Listen: Christian Growth with Simon Manchester. (Airs 8am Sundays on Hope 103.2 & Inspire Digital.)
Simon Manchester presents a two-part series of messages from the book of Titus in the Bible, looking at lessons for Leadership and for Life. This week, Part 2: Effective Living.
Part 2: “Effective Living”
Good morning everybody. We are in a New Testament Book called Titus. We see God’s strategy for reaching a country and the strategy is to put an Elder who has the Word of God in his hand into a place. It’s very simple and it’s what we have been hearing about from Danny and Emma this morning. And these Elders are needed because there is a great deal of spiritual garbage around and a great deal of spiritual ignorance around and so there is a need for an Elder to be put or Elders to be put in as many strategic places as possible.
Now today we come to chapter 2 of Titus to see how the truth is to effect the congregation that meets to listen and this chapter of Titus is extremely practical. I would be very surprised if anybody goes out of here this morning and nothing has been relevant and if nothing is relevant from Titus chapter 2, I am worried about you. It’s a very punchy chapter. And so I want to ask you to turn to it on Page 1181 and we will look together.
We’ve had a very happy visit this week from the Sleeman family including daughter Phoebe who is two and half years old and Phoebe has learnt to ask “why” until every aspect of a subject has been put into proper place. You know this experience with a little girl or boy who keeps asking “why”.
Why is your car in the carport?
Well it’s to keep the rain and the hail off.
Well it stops it from rusting and getting all bumpy.
Well because we are trying to keep it looking OK. Why? Well because we want to get a good trade-in Why? Well because I am trying to keep up with the rest of the 10 o’clock congregation. Why? Well because I am a deeply competitive and insecure person. Why? Well because this is the way I was brought up. Nobody listened to me as I asked ‘why’.
And on and on we go like this.
And this ‘why’ mentality is not all bad. God is sympathetic to the ‘why’ mentality and he gives a number of reasons in Titus why things should happen. For example there is what is called “Doctrine” (chapter 2 verse 1).
Doctrine is the truth or the Scriptures which God has given us.
Why give us doctrine?
Well, (verse 2) so that it can be taught, so someone can teach it.
But why teach it?
Well, so that people can live it (verse 3).
Why live the truth?
Well, (verse 10) so that lives will be attractive and people will be drawn to Christ for their good and God’s glory.
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Now you can’t have a better reason or set of reasons than doctrine being taught so people will live, so that the life will be attractive, so people will believe and God will be glorified. There is no greater sequence and no greater privilege. And as we look at the details of Titus chapter 2,I don’t want you to miss that big picture. We will come back to it at the end. There is a doctrine body which has to be taught and unpacked so that you and I will live it, so that our lives will be ,as it were, compelling enabling people to believe and live.
Well false teachers have a big gulf between the truth and the life but the real teacher and the real believer is to have a bridge or a link between the truth and the life and I want to follow the four steps that I have just mentioned to you quite quickly.
The first two (I will just spend a minute or so on), the third one (the living) is the bulk of the chapter and the fourth one again just a minute at the end.
Step 1 – Doctrine
DOCTRINE – Step 1. The truth of God and the Word of God, the facts of God are very very important that God has given to us, this doctrine. I heard a true story of a young man who stepped off onto a church platform and he called out “It’s not about doctrine, it’s about Jesus”. Now what this means, this piece of sort of naivety is that ‘let’s not get bogged down in details and facts, let’s just talk about Jesus’ and of course it’s a very compelling line and for people who don’t think much.
But to talk like that is a little bit like saying ‘it’s not about road rules or driving on the left or traffic lights, let’s just drive, it’s naive. It’s not about food and what you eat and drink, let’s just grow and be strong, it’s naive. Doctrine is what God has given to us so that we might be able to understand Him and live rightly, we cannot do without doctrine.
Well you may know that Paul says to the Corinthians in chapter 12 of 2 Corinthians that the Corinthians are falling for ‘another Jesus’. And we need to be alert as believers in the 21st Century that terms like “God” “Jesus” “Faith” “Grace” “Heaven” “Hell” “Kingdom” are pretty well meaningless words unless they are unpacked and defined and explained and that’s why God has given us doctrine so that we might know who we are talking about and what we are talking about. The definitions, the boundaries the truth and the facts about this wonderful person that we appreciate.
