Guarding Healthy Faith By Biblical Discipleship
March 7, 2012
By John Barnett
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This evening we are living through days so much like those when the aged Paul sat to write his young disciple named Titus. His days like ours are increasingly filled with false teachings about God, and false doctrines.
For times just like those in which we live Paul writes, Christ's church is to be filled with…
Men Sound in “The” Faith
Our look at the 4th element of a grace-energized disciple of Christ as described in Titus 2—men who are sound in faith, could never be more timely.
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
And how does Christ's church find men sound in the faith? They are nurtured, and personally discipled by older men, who are already sound in the faith.
God’s discipleship program for men was laid down for Christ's church right from the earliest days. It was focused upon guarding healthy faith—in this crooked and perverse world. There is nothing more timely for us as we enter the end of days, because, as the end of the physical world approaches, so does earth’s darkest spiritual hour.
Nothing can more clearly be seen as the marching orders for Christ's church than this discipleship flow. Paul told Titus as he tells us today: each believer needs to be discipled into becoming a discipler. What is discipleship? As we turn to Colossians 1 we will find what may be the missing key to Biblical discipleship today. Paul explains that…
Discipleship is for All of our Life
As we read Paul’s description of the goal of discipleship in Colossians 1:9-12—let God speak to your heart. Be sure that all of your life is open to His working so that every part may please Him, bear fruit for Him, and produce good works for His glory.
Please look closely as v. 10.
"So that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please [Him] in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."
Colossians 1:10 (NASB)
Paul considered every area of life to be on the pathway to becoming pleasing to Christ. Discipleship produces a mature Christian disciple, who has been deeply touched by Christ in every aspect of his life. Mature disciples bear fruit and overflow with good works.
Just as Robert Boyd Munger describes in his book, “My Heart Christ's Home”—It is only when Jesus can move through every room of our house that we see our lives become conformed to His likeness. This evening if your spiritual life has stagnated, or if you are longing to grow and just keep hitting brick walls, ask yourself if Christ has all of your life.
How do we know He has all of us?
1. When God is the center of our lives, we live to please Him.
The supreme desire of a believer’s life is to please Christ by all the aspects of our lives. When one sector of life is displeasing Him that impacts all we are and do for Him. Look at I Thessalonians 4:1.
Nothing is off limits to Christ's Supremacy when we understand that it is idolatry to treat anything or anyone with more respect than God.
2. When we please God, we want Him to influence each area of our lives. This is discipleship.
Discipleship must touch all parts of our life to be truly effective. We must daily shine the lamp of God's Word into every corner of our hearts and minds.
The Great Commission thrusts each believer into the calling of helping to develop the believers God places around us. How far into our hearts and lives have we allowed God's Word to penetrate by His Spirit?
Five Misconceptions about Biblical Discipleship
• Discipleship only can take place when people attend a program at church.
Although so much wonderful training takes place at church, only a small group can focus on individual changes and growth that is needed. Jesus took the twelve away to be with Him (Mark 3:14), just as Paul had to go off to the Arabian wilderness, and himself always had a group tagging along. Discipleship is not information, it is lifestyle. Students get just facts, disciples get patterns of obedience and conviction.
No, New Testament Discipleship is a life-long process by which we become servants and friends of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:14,15); and we find others along the way that either lead us closer to God, or whom we lead closer to Him (Titus 2:1-8).
• Discipleship just happens over time.
Unless someone closer to the Lord gets near enough to see how you really are walking through life, no real discipleship can take place. Disciple makers live out the Christian life before those we are nurturing. We show them not just tell them.
New Testament Discipleship is always presented as having stages and taking time. Jesus trained the 12 for a number of years before they were qualified and released by Him to carry on His work; Paul spent years in preparation also (Galatians 1:15-18) being taught by the Lord and then being in his hometown; finally John even describes three levels of spiritual maturity (I John 2:13-14).
