Lesson 17: "Speak. . .Sound Doctrine. . .Showing Thyself [As] A Pattern" (Titus 2:1, 7)
Paul's Letters To Preachers. Welcome to lesson #17. As we start this study, I invite you to back up and take a perspective look at where we are, i.e. get a feel of the context. In what we call the first chapter of Titus, we've covered the salutation and Paul's list of qualifications for elders. The reason I say "what we call the first chapter" is you need to remember this was written strictly in prose, i.e. with no verse or chapter breaks as it has been divided up for us. Then, beginning in v.10 of ch. 1, the apostle did about three things: (#1), he gave the reason for elder qualifications. (#2) He molded into these verses a very picturesque diagnosis of Cretan thinking, i.e. he displayed for us a sample of what was undoubtedly the typical Cretan attitude. This helps us to get the setting and to see the congregational confusion and lethargy under which Titus was forced to cope. Then, (#3) he spotlighted their church problems, i.e. enabling us to mentally probe, envision and even (at least vaguely) recognize the nature of doctrinal errors and false teaching being dispensed by the venders of Judiasm. In all of this, Paul seemed to be contrasting sound doctrine AND the disobedient attitude of error (v.16) that existed among the Cretans.
Now, as we delve into ch. 2, with this contextual review in mind, we need to recognize that up until now the apostle has for Titus' benefit, only examined the problem(s). Sound elders were, of course, the first step in arriving at a solution to these problems. Paul put that right up front and there's a great lesson here for us. To teach sound doctrine, i.e. the pure gospel by which our souls can be saved, we must (first of all) have men who can teach, exhort, and convince the gainsayers by sound doctrine, it takes sound teaching. James said: "receive with meekness the engrafted word [or the implanted word], which is able to save your souls." (Jas. 1:21). James1 implanted thought (there) goes back to the parable of the sower (Matt. ch. 13 and Luke ch. 8) the seed is the word of God, i.e. the starting point in bringing forth good and abundant fruit with good work. It begins with a pure viable seed, God's word. Thus, in what we call ch. 2, the apostle begins to furnish Titus with the remedy (or the cure, if you will). In doing this, the apostle (as he did back in the book of I-Timothy), divided the congregation into the different social groups, i.e. to facilitate administering this dose by dose cure, or spiritual medication, so-to-speak. Alright, now, jump ahead just a little bit (here). Who were these different social groups? (#1) The apostle started his spiritual medical treatment with this gospel preacher, named Titus (v.1). Then (#2), he began to treat the aged men (in v.2). (#3) The aged women (v.3). (#4) The young women (in v.4-5). (#5) The young men (v.6). Then in v.7, Paul jumped back to this gospel preacher named Titus again. And finally (#6), he got around to Christian slaves or servants and their masters (in v.9).
We'll get back to the spiritual medicine Paul prescribed for each of these social groups in just a moment; but, before we do that, let's read (2:1-8). We're going to save Paul's instruction to slaves, until our next lesson. Have you got your finger on the text? Here we go! Beginning in Tit. 2:1. "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be soberminded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you."
