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Christian Distinctives

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  The book of Titus or “To Titus” in the Greek was authored, as claimed in Chapter 1 verse 1, by the Apostle Paul.

      “PAUL, A BONDSERVANT OF GOD AND AN APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST…”

  Unlike many of Paul’s letters, the epistle to Titus was to an individual vice a group of believers in a particular church or region.  As the title suggests Paul’s intended recipient is Titus as is indicated in Chapter 1 verse 4.

      “TO TITUS, MY TRUE CHILD IN A COMMON FAITH:…”

  Titus was a young Pastor and Fellow worker left by Paul to minister to the Believers in Crete, as we see in Chapter 1 verse 5.

      “FOR THIS REASON I LEFT YOU IN CRETE, THAT YOU WOULD SET IN ORDER WHAT REMAINS AND APPOINT ELDERS IN EVERY CITY AS I DIRECTED YOU,”

  As you may or may not know, Crete is a small island off the coast of Greece that is known by the same name even today. Titus was there to continue in the work of an evangelist/church planter; a work that was started by the Apostle Paul.  You see Paul did not show up; preach the Gospel; acquire a card with a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and leave the people to flounder in their new found faith. On the contrary, he left Titus in Crete in order to disciple the Church at large as we saw earlier in Chapter 1 verse 5.

  This was done in much the same way as we expect our missionaries of today to operate.  The Ball family comes immediately to mind; do we expect them to gather support for their mission in order that they only superficially minister to the Indian population of FIJI.  Absolutely not!  As much as it pains us to lose them from our daily interactions, we expect them to faithfully preach the Gospel of Christ and then disciple and train up these new Believers in righteousness.  So that they (the new Believers) may participate side by side with them in ministry.

  And just as the Ball’s will have to overcome the cultural mores of the Fijian Indian culture in teaching and preaching the Gospel, so did Titus.  As we can see in Chapter 1 verses 12 and 13 the Cretans (you may have heard this term before) were not exactly know for good behavior.

      “ONE OF THEMSELVES, A PROPHET OF THEIR OWN, SAID ‘CRETANS ARE ALWAYS LIARS, EVIL BEASTS, LAZY GLUTTONS.’  THIS TESTIMONY IS TRUE. FOR THIS REASON REPROVE THEM SEVERELY SO THAT THEY MAY BE SOUND IN THE FAITH.”

  I  am sure that outside of God’s grace none of use would want to face so formidable a task as was given to Titus in discipling these Believers. 

  Fortunately for Titus, the Holy Spirit was at work changing the hearts of the Cretan Believers so that they would desire the very discipling that Titus was to provide.  Additionally, Paul left him (and by application us) some instructions outlining what he needed to “set in order”.

  Namely, the behavior of those within the Church in demonstrating and living out their calling to salvation.  This was to be a part of their interactions with one another (there is that phrase again; one another) and as a testimony of Christ to those in the World.  And he did this by writing this Epistle to Titus by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

  Of course, Paul, like us, did not include chapter and verse breakouts with subheadings when he wrote to Titus; but, fortunately or modern translators have included them to help us better reference and understand the flow of scripture.  So keeping this in mind let’s start with a brief overview of the entire Epistle broken down by chapter before we parachute in to the middle to unfold the particular passage we want to address this morning. We want to do this because this entire Book is in fact, as stated before, a letter.  And I don’t know about anyone else, but I never read the middle paragraph of any correspondence I receive with the hopes of having an understanding of what the writer desires to convey.

  As I briefly mentioned earlier the main theme of the Epistle is the conduct of those in the Body of Christ (or the Church).  In chapter 1, once he has completed his greeting to Titus, Paul gets right to the point of explaining what he wants Titus to accomplish, by first addressing the need for EACH of the Cretan Churches to have qualified Elders to lead them.  He also takes the time to explain why this is important for the health of the members.

  Paul systematically moves from the need for leaders and their respective qualifications to the conduct or behavior of the lead or if you prefer the congregations in chapter 2.  He accomplishes this by addressing the behavior of five distinct groups within the Body and also Titus himself as an individual.  The five groups are in order of appearance the older men, the older women, the younger women, the younger men, and slaves (or by application to us today; employees).