• Discipleship is just for baby Christians.
Paul wanted everyone to follow him as he followed the Lord. We all need to be involved in a life long walk down what is called “The Way” in Acts. Once a disciple, we should always be a disciple.
New Testament Discipleship focuses all believers of all level of spiritual maturity, upon ever deepening obedience to God’s Word, not just head knowledge (John 15:14).
New Testament Discipleship recognizes that one is to be qualified as a teacher to nurture a student; but both must be mutually submitted to one another, both must be on the journey—learning to walk as Jesus walked (Phil. 3:17).
• Discipleship is just another program.
No, discipleship is to become our lifestyle. Every true believer becomes Christ's disciple, and their Christian life is a lifelong calling to learn and live like Him. We are going to need growth and change as long as we live this side of Heaven.
New Testament Discipleship can only start with a genuine relationship with God and always grows into a vital relationship with others (Matthew 22:37-40); discipleship must be both vertical and horizontal (II Timothy 2:2; Titus 2:1-8).
• Discipleship is only for some parts of our lives.
No, Christ wants us to learn His Supremacy over everything from attitudes to appetites; He wants to be seen through both our parenting skills and our handling of finances. Unlike false cults which make your decisions for you, God wants you know how to make your own decisions!
New Testament Discipleship recognizes that learning involves transparency, confidentiality, content, experiences and relationships (I John 1:7). An effective discipleship process is built upon strong foundational principles taught from the Word (I Tim. 4:6). This type of life-sharing discipleship creates an environment where no one stands alone, struggles alone, serves alone, develops alone, seeks alone, or grows up alone (I Cor. 12:12).
So where do we begin?
The Process of Christian Growth
(1 John 2:12-14)
1 John 2:12-14 uses the analogy of physical growth to describe three stages of Christian development.
From 1 John 2:12-14 we know that new Christians (the children) need clarification on their belief in Christ. They get confused about three things: sin, forgiveness and their belonging to God’s family. Any training that we give new Christians should include discussion on these topics so that they can grow and be strong.
The young Christian’s (literally ‘young men’) greatest challenge is meeting temptations. They can get so discouraged in life through their failures. They will wonder if they have any chance in successfully battling the evil one. They need to be trained (think discipled) on how they are already winners and how God’s Word helps them to be victors in different areas of their lives. (Paul J. Bucknell)
The Purpose of Training
God’s eternal plan is that all believers serve Him. Both Peter and John (1 Peter 2:9 and Revelations 1:6) call each of us His ‘priests.’
The Reformation went far in teaching about the priesthood of the believers but didn’t sufficiently train them or utilize them in service. This is not a criticism, just an observation from history. The plan is already laid out in Ephesians 4:11-14.
Ephesians 4:11-14 then clearly teaches us that the key to keeping believers from being tossed around in life (4:14) is to train them up (4:11-13). Only when believers are in the flow, and growing from disciples to disciple makers, do they fully become all that God designed them to be.
We must be trained to be trainers in spiritual growth. Sadly, most believers never get beyond the baby stage. But God has asked us to all do our part because…
Training Brings Growth
(I John 2:13-14)
“Intermediate discipleship (young men) is for those who have received basic spiritual training. Most Christians, sadly to say, never get beyond this point. This stage of discipleship is like adolescence, a temporary stage involving tremendous growth. The phrase 'never grew up' can be aptly used to describe many Christians who never received training at the intermediate stage.
“Perhaps one can call them worldly, but one thing is clear. They face all sorts of unneeded difficulties in life. What difficulties? Worry, bad relationships, bitterness, lack of patience, loneliness, sickness, lust, addictions, poor marriages, problems raising children and tempers are just some of these troubling points. These problems can be deep-rooted in our hearts. Sometimes, they manifest themselves in physical symptoms, and we often seek doctors and psychiatrists for healing. God has a clearer way.
