Titus 2:1-10 Gospel Homes

Sun, 21/06/2015 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

You hear people say from time to time that the problem with the church is that it’s full of hypocrites.

It’s quite true, of course. None of us lives completely consistently with what we believe.

Which is what makes the jibe so painful. We want our friends to follow Jesus. There’s nothing wrong with him. We don’t want them to be put off because his church is full of less than perfect specimens. So it hurts when we are part of the problem.

And it’s tempting to make one of two false moves.

We might reject grace. We pull up our socks. Until we forget that Christianity is not about self-improvement. Jesus died on the cross so that we could be forgiven as a free gift. But we’re so desperate not to be hypocrites that we lose sight of that. Don’t reject grace.

Otherwise we opt for cheap grace. We know God’s forgiveness is free. Whether we do good or bad, God will forgive us. So we can live how we like; we don’t need to get too hung up about it. Cheap grace.

Make those false moves, you have an answer for those who call us hypocrites. Reject grace, and you can say we’re all working ever so hard to improve. Cheap grace, and you can say that at least we’re forgiven hypocrites.

Jesus offers us real grace; full and free forgiveness. But it’s not cheap. It’s life-changing.

Titus chapter 2 gives us a much better answer to the problem of hypocrisy.

I’ve got two headings to help us listen to these verses.

Godly Living Flows from the Gospel

First, godly living flows from the gospel. Godly living flows from the gospel.

Chapter 1 introduced us to some false teachers on of Crete. Chapter 1, verse 16: They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. These teachers claim to know God, to follow Jesus. But the way they live proves that they don’t. Because knowing God changes the way you live.

Titus’s job is to teach consistency. Chapter 2, verse 1: You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. There is a lifestyle that flows out of the gospel. If you follow Jesus, if you believe the healthy, life-giving message about him, it will change your life. And Titus’s job is to train people to live lives that reflect the God they know.

That’s the problem with rejecting grace and with cheap grace. You can’t set God’s kindness and forgiveness over against living good lives, as though they are alternatives you have to choose between. We don’t just pull up our socks. Living a good life is not an alternative to trusting Jesus. Neither do we accept God’s forgiveness cheaply. Trusting Jesus is not an alternative to living a good life.

Rather, we receive God’s forgiveness, his new life; we follow Jesus, and out of that flows the good lives we lead.

Jesus used the picture of a fruit tree. You can tell what kind of tree you’ve got in your garden when it comes into fruit. If green, ripe pears grow on it, it’s not a cherry tree. In the same way, if we know and follow the Lord Jesus, godly living will grow on our lives like fruit on a tree. And if we’ve never known Jesus personally, working really hard to change our behaviour is like sticking fruit on the tree with pieces of string.

No, it’s Jesus we need to know. Our life is then transformed by that relationship.

So Titus it to teach the kind of behaviour that should mark out a Christian. It’s nothing extraordinary. It’s all about our relationships. The way we relate to one another should reflect the fact that we are Christians.

Paul breaks it down by gender, and by age, and then gives some directions for slaves – a very specific group in the ancient world. Let’s look briefly at what he says. You may like to go away and ponder more on the groups that apply to you.

First, we get the older men. Verse 2: Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. There’s to be a seriousness, a maturity, a gravity about the older men. And they’re to be healthy in terms of what they believe, what they value, and in their ability to stick at something and keep going. We don’t want older men who are bad-tempered and irritable, who are frivolous, or who can’t be relied on.

Then we get the older women. Verse 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. Then they can urge the younger women. The same idea of dignity is there again, but it’s described as reverent. Everything they do is to be done as though they were in God’s house, doing God’s work. We don’t want them on the bottle, or belittling other people.

The older women will be the role models, the trainers, the encouragers of the younger women. Verse 4: … the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their own husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

He just assumes younger women would be married, because almost everybody was in that day. He doesn’t say their only duties would be at home. But a husband, children, and running a household are big commitments. It’s good to aim to excel at those. We find the alternative in a similar passage in 1 Timothy 5, where we learn that some younger women were flitting from house to house, doing nothing but chatting.