  In chapter 3 Paul lays out some “why’s” for these calls to Godly behavior, reminding Titus and all of us that but for God’s grace and mercy in saving us we would have remained in our previous foolish state and that this salvation was a free gift from God that had not and could not be earned.

  Chapter 3 verses 3 thru 5 drive this point home.

      “FOR WE ALSO ONCE WERE FOOLISH OURSELVES, DISOBEDIENT, DECEIVED, ENSLAVED TO VARIOUS LUSTS AND PLEASURES, SPENDING OUR LIFE IN MALICE AND ENVY, HATEFUL, HATING ONE ANOTHER. BUT WHEN THE KINDNESS OF GOD OUR SAVIOR AND HIS LOVE FOR MANKIND APPEARED, HE SAVED US, NOT ON THE BASIS OF DEEDS WHICH WE HAVE DONE IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, BUT ACCORDING TO HIS MERCY, BY THE WASHING OF REGENERATION AND RENEWING BY THE HOLY SPIRIT,”

  Paul closes his letter with what I am sure was welcome news to Titus given the enormity of his task; Help is on the way in the form of Artemas or Tychicus, and that he was to try to join Paul in Nicopolis if he was able.

  Well, now that in essence we have had a survey of the book of Titus, I ask that you bear with me as we actually get in to the meat of the sermon if you will.  Please turn with me to Titus Chapter 2 verses 6 thru 8 as we prepare to examine today’s passage.

      “LIKEWISE URGE THE YOUNG MEN TO BE SENSIBLE (OR SOBER-MINDED AS SOME OF YOUR TRANSLATIONS MAY READ); 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 IS PUT TO SHAME, HAVING NOTHING BAD TO SAY ABOUT US.”

  We can see in this passage a charge for Titus to do something in a very particular way, at first glance it would seem that this charge comes in verse 6.

      “LIKEWISE URGE THE YOUNG MEN TO BE SENSIBLE;”

  However, the word likewise or in the same manner lets us know that Titus is to instruct the young men in the same way that he is to instruct the older men (in verse 2) and the older women (in verse 3).

  You may be asking how then is Titus to instruct them, which brings us to the first half of verse 7.

      “…SHOW YOURSELF TO BE AN EXAMPLE…”

   The idea behind the Greek words this phrase is translated from is

to present yourself as a pattern, or to present oneself as worthy of imitation.

  We must remember that this is not a new method of instruction for the Apostle Paul who says to the Corinthians in 1st Corinthians chapter 4 verse 16:

      “THEREFORE I URGE YOU, IMITATE ME.”

   And again in 1st Corinthians chapter 11 verse 1:

      “IMITATE ME, JUST AS I ALSO IMITATE CHRIST.”

  Additionally, this call to be an example for others to follow is also given to another young Pastor by Paul, namely Timothy in 1st Timothy chapter 4 verse 12:

      “LET NO ONE LOOK DOWN ON YOUR YOUTHFULLNESS, BUT RATHER IN SPEECH, CONDUCT, LOVE, FAITH AND PURITY, SHOW YOURSELF AN EXAMPLE OF (OR TO) THOSE WHO BELIEVE.”

  Paul understood perfectly well how far an example of Godly living would go in discipling his fellow believers in Christ to be trained in righteousness.

  At the same time Paul did not leave Titus (or us) trying to figure out what he was to be an example of; rather Paul gives Titus FOUR DISTINCTIVES (or marks) OF A GODLY EXAMPLE in verses 7 and 8.