“As the Spirit uses God's Word to bring them to victory over their sins, the Christians begin to grow in faith. They learn how to use God's Word to overcome problems which can then be used to help them in other areas of their lives. And, of course, they can share what they have learned with others. Do others want to hear? Sure, they do. Those who have experienced God's powerful Word at work in their lives share personal testimonies on how the Lord led them from defeat to victory. And so with each victory, they are touched more and more by God's love and find freedom and desire to serve others.
“Most Christians, unfortunately, have no clue that they can overcome these things. God makes them aware of their problems that they might seek Him for answers. But all they hear are things like, "What do you expect? You are human aren't you?" And so, they just accept these problems as normal rather than areas needing breakthrough.
Many Christians today do not have the stamina or motives to serve. They are fighting too many problems in their own personal lives or at home to 'take on' anything else at church. Or they just lack the faith to step into service. They feel very insecure about their defeated Christian lives. This is, perhaps, all they know and feel. Who can blame them for lack of commitment?
“This intermediate stage is a process. But the changing point happens when they can see their faith grow by how God has led them into victory over their sins. God, their Savior, is really alive and personal by rescuing them from the influences of sin in their lives.
“Worship for the new Christian is based on forgiveness of sin through Jesus. But the Christian in this stage will find a fuller sense of worship because they are constantly reminded how their loving Lord led them out of their personal sins that brought pain wherever they turned.
“The confusing part is that there are so many areas in our lives that we need to grow in and learn how to apply the power of God’s truth to.
The key is to focus on one area at a time and keep pursuing growth in that area by using God's Word.
Once a man or woman has been brought through this stage, they are not easily defeated by the evil one.
Of course, there are temptations as long as we are on earth, but they are of a different nature.
Those that have seen the powerful work of the 'sword of God' (the Word of God) are not easily cowered into a corner.
They have learned to fight the world, their flesh, and the Devil! (Paul J. Bucknell) And now they know enough to bring someone else along as they continue to grow.
That is what every one of us tonight should want to do and to be.
Sound in the faith and discipling another for the glory of God.
Disciples of Christ Can Spot a False Teacher
These men were making a “most wanted” poster for believers—showing who the enemy was of the truth. So how do we spot these false teachers? What do these signposts pointing people in the wrong direction believe and teach? What is the message promoted by Satan’s legion of liars?
Often it is not what they say—but what they don’t say that identifies them! What do false teachers deny? How do you spot a false teacher? There are clear signs of an apostate or false teacher:
1. THEY DENY CHRIST IS THE ONLY WAY. 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
2. THEY DENY OUR LIBERTY IN CHRIST. 1 Timothy 4:3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
3. THEY DENY DIVINE POWER. 2 Timothy 3:4-5 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
4. THEY DENY BIBLICAL TRUTH. 2 Timothy 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;
5. THEY DENY THE NECESSITY OF SOUND DOCTRINE. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
6. THEY DENY THE DEITY OF CHRIST. 2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them -- bringing swift destruction on themselves. (NIV)
7. THEY DENY THE REALITY OF CHRIST COMING AGAIN. 2 Peter 3:3-4 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
8. THEY DENY THE NECESSITY OF PERSONAL HOLINESS. Jude 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.
9. THEY DENY THE NECESSITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Jude 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Another element of Barna’s report states, “Christians have increasingly been adopting spiritual views that come from Islam, Wicca, secular humanism, the eastern religions and other sources. Because we remain a largely Bible-illiterate society, few are alarmed or even aware of the slide toward syncretism - a belief system that blindly combines beliefs from many different faith perspectives."
Syncretism is Deadly
This direction of syncretism was seen in the Old Testament as the people of Israel were commingled with pagan they mixed parts of the truth of the Bible with false worship of paganism and came out with a blend that disgusted God. Diluting God's Word and adding error is dangerous and to be avoided at all costs.
Look with me at Psalm 106:34-36.