There’s one line in there that has the potential to worry some of us. What he says is so misunderstood that we could easily fill the whole sermon explaining exactly what he’s saying. That wouldn’t be helpful, so I’ll make three brief comments, and leave you to talk to me later if you want.

Here’s the line: “To be subject to their husbands.” 3 comments.

Firstly, he actually says “subject to their own husbands.” He’s not saying that women should be subject to men; it’s not the relationship between the sexes. He’s talking about the relationship between a wife and her husband.

Second, he’s talking to the wives. Nowhere here does he tell the husbands to demand that their wives do this. This is not a mandate for the husbands in the church to do anything. Certainly not to bully or domineer. They’re simple task is dependable, self-controlled, love and kindness.

And third, this same language is used of Jesus. The eternal Son of God submitted to God the Father in everything. He’s the pattern in all of this. Whatever else that means, there’s nothing demeaning in this at all. Jesus was not demeaned as he subjected himself to his Father’s loving will.

The young women. Then the young men. One instruction only: self-controlled. We don’t want young men who are out of control. They’re full of energy, drive and passion, and God wants all of that bridled, under his control, under your control.

And then lastly, he speaks to the slaves. Slavery in the Roman empire was not like nineteenth century slavery. Slaves had many rights, and it gave them an income, employment and somewhere to live. In many ways, it was more like being an employee today.

And so Paul tells them to be a pleasure to work with. Trustworthy in everything. Not talking back to their masters or bosses. Not being light-fingered. And those of us who are in employment do not need reminding how easy it is to speak badly of our line managers when we don’t think they’re listening, and how hard it is to be the model, dependable employee.

There’s nothing out of the ordinary about most of this. He’s simply saying that following Jesus affects the way we relate to other people: at home, at church, at work.

Godly living flows from the gospel.

Godly Living Adorns the Gospel

Second. Godly living adorns the gospel. Godly living adorns the gospel.

The outside world rejects the church and its message either with outright opposition, or with disinterest. The answer to both of those is for Christians to live out their faith.

Look first at verse 8: … so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Sometimes, the watching world actually opposes the church; fights it; tries to shut it down. Let’s make fun of them, intimidate them into withdrawing into a corner, get the press to laugh at them, arrest them, whatever it is.

And there’s nothing like godly living to put a stop to that. Or at least, to make them ashamed. If you live out what you believe, they may continue to oppose and to criticise, but they’ve got nothing on you. And they know it.

Or there’s verse 10: … so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive. Other times, the watching world doesn’t bother to fight the church; they just ignore us. We’re a boring irrelevance.

And there’s nothing like godly living to put a stop to that either. Because our godly living makes the teaching about God our Saviour attractive. The word for “attractive” is the word from which we get our English word “cosmetics”. At some point, if our friends and neighbours are to follow Jesus, they’re going to have to hear the message about him. When they do that, will that good news be attractive to them, something so beautiful thye can’t take their eyes off it? The cosmetics we apply are our transformed lives.

Or the other picture for this is window dressing. I used to work on Oxford Street, and for the large department stores window dressing is an art form. Especially in the run-up to Christmas, but all year round as well – they try to out-do one another with lavish displays. The idea is to that show off what’s inside the shop, to display it in the best possible light.

This word, attractive, was used to describe jewels being set to show them off. Mounting them, lighting them, arranging them, so that you just gasp when you see them. The most beautiful diamonds you’ve ever seen.

Nobody will start to follow Jesus just as the Christian church lives out what they believe. They still need to hear about Jesus. But if we, the church, live out our faith, then when the world does hear about Jesus our Saviour, they’ll gasp. Because they’ll look at the effect that this Jesus has on ordinary people’s lives, and they’ll see that the good news about Jesus of Nazareth is the most beautiful thing they’ve ever heard.


“The church is full of hypocrites,” they say.

The answer is God’s grace. The church is for people who need to be forgiven. And in Jesus, that’s what God gives us. That forgiveness doesn’t come cheap. It changes and transforms our lives. It affects our relationships – at home, at church, at work.

And as it does, those who oppose Christianity find their objections sound rather hollow. Instead, Jesus begins to look beautifully attractive.

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