Your Beliefs Matter - Titus 2:1-2, 6-8
If you’ve ever studied philosophy you’ve probably come across the name Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s name is often associated with what is called nihilism.
Essentially, nihilism is the belief that there is no meaning whatsoever to this world. Everything is pointless and devoid of substance. We can’t know anything or be known by anyone.
Frankly, it’s a very dark, depressing, philosophical point of view. But the reason, I bring it up is because nihilism is consistent with atheism. If you don’t believe in God, this life has no meaning and there is no such thing as morality. You and I are just purposeless blobs of cells.
Although atheism and nihilism are dark and depressing they’re consistent with one another. And the very scary thing is that it has major implications on how people live. Think about it, if there’s no god and life is purposeless - why shouldn’t you chase down every selfish desire or experience?
Too often we think that are actions are independent of what we believe - we’ve all been told just because you do something doesn’t make it right. But the Scriptures tell us something very different.
How you live is a direct reflection of what you believe.
So what lifestyle attributes are consistent for Christian men?
Paul shares with Titus that sound doctrine has major implications for how you and I are to live. Doctrine should have an impact on everyone: older men, older women, younger women, and younger men.
It’s for all people. But this morning, we’re focusing on how sound doctrine affects men. Sound doctrine is for all men, but for experienced men it grounds them. And for the inexperienced men it guides them.
This passage is primarily geared toward the men but really it’s important for both men and women.
The single women who desire to get married should look for these qualities in men. Wives should encourage their husbands to aspire to live out this Scripture and the same is true for daughters and sisters. Encourage your fathers and brothers to aspire to these verses. Knowing the roles God calls us to in Scripture can help us spur one another on in righteousness in our families and church body.
The same will be true next week when Stacey preaches about older and younger women.
Paul shifts gears in chapter 2 of Titus in order to draw a contrast between Titus and false teachers. In other words, Paul wants to tell Titus exactly what he should be teaching which results in Christian living.
Paul tells Titus to address the older men, older women, younger women and younger men in that order.
Paul begins in verse 1 with “teach what accords with sound doctrine.” Sound doctrine implies that true doctrine, Biblical doctrine preserves and promotes spiritual health, unlike false doctrine which destroys spiritual vitality. All of his ethical instructions that follow for men, women, and bondservants are to be taken in light of sound doctrine. As a Christian, you should live in a manner that is consistent with the Scriptures.
Because if Christ is living in you - he changes everything.
First, Paul addresses old men. As a side note, I used the word “experienced” because I thought it sounded nicer, but Paul is much more blunt and honest. He says old. I don’t think Paul gave a cut-off age because you just know if you’re old. There’s no getting around it.
In verse 2, he gives a list of attributes to describe how older Christian men should behave.
Sound doctrine grounds experienced men (vv. 1-2)
The first three are closely related: sober-minded, dignified, and self-controlled. In other words, clear-headed, well-mannered, and restraint. The term “self-control” really summarizes what Paul is saying. If you have self-control, you’re probably dignified and sober-minded. But I don’t think it works the other way around. You can’t be sober-minded and dignified but not self-controlled. Another word that I think is helpful here to better understand what Paul means is: restraint.
We live in a society where “everyone has a voice” and that voice must constantly be expressed and heard.
Having an opinion isn’t necessarily wrong, sharing your opinion isn’t necessarily wrong either. The problem seems to be in determining when “expressing your voice” is appropriate or inappropriate. But being sober minded, having dignity and self-control will help you determine the appropriate time to share it.
Not too long ago, I was listening to a professor lecture on how to get people to take you seriously, and his recommendation was rather shocking: He said, “don’t say anything stupid.”
His point was very simple and very straight forward: in order to be taken seriously you shouldn’t say the first thing that pops into your head. This is exactly what Paul is getting at. He’s saying there’s a level of clarity, restraint and self-control that we should expect from older Christian men.
I hope you’re not hearing that Christian men need to be a stoic, quiet and boring in everything they do. Of course not! Sober-mindedness, dignity, and self-control are traits that help Christian men recognize, as Ecclesiastes 3:4 the appropriate time “ to weep and to laugh.”
There are appropriate times to laugh and have a good time. And there are appropriate times to weep. There are appropriate times to share your thoughts and opinions and there are moments when it’s not appropriate.