There has always been the same struggle within the church. A hundred years ago it was seen in what was called liberalism, today it is seen in what is being called the emergent church movement (ECM). Both were syncretistic, both end of denying the truth by mixing it with error. The three biggest dangers of the EC are:
Danger #1: The Cross
A first area of concern with the ECM is the cross. Here we ask questions like "What is the meaning of the atonement"? And "Did Jesus actually pay for or purchase anything on the cross?"
Matthew 20:28? "…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Jesus knew why he had to die; and we cannot read the New Testament and conclude otherwise.
But some ECM writers teach that the cross simply serves as a profound demonstration of the love of God. On the cross, Christ "absorbed all the pain, all the suffering caused by the breakdown in our relationship with God and in doing so demonstrated the lengths to which a God who is love will go to restore it." (Chalke)
The doctrine of penal substitution--the understanding that, on the cross, Christ died in our place, bearing the penalty for our sin—is thus rejected.
One of the most visible leaders and ECM writers says, "The Christian faith should become a welcome friend to other religions of the world, and not a threat.” He goes on to write that not all people need to be Christians to follow Jesus. Some may be able to be "Buddhist or Hindu followers of Jesus." (Brian McLaren)
But a true disciple of Jesus Christ who knows God's Word sees the reality of sin, and the necessity of personal salvation, and doesn’t lose the simplicity of the gospel which is in Christ; and all that is rooted in a proper, high view of Holy Scripture. When the Bible is lost, and when sin and salvation through Christ is no longer important, that there becomes a loss of witness, a loss of conviction—and a shipwrecked faith.
Danger #2: The Authority of the Bible
ECM error centers upon a rejection of the absolute authority of the Bible. Here we ask questions like "Is the Bible inerrant?" And "In what sense the Bible is God's communication to us?"
Examples of this total loss of holding onto God's Word as authoritative can be seen in some of the ECM’s leaders irreverence which includes referring to God as a chick, and as a Cosmic Child Abuser (describing the crucifixion of the Son at the Father’s will). The negation of the authority of God's Word causes ECM writers to question God's sovereignty over and knowledge of the future, as well as a denial of the substitutionary atonement at the cross, a denial of the sin of homosexuality, and a denial of hell.
Danger #3: The Nature of Truth
A third concern with the ECM is concerning the very nature of truth. Here we ask questions like "What is truth?" and "Does Christianity give us an accurate picture of the way the world really is, and can we know it?"
Carson explains that the fundamental issue is epistemology--i.e., how we know things or think we know things. EC leaders say that we can’t be dogmatic, authoritative, or even sure about doctrines that have always been believed by evangelicals throughout all of Church History.
Should we Reject Everything Coming Out of the ECM?
Our answer is a resounding no. Indeed, we should share their dissatisfaction with certain abuses or deficiencies within Evangelicalism. We should resonate with their criticisms of consumerism, their emphasis on an authentic lived-out faith, a move toward decentralized leadership within the church, and with what many consider the heartbeat of the movement, their passion to be missional.
"The church should stop mimicking the surrounding culture and become an alternative community, with a different set of beliefs, values and behaviors.
Ministers would no longer engage in marketing; churches would no longer place primary emphasis on programs to serve members.
The traditional ways of evaluating 'successful churches' – bigger buildings, more people, bigger budgets, larger ministerial staff, new and more programs to serve members – would be rejected.
New yardsticks would be the norm: To what extent is our church a 'sent' community in which each believer is reaching out to his community?
To what extent is our church impacting the community with a Christian message that challenges the values of our secular society?"
One writer describes the missional church "as a body of people sent on a mission who gather in community for worship, encouragement, and teaching from the Word that supplements what they are feeding themselves throughout the week."
Detached from Truth—People Shipwreck
So how do we stay safe as these dark days cast their shadow across society, media, culture, and every other realm of daily life? Only one way—check the anchor of your soul.
When the world darkens, culture crumbles, and truth dies—you know the end of the world is near.