  First:  We are to demonstrate (or do) charitable deeds, or as some of your translations may read; good works. This is very clearly marked out in verse 7:

      “…OF GOOD DEEDS…”

  Of course we are to be aware that these are not good works that do anything to purchase, guarantee nor add to our salvation.  Paul makes this very clear in Titus chapter 3 verse 5 (that we looked at earlier) which states:

      “HE (that is GOD) SAVED US, NOT ON THE BASIS OF DEEDS WHICH WE HAVE DONE IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, BUT ACCORDING TO HIS MERCY, BY THE WASHING OF REGENERATION AND RENEWING BY THE HOLY SPIRIT,”

  Or in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8 and 9:

      “FOR BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED THROUGH FAITH; AND THAT (the faith that is) NOT OF YOURSELVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD; NOT AS A RESULT OF WORKS, SO THAT NO ONE MAY BOAST.”

  Likewise these are not deeds that are done out of self-righteousness nor in an effort to be recognized for one’s efforts. These deeds are not evil in any way and do not bring harm to anyone; whether inside or outside the Body of Christ. These are not like the deeds we see condemned by our Lord Jesus in Luke chapter 20 verses 46 and 47:

      “BEWARE OF THE SCRIBES, WHO LIKE TO WALK AROUND IN LONG ROBES, AND LOVE RESPECTFUL GREETINGS IN THE MARKET PLACES, AND CHIEF SEATS IN THE SYNAGOGUES AND PLACES OF HONOR AT BANQUETS, WHO DEVOUR WIDOWS’ HOUSES, AND FOR APPEARANCE’S SAKE OFFER LONG PRAYERS. THESE WILL RECEIVE GREATER CONDEMNATION.”

  As a matter of fact these good works or deeds are to be the opposite of such actions.  The Greek word to describe these actions is “KALOS” which means:  beautiful by reason of purity of heart – morally good, noble and honorable.

  So in contrast we can say that these works are to be done out of a love for God and the keeping of His commandments, and for the love of His people. These good deeds should also include ministry to the lost so that they too may hear the Gospel of Christ. Or as the Apostle Paul writes to the Galatians in chapter 6 verse 10:

      “SO THEN, WHILE WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY, LET US DO GOOD TO ALL PEOPLE, AND ESPECIALLY TO THOSE WHO ARE THE HOUSEHOLD OF THE FAITH.”

  However, Paul doesn’t stop there he also gives us a

Second distinctive of a godly example, which is:

  We are to demonstrate a careful handling of (or reverence for) scripture.  We see this in the next section of verse 7 where Titus is to set the example:

      “…WITH PURITY IN DOCTRINE…”

  By this we are meant to be students of God’s Word, for how else will we know what it holds for us to do or not do, just as the Bereans in Acts chapter 17 verse 11b demonstrate for us:

      “…FOR THEY RECEIVED THE WORD WITH GREAT EAGERNESS, EXAMINING THE SCRIPTURES DAILY TO SEE WHETHER THESE THINGS WERE SO.”

  So you see we are not to blindly accept everything that is told us, for even our Savior has warned us in Mark chapter 13 verse 22 that there are those that would seek to lead us astray:

      “FOR FALSE CHRISTS AND FALSE PROPHETS WILL ARISE, AND WILL SHOW SIGNS AND WONDERS, IN ORDER TO LEAD ASTRAY, IF POSSIBLE, THE ELECT.”

  We are not, therefore, to suffer those that would creep in to the lead the sheep astray; either as leaders or as fellow believers.  We must study the Word carefully to search out the Truths it contains and live those truths out for ALL to see. For it is only in study, daily reading and prayer that we come to know the genuine from among the counterfeit.

  Likewise we should not devalue God by treating His Word flippantly, by instead of approaching it with prayerful reverence that we may be instructed, we rely upon our own experiences to interpret Scripture/Truth.  Thereby using our own foolish intellect to be the standard of Truth.  Unfortunately, we can see this in the Church at large even today, where many are lead astray by those that misuse God’s Word for their own purposes.

  By seeking out a life that is marked by charitable deeds and sound doctrine we will find it very easy to accomplish our

Third distinctive of a Godly example, which is to:

  Demonstrate (or live) a transparent life.  This too is found in verse 7, at the end of the verse and is stated in one word:

      “…DIGNIFIED…”

  Or perhaps a clearer way to state it is; Titus is to be an example of dignity.