It’s easy to understand but difficult to execute… because life is complicated.
As people get older I think we sort of expect their filter to deteriorate and to start saying things that immediately come to mind. I’m sure you’ve all laughed at something your grandfather has said at some point or another.
But this shouldn’t be our expectation especially from Christian men. We should expect so much more from them and we should hold them to a higher standard.
Older Christian men should exhibit sober-mindedness, dignity and self-control. But that’s not all Paul says, next he says older men should be “sound in faith, love and steadfastness.”
Interestingly, the word “sound” can also be translated as “healthy.” In other words, older Christian men should have a “healthy faith.” A healthy faith is one that recognizes your need for Christ, a desire to learn more about who he is through the Scriptures, while in communion with God’s people.
A healthy faith is characterized by love. If you have a healthy faith, you’ll have deep seeded love for the Lord, and if you love the Lord you’ll love those around you. And as you grow in grace through the years your love for others should increase. The love that characterizes Christian men should be genuine and without pretenses. And the love of brothers in Christ is something that should be even more special.
A healthy faith is also marked by steadfastness or patience. According to Paul older christian men should be characterized by their patience.
You really can’t separate faith, love, and patience. One commentator actually said that a healthy faith, love, and patience is Christian perfection. It’s what every Christian should strive toward, but it should be especially true for older men.
I recently read a book called Get Real: A Faith Worth Sharing Every Day. In the book he tells a story about a non-Christian woman that started coming to a small group. Eventually, she converted and put her faith in Christ.
And so they asked her to share her testimony. And she said something pretty fascinating. She said that it was their love and kindness that drew her to their small group. She said that she had never seen anything like it.
This isn’t probably new or shocking to you that Christian men should be characterized by faith, love, and patience. But it’s easy to forget what a powerful witness those traits are. There’s nothing like Christian restraint, faith, love and patience in the world. That woman’s story of being drawn to the small group shouldn’t be unique or special.
There should be something different about men that follow Christ. There’s a reason Paul uses specific adjectives to describe Christian men. He didn’t do it by accident. It was intentional. And the characteristics of being sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith and in love, and in steadfastness flow downstream from sound doctrine.
Sound doctrine is where everything begins and it should ground older experienced Christian men.
Similarly, sound doctrine should guide and direct younger inexperienced men.
Sound doctrine guides inexperienced men. (vv. 6-8)
Interestingly, Paul gives the same instruction for young men as he did for old men. He tells them in verse 6 to be self-controlled. The instruction for self-control is just as applicable to young men as it is for old men - because all men should be self-controlled.
If the stereotype for old men is they lose restraint with years, the stereotype for young men is they didn’t have restraint to begin with. When men are young there comes a point, where they think they know best and don’t really care what everyone else thinks. They can be hot-tempered, rash, reckless, and headstrong. They’re going to do things their way.
A lot of young men have a negative view of self-control. They might associate restraint and self-control with passivity or timidity. In other words, self-control is a form of weakness. And it’s really a shame because self-control is a strength. Because adjusting your behavior for the appropriate circumstance is very difficult as we all know.
But he goes on.
In verse 7, Paul gives instructions to Titus who was probably himself a young man. So, verses 7-8 were directed specifically to Titus and generally to young men. But keep in mind, what Paul says to Titus, a pastor on the island of Crete, are qualities we should hold young men to and look for in a pastor.
He begins by telling him to be a “model of good works.” It’s an interesting charge considering what Paul says elsewhere about good works.
He says in Romans 3, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” But then he turns around to Titus and tells him to be a model of good works. Is he contradicting himself?
Paul says later in Romans 6, "Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness."
Believers should want to walk in righteousness and do good works while recognizing those good works cannot save them. And what Paul says about being “a model for good works” makes sense because it’s connected to “sound doctrine.” Good works for believers are fruits of their faith in Jesus Christ, but are not the basis of your salvation.
And that would explain why Paul charges Titus to be a model of good works. Young men should be model of good works, and it should be even more so for men in pastoral roles, like Titus.
The same is true for what Paul says in verses 7 and 8 about, “in teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech.” Again, you should expect integrity, dignity, and sound speech from men who follow Christ but especially those in pastoral roles.
