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Living Wisely in a Foolish World

Notes & Transcripts

March 7, 2012

By John Barnett

Read, print, and listen to his resource on our website www.DiscoverTheBook.org

Titus 2 is all about discipleship—learning to live the way God wants us to live. Men and women who seek out being mentored by godly examples within the church.

Discipleship is all about following our Master Jesus Christ and learning to live by the wisdom of His Word. When Jesus called His first disciples the plan was to spend time together with Him (Mark 3:14) and learn from Him. Christ called those men to obey, follow, and learn from Him. At the end of His earthly ministry Jesus met with those disciples and told them to spend the rest of their days going into all the world and teaching those who want to follow and obey Christ, how to be learners or disciples all their days (Matthew 28:19-20). We call that the Great Commission.

Titus 2 is just one link in that discipleship mandate left to Christ's church. Discipleship begins at conversion when we are born into Christ's family, it continues as long as we continue to learn of Him. We are to become life long pupils, learners, and followers of Christ.

The New Testament believers were first called disciples (from mathetes--“a learner who follows and obeys Christ”). In Acts, as the church spread, believers took on a new name (but kept the same description) when the disciples began to be called Christians in Acts 11:26. And to the end of the New Testament this term disciple (Matthew through Acts) and Christians (Acts to I Peter 4:16) described those who had be called to obey, follow, and learn from Jesus Christ.

This evening we begin our look at the third element of a grace-energized disciple of Christ as described in Titus 2—they are a sober, reverent, and temperate man who as a disciple who follows Jesus, is learning to live by Christ's wisdom.

Titus 2:1-2 "But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;" NKJV

Paul identified behavior that follows a proper understanding of God (or “sound Doctrine”). When Paul gave these clear objectives for Titus as he taught the older men, it was to show them how to “adorn the doctrine of God”. Their lives, if reflecting these qualities, would become a strong advertisement for God in a ‘crooked and perverse’ world. Here are the first two we have learned, and then the next one we begin tonight:

1. Grace-energized Men are Sober disciples of Christ: MAINTAINING A BALANCED LIFE IN AN OBSESSIVE-COMPLUSIVE WORLD

v. 2a “sober” (nephalios): God wants matured, godly older men in Christ's church to live a life that exemplifies Jesus to a watching world. These men are to model the life God wants, to encourage younger men, then the older men take time to mentor some of the younger men, and challenge them to abandon the temptations of youth such as reckless living, impatience with decision making, thoughtless communication, and the unreliability that often characterizes young people.

2. Grace-energized Men are Reverent disciples of Christ: GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT GOD IN AN AMUSED WORLD

v.2b “reverent” (semnos): God wants older men who model what its like to live life seriously. This man thinks deeply in an amused, shallow-thinking culture. This man never trivializes what God says is important; and lives a life that is not entertained by sensuality, never amused by vulgarity, and doesn’t treat life superficially.

3. Grace-energized Men are Temperate disciples of Christ: LIVING WISELY IN A FOOLISH WORLD

v.2c “temperate”: God wants older men who are wise in behavior, meaning their lives are yielded to His control. This man’s life is characterized by the Greek word sophronas which means, “self-controlled, restored to senses, earnest’. This one word is variously rendered into 4 different English words by the top 4 versions: “temperate” (KJV/NKJV); “self-controlled” (NIV); and “sensible” (NAS).

When Paul gave Titus the curriculum for Christ's church he said train men that are:

1. Temperate in an intemperate world.

• This describes an attitude of mind that leads to prudence and self-control in life. It is the opposite of frivolity and carelessness that are based on ignorance. It is translated “sober” in Titus 1:8 and 2:4, 6, and 12, and “discreet” in 2:5.

• Seriousness of life and purpose are important in the Christian life, and especially to older saints who cannot afford to waste time, for they begin to realize that their time is short.