So Titus, you see in chapter 2 verse 1 is armed with doctrine and he has to teach it and he has to teach older people, and he has to teach younger people and older people may look down on him and younger people may not be interested in him but Titus has got to bring the Word of God which is of course over everybody. And if a 21 year old man steps up to St Thomas’ pulpit and brings the Word of God to us, I hope every 21 year old will be submissive to that Word of God and 31 and 41 and 51, 61 right up to 101 year old. And it would be good also if the 11 year olds who are here with us and the 1 year olds if they could listen would all say ‘this is the Word of God, I am under it’. It’s got nothing to do with the age of the person who is bringing the message. That’s doctrine.
Step 2 – Teaching
TEACHING (verse 2) – Step 2. Paul gives Titus instructions for the different age groups in verses 2-10. There are six groups that he has to teach and it’s all summarised into nine verses so we know straightaway that it’s impossible that everything is being said in these nine verses, look at verse 6 for example, young men, they are just given one instruction, “be self controlled”. Well it’s of course impossible that that would be Titus’ sermon to the young men of the church because it would be all over in half a second, my kind of sermon you may say. But actually these things need to be unpacked and explained and applied and that’s the job that Paul has given to Titus.
Now I also need to say to you this is not kind of 1st Century emergency instruction. There are some people who look at these verses (and there are bits of the verses they don’t like) and they say ‘Oh that’s 1st Century!’ It’s always God’s way to instruct his people by unpacking the Scriptures.
And you will notice as the verses were read, that every church group is covered. You’ve got the older and you’ve got the younger and you’ve got the men and you’ve got the women. You’ve got the pastor and you’ve got the people and you’ve got the free and you’ve got the slave. All the people groups are being instructed, they are all to be taught in the Word of God. So let’s not think that the older people in the congregation, let’s imagine you have got to 40 and you’ve got quite old but you are not beyond the teaching. Let’s imagine that you are young and you say ‘this is not interesting enough’, it’s not too much for you. Everybody is to take on board the Word of God.
So why do we have doctrine? We have doctrine to teach it. Every sermon that is preached at St Thomas’ should come out of the Scriptures. That is every sermon which is not just a topical sermon, every sermon which is on a passage should come out of the passage. Every Bible Study that is being run in the church, every small group that is studying a passage should get their message out of the passage, not read it in, not just latch onto one idea but get the message of the passage, that’s the work of the teaching.
Step 3 – Living
Living – Step 3. This is the longest of the three. What does Paul tell Titus to say to these groups? Well (verse 2) Older men – he has six things to say to older men. I wish we had time to spend a very long time on these different messages to the different groups but we just have to go over them quite quickly.
Why does he pick on the older men? Because the older men are really in a way the pillars of the church. When you have got good older men in the church (and we are privileged to have them) they affect the church, they model to the church, they trickle down to the church. It’s a very wonderful thing and we ought to be praying out for Danny and Emma that he would have some good older people who will be not just chronologically old but good mature Christians.
Every year I have the privilege of speaking to a Bible Study of a church not too far from here and it’s called the “Senior Men’s Bible Study”. I guarantee there isn’t anybody in the group under 75. And some of them are in the mid to late 90’s and it’s an enormous privilege to take the Word of God to that group. I always get more out of that group than I ever take to them because they model to me this enduring faith, this deep oak tree Christian life. And that’s what the Apostle Paul asks here. He says “Older men be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled” (in a word sensible not foolish).
A friend of mine said many years ago and I have never forgotten it that he was working on his Christian life in the area of purity because he did not want to end up a ‘dirty old man’. It’s a good thought, isn’t it? A good truth, a good work.
And young men, middle-aged men need to work on their grasp of the Word so that they don’t end up foolish old men. We need to work on some of those bad qualities that we have so we don’t end up being ‘grumpy old men’. And we need to work on things that are really useful and eternal so we don’t end up being ‘useless old men’, things to put in place and the Apostle Paul says “be solid, be sensible”. And then he says, his second threesome “be healthy or sound (literally the word is hygienic in faith, love and in endurance or hope). Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to have men in the church who model for us sound faith, sound love, sound hope, it’s a great thing for older men to pray for, work on, model to the congregation in estimable value to the congregation.
