Titus 2.1 – Right Living

Titus 2 begins with a huge contrast to the end of ch.1. Paul is telling Titus that as the minister in charge, the called and installed pastor (1.5), his life must be of stark contrast to those detailed in 1.10-16.

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Titus 2.1

As an instruction for a leader of God’s people, perhaps this is the most singular and succinct – teach what accords with sound doctrine. This command carries the meaning of teaching people and exampling for people what it means to live a Christian life, not just know about a Christian life.

There is something immensely practical being taught here from Paul, to Titus, to his people, and by extension and application, to us. 

We often don’t like being told what we can and can’t do, what we should and shouldn’t do. But, to claim to be following Jesus whilst paying no heed to the practical dos and don’ts of His Word is tantamount to hypocrisy. I read recently that ‘The Bible is a book that tells us how to live‘. 

Towards the end of what we call ‘The Great Commission‘ in Matthew 28 are these words, 

…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…

Jesus didn’t say ‘teach them to understand all that I have commanded you…‘, but rather ‘…teach them to observe…’. The path is clear; Jesus, Disciples, Paul, Titus, people.

We are the people.

We are being commanded to observe and do all that Jesus commanded.

We are commanded to live a life of right Christian living.

We are commanded to take literally the passages of the Word that instruct and inform our character and conduct.

Taking the right living parts of the Bible seriously and literally is not just for the ‘extreme’ or ‘devout’ Christian, it is for all of us who have professed and confessed to be believers.

Is that you?

Titus 1.12-16 – Talking the Talk

Paul has established the need for Godly character in the leaders and we said that we all ought to be working towards this, and now he gives his younger charge the reason why such character is needed.

One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Titus 1.12-16

The problem all boils down to the truth of v.16; that the people Titus has been tasked with leading (with the help of his newly-appointed eldersprofess to know God, but they deny him by their works. Their character is severely lacking when compared to the elders appointed (vv.5-9, cf. vv.12-16), they are prone to myths and legalism (v.14), and have seriously misunderstood the liberty to live life to the full that comes with Christ (v.15). All the more need, then, for consistent Christian character to be displayed by Titus and his elders.

The crux of the problem is professing to know God, but denying Him with works. This comes up again and again in Scripture, doesn’t it? James 2.14-26, for example, makes a strong case that if you truly believe in what you claim and profess, there will be evidence, examples, and fruit borne from the root. 

Friends, it is one thing to talk like a Christian, but more important than all the terms, the lingo, the big theological words, the Christian-ese, is actually living the life. Talking the talk is one thing, but can we walk the walk?

Paul writes of those who simply talk a good game, they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

These are strong words, but Paul means it. These difficult people probably pretended to have a higher spirituality than Titus or other godly leaders.

David Guzik

So, today, stop and think: am I talking the talk but not walking the walk?

Were I to keep silent for a day, would anybody be able to tell I am a Christian by my conduct and character?

Titus 1.10-11 – Character in Action

Having laid out for Titus the character of those whom he should appoint as elders to help him lead, Paul now details one of their tasks; to silence false teaching.

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

Titus 1.10-11

Sadly as true today as it was when Paul penned this, there are those who move in Christian circles who are insubordinate, not wishing to submit to the authority of the Word or to those whom the Word installs as leaders. This is usually followed by empty talking, deceptive speech, upsetting speech, and often comes with a personal agenda (…for shameful gain…).

The character of an elder, there to help put what remains into order must be ready and willing to speak out against such divisive, deceptive, and destructive talk. If, as we said, this character is what we are all progressing towards, by extension we should all be ready and willing to speak out against such talk. 

That’s not to say today that you must seek out and silence those who err from an orthodox teaching of the Word, but, when presented with a false teaching, when presented with empty talk, with deceptive talk that doesn’t line up with Scripture, with upsetting speech, or with personal agendas, our Christian character in action must be ready and willing to take a stand, knowing that those who take a stand for the truth of the Word will be rightly rewarded (1 Peter 3.13-16Matthew 5.12). 

Is your Christian character ready for this?

Is your Christian character willing to do this?