Alright, you might notice the way Paul said this. He instructed Titus to teach sound doctrine,the way it should be taught and particularly to who it should be taught. As we have said before, Paul's letters to preachers, I-Timothy, II-Timothy and Titus, were undoubtedly not intended as private letters; but, letters that could (and should be) read by others, as well. Thus, Paul's instruction to Titus and Timothy (in written form) carries not only what should be taught; but, who should be taught. God's ambassador (named Paul) gives the message apostolic authority. Titus and Timothy were delivery boys. That made their job as gospel preachers much easier Also, in doing this, the Holy Spirit put Paul's message into a timeless form and preserved it for you and me. As you try to analyze ch. 2, notice first and foremost: the emphasis is upon "sound doctrine." Titus (in 2:1) was to speak the things which become sound doctrine. The idea is healthy or wholesome speech. In other words, Titus was to speak the correct form which would promote a healthy faith, i.e. the correct form(s) as taught by Jesus and the apostles. You see, all of this is said IN CONTRAST TO what was taught by the false teachers as described back in chapter one. Christians must to be balanced individuals, we must have a healthy faith. Titus was to be an example (v.7). Therefore, we might say the message was personalized to the different age groups and the different social groups making up the Cretan congregations. This was to attain that healthy doctrinal balance needed by every disciple. That is the key to eradicating denominationalism. It's simply another way of saying speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent. Or, as the apostle Peter expressed this thought in II-Pet. 1:3, "According as his divine power [i.e. Jesus] hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness." You see "sound doctrine" as compared to denominational thinking has always been a problem all the way back into the very first century. It is important, very important, to follow "sound doctrine." You can't just believe anything! You can't just practice anything and be approved by God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. It couldn't be said plainer So, be a stickler! Get it right! Titus (!), don't speak anything except sound doctrine. Be cautious! Not only must Titus do this; he was to teach "the aged men [to be] ...SOUND IN FAITH." This is important! V.3, Titus, teach "the aged women likewise!" What does "likewise" mean? Titus, you do it! Have the aged men to do it this way! be SOUND IN FAITH! And have the aged women do it, LIKEWISE. This is most important! The old men and the old women were to be examples to the younger generation. They are to be "teachers of good things" (end of v.3, do you see that?). That sure hits me right between the eyes. You old codgers...be sober! Pay attention! This is not talking about strong drink or intoxication. Be sober minded. Then, the word "grave," as used here (v.2), means essentially the same thing: be serious, be honest, be honorable. This is important. OH! I'm getting too old to teach! I'm getting to old to attend and to take part like I used to do...I've decided to give it over to the younger generation. Have you heard that non-sense? That's excuses! Nine times out of ten it's an excuse and not a reason! Check me out! Paul didn't leave a loophole any place. Titus, you do it right! Titus, teach the old men to do it right! Teach the old women to do it right! Yes, but Bro. Horsley, you need to be working with "them-there" younger people, the young generation, they're the future of the church. My friend, you don't have to worry about the future of the church. If you get the church presently right, the future will take care of itself. The Bible teaches: today "is the day of salvation," NOW is the accepted time (II-Cor. 6:2).
And, that's not something new! There in II-Cor. 6:2, Paul was quoting (from Isa. 49:8). Brothers and sisters in Christ, it doesn't start with the young people! It starts with us! All of us! Everybody! Now! Not in the future! The streets of hell are paved with good intentions, if you want to walk that route. Please don't! It takes more than good intentions to follow sound doctrine. Let's do something NOW! Don't throw in the towel just because you are eligible for a social security check. That should simply give you more opportunity to serve. You can now serve without being encumbered with the burden of making a living to the extent that you were before. It's a great opportunity! Why is it (?) that so many older people simply quit? People with years of accumulated Bible knowledge. People that could have a great influence, Christians, disciples with battle scars and battle stars, they lay down their Bible and start playing around with a golf club or a fishing pole, go back to being a kid. Jesus said "be thou faithful unto death." (Rev. 2:10). He didn't say until you retire. Look at those words the apostle used to describe the desired conduct of older men and the older women (v.2-3-4). What does "temperate" mean? Stop when you draw your first social security check? Sound in charity, sound in patience, what does that mean? That the women be in behavior as becometh holiness (v.3), what does that mean? Go to Florida and sit in the sun? Now, if there are widows that are widows indeed, according to Paul's definition, then help them, they deserve it! But, even they should continue to be useful and serve where they can. They can do something! That doesn't give them an excuse to quit. One of the greatest labor pools available today in the churches of Christ are our retirees. They usually make up a significant number of the congregation. What's the percentage where you attend? I hope your experience is better than mine. Try to get them to do something, teach a class, door-knock, make contacts, round up a group for a cottage meeting, visit the newcomers, visit the hospital, visit the sick, bake a few cookies and encourage a neighbor, invite them to the services, or volunteer to carry out a mailing. It's like bumping your head on a brick wall. They have more excuses than you can count. They say in effect, can't you see I'm retired? Can't you see I'm above sixty five years old? Can't you see I'm watching T.V.? Instead of them leading the pack, they're dragging their feet. Oh! You'll find a few that are in there doing their share and more too. However, Paul had ample reason (you better believe) to tell Titus, work on the aged men and the aged women "likewise," and the Holy Spirit had it recorded for our admonition and our learning. It's still true. It still needs our attention.