It is then that Jesus warned that the church would fill up with fruitless counterfeits.
When that happens it is time for believers to brace for the storm that we know is coming. The waves will only increase. Spiritual darkness will only deepen as deceptions grow.
These are days when we who know and love the Lord Jesus should reach into our hearts and grab onto our anchor line and feel it strongly holding us securely—tugging us homeward.
Jesus is our Anchor
Hebrews 6:11-12, 18-20 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance (plerophoreo – to overflowingly wear or hold or possess or have) of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. NKJV
Raising Up Godly Men
Paul J. Bucknell
The Living Commentary
“Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance” (Titus 2:1-2).
Titus 2:2 "Examination of How We are to Live," page 3/4 of the Titus 2:1-2 Living Commentary, specifically challenges the older men to live by six standards: termperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, love and perseverance. Detail discussion follows each one with diagrams. A Bible Study is included at the end of the series.
Intro to Titus 2:1-2 | Titus 2:1 Examining our Beliefs | Titus 2:2 Examining our Lives | Titus 2:1-2 Bible Study Questions
There are two purposes as said in verse 14: (1) Redemption from every lawless deed and (2) Purifying for Himself a people for His own possession. Many of talk about getting forgiveness of sins. That is the first point. But we need also to speak of the later, the purifying of our lives. So let us now turn to think about these men.
B. An Examination of how we are to live (Titus 2:2)
We have closely followed Paul's six items by which men are to judge themselves. Their real value becomes apparent when we also observe what it like when a man does not have these qualities. These character qualities should be set before every man and boy. This is where God wants to take us. We will go through each one separately.
1. Temperate (nephaleos)
The temperate man stays alert. He is sober. The associated meaning is that he abstains form drugs, alcohol that brings a dullness of mind. The meaning does not mean to not drink at all, though some take it to mean this. It can mean this. But in the bare minimum it never affects his perception. God has made this world for our good, but once the things are used in such a way that we cannot make wise decisions all the time, then we cannot live out God’s standards.
Just think of what of having a colleague who was half drunk all the time. What good would he be? His mind is somewhere other than on the work. Let us put this in kingdom perspective. That is, let us see why this trait is so important to older men who serve the Almighty King.
Men need to be alert and attentive to whatever God calls them to. If they pay attention to pleasures, then they will not pay attention to the King’s pursuit. God is not against pleasure. He has built this into our lives. We enjoy food, relationships and many other things. God has made pleasure cells in our body. But all is to be constrained under God’s purpose. Obviously, God made grape juice. But it can be addictive and interfere with man’s judgment. Many wife beatings are closely linked to drinking and drugs.
My recommendation is to stay away from them completely. Life becomes much easier this way. Satan can’t easily tempt you. If you use them, then they should be used in such a way that you never lose any judgment. If you do, then you need to completely abstain from them. There is no sense toying with God’s standards. You have kingdom work. Instead of trying to feel like everyone else at a party, think of yourselves as God’s agent. You are praying for people, trying to discern if God has a special appointment set up for you that evening. We stay alert so that we can be attentive to God’s work.
I recently heard of one personal testimony on how a man associated with men high up in a communist government and military. He attended their parties. He even held a little glass with liquor. He did not want to offend. But he didn’t drink. He was on God’s mission. He prayed and sought out who he could share the gospel with. His life was totally differently oriented than the typical person going to these parties. He was God’s ambassador and kept himself fit for the job.
What about you? Are you drug free? For what purpose? What testimony do you have? Who does God want you to share the Gospel with? we do not keep drug free to merely have good research but to serve the Lord.
2. Dignified (semnos)
This word marks off the man from any typical person you might meet. This person is dignified. His very person calls others to respect him. In this context, we can be sure it doesn’t mean he impresses people with what position he has or what possessions he has but by his person.
