Ideas have consequences.
Julian Huxley was a 20th century biologist and atheist…renowned in his day.
He was also a proponent of eugenics…the idea that “inferior humans need to be weeded out of the gene pool.”
This thought is consistent and logical based on his ideas about what humans are…no different really than animals, or in a sense, vegetation.
He also acknowledged that somehow or other, against all that one might expect, man functions better if he acts as though God were there…though he believed he was not there.
He suggested we just sort of “fake it”(my word) or live as if there is meaning, knowing that there is not.
But what kind of person can actually do this without falling into despair?
And how could “faking” it lead to good actions, especially if those actions are personally costly?
Francis Schaeffer wrote: “If man(humanity) has been kicked up by chance out of what is only impersonal, then those things that make him man–hope of purpose and significance, love, morality, beauty…are ultimately meaningless…”
“Humanity” he wrote is the lowest creature on the scale. “The green moss on the rock is higher than he, for it can be fulfilled in the universe in which it exists. But if the world is what these men say it is, then man, (not only individually but as a race) being unfulillilable is dead.”
Ideas have consequences…people can, for a short time, believe one thing and live another…but eventually, the two things…belief and life will collide.
The result is either despair, chaos, destruction…or thriving and beauty.
Thriving and beauty when what we believe AND live out…aligns with the truth of God.
I saw the trailer for the movie Elvis that is soon to be released.
The actor who plays Elvis is handsome, electric blue eyes, electrifying stage presence…just like the real Elvis.
Supposedly the film accurately portrays the beliefs, values, and behavior of Elvis…this has been confirmed by his ex-wife and daughter.
But I wonder if the film demonstrates the outcomes of those things colliding at the end of his life?
Does it stop with the rise to fame of the handsome blue eyed “king”
Or does it end with a broken down man, dying from his own excesses at age 42…consuming 10,000 to 12,000 calories a day…addicted to drugs…true despair.
The film trailer presents…passion, excitment, a life that is thriving…going its own way.
Reality presents the fact…that beliefs and behavior collided in a terrible way in his real life.
Paul, in what is called the pastoral letters, Timothy and Titus is laser focused on these men…being “blue collar truth workers”
And raising up men and women who will be the same.
Jesus himself was laser focused on the truth…and raising up followers who teach others to obey all he had commanded…that was his great commission.
Believe, live, teach…the truth.
Truth was who he was and what he was he about…truth as reality about God, humans, eternity, purpose.
Truth is essential to human thriving…true truth comes from God.
There are important facts, truths that humans can come up about the world as God has designed it.
We figure out how to grow crops or build a computer…but truth about what is ultimately real…things we most desperately need to know to have purpose, to know God…we cannot discover own our own.
Huxley was absolutely right and terribly wrong.
What he observed… “Humans do better if they act as if there is a God” was out of sync with what he believed “There is no god”
The reality is…humans do better if they “act” as if there is a God…precisely because there is a God…and to act as if there is not a God, is to attempt to live outside our design.
But these “good actions” are not automatically the result of beliefs alone…they flow from beliefs…shaping hearts…impacting choices.
This change is not explainable in mere human terms…
The God who is there…and the God who has spoken….is the same God who empowers real change in human hearts as we submit to the truth of God.
Paul wrote a short letter to Pastor Titus on the Greek island of Crete.
The purpose for Titus being there was to raise up godly leaders, blue collar truth workers for the church and the world.
2:1 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.
“You, however” is in contrast to what he said in the previous verse about those who “profess true knowledge of God; but deny him in their actions.”
Unlike them…Titus, you must align belief and behavior.
The word translated “teach” is a broader word than just “formal training”
Paul’s concern here is not just when Titus is preaching or leading Bible studies…but in all of his communication.
Including his prayers and personal interaction with others.
This doesn’t mean he has to talk theology at the Crete Starbucks or while working on someone’s house…but it does mean that what he says in all his conversations ought to be in line with the reality of God.
He doesn’t “have churchy words” and “everyday life words”…but what he says is full of the reality of God.
This is not about not cursing…though that would be a part…it is about speaking in ways that demonstrate you know and actually believe in the reality of God…his reign and his interaction with the world.