It’s a very high standard for a very high calling. You should expect integrity, dignity, and sound speech from myself and Stacey. But Paul doesn’t arbitrarily set high expectations without reason.
His reason is “so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” The conduct of young men, and pastors should be radically different from those who are in the world. There’s something wrong with us if our lives look no different from unbelievers. Because people are always looking for someone to fail a degree of hypocrisy.
At some point you’ve probably heard of an “ad hominem” argument. Ad hominem literally means “against the man.” It’s an argument that deals with the person rather than their position. It’s often used in politics when say for example a politician is in favor of raising taxes but pays less himself than the average person.
So rather than making a case for why raising taxes is bad - a person might criticize their opponent’s apparent hypocrisy. Ad hominems are generally considered a poor form or argument, yet people use them all the time. Despite being a flawed argument, ad hominems are effective because it makes it seem like you don’t really believe what you claim to believe.
Paul knew that your life reflects what you believe. In other words, people can see how you life either supports or contradicts God’s Word. But Paul’s concern wasn’t really with the person that claimed to be a Christian.
He was concerned with how a person’s life could cast doubt on the gospel. Opponents could attack Christianity because their lives weren't reflecting what they claimed to believe. Paul was concerned about the gospel message more than anything else.
The gospel changes everything. If you understand what Christ’s life, death, burial and resurrection means it’s going to impact how you live.
That’s why he says sound doctrine is so important. Sound doctrine is the guiding light for young men and everyone else. Sound doctrine is the key. That’s in part why the church is so important: hearing the preaching of the word, fellowship with other believers, discipleship, and participating in the Lord’s Supper — should give you sound doctrine.
You might be thinking to yourself: I know my life should reflect my faith in Christ, but I know I am not as self-controlled or dignified, or sound in my faith, or loving or whatever it might be, as I should be.
In one sense, you’re right: no one is self controlled enough or loving enough. These ethical commands are ideals. They’re what you and I should be striving for each and every day.
Recently, a guy I know let his emotions get the best of him. He was frustrated with some friends and used choice language. His outburst had happened in a very public setting and the really disappointing part is that he’s a believer.
A few days after his outburst he apologized on Facebook. He said, “my actions were not that of a Christian and I’d like to publicly apologize to anyone I may have misled.” He went on to publicly apologize to specific individuals that he had sinned against that day.
This guy understood self-control, but failed to maintain it. He knew his actions did not reflect what he believed.
These ideals for men in Titus 2 really exposes our need for Christ. He was perfectly sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled - he perfectly lived out Titus 2. He did all those things perfectly. Not once did he fail or deny the Father through his actions.
We’re not as self-controlled, loving or dignified as we should be. Interestingly, the 1st theses of Martin Luther’s 95 theses was, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, "Repent", he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
Repentance is often characterized by a turning from your sin, but I also think it’s acknowledging your need and dependence on Jesus Christ.
So, the main question is: does your life reflect your dependence on Christ? That’s what each one of us must wrestle with this Sunday.
If you see your need for Christ your life will change. The more you recognize your personal shortcomings and sin, the more you’ll see the grace of God, and as you grow in grace you’ll become more self-controlled, loving, sound in faith, steadfast, and dignified.
But it all accords with sound doctrine and understanding who you are in light of who and what Christ has done. Because of Christ, how you live will be a direct reflection of what you believe. So my question for you is what is life display to the people around you?
If you’re a Christian is your life displaying your need for Christ? And if you’re not a Christian, your lifestyle reflects your beliefs to those around you. What is it? Why?
Sound doctrine implies that true doctrine preserves and promotes spiritual health, unlike false doctrine which destroys spiritual vitality. What doctrine grounds or guides you?
That’s why atheism as a doctrine to live by is so depressing. Your life has no meaning and the way you live has no meaning. It will destroy your soul. But for those who trust in Jesus Christ, they’re able to understand the value of life and how Jesus informs how they live.
It’s the opposite of Nietzsche’s nihilism. How you live gives people a glimpse into what you believe. What are you telling them? Does your life reflect the grounding or guiding role that Christ plays in your life? Or are you communicating something else?
Here in a few moments we’ll have the opportunity to visibly demonstrate our dependence on Christ through the Lord’s Supper. As we approach the table confess our dependence on the Lord and ask him to guide us in this life.