The opposite would be the typical or unimpressive. There is nothing about that man’s life that causes one to look up to him. Remember, this is not just for elders (see the standards for elders). It is for every man. Did you every see a male cardinal? Those are the bright red birds. They stand out. They are noticeable. One’s eyes are brought to look at them.
What is it that causes you to look up to different individuals? Think back to when you were growing up. Who did you admire? Why? We are not saying that they do not have riches or high position. The two often go together because he acts wisely. God wants men that stand out from others.
If you are a man, how are you going to be dignified? What steps can you take? I think you need to focus on what God has made you for. Discover that. Excel in those things that you do. Always be honest, a man of integrity. Server the Lord, not others. Only by staying close to the Lord will the Lord’s presence in your life make you excel in what you do. Don’t fritter your time away with games, toys and entertainment. You have a higher purpose. Keep focused.
3. Sensible (sophronas)
This word is better understood by the English word self-control. God’s man exercises self-control in his life. If temperance means we restrain what we bring or introduce to our bodies, sensible speaks more to the restraining of his desires. He curbs what his fleshly heart might want so that he can accomplish God’s greater purpose.
Peter says, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” 1 Peter 4:7. A man of self-control does not live a life in good Buddhist fashion of curbing his desires. This doesn’t work. Instead we are to focus on the good that we are to do. As Peter said, we can pray. Once a man spends his time thinking about sexual pictures, he becomes useless for God’s purposes. He has not curbed his thoughts from thinking about pursuing his pleasures.
Pornography is not a small problem. Internet pornography, gambling have corrupted many. The opposite, of course, is to be a man that is tied to his desires. He is enslaved to those entices that arise about him. In the end, he follows his desires. There is no in-between. If you are beginning to think that you can manage these desires, forget it. It is Satan’s lie. Unless we bridle our lusts, they will destroy us. Listen to Jesus’ own words.
“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).
“And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-13).
Do you see, your willingness to follow your desires is a statement whether you love God and man, or like the world chase after pleasures. I know, many a professing Christian will say that he is addicted or lacks self-control. They should wake up to reality. God’s kingdom is of power and purity. Without it, they are just bluffing.
Lawlessness is increasing. People are dong things they shouldn’t. It tempts us. Unless we have resolved to clearly live for kingdom purposes, we will fall in with the crowd and perish with them.
4. Sound in faith
This becomes the first of a triad. The ‘sound’ of faith, love and perseverance. This word ‘sound’ is exactly the same word that he used when describing ‘sound doctrine’ in verse 1. The word comes from the now common word ‘holistic.’ By its full, whole and proper sense, it is best for a person. It means that nothing is left from it. Obviously, his use of it should alert us to the fact that some have a less than complete faith, love and perseverance. Let us look at each of them.
Our faith must be whole. This means that some men’s faith is partial and therefore incomplete. An incomplete faith is one which is ultimately defective. This might have to do with doctrine. That man goes to church every Sunday, but he never really came to repentance and faith in Christ. He might say he believes. Another might say, “I believer. It means so much to me.” But somehow he is not baptized. He knows of Christ’s command to believe and be baptized, but he thinks believing is okay for his circumstance.
Some might think they are going to heaven even though they do not think Jesus came physically alive. His faith is incomplete. It doesn’t save. Or as we look in these verses, and probably what is most on Paul’s mind, some men have made excuses for part of their less than ideal life. They make excuses for their thoughts. How can a man say that He knows God when he does not forgive his brother. It is so inconsistent with everything Jesus says, that he should see that his so-called faith n God’s grace is so shallow that it as not even made him gracious and forgiving.
Many have an incomplete faith. Whenever God’s person and purpose does not affect our thoughts, minds and attitudes, we can say that our faith is unsound. It is defective. If it does not make your pure on earth, you can be sure it will not assure you of Christ’s righteousness at Christ’s return.