Now then he turns to the older women (verses 3-4). What does he say to them? He has two positives and two negatives. Negatively he doesn’t want older women to be mastered by the mouth or the bottle. He doesn’t want the older women to be affected by things which are going to ruin their influence, either because their tongue runs away from them in criticism or because their mind is dull by something addictive. He wants to make sure that they have a good affect and he asks positively to be reverent, literally the word is ‘fitting the sacred’. We all know, don’t we those lovely women, beautiful in every way who have gone over the 50, 60, 70 mark and they are reverent and their life preaches a thousands sermons to us. We are grateful for them and the local church wouldn’t survive without the godly women of the church.
And he wants these women, not to be afraid to teach good things and train younger women. You might say to yourself, ‘Oh I couldn’t possibly do that, all I can do is do hospitality things’. No the Apostle Paul says “if you are an older woman and you have walked the Christian life for a few years, think very carefully and prayerfully about taking somebody younger under your wing. A younger woman who you can talk to about things that no male pastor could ever talk to about and help that younger woman to grow in areas which will absolutely transform her home”.
And this is a very wonderful ministry and there are a thousand voices which are influencing young women either just married or new families, voices of silliness and guilt and stupidity and distraction and greed and all sorts of things, dissatisfaction. And to have one sane person who can influence you for good, what a wonderful thing. Well what does the Apostle say?
These women could train the younger women in (verses 4-5). Verses which I think on the first reading to be a little chauvinistic but they are not because the Apostle Paul wants women to enjoy their home, their marriage, their children and not find them a burden. Now what does he say (verses 4-5)? “They can train the younger women to love husbands and children, self controlled and pure, busy at home (literally home builder), kind, subjective to husbands, (literally supportive) so no one will malign the Word of God”.
Well an older woman can’t teach a younger woman to have some kind of dreamy views of husband and children. But the older woman can help the younger woman to be wise about home and to be discerning and to be practical. That’s the first thing an older woman may help the younger woman in is practically loving husband and children when husband and children are difficult. And also to be self controlled and pure. A lot of younger people would be grateful for an older person to help them through the traps, the mind field. And home life, how to co-operate with the husband, how to work with the husband, how to be supportive and constructive with the husband so that the family is a joy and not a war zone. Wouldn’t it be great to have a friend like that, that’s what the Apostle Paul is setting up.
One of the women who have written on this most helpfully is a lady called Sharon James. I am sure some of you have read her books and you can get her books if you want to through our office. Sharon James has unpacked these verses very helpfully. Another lady called Susan Hunt has unpacked these verses very helpfully. How do women have great ministries, people changing, people transforming ministries? The Apostle Paul sets this out in a very wonderful way.
And Sharon James says in her book that young women with families are pressured in two different directions. One is to idolise the family. And we all know those people who have made their children on way too high a pedestal and the other is of course is to neglect the family and just pursue something of self and to steer through this and to get the best as a godly young woman, what a provision.
Well the young men, you’ll be sorry or pleased to know are only given one verse (verse 6) which is to be self-controlled. This is a word that covers a lot and of course it could be applied in a thousand ways. The word actually means “save the mind”. Young men, save your minds. And this word comes up five times in this passage. It is applied to many of the groups. It’s the only thing that is said to the young men “save your mind”.
Now I was a young man once and I know that if my mind was on good things, it was so much easier for the life to walk in good things and if the mind was on bad things, it was so much easier to go into bad things. And I know now as a slightly older man exactly the same principal applies but how good to learn it early, ‘save the mind’. And if young men can be helped to guard the brain so that what they think about and what they do is constructive and godly and profitable, how helpful this is.
Titus is addressed in verses 7 and 8 and he has given four instructions. One of them is that he should appear to be faithful. You see that in verse 7 “set an example by doing what is good”. In other words be observably faithful. And then of course say things in your teaching which are serious. People should go out of church knowing that the Word of God is a serious thing, not a game.
