Christians look like Christ

Posted: February 9, 2009 in Titus

Titus 2:1-10, “Christians Look Like Christ”

As we’ve gone through the pastoral epistles, there have been a lot of instruction to elders & deacons…admonitions regarding teaching…what is expected of leadership. Some folks might be thinking, “So when is Paul going to say something about what I’m supposed to do?” Congratulations – this is your week! 🙂 In Ch 2, Paul has something to say to everyone in the church…old/young/male/female.

So what is it he has to say? For much of what we’ve been studying in 1-2 Timothy & Titus, Paul has been addressing doctrine (and he’ll have more to say on it today). But where rubber of doctrine meets the road is in our behavior & character. We preach and proclaim a transforming gospel: that when we repent, God the Son Jesus Christ saves us & births us in a new nature – where once we were slaves to sin, now we are slaves to righteousness to the glory of God. What does it say about Christ when professed Christians walk around acting like they are unchanged?

So what do we as a Church (universal – beyond these walls) do about it? What else? We help one another & point each other to Jesus…which is one of the things the writer of Hebrews was getting at. Hebrews 10:24-25 (24) And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, (25) not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. []

This is what Paul writes to Titus in Ch 2…how the Church can go about stirring up love & good works among itself. How we can come alongside each other as a body & help one another mature in the faith & mature in our actions to be a good witness of our Lord & Savior.

Titus 2:1-10 (NKJV)
1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine:

A. “As for you” what? In comparison to the false teachers that Paul just got done describing. They professed to know God, but denied Him in their works. Most of Ch 2 is going to instruct Titus & the church how to avoid that…to make their walk consistent with their word.

B. They taught fables; Titus was to teach what was “proper for sound doctrine.” Speaking of healthy teaching…(it’s good for you!) Have you noticed an emphasis on sound doctrine in the pastoral epistles? Paul can be kind of subtle here. 🙂 The reason for the repetition is obvious: we have an enemy who is actively trying to take down Christians through false teaching. And his attacks only get worse in the end days that we find ourselves in (1 Tim 4:1). The way to identify what is false is to know the truth [Secret Service – counterfeit training]. Thus Paul hammers home the need to his local pastors to teach the truth.

C. What will proper teaching include? Instructions for older men, older women, young women, and young men. Sound doctrine affects everyone in the church… What happens if someone in the church is not ever affected by the teaching of the word of God? (1) The doctrine being taught is not “sound”… (2) The person being taught is not part of the Church… (1 Cor 2:14)

2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;

A. “older men”: Not a reference to elders in the church, but simply speaking of the general age range. Those who are older in years ought to act more mature in their character.
__a. “sober”: The particular Greek usually refers to abstinence from wine, but many scholars believe Paul has a wider meaning here. The older men are to be sober in their thoughts & actions…
__b. “reverent”: august, grave… NIV, “worthy of respect”
__c. “temperate”: exercise wisdom in being self-controlled
__d. “sound in faith”: Could be written “THE faith” (definite article in Greek). Implies that Paul isn’t referring to a confident trust in God so much, as in the faith as a whole. IOW, older men are expected not to only be mature in years, but in doctrine. Someone who’s walked with the Lord Jesus for 40 years ought to have a deeper understanding of God than someone 4 months old in the faith. No excuse otherwise…
__e. “sound in…love”: agape… No matter how mature in our walk with the Lord we get, we can always learn more of His love… We can always improve in our expression of it…
__f. “sound in…patience”: (Wuest) “…literally, ‘remaining under’ trials and afflictions in a way that honors God.”

3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—

A. Older women were also to be instructed in character, but the primary emphasis here is on behavior…
__a. “reverent”: Scholars note the word used here was commonly used among pagans as referring to the work of priestesses. Obviously Paul’s not endorsing idolatrous practice, but simply instructing the women to understand that their lives were to be a holy sacrifice & service rendered unto God. Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. [] This isn’t just true for older ladies; it’s true for all of us…
__b. “not slanderers”: Gk diabolos – usually translated “devil.” Apt translation! Gossip that results in bearing false witness about someone is doing the Devil’s work, as he is the father of all lies.
__c. “not given to much wine”: literally not “enslaved” to wine…
__d. “teachers of good things”: With experience & maturity comes responsibility & ministry. One of the (many) tragedies of much of what’s known as American evangelicalism is the desire only to attract the young. The trend is to be the cool attractional church that all the young parents & teenagers want to go to. In the meantime, more experienced saints are shuffled off to the side… The church should neither cater solely to the young NOR cater to the aged. The church should just be the church & help us minister to one another. Those who are young in years & the faith need teachers – and those who are mature have a responsibility from God to teach.

B. Who specifically were they to teach? Young women. This doesn’t just make good sense, it’s wisdom in action. Titus would be fully capable of teaching the word, but when it comes to how to relate to one’s husband & family & intimate issues, that is something older women should teach younger women, not just because they know the issues at hand, but it keeps everyone above reproach.