• This word describes wise living and thinking that has self-control, good judgment, discretion, common sense, sound-minded, discreet, and sensible, and able to keep an objective perspective in the face of problems and disagreements. Such wisdom tempers pride, authoritarianism, and self-justification.

2. Sane in an insane world.

• He says that we must be steady in mind. We might render it: “Preserve your sanity.” The verb Peter uses is soµphronein; connected to that verb is a noun soµphrosuneµ, which is formed from the verb soµzein, ‘to keep safe’, and the noun phroneµsis, ‘the mind’. A temperate man has the wisdom which “keeps safe his mind” to render this word literally.

• The great characteristic of temperate wisdom is that it sees things in their proper proportions; it sees what things are important and what are not. When men view their life from the perspective of eternity, then God is given His proper place, and everything else settles into its proper place.

3. Sensible in a senseless world.

• These men slowly learn the discernment, discretion, and judgment that only come from walking with God for many years. They slowly learn to control their physical passions, to reject worldly standards, and to resist worldly attractions. Like Paul, these men when energized by God’s grace “think so as to have sound judgment” (Rom. 12:3).

And what does God’s wisdom, when followed by His obedient Titus 2 grace-energized disciples look like?

Wise in his Witness

God wants a man whose life speaks louder than his words; whose character is noticed and prompts other men to examine their own lives and seek to emulate his joy, his peace, and his walk in the Spirit—in evident and practical ways. The Titus 2 older-man-in-the-faith’s life is a pattern for others to use in shaping their own lives.

His life as we already saw “adorns” the doctrine of God. People see the message of God unmarred by unnecessary impediments. The Cross in and of itself is offensive—a godly saint shouldn’t be an distraction to the lost seeing Christ.

Wise in his Worldview

One whole area that these temperate men get discipled in is the growing list of unbiblical beliefs, and the post-Christian rules by which America now lives. Just to name a few:

1. Our Foolish world is characterized by NARCISSISM or self-centeredness. Foolish people live for themselves. Remember Christ's story about the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21)? Foolish decision making always starts with a premise of "what is best for me?" Wisdom from God leads us to start all decision making with the desire of, “What is best for God?” and “What magnifies Him?”, and “What glorifies Him?” That is a man of temperate wisdom.

2. Our Foolish world is also characterized by PLURALISM or the belief in non-absolutes (Judges 17:6; 21:25). Foolish people think that no idea or belief is invalid. Foolish people think that there really isn’t any ultimate truth. Foolish people believe that there are many "true" systems of thought. Wisdom from God causes us to start with God as the source of Ultimate Truth (John 14:6). We see that Jesus is the incarnation of Truth and is the only One that can lead us into truth by His Word, and His Spirit of Truth (John 16:13)within us.

3. Our Foolish world is also characterized by HEDONISM or a “pleasure first” priority in life. For foolish people, the pursuit of pleasure becomes the meaning of their existence. Wisdom from God starts with “seek first the kingdom of God” (Mat. 6:33) and continues with “whether therefore you eat or drink—do all for the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31), and ends with “you are not your own…therefore glorify God with your body” (I Cor. 6:19-20). Christ's supremacy over life, pleasures, and even needs is truth.

God is looking for grace-energized men who will be discipled into being:

Paul identified behavior that follows a proper understanding of God (or “sound Doctrine”). When Paul gave these clear objectives for Titus as he taught the older men, it was to show them how to “adorn the doctrine of God”. Their lives, if reflecting these qualities, would become a strong advertisement for God in a ‘crooked and perverse’ world. Here are the first two we have learned, and then the next one we begin tonight:

1. Grace-energized Men are Sober disciples of Christ: MAINTAINING A BALANCED LIFE IN AN OBSESSIVE-COMPLUSIVE WORLD

2. Grace-energized Men are Reverent disciples of Christ: GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT GOD IN AN AMUSED WORLD

3. Grace-energized Men are Temperate disciples of Christ: LIVING WISELY IN A FOOLISH WORLD

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