Paul didn't start his spiritual medical treatment with the young women and the young men. Now I would assume when Paul mentioned the young women (v.4) and the young men (v.5), that he was talking about that age when all the babies are coming and they're trying to scrape together the down payments, gain a little seniority in their trade, keep their boss happy and hold down a job. It's not an easy time. They usually have better health than the older group we discussed; but, they have a lot of problems too. Mothers are sometimes up all night with the little ones. Husbands sometimes have to work long and irregular hours. It can get rough. They need encouragement, bad. One of the problems with that age group (in our day) IS that they are simply not submissive as these verses suggest. They've got all the answers! OH! They haven't asked all the questions yet; but, they've got the answers. They all have plans to be millionaires. It's front burner stuff. Most of them are too busy to attend the services regularly, too busy to study the Bible systematically and too busy to get very concerned about their souls salvation, right now. Their thinking is future, just like the old people. It's the future of the church, they worry about. One of these days, they are going to start attending every service. One of these days, they are going to GET AROUND TO studying the Bible. One of these days they're really going to be faithful. Oh! They have good intentions. But, you see they have that same problem that our older generation has (of which I'm a member). Their thinking is future, just like the older generation, in contrast to what Paul said in II-Cor. 6:2, TODAY "is the day of salvation." NOW is the appointed time. They are waiting until they get old (to start working for the Lord) and the older generation have now quit because they've already done enough (is their attitude). It's an ironic situation and in the meantime the world is going to hell by the droves. Oh! You find a few exceptions. Every once and a while you find a young person or two that's doing what they ought to be doing. But, not much is being done, old or young.
What is sound doctrine? v.4? THAT (the older women) "teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet." What's discreet? Vine says this word means "self-controlled." It's part of sound doctrine! To be discreet, to be chaste...What's chaste? Some women like to be chased, i.e. chased by other men...have little affairs (as they call it on T.V.). Except, the word here is spelled C-H-A-S-T-E and has just the opposite meaning, "to be holy or to be free from defilement." Then you older ladies teach them to be "keepers at home." Those three words "keepers at home" could stir up a whole nest of woman's libbers, couldn't it? And we haven’t even got to "obedient to their own husbands" yet (v.5). Obedient? In our day, it's sometimes necessary for women to work outside the home. However, this should be secondary to the family and not their primary purpose in life. Then, take just a minute to dwell on the thought placed at the end of that sentence (end v.5): "that the word of God be not blasphemed." If time permitted, we could probably get a couple sermons out of that. To you YOUNG MEN (v.6), I want you to look at Paul's word "likewise." Do you get it? In your case, Paul packed it all into that word "sober-minded." But, that "likewise" up front means that everything that applies to the old men and the old women and even the young women in its proper context applies to you also. So, don't feel left out. V.6 may be a short verse; but, it’s got a lot packed in there. Titus (and all of us gospel preachers) didn't get off either. "Showing thyself a pattern of good works." Titus, don't just preach it! You be the first in line, be a pattern. Do you know what a pattern is? V.7-8 has a whole box of patterns in it, if you'll take the time to sort1em out. "Showing thyself a pattern...in doctrine...[in] gravity, [in] sincerity, [in] sound speech..." Be a pattern! I remember on one occasion, someone said to me: don't use personal illustrations, keep yourself out of it. Paul did it! He said: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." (I-Cor. 11:1). Paul was an example! He was a pattern. And, Paul told us to be patterns, too. What Paul said to the Cretans via way of Titus, the Holy Spirit is saying to us. This is a kind-of heavy lesson. It doesn't take long to read through this lesson and load it up...8 short verses! But, it's going to take some doing to get it into practice. And, while you're working on it...have a good day!