“The mouth speaks” Jesus said, “What the heart is full of.”
Truth about God ought to be changing our hearts in ways that impact all of our words.
You can talk about the KC chiefs, or the weather, you can tell a good joke…these things are a part of the reality of the world God has placed us in…but even then, the way we talk: can and should reflect the reality of God.
Next, Titus is given directives to how this plays out in some specific groupings of people.
He writes of: older men, older and younger women, young men, Titus himself, and slaves.
All this is packed in a couple of short paragraphs…so remember, he is not saying all that could be said about these things here.
A key principle of Biblical interpretation is “Scripture interprets Scripture”
-This is not circular reasoning, it simply means that to know what Scripture teaches on a topic, you must pay attention to all that it says about that topic.
Let’s look at how he applies leading towards alignment of belief and behavior in some different groups of people in the church on Crete.
2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
-Paul probably had in mind the age of about 40 or 50 and up.
-These men in the church were to be trained to excel in four qualities:
Temperate: Of course, this can mean not abusing alcohol but it also applies to anything that people pursue to excess.
-Even good things out of balance, have bad results.
*Talk to these men about life balance.
Worthy of respect: There is an older word that we don’t use much anymore but it is one we should be aquainted with… “Deportment”
-Essentially means, “How you carry yourself”.
It doesn’t denote a certain personality type…you can be loud and fun, or quiet and serious.
There is no right or wrong, better or worse personality type…God enjoys them all.
-But how ever God has wired you up…we should live out of our personalities in ways that communicate the reality of God…how we carry ourselves, as our individual and unique selves…should point to God.
*I sat with some friends at lunch Friday and on the wall of the resturant was a sign…”Be your best self”
-There is truth in this of course, but there is a strong limiting factor in that we cannot be who we need to be purely on our own steam.
As a young Christian I believed I had to take on the personality type of some men I respected…this was both wrong and impossible.
I could only be me, but “my best self” was going to be engaged only as I trained to be like Christ.
Training for Christlikeness requires God’s grace…and self-control.
-This is the same word he used to describe pastors in the last chapter…proving my point that all these desirable traits are for everyone.
-We are to put our passions under our will, as we submit ourselves to Christ.
-Christ is the boss of me…I am to be the boss of my passions.
-This is a kind freedom that is possible now that Christ has entered our lives…this theme, self-control will come up again and again.
Sound: in faith, love, endurance:
Sound just means “healthy”…or a descriptive idiom would be “squared away”
The old guys are to be becoming more and more squared away in: Faith (trust of God), love for others, and in endurance that allows for ongoing faithfulness.
Faith in God, love for others…will be tested by age and its corresponding challenges…old plodders are to demonstrate to “young sprinters” the need for faithful endurance.
*Because no one is going to want to follow us and learn from just because we are old.
Paul said, “Follow me as a follow Christ.”
“Follow me, because I’m an old.”
Look at verse 3…the need for older women to invest in the lives of the next generation.
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
I have learned to listen to Christy, my wife… Brenda, Sherri, Erin (my staff partners here at River)…and other ladies I trust as well.
I cannot, not, think like a guy…but I do have women I trust and respect and they help me lead a church that is made up of both men and women.
I am everyone’s pastor…men and women…but we are organized such that women invest in and train women…they are much better at this than I will ever be.
I cannot invest in women and encourage them towards Christ as well as the godly women in our church can.
I do learn from women…every single week
But what I think Paul is talking about here is deep, heart level investment…training for godliness.
This happens best…women to women and man to man.
Let’s unpack this passage just a bit:
The old guys had four characteristics that Titus was to train towards…the older women likewise have four points of focus here:
The first is an umbrella for the other three:
Reverent in the way they live
-This is the same idea as “deportment” for the old guys.
-It is the general bearing of their lives…how they carry themselves.
Next, he gives some examples of how this works out in their lives:
Speech: Not slanderers
-They are to use words that build up, not words that tear down.
-This is also in line with what older men were to be known for.
Self-control: Not addicted to much wine
-Again, same thing he wanted for the men…to not be controlled by their appetites.
