Behavior Fitting Sound Doctrine
Copyright © 1986, Indian Hills Community Church, Lincoln, Nebraska
The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh, Senior Pastor at Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, NE. The text has been edited and condensed by IHCC staff for use as a Bible Study aid.
The theme of the Book of Titus is "good deeds" or "godliness," which is the manifestation of the character of God in our lives.
Paul concluded chapter 1 with a scathing denunciation of false teachers. These are men who profess to have a relationship with God but deny Him with their lives. These men must be opposed and silenced.
Attention is now directed to the character of life that is to mark those who are followers of Christ. It is a call to a biblical lifestyle. God never intended that sound doctrine be divorced from daily life.
In fact, the true test of our faith is the way we live. A profession not supported by a changed life is a lie (cf. 1:16; 1 John 1:6).
Paul begins with an exhortation to Titus, followed by specific instructions for different groups.
"But as for you" (su de) marks a clear contrast between the teachers of 1:10-16 and Titus.
"Sound doctrine" - "healthy teaching." This is teaching that promotes spiritual health.
Titus is to speak those things which are "fitting" or suitable for healthy teaching. Doctrine and life must harmonize.
He will now address specific people: older men, older women, younger women, younger men, Titus personally and slaves.
"O1der men" - We are not told what constitutes "older men." However, in an extrabiblical writing the expression is used of a man more than 60 years of age (Philo, On Special Laws).
"Temperate" (nephalios) - Basic meaning was sober in contrast to overindulgent in wine. From this meaning came the concept of temperate or sober in judgment.
The idea here describes a man who is in control of his mental, emotional and spiritual faculties. He is characterized by a clearheaded stability in every area of his life.
"Dignified" (semnos) - This is not the same as "stuffy" or "gloomy." This is a serious person who has a sound and balanced approach to life. He lives life in light of eternity.
"Sensible" (sophron) - This describes the man whose mind controls his body and actions. This word is used five times in this epistle and is used of the young women in verse 5 and the young men in verse 6. The words self-controlled or sound-minded also express this idea.
The senior man must have learned what can only be called the gravity of life. A certain amount of instability, of recklessness, of unthinkingness may be pardonable in youth, but the years should have brought their wisdom. One of the most tragic sights in life is a man who has learned nothing from the years (Barclay, p. 283).
The next three characteristics are linked together with the word "sound." This is the same word used in verse 1, meaning "healthy."
"Sound in faith" - He should have a healthy faith - a life of reliance and dependence upon the Lord.
"Sound in love" (agape) - He should have, and manifest, a healthy love for others. There ought to be demonstrated in his life a willingness to do what is best for others. He is characterized by self-sacrifice.
"Sound in perseverance" - The usual triad is faith, love and hope, but here hope is replaced with perseverance. Hope is a key factor in perseverance and will be dealt with in verse 13.
The older man is to demonstrate persistence in his holding fast to the truth, even in the midst of many difficulties and much opposition.
In a very similar way, older women are to manifest godliness in their behavior.
"Reverent in their behavior" - Their actions are to be a manifestation of their inner character. The word reverent is related to priestly conduct. The older women's lives are to be an expression of service to God.
"Not malicious gossips" (diabolos) - "Talkativeness is a disease of women, and it is increased by old age" (John Calvin).
"Not enslaved to much wine"
"Teaching what is good" - This is circumscribed by the context. The realm of their influence is the younger women and the home.
"Encourage" - Literally means "to bring someone to his senses." It may also mean "advise" or "urge."
The older women are to play a key role in bringing the younger women to the proper place in their home and their relationship with their husbands.
Note that the realm of the young women is their children, their husbands and their homes.
"To love their husbands" (philandrous) - From the older women, the younger women should learn what is involved in loving their husbands. Obviously we are not dealing primarily with emotions here, but with the practical outworking of love in behavior.
"To love their children" (philoteknous) - Again, what is described here is the practical demonstration of love in caring for the children.
Making the husband and children the priority in life is contrary to the philosophy of the world. It says you must establish your own identity and become an independent person. Children are viewed as a burden or a nuisance, not as a blessing. We are willing to turn them over to someone else to raise while mothers do something important, like taking a paying job.
"sensible" (sophron) - This is the word that was used in verse 2 concerning the older men. Self-controlled or soundminded expresses the idea.
"Workers at home" (oikourgous) - This translation expresses accurately the meaning of the word. She is to be busy at home, fulfilling the duties that are hers as the ruler of the home. This rules out idleness, and focuses attention on the proper realm of the woman.
Paul addresses the same issue in 1 Timothy 5:13-15 dealing with younger widows.
The woman who is devoted to loving her husband and loving her children will be actively involved in the duties of her home. This is her realm over which she reigns.
Some try to avoid the clarity of this by relegating it to a cultural guideline:
This too, assumes the cultural norm of what a good wife was expected to be like. Thus, very much in keeping with 1 Timothy 2:9-15 and 5:9-15, Paul sets a standard, conditioned in part by the cultural norm of what was expected of a good wife, that the younger women's place in Christ was to be found in the home (Fee, p. 142).
This is just a way of arbitrarily setting aside the clear teaching of the Word of God. All of Scripture was written against a cultural background other than ours. Does this mean we can set aside its teaching in any area that does not conform to the practice of our culture?
"Kind" (agathas) - This word normally means "good" and may indicate here "a good woman," functioning as God intends, It may also mean kind.
"Subject to their own husbands" - This is another concept which the world condemns as archaic. It has even become common in Christian circles to emphasize "mutual submission" rather than the submission of the wife to the husband.
The reason this is so important is given as "that the word of God may not be dishonored."
Proper conduct is crucial so that God's Word will not be blasphemed.
Paul has more to say to the women, the young women in particular, than to any other group. It shows the importance of the conduct of the young women.
Today we need older men who are consistently modeling godly character.
We need older women who demonstrate godliness and train the young women to be effective in the realm of their home and family,
We need young women who will commit themselves to a godly life-style in the face of an ungodly world.
All of this depends upon a personal relationship with God through Christ.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, © Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. All quotations used by permission.
Permission was received from Indian Hills Community Church for the posting of this file on Bible Bulletin Board. Our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for leading Pastor Gil Rugh to preach/teach messages that are bold, and doctrinally sound—they are so needful to this generation.
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