4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

A. Primarily, they were to teach the young ladies what it meant to be a Christian woman. Young ladies didn’t need instruction in how to act like everyone else in their culture (there is no end of bad examples). What they needed was Godly instruction from Godly women. In essence, the older ladies were to serve as mentors to them.
__a. Biblically, we see this all over the place – we call them “disciples”… Elijah & Elisha – John the Baptist & co – Jesus & the 12 – Barnabas & Mark – Paul & Timothy/Titus. All examples where people had lots of personal time with the teachers they were learning from. Our own culture has started to see the value in this again…(internships – apprenticeships – mentoring). Why is personal time so important? Because more often than not, character is better ‘caught’ than ‘taught.’ We can know a lot of truths about love & compassion – but when we see it modeled before our eyes, it makes a huge difference…
__b. We need mentors in the church! American evangelicalism has mirrored American culture in many ways – one of which is to go to a meeting, go home, and shut the door behind you. [Fenced houses…] But those in the Church (by definition) should be different. We’re called out from the world, united into one Body – we ought to be helping one another grow & mature. And that means getting involved…

B. What specifically were the young women to be instructed to do?
__a. “to love their husbands”: This is actually one word in the Greek & it’s root actually isn’t in “agape” but in “phileo” (affectionate friendship). The idea here is more of a dedication to her husband. Eph 5:33 calls upon wives to respect their husband – her affection would be an outward working of that.
__b. “to love their children”: Yes, there are times mothers need help in loving their children. Especially when it’s 2am & they’ve cried for help 5 times already that night… 🙂 The Greek is very similar to the instruction regarding husbands; mothers are to be fond of their children & value them even when it’s difficult.
__c. “to be discreet”: This is the same word translated “temperate” in vs 2 regarding older men. The ladies were to likewise be self-controlled.
__d. “chaste”: refers to purity & uprightness. Like everyone else in the church, the young woman was to have a reputation that was above reproach.
__e. “homemakers”: Somewhat self-explanatory – speaks of someone being busy in the home, or working there. Instead of running around town or gossiping, the young women were to be productive in what they did…which was usually around the house. [] Does this mean women aren’t allowed to work outside the home? No – the Bible has many examples of women doing so. (Prov 31 woman buys fields & plants vineyards – Lydia sold purple dye/fabrics: Acts 16:14 – Priscilla was a tentmaker: Acts 18:3) But a Christian woman has her family in the right priority.
____i. Why are the older women in the church supposed to help with this? Because it’s too easy to get instruction from the world. Far too many Christian women get their instruction from Oprah (who is flatly anti-Biblical). Far better to get instruction from a Christian sister…
__f. “good”: Good just means good. 🙂 Overarching instruction.
__g. “obedient to their own husbands”: This is in line with Ephesians 5 & Colossians 3. Christian women are supposed to submit to their husbands simply because that is the order God has given in the home, as a picture of what spiritually takes place between Christ & the Church.
____i. Note the possessive here: “OWN husbands”. All women are not supposed to submit to all men…only to their own husbands…

C. What happens when Christian young women are acting like Christian young women? They become good witnesses for our King & “the word of God may not be blasphemed.” When David was confronted in his sin by Nathan, he was told that he caused the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme (2 Sam 12:14). We can do the same thing through our actions when we play the hypocrite.

6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,

A. Young men aren’t left out of the equation… They need to be taught as well. Not even Titus was left out of this (“yourself” – vs 7) – he was likely a young man like Timothy. Titus was to be both a teacher of character AND an example…

B. What did the young men need? The same thing the young women needed: mentors. Especially today, there is a dearth of mentors for young men! Instead of mentors, people turn to role models. But even ‘good’ role models fail when they later turn up to be photographed smoking a marijuana pipe. Two problems with that:
__a. We’re looking to the world for role models rather than to the church… What else would we expect from the world? Sinners sin…that ought to be expected.
__b. The BEST role model is Jesus Christ Himself. Ultimately, we should be pointing young men & women to HIM… Even when Paul told the Corinthians to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Cor 11:1), the emphasis was on following Christ. Ephesians 5:1-2 (1) Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (2) And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. [] Christians have the best role model conceivable: Someone Who is perfect, yet can sympathize with us in our weaknesses, even though He never once failed. We serve Christ – we ought to teach one another to walk in His footsteps.

C. 1st area to teach? Sound character & behavior…
__a. “be sober-minded”: Similar to the other instructions for older men & women to be temperate & self-controlled (same root). Could be translated “be sane” (which might be very applicable to certain young men! 🙂 ) – but the idea is to have sober judgment.
__b. “be a pattern of good works”: Specifically, this was for Titus. But because he was to be a pattern/example of good works, it implies the rest of the young men were to follow in doing them. Whoever said that the works of a Christian don’t matter? They do! The way we live is a testimony to the fact that we’ve been redeemed from the curse of death – that we’ve been bought & our Lord & Savior is the always-good Creator of the Universe… Our words are only part of our testimony of Christ; our works are as well.