-In Ephesians he said; “Don’t be drunk with wine which leads to broken lives, instead be filled with the Spirit.”
-Don’t live under the control of alcohol, instead live your life under the control of the Spirit.
There is no reason to think Paul was teetotaler…he told Tim to drink some wine for his stomach problems.
But he knows firsthand that abuse of alcohol ruins lives.
I mentioned this last week, and I have a new story to prove that point since last Sunday.
The bigger issue here is not alcohol…but modeling self-control.
His final vision is for older women to “teach what is good”
-Again, teach is not just in formal settings, but going for walks, working together at a task…wherever life on life is happening.
This is the positive proactive training aspect…it’s not just:
-Don’t be slanders, don’t be given over to alcohol…DO…teach, in all your interactions…all that is good.
The main application Paul gives here is in the sphere of family.
This makes sense since the core threat on Crete was “false teachers” upsetting whole families (1:11)
4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,
Some translations use “train” the younger women.
The idea here is not “train” as in a pet, or a child, or a soldier…but urge, coach.
It is not about heavy-handed oversight…but voluntary, relational life modeling and coaching.
Older women need to be in a place where younger women look and listen…and want to be coached by them.
Just like with the men…if you think younger women should listen to you just because you are old…think again.
And just like with candidates for pastor…ground zero is the home…how they treat their wives and children tells whether they will do well as pastors.
So too…as young women are learning what it means to live their faith…the prime focus is how they live with their husbands and children.
For men and for women…the first and best evidence of a growing faith is how they treat those closest to them.
If married…how they treat their husbands is essential.
5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
There it is again…Paul’s advice for pastors, older men, older women, and next, young men…is “be self-controlled”
*This seems to be a pretty important quality for everyone…doesn’t it?
But think about it…does anyone think it is a positive thing to have someone say about them…”He or she is completely out of control”?
We know how vital this is for thriving.
Busy at home doesn’t mean women cannot work outside the house.
Women supported Paul’s and Jesus’ ministry financially.
In Proverbs 31, the ideal women…is both commercially active and “watching over the affairs of her household”
He is not ordering these women into their homes in Taliban fashion…he is saying…again, “home is the proving point for your faith.”
We have all seen, or heard of men and women…who are out serving others…to the approval and applause of admirers…but at home, they are disconnected.
Subject to their husbands likewise must be understood in the full Biblical context.
Both husband and wives are to live out Phil. 2 in their marriage, each putting the interests of one another ahead of their own.
And in the full Biblical context…a wife should order her life like this:
So, a wife cannot submit to her husband if it would mean:
-Violating a biblical principle
-Compromising her relationship with Christ
-Compromising the care and protection of her children
-Enable or Faciliating her husband’s sin…this would of course include, abuse of any kind.
*This is a vast and complex topic…and I might add…beautiful when lived out as designed and terrible when it is not.
Again, Paul is given battlefield directives…using ministry shorthand…these are largely reminders for Titus…they have likely spent hundreds of hours over the years unpacking this together…as they walked the Romans roads.
We must take the full scope of Scriptures into account when reading this…and not get stuck where there is not any real theological mud to get stuck in.
Why is this important?
“So no one will malign God’s word”
People on Crete are watching…they want to see authenticity…they don’t know what they are looking for…but people know beauty when they see it.
When they see homes where men and women are thriving…it is beautiful…and God’s word is not maligned…it is proven true.
Now, to the young men: roughly mid-teens to around 40.
6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.
There it is again…encourage the young men to…not be impulsive, but focused….under restraint.
Encourage them and show them the freedom of self-control.
*He was only 16, a good kid…but he was mad at his parents for wanting him to make some hard, but long term good choices.
He was wired for the short-term…like most young men are.
The inability to think long term…is super dangerous.
-He snuck out one night…jumped in a car with a neighbor kid…as he sat in the car, the neighbor went into a nearby convinience store, robbed it…and shot and killed the store manager.
-He was tried as an adult…and spent the next 20 years in prison.
-His dad, a pastor and friend of mine…told me that for those 20 years his family ate Thanksgiving dinner out of prison vending machines.
*The songs, the movies, the commericials…show the flashly side of obeying your passions.