Titus 1.5-9 – Christian Character

After a few introductions, Paul gave Titus the task to put what remained into order, and appoint elders…He now lays out the exemplary character that needs to be displayed by these men who are to be appointed by Titus to spiritually oversee the churches.

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus 1.5-9

Even though this list of character qualifications is specifically listed as being needed by those who are appointed elders in the church (v.5), we would all do well to see that really, this is the benchmark for Christian character in general, elder or not, male or female, Jew or Greek, this is how Christians should conduct themselves.

Don’t we all want to have such a solid character reputation that people trust us,

don’t we all want to be loyal, have a great family life, be humble, peaceable, consistent, content, welcoming, Spirit-filled,

and a good witness of Christ to those around us?

Don’t we all want to be known as someone who stands on Scripture for our equipping, edification, and examples (Timothy 3.16)?

Yes, elders are appointed to model this character to us all in church, but they should never be the only people who live like this. Simply, this is how we are all to live having professed faith in Jesus and submitted and committed to living under His Lordship.

It might seem like a tough task but, as we said previously, we need only say ‘Here I am, send me!‘, and allow the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to work in us as we are being transformed, day by day, towards the image of the ultimate example of Christian character, Jesus.

1 Timothy 6 – Final Words

This is adapted from a session I taught at a conference in South Asia recently to a group of pastors and Bible college students.


We are wrapping up the letter today with a final word to the pastor, to the church leader, to the potential church-planter, to the person in ministry, to the believer, to Timothy.

I am not Timothy, you are not Timothy, our churches are not where this church was, but we can learn from what Paul wrote to Timothy. So this says what it says and means what it means, there is one interpretation, yet many applications.


Why do I need to be like this?

Why do I need to live like this?

Why do I need to live humbly as the leader, as a believer?


Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

Teach and urge these things. 

The church is the place where we leave our worldly status at the door, who the world says we are at the door. Why? So that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.

In Bahrain, we have lots of military people -senior generals and enlisted men who fellowship and worship together.

As the leader, as the church planter, as the believer, you need to model this. 

Who did Jesus talk and interact with? Everyone. 

Leaders. Slaves. Priests. Sinners.

The church itself was a place where slavery was destroyed. It was not uncommon for a master and a slave to go to church together. This teaching was especially important in the ancient world, where slaves might be treated very differently from master to master, and where there was sometimes intense racism and hatred between slaves and masters.

This cannot be present in the church, in our churches.

These verses, and these first few chapters, this is the kind of life we are to live, to model. Then, in vv.3-10, things NOT to do…

3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Do you know the worst thing? Notice with me the end of v.5

…imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

While not ignoring the blessings of following Jesus Christ, we must proclaim the need to follow Jesus because He is God, and we owe Him everything as our Creator. What is right before God, and what glorifies Him, is more important than whatever benefit we may gain (Enduring Word).

We need to be Christians who are more concerned with what glorifies God than with what benefits me.

The main point for the minister seems to be in vv.11-16.

The life you live is just as important as the doctrine you teach.

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Timothy, as a man of God, was to do the opposite—to flee from all this, flee these things…

The same is true for you as a man of God, a woman of God, but as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses

Is that you?

Maybe the characteristics sound familiar…

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires

Galatians 5

Back to Timothy…

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Charles Spurgeon said that it is the same as God feeding the birds;

He provides the seeds,

But does not throw them into the nest.

It is the same with us;

The faithfulness of Jesus is there,

The doctrine, the teaching of and about Jesus is there,

The life of Jesus is there,

Fight for it.

Take hold of it.

Will you fight for it?

Will you teach it?

Will you live it?

Have you taken hold of it with two hands?

Paul then gives Timothy a charge, an instruction.

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

So, in the presence of God, and of Christ Jesus, 

Live this life.

Keep it unstained.

Be consistent.

The life you live is just as important as the words you use to teach.

Being questioned by Pilate in Matthew 27, Jesus said only a few words, but His life spoke so many words.

If you say lots of things about Jesus, but do not live like He is real to you, you are doing more bad than good.

That is not unstained.

That is not above reproach, as we read of in chapter 3.

So Paul wrote about slaves and masters, about the poor, and now about the rich…

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

Grace be with you.