D. Also addresses doctrine again…why? Having sound doctrine demonstrates “integrity, reverence, & incorruptibility.” The doctrine that Titus taught & the Church promoted was to be the pure & unceasing word of God presented in all seriousness that it deserved. Thus their preaching is reflected in their practice.

8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

A. Weird place for a verse break – the sound doctrine taught by Titus that demonstrated integrity, reverence, and incorruptibility WAS “sound speech”. At Titus (and the rest of the church) presented the truth of the word, demonstrated it in deed, and lived it in his character, it made a difference in their witness. People might object to what was being taught, but they could not condemn the church in the process. At that point, what attack can an opponent take? None. They will have “nothing evil to say of you.” This is the result of living our lives above reproach…
__a. Guess what? We ALL need help doing this. It’s tough to live lives that are truly beyond reproach. That’s why the Church is to come alongside one another in instruction. Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. [] We’re a family of believers – if one of us needs help in an area, who better to help than someone who loves them unconditionally in Christ? …

9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

A. Why are bondservants separated from the rest? This was simply a recognition of their culture. Some scholars estimate that up to half of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves – so it makes sense that Paul spends a significant portion of the Scriptures addressing them & how they should act in daily life.

B. They were to act like Christians, even in their service. Why? Because ultimately, their Master was the Lord God. (Col 3:23-24) They were supposed to be:
__a. “obedient to their own masters”: Whether justly or unjustly, slaves had owners – and they were to glorify God by being obedient in the situation in which they found themselves. The Church was actually an arena where this could be reversed…where a slave could be an elder, actually teaching & instructing his own master. But back in the day-to-day life, the servant was to be obedient.
__b. “well pleasing in all”: doing the job well – like Joseph, even when wrongfully imprisoned.
__c. “not answering back”: back-talking or verbally opposing their masters.
__d. “not pilfering”: It was extremely common for Roman slaves to steal from their masters; Christian slaves were to be set apart from this.
__e. “showing all good fidelity”: being trustworthy in all things.

C. The result is similar to what Paul wrote about the young ladies. If the young ladies did as instructed, God would not be blasphemed. For servants, this is the flip side of the coin. Beyond living above reproach, they would be actively demonstrating the grace of Christ, and they would “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.” It beautifies the gospel as it actively demonstrates the transforming power and love of our Lord & Savior.

Want to sum it up? Christians ought to look like Christ… The Lord Jesus is the ultimate example of sober thinking, reverence, love, patience, purity, with sound doctrine supported by good works & sound speech. When His enemies tried to accuse Him, they failed repeatedly…even the one thing witnesses agreed upon was a provable falsehood against Him. Jesus lived His life completely above reproach, which only served to underscore what He taught about holiness and the need to be forgiven.

As those who claim the name of Christ, we ought to be the same way! Paul’s going to come back to this theme throughout the letter & for good reason: verse 5. When Christians don’t look like Christ, then the word of God is blasphemed among unbelievers. Christians are supposed to be known by our love for God & one another, but when we’re backbiting or divisive or self-absorbed, it’s easy to understand why the world thinks that the Gospel must not be true. After all, if Jesus really is risen from the dead, then His followers ought to actually be following Him.

Thus we need to help one another. One of the ways we learn how to look like Christ is by learning from one another, as those who are more mature in the Lord help instruct those who are new to the faith & model their maturity for them. Let me challenge you today: if you would be in the category of an “older man” or “older woman” in Christ, do you have younger people you’re intentionally pouring yourself into? Perhaps there’s a young person or a new parent whom God has placed in your life for this very reason. [Growing up in a non-Christian home] What about with your kids? Parents are not exempt…the home is where it ought to start. We have a tendency to teach our kids to behave, but sometimes fall short on modeling what it means to follow Christ. Start today!

  1. Please Note says:

    Nice exegesis, Tim. Good word and quite timely. As I mentioned to you elsewhere, I think the seasoned Christians should come alongside the younger ones.

    We tend to separate into ‘youth groups’ & such, which is important for bonding, but we should also do things with all the men together, or all the women together.

    I mean the corporate ‘we’, of course, not particularly your church, or my church, per se.

    Good stuff, though 😉

  2. timburns says:

    Thank you! And I fully agree. Evangelical churches have tended to separate far too much into age ranges & social “small groups.” Not that focused ministry with these groups aren’t valuable, but we (generally speaking 🙂 ) have gone too far, IMO. We need each other in the Body of Christ…that’s how God designed the Church to work.

  3. Please Note says:

    Exactly Tim-

    Take the youth group bowling, and the Seniors to ‘Early Bird’ dinners & prayer, or whatever; but the 15 year-old learns from the 21 year-old how to date & navigate high-school; and the 21 year-old learns how to date respectfully & have a good work-ethic from the 32 year-old; and the 32 year-old learns how to stay the course faithfully from a 45 year old; and the 45 year-old learns to cope with unfulfilled dreams form the 60 year-old, and the 60 year old learns to have faith during scary health crises from a 75 year-old & so on.

    Men become men-of-faith in the company of other men-of faith.

    Women, too, I assume (ummm, in the company of other women, I mean…)

    Blessings On Your Worship Family…

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