Did you every hear of fool’s gold? It isn’t really gold. It fools people. They are willing to pride themselves in their discovery only to find out later that it is not real gold. It does not have the value of gold. In our context, it is an incomplete faith, a fool’s faith.
5. Sound in love
Our love can also be unsound, that is incomplete. This is the fifth characteristic God has challenged His men to be shaped by. We all know what love is. But do we know the incomplete love? I suppose we do, but we never seem to be able to clearly identify it so. Let me give you a few examples.
There is a council meeting. One man wants his own way. He intimidates some, fools others and behind talks behind the backs of others. I don’t care how biblical he thinks this decision is, he is clearly not loving. Love does not seek its own. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness. Love does not act unbecomingly. Such incidents happen again and again in church meetings and just tolerated. “Oh, that is the way he is.” That man’s love is not sound. Be wary!
Or what about the man that yells at his wife? When she does one thing that doesn’t please him, he rants, raves and shouts her down. This is not love. If you ask him, he will say that he loves his wife. Don’t agree with him. He doesn’t love his wife. If he did, then he would not do such things. He instead would be tender, compassionate and ever so patient. If you want, you can say that man has an incomplete love. What does that mean? It means that he is not sufficiently touched by Christ’s love. Truth has not touched his heart.
The thing to be careful of is that many people will tell others of these spiritual experiences. They will tell how God saved them. But we are here told to be careful. For if that conversion did not expose him to God’s love, then what actually happened at his conversion, anyway?
6. Sound in perseverance
There is one more way that these men can be incomplete or unsound. The last one says that men should be sound in perseverance. If a man is complete in perseverance, this means that he goes all the way. He is focused on Christ’s return. He doesn’t turn back.
Jesus warned, on the other hand, that many would turn away. Will you? John writes so clearly about this in his first epistle.
“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19).
Perseverance is not complete when it does not persist. Perseverance by definition means that one endures to the end. “Most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).
I have recently been reading through the Old Testament historical books. We read of these great people. But some of them don’t end well. King Asa, for example, is a poor example of a complete spirit of perseverance. He did many great things as said in 2 Chronicles 15. It even says that “And whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman” (2 Chronicles 15:13). They were radical, but he did not persist in what pleased the Lord.
King Asa did well for 36 years. But something changed. The incompleteness of perseverance was exposed. God warned him that he should not use his wealth to hire soldiers, but he went ahead anyway. God sent a seer, Hanani, to rebuke him. That was gracious of God. He said,
“At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.” Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him for this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time” (2 Chronicles 16:7-10).
If he turned from his prideful ways, he could have repented. But he didn’t. Oh, May God give us sensitive hearts to obey Him. King Asa would soon die. God sent a disease.
“And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians” (2 Chronicles 16:12).
What about our own lives? We need to be men that are running for the eternal kingdom. It is no good if we run a race part way, even if we are faster than all the others, feel good about ourselves and quit. What a shame!
My brothers, you will be tempted. You might need to suffer for Christ’s Name. But never never turn back. Endure to the end. Be one of those faithful ones. Jesus gives us a very picturesque story highlight both the reward of the faithful, read persistent and the unfaithful, the one with an incomplete persevering spirit.
“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. “Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51).
Christ is soon returning. He is watching how we serve Him. Did you notice that the one who began preoccupied with your own pleasures. Don’t be one in which you find that you are not carefully governing what you eat and drink. Do not be one in which your faith in Christ's return is minimal and therefore ignore His instructions.
Upon Christ’s return, his failure to live consistently with his profession will cause him to be cast with the hypocrites. There will be great weeping there. Will you be such a man? What will make you different?
Paul calls our attention to live rightly, consistent with God’s own person and purpose. This one, Jesus says, Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.” Let us boys and men all run to be these kind of men where doctrine is not only something we talk about but we live. Let us be temperate, dignified, self-control, sound in faith, in love and in perseverance.
Let us now look at the Bible study guide that comes with this section on Titus 2:1-2.