I once read that being a believer and being blessed with financial prosperity is only for the purpose of being generous and ready to share. It’s not for you. God gives it to you, but as Christ did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but added humanity to His Deity and came to live among us for our benefit, material riches are given to us for others.

As Paul wrote, we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

We are taking hold of the eternal life on offer to us through our faith in the faithfulness of Jesus

Even if we feel we are not good enough, He is, and through faith in Him, we are counted righteous in the eyes of God.


Why do I need to be like this? Why do I need to live like this? Why do I need to model this teaching and teach this teaching?

Because, to your people, your church, your family, you are the hands and feet of Jesus.

Why do I need to live like this?

…to show Jesus to your people.

…to introduce your people to Jesus…

…with everything that you say…

…and everything that you do…

The life you live is just as important as the doctrine you teach.

One last thing…

Maybe you feel like you can’t do this, I can’t do this, I am not strong enough…Remember Zechariah 4.6,

…not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit…

Think about this – Jonah – do you know story?


Think about this then – God’s plan for Nineveh was one man – Jonah.

God’s plan for humanity was one man – Jesus.

God’s plan for your city, your village, your church, your nation, needs only to be one man…is that you?


1 Timothy 5.21-25 – Personal Reminders

21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. 23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 25 So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.

First and foremost Timothy as the leader of the local church, and we all by extension, must seek to serve and please God and…Christ Jesus. The leadership of a local church, as the Christian life in general, is to be lived in worship, reverence, and obedience to the Lord. Serving Him first, we show no prejudice and partiality.

I read something that said that in church, everyone should be treated as they will be before Christ.

Paul then gives more instructions about church leading; ordinations and the conduct of the minister in v.22, and then some personal advice to Timothy to care for his health so that he is able to fulfil his ministry (v.23). Evidently, Paul had no promoting to declare miraculous healing over Timothy, rather he told the young leader to take advantage of the natural remedies and medicines on offer – more on this below

Paul is evidently concerned with the conduct of Timothy as vv.24-25 show, and we must all remember that whatever we do, be it good or bad, nothing is hidden from our Father in heaven (Hebrews 4.13).

This is why we must remember we are serving Him first (v.21), that our conduct matters (v.22), that we must take care of ourselves and the bodies God has given us (v.23), and so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10.31).


 


 

David Guzik writes on v.23,

Timothy was probably abstaining from alcohol for the sake of setting a good example. However, this abstinence was hurting his health – wine was safer to drink than water. So, Paul told Timothy that it wasn’t wise to sacrifice his health for the sake of this abstinence – he would do more good for the Jesus and His kingdom by taking care of his body in this circumstance.

“Paul is simply saying that there is no good in an asceticism which does the body more harm than good.” (Barclay)

If it is God’s will for all to be healed right now, then Paul (and the Holy Spirit who inspired him) here led Timothy into sin – calling him to look to a natural remedy instead of a divine healing. God uses natural remedies and the work of doctors in healing, as well as the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit – they don’t contradict one another.

1 Timothy 5.17-20 – The Elder Example

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

Paul transitions back into how the church should be led and structured and mentions the elders who rule well. Timothy as the pastor is instructed on how to deploy elders as part of his role, as is Titus in Titus 1.5. Those who serve as elders are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. Here Paul is talking about those that give their lives to the proclamation of the Word. The honor is the respect of those being fed the Word by these men (Hebrews 13.7), but also that these men are to be employed by the church (v.18). In our modern day church this would look something like the lead pastor, the senior pastor, the teaching pastor, or however your church likes to use those terms. 

The character of the elder who preaches and teaches, the elder who serves in a spiritual oversight role, and everyone who displays elder-like character (which should be all of us), are given a stern warning when we read that as for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear

Not concealing the sins of those in leadership is a bold move for any organisation to make, especially the church. We want our leaders to be of good character, leaders we can follow with a clear conscience, leaders who will point us to Jesus in their words and ways.

Elders should be of such good character that we can say that we will not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. However, should they fall into sin, they should still serve as an example, hopefully of a contrite and repentant spirit who humbles themselves before the Lord and seeks forgiveness and restoration. 

Isn’t this the kind of character we all need to display, not just those asked to serve in a particular capacity for a particular period?