And then he goes on to say if you are going to get opposition as a pastor, let it come with good reason not bad reason. And this is a very shrewd comment to make to a pastor because this is something you could pray for, for pastors. It’s very easy when you are dealing especially with unbelievers to play down the truth and to play up your own preferences. The Apostle Paul is saying exactly the opposite should take place. Play down the things which would put people off, play up the Word of God. That may put people off but let it be for good reasons if there is going to be opposition.
And then slaves (verses 9-10) we may say “employees” asked to be good witnesses in their work situation. The Apostle Paul of course would have been keen to have seen all slaves freed eventually but he didn’t want to create a riot and so he basically told slaves how to be free immediately. “Free” is belonging to Jesus and then how to be wise and then of course he lit the fuse where further down the track many were set free. But he wants them to be wise for their witness to the master or the boss and this is what he says.
“Please them, don’t answer back to them, be trustworthy and don’t steal”.
Two negatives – ‘don’t answer back’ and ‘don’t steal’. Two positives – ‘be trustworthy’ and ‘please them’. And you can imagine that a slave who acts like this or an employee who acts like this will stand out in a world which is very different.
Now those in rapid succession are the six groups that the Apostle Paul speaks to. And of course we could say a lot more. But I don’t want you to lose the wood for the trees and so I come to my last point this morning which is Witness.
Step 4: Witness
Witness – Step 4. Why does the Apostle Paul say all this? Why do we have doctrine? To sit on a shelf? No. To be taught. Why do we have teaching? To give the minister something to do? No. Why do we live it out? So we can pat ourselves on the back. No. Ultimately to help people be compelled and attracted and drawn. And in this passage Paul gives a number of proofs that he is interested in witness.
One is in verse 5 “Let’s not see God’s Word maligned”. Now friends I will just say to you this very quickly – I don’t know what you go to this week but you must not live in a way that makes it easier for the unbelievers to be unbelievers. If the unbelievers know you are a believer, don’t make it easier for them to be an unbeliever but make it easier to be a believer.
Verse 8 “Let’s not see God’s Word condemned” (even stronger, spat on).
Verse 10 “Let’s see God’s Word made attractive, adorned”. This is a lovely thing that you and I are able to ‘adorn’ God’s Word.
Verse 12 “we are to live well in the present saying No to sin, waiting for Jesus and his coming”.
So there you are, the sequence – Doctrine, Teaching, Living and Witness.
You may think this is very heavy. You may say to myself ‘gee I’ve now got to go out and I have just got to do a lot’. Well that’s partly true. But in the last verses the Apostle Paul says a very interesting thing in verse 12. There is another teacher at work and the other teacher is not the preacher. The other teacher is the “grace of God”. The grace of God instructs God’s people because they are so appreciative of God and they grow to love him. And so I have a very wonderful friend on my side. I can stand up here as a preacher and I can do my best to call out what’s there in the Scriptures and apply it briefly and I have a friend on my side called “grace” and grace is at work in every believer and grace is helping and persuading you to put the truth into practice.
So here’s a challenge as we finish this morning. There is a sequence as far as God is concerned. He’s given us the Word of God to be taught, to be lived and to be witnessed.
And I want to ask you this question, is the sequence working?
- Is the Word of God there?
- Is the teaching there?
- Is the living there?
- Is the witness there?
And if the sequence is not working, where’s the breakdown? You and I need to go back to the doctrine, teaching, living and witness sequence and made sure that those four are in place.
And here’s a comfort. The preacher does his best and calls the message out and says ‘I don’t think anything will happen, I don’t think this will work, this could just be a 20 minutes down the drain’. But NO, the grace of God is at work in all God’s people, working on them to DO his Word.
And here’s the other comfort. You may say to yourself ‘this is a very hard ask, you wouldn’t know what’s on my plate at the moment, things are so difficult for me. It’s hard enough for me to hold my head up let alone go out and be some kind of Christian hero, this is too much for me. And Paul says “the grace of God that brought you TO Jesus will help you to live for Jesus”. He hasn’t brought you in to drop you on the way on and he who helped you in will help you on.
Let’s pray, let’s give thanks –
Our gracious God we thank you this morning for your truth and for your grace and we pray that what we have heard and what we have received would work in us so that we live hour by hour, day by day, week by week in your strength and for your honour and for the good of many around. We thank you for bringing us to Christ and now we pray you will help us to go on for him.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.