-They rarely show the destruction of doing so.
*Self-control is freedom…tell them, show them…Paul told Titus…as Titus, himself becomes the next focus of Paul’s focus.
7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
*This is simply…speak and live the truth in front of others.
They may not agree with what you believe…but the outcome of your life will be beyond dispute.
I have seen this with own eyes…people sometimes doubt what Christians believe…but cannot explain what they see in their lives.
-For every high profile failure to align belief and behavior…there are 10,000 regular followers of Christ…living this out day to day in everyday ways.
Imperfection is not hypocrisy.
Paul is not commanding perfection from Titus…but direction…and these actions are not going to be sustainable if something real isn’t happening in his heart
Then the last group of invididuals in the church…slaves.
They get their own sub-section because they have a uniquely difficult and yet compelling opportunity to live out the reality of the gospel.
Again, more on this overall topic in September when we circle back to the letter to Philemon.
9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.
To live this way as a slave will require great self-control.
Live faithfully in your current life setting in order to make the gospel attractive.
Paul is not condoning the slave industry, neither is he compelled to speak against it in this short letter.
Anymore than he speaks against prostituion, politcal corruption, or any number of a host of social evils in this letter
He is focused on helping Pastor Titus lead his church to be a gospel driven/leader producing organization…this is how the world is changed.
Memorial day, we had a one month old child in our home. This child has a broken femur and a broken rib.
This breaks my heart.
I looked at this baby…and I saw a picture of the harsh, evil reality of the world we live in.
Do I stop there? Do I focus on the brokenness? The Evil?
This is true, it’s real…but is it the entire truth? Is it all that is real in the world?
No, because I also looked at my daughter, her husband…holding, loving, caring for this child.
I watched my grandchildren show love to this child.
When I looked at followers of Christ caring for and loving this child…I saw the power of the gospel to change hearts that go change the world.
I saw people who had been nurtured in the gospel by the church…out in the world bringing change.
I’ve seen this many, many times…in many, many ways.
This is also the truth; this is also real…there is a problem and there is a solution.
Sin is real. Salvation through Christ is also real.
I’ve said before, that as a church are calling is not First to “social justice” not because it is unimportant…but because it is so important…because people are so important.
It is so important that we must keep our laser focus on the truth of the gospel.
Our unique role in the world, as the church, is to believe, love, and live the truth of the gospel.
To send out blue collar truth workers into the world…because as hearts are changed inside out…the world is changed.
There would be no Wilberforce to spend his life ending slavery in Britain were there not a church that nurtured him in the gospel.
Same with Martin Luther King…or Chuck Colson.
This is historical fact.
It is observable fact…I see it every day.
Paul has focused Titus on the vital neccesity of truth…sound doctrine or teaching.
Now he is going to model that himself…he is going to speak the truth of the gospel to Titus along with it’s powerful, practical implications.
This next passage will form the basis for our final application and conclusion
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
God’s grace has appeared…in Jesus…and it offers salvation to everyone.
Grace is both unmerited favor and power.
It is both…Acceptance by God…and Ability from God
Acceptance in the beloved…God accepts us by Grace.
Ability to live like Christ…God’s empowers us through Grace
This grace teaches us (empowers us) to say “no” to all that is not of God, that is mere temporal, passing and weak.
And it teaches us to say “yes” to the freedom of self-control and a life of living in line with God’s will ands…his good and beautiful truth.
Paul has been instructing Titus to focus on the truth of the gospel…to empower the freedom of self-control (as we live under the Lordship of Jesus.)
*Self-control sounds like the opposite of grace…but it is not.
It is grace that empowers real self-control.
*Self-control often takes our minds to failure and guilt…the specific areas where we struggle personally.
But is about training for Christlike direction…growth…not achieving in this life Christlike perfection.
*Self-control…is a gift (a fruit of the spirit)
*Self-control…is a choice (an act of the will)
These things are held in tension here.
God’s grace has appeared…it teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness…life apart from how God has designed it.
It teaches to live self-controlled lives…to say “yes” to life as God has designed it.
Yarbrough, Robert W.. The Letters to Timothy and Titus (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)) (p. 837). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.