  This is a life that is lived the same in private as it is in public.  Or better put we are not to be hypocrites saying one thing but acting in a completely contrary way.  Our outward behavior should bear witness of our allegiance to Christ, we should not be as the ones that stand accused by our Lord in Mark chapter 7 verse 6:

      “RIGHTLY DID ISAIAH PROPHECY OF YOU HYPOCRITES, AS IT IS WRITTEN:

    THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.”

 But living a transparent life is more than just our speech (which we will address shortly), it is our actions in our daily lives.

 Perhaps it will be easier for me to explain through the use of an example or two:

      If someone were to follow and observe you from the time you awoke on Monday morning until the time you retired for the evening (that means go to bed) on Saturday night; would they be surprised to find you in Church on Sunday morning?

  Or maybe from my experiences in the Marine Corps:

      When I was a young man just really learning to be a Marine I had a Company GySgt that had a poster outside his door, next to a full length mirror, that had an angry looking Drill Instructor on it, posing the question:

    If you were accused of being a Marine; Would there be enough evidence to convict you? 

      And of course the Company GySgt had provided a mirror for you to look into and evaluate yourself to find the answer.

 I propose to you Brothers and Sisters that if you are living a life that is transparent for the Lord, that should you be accused of being a Christian, there would definitely be enough evidence to convict you!!  However, that does not take away our responsibility to examine our hearts regularly to ensure that it stays that way.

 Now I told you a moment ago that we would address speech as well and that leads us to our

Fourth distinctive of a Godly example:

  We are to demonstrate a controlled tongue.  We find this distinctive in verse 8, where Titus is to be an example of being:

      “…SOUND IN SPEECH WHICH IS BEYOND REPROACH…”

  Now being sound in speech fits in nicely with our second distinctive of having a reverence for the Word or being sound in doctrine, because speech and doctrine can be metaphors in the Greek for teaching. 

  However, sound teaching is not necessarily the idea behind this phrase, but more the idea of speech that we use every day to communicate with those around us.  So just as we earlier examined how our actions or life demonstrate or reveal God within us, our speech does as well.

  Or as John A. Younts puts it in his book EVERYDAY TALK; TALKING FREELY AND NATURALLY ABOUT GOD WITH YOUR CHILDREN:

      “Everyday talk is like the everyday shoes of my childhood.  It may not be attractive, but it is practical and gets the job done.  We don’t pay much attention to it.

       On the other hand, we have “Sunday best” talk.  When others are listening (especially Christians), we suddenly put on our best manners.  We smile, chat pleasantly, and listen patiently. We are models of courtesy.

       The problem is that everyday talk is far more important than “Sunday best” talk.  It reveals us as we really are – our character and our priorities.  Our children model our everyday talk because that is what they hear most of the time.  By it we teach them or worldview, our ethics, our theology, and our relationship with God.”

  I propose that by practicing sound speech or a controlled tongue we will not only be teaching our children but we will be a testimony to those around us, for it will be evident that we have put aside:

      “…ANGER, WRATH, MALICE, SLANDER (or gossip), AND ABUSIVE SPEEH FROM YOUR MOUTH.”

  As instructed to do in Colossians chapter 3 verse 8, and our love for the Lord will be evident in all of our conversations.

  Paul did not of course send these instructions for Godly behavior to Titus just because he desired that the Believers of Crete would behave themselves for the sake of behaving well.  Rather he gives an explanation for this call to Godly behavior that Titus was to demonstrate in the last half of verse 8:

      “…,so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

  That is to say that by conducting ourselves as we ought, any that bring witness against us will have no evidence to use against us.  And more importantly our behavior cannot be used by those that would be so bold as to accuse God as evidence that He cannot be the Holy God that He is!

  It is for this reason I must say, Brothers and Sisters, that while these distinctives for being a Godly Example were handed down directly to Titus, they are no less binding upon you or me.  As we seek  to disciple and encourage one another, we should remember that being a Godly Example in all we do will influence even those we are unaware of at any particular moment in time.  Additionally, we are to remember that Godly behavior is not the exclusive realm of any one group within the Body, but the responsibility of us all.

 

  

  

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