in Romans 12:18: "If it is possible, as much as
depends on you, live peaceably with all men."
Our study in Nehemiah has shown us that when we do good as
Christians, we're going to be opposed, possibly criticized,
and maybe even persecuted by those who do evil. But as
much as depends on us, we try to live so soberly,
righteously, and godly that our good lives do much to
silence the criticism or to shame the critics. The
apostle Peter taught this same concept when he encouraged:
"Having a good conscience, that when they [that is
unbeleivers] defame you as evildoers, those who revile your
conduct in Christ may be ashamed" (1 Peter 3:16). Mark
Twain was once heard to quip: "There is nothing quite so
annoying as a good example." Christians annoy their
critics because their exemplary conduct speaks louder than
their words to those arod them. This concept of living
above others' reproaches is a tall order, and it takes much
commitment, self-discipline, and detrminiation to do God's
will in all cirucumstances. But as much as we can,
let's strive to live above others' reproaches!
Next, root your actions in God's grace and Jesus' ministry.
Now let's read verses 11-13: "For the grace of God that
brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that,
denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live
soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking
for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God
and Savior Jesus Christ, . . ." Notice that this verse
begins with "for", which can also be translated "because".
Remember the significance of this word from our last sermon?
Titus has just been told to exhort the members to live in
certain ways. They should live like this because God
and Christ have already done something. You see, they
are the root for the fruit of our actions. This is why
the third way is root your actions in God's grace and Jesus'
ministry. How wonderful God and Jesus have been to us!
When we had no hope of ever being reconciled to God because
of our sinful lives and ways, God's grace made a way for us
to become righteous through the Lamb of God that was
punished for our sins. If you were here last Sunday
evening, remember the images "P or F?" and "the cross
with drops of blood coming down"? Would God punish us
or forgive us? That was His dilemma. And He
solved it at the cross where Christ's death became the
punishment for our sins so that reconcilation between a holy
God and sinful mankind could take place. "For God made
Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become
the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
In Titus, we learn that this salvation appeared with the
coming of Christ and took effect when He became everyone's
great Rescuer or Savior. Now what did we do to merit
the gift of God's Son and the pardon that can be found at
His cross? There is nothing good that we have done
that caused that birth and that death to take place.
It was God through His good grace that caused it happen:
"For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the
one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of
the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the
One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man's
offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation,
even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came
to all men, resulting in justification of life" (Romans
5:17-18)! Someone else puts it this way: "As
normal in Paul, grace stands for God's free favor, the
spontaneous goodness by which He intervenes to help and
deliver men" (Kelly). Isn't this why we are assembled
here this morning: to worship this gracious God and to
praise His Son Jesus for He has demonstrated to us so
clearly—that as human beings we can deny ungodliness, evil,
and wordly lusts, and we can live soberly, righteousness,
and godly in this world, just as He did it! And just
as surely as Christ has already appeared, He will appear
once again! Jesus is also our key to resurrection, to
eternal life, and to a new existence in a new dimension
where all the redeemed will be united to live forever
without any more struggles with the flesh and with sin!
"Blessed assurance, Jesus is Mine! O what a foretaste
of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of His Spirit, washed in His blood! This is our
story, this is our song, praising our Savior, all the day
long" (Crosby)! You see, because of God and Christ's
great mercy and goodness towards us, because they have
already done so much, because they have already made our
rescue and our reconciliation possible, shouldn't we be
motivated, out of gratitude and appreciation to them, to
live godly, and gracious, and holy lives as they have
instructed us to do. For the grace of God that brings
salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us [or training
us, instructing us] that we should deny ungodliness and
worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly."
The problem is that Satan and our culture are also teaching
us, and they say: "Forget that religious junk! You
have evolved to be a party animal who needs no boundaries,
so indulge yourself without limits and live as recklessly as
you possibly can for that's where the real excitement is!"
So, my beloved listerner, are you going to buy into Satan's
short-term pleasures or Jesus' long-term joys? That is
the question of the hour! Are you going to build your
life on sand or on rock? "The lawless and immoral life
is contrary to the grace of God" (Spain). Why not root
your actions in God's grace and Jesus' ministry?
Next, abound in good deeds. Let's read verses 14:15:
". . . who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from
every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special
people, zealous for good works. Speak these things,
exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one
despise you." "He gave Himself for us"--such simple
words. Think about them! He gave every minute,
every miracle, every teaching, every drop of blood, every
appearane after His resurrection, for what purpose? To
benefit all mankind, and that includes you, whoever you!
"That He might redeem us from every lawless deed."
"Redeem" was a word used in the army and the slave market.
A price would be paid to buy back the prisoners of war, and
a price would be paid to the pagan gods in order for a slave
to be given liberty. Think about it: Jesus has paid
the price for every lawless deed that you have ever done!
Now why did He do that? Notice the apostle Paul's
answer: "That Jesus might purify for Himself His own special
people, zealous for good works." Moses cleansed
the Jews with the blood of the covenant. Now listen
carefully to his words in Deuteronomy 26:18: "Also today,
the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just
as He promised you, that you should keep His commandments,
and that He will set you high above all nations which He has
made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be
a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken."
You see, just as the Jews were God's special people in the
Old Testament, Christians are Jesus' own special people.
This group of people is Christ's church, and He only
promised to build one church: "On this rock, I will build My
church [note its singular, and not plural], and the gates of
Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18)."
But what is that church, that special people, supposed to
do? They are to be zealous for good works!
Because Jesus forgave us, redeemed us, and purified us, we
are to be active in performing good works. Now notice
here, these good works are not being done to earn our
salvation; no, they are being done because of our salvation!
Abound in good deeds! Someone else said it like this:
"It was precisely to raise men to a higher quality of life
that God intervened in history in the incarnation" (Kelly).
Christians want to make the world better because Jesus has
made them better. You see, on Crete, the wicked island
that it was, the Christians' good works were going to be one
of the most powreful witnesses to Jesus' ability to
transform people! good works were going to be one of
the most powreful witnesses to Jesus' ability to transform
people! In fact, we're going to hear some more about
good works in chapter three as well. The Christians in
Crete will overcome evil with their good examples seen in
their good deeds!
Another preacher once said: "A man's life is always more
forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him, they
reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies.
If his life and doctrine disagree, the mass of onlookers
accept his practice and reject his preaching" (Spurgeon).
As Christians, our actions today will either be a
stumbling-block or a stepping- stone to converting the
unbelievers around us. Have you been living soberly,
righteously, and godly, or have you let Satan cause you to
live ungodly, wickedly, and lustfully? Do you need to
get back to living according to Jesus' will? Have you
been passive or active in doing good works in Jesus' name?
Do you need Jesus' forgiveness to get back on track?
If you are not a Christian, quit buying in to Satan
short-term pleasures and start living for Christ's long-term
joys? God and Jesus have done their parts to make your
salvation possible. Why not accept Jesus' invitation
this morning and let all your future actions be lived in
thanksgiving for your forgiveness and for your inclusion
into His special people?