Good morning church!
Sometime back a Hindu asked me this question: What would you say about people who say they believe in Jesus and still do not have/show Christian values? In other words, the question can be rephrased to “Is it possible for a person to know Jesus, talk about Jesus and still live like the rest of the world?” Does the gospel produce something more than just change of ideas or philosophy? Does Christ have a greater purpose in our lives than just “a moment in your life when you prayed a prayer and asked Jesus into your heart”? And if God has a bigger purpose, then what does that mean for me? Those are the questions we will attempt to answer this morning.
We have been going through a series titled “God Alive Church – A journey through the letters of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus”. Currently we are in Titus 2 (Last week’s sermon on: Titus 1:10-16). Let’s go ahead and read the main text for the day:
But as for you, teach what accords with sound[a] doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants[b] are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
The first thing I believe this passage teaches us today is:
1. The Gospel informs Right Living
But as for you, teach what accords with sound[a] doctrine. (v1)
As we’ve been seeing, whenever we see the word “but”, it is contrasting this passage with the previous passage. The previous passage spoke about false teachers who for shameless gain were upsetting the faith of many families in the church at Crete. These false teachers kept focusing on Jewish myths and man made rules. The result was that the church became unfruitful in good works! In fact, the church was gaining a bad reputation in Crete. Paul gave 2 commands to Titus in order to tackle this problem.
The first was to appoint God called, God qualified elders to lead and protect the church. (Tit 1:5-9) The second command was for Titus to rebuke these false teachers sharply and silence them from influencing the church. (Tit 1:13) The last few verses of Titus 1, Paul says that these false teachers “profess to know God but deny him by their works”. So Paul is already starting the conversation where he says “if you say you know God, then it needs to be reflected in your lifestyle as well”.
And that’s how we arrive in Chapter 2 where Paul says give instructions, exhort the church at Crete in a way that suits and is fitting for “sound doctrine” or the gospel. The reason I use the word gospel is because the gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ is God’s plan from Genesis to Revelation to reveal Himself through Jesus and also to redeem everything through Jesus! The gospel of Jesus informs, fuels and produces right living! The gospel supernaturally creates new life in people when they hear and believe. Till then as natural humans we knew nothing else but to sin, suddenly when we heard the good news we were supernaturally able to repent and place our trust in Jesus.
New affections, new purpose & a new identity. Not just that, the more we grow in our relationship with Jesus, the more we realize how much more of the gospel we require today. Why? Because as we read Scripture we see how Holy God is, we see how sinful we are…like Isaiah said in Isaiah 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom 7:24)
Now as believers we are justified and made right before God. There is no condemnation but we still need to recognize the difference between God and us. He is Holy and Righteous and Great and Glorious. And we like the “grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls”. As our awareness of God grows so will our awareness of our sin. The more closer you move towards God, more sin in your life will get exposed. And all of this should bring us to a place where we humbly and helplessly realize what Jesus has done for us through his life, death and resurrection.
So when we are faced with temptation and you fall, we realize we need the gospel to experience forgiveness and restoration in our walk with God. When we are in conflicted relationship with another family member of friend, we realize we need the gospel to forgive the other person just as Christ forgave us.
When we go through persecution, we realize we need the gospel to remind us that it’s a blessing to be counted worthy to suffer for our Master and Lord. When we are at work and the stress is piling up, we realize we need the gospel to remind us that we are working for God ultimately and we know we’ll find rest in Jesus who says “Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest”. When we are going through a severe illness, we realize we need the gospel to remind us that God is Sovereign over our situation.
When we feel insecure about our looks or your financial status or the possessions we have, we realize we need the good news of Jesus to remind us that God has accepted us fully in Jesus and we don’t require anything else apart from Jesus to live our life – He is our Security. And as we trust and obey what God has said to us in the Bible, we grow up into the hope of the gospel -> to be like Jesus reflecting everything that He is in all our thoughts, words and actions.
That’s why it’s so critical to be listening to teachers that preach and proclaim sound doctrine. Some people sometimes say “I know the preachers that I listen to aren’t exactly biblically sound, but what to do….nobody’s or no church is perfect. I’m mature enough to listen and pick what is right and not pay attention to what is wrong”. But they are missing the point. It’s not about picking and choosing what you want.
It’s much more serious than that. What you believe is what you will become. If you are chasing behind a false gospel that tells you that believing in Jesus will get you health, wealth and prosperity…that’s what your life will also be about…Making yourself prosperous. But if you want to become like Jesus, you need to listen to Jesus as He is revealed in Scripture.
That’s what we see in the following verses of Chapter 2. Instructions being given to older men, older women, younger women and younger men. People from different age groups within the church are being encouraged to live a life worthy of the gospel. It’s not for the aged ones only, it’s for everyone to exhibit self-control, respectability, soundness in faith, in love and steadfastness. Such a wonderful picture of the good news when you see the whole church growing in Christ likeness.
It’s not some sort of spiritual elite that is pursuing holiness and good works…every child of God saved by the good news in fact wants to do this. As elders our job is to remind and urge people to do it more!
This brings me to the next point…
2. Right Living adorns the Gospel
Adorn means to decorate something. Ever wondered how can you adorn the gospel? Adorning doesn’t mean adding or subtracting anything from the gospel. Neither is the gospel powerless so that we need to add some “masala” to make it relevant and effective. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. At the same time think about it, the gospel actually makes more sense to an unbeliever when they see it being clearly reflected in your life and mine. We wrongly influence the perception of the gospel when we live like the rest of the world.
and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (v5) Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. (v7-10)
How many times have we heard things like “this person calls himself a believer, but his actions deny his faith”? And this is the testimony of unbelievers. That’s not how it’s meant to be and that’s not what God desires from people who have been redeemed from their sinful lives. God’s desire is for us to live holy lives dedicated to good works so that through us God can display His transformative power! In other words, our job is not to make more barriers for people to believe, but in fact to remove the barriers so that can receive the true saving message of the gospel.
Unbelievers might become hostile toward you because you are a believer, but deep down they should know that there’s no real charge they can bring against you for doing something morally wrong or unethical. “In everything we must adorn the doctrine of God our Savior”. Have you every wondered what that means for you? When you think about the workplace, do your colleagues see the goodness, righteousness and mercy of Christ through your words and actions? When you think about your family, do your family members see the patience and humility of Christ in your words and actions? With your church family, do your brothers and sisters in Christ see a glimpse of Christ in your interactions and service? What about your neighbours? Do they know you are a follower of Jesus by your words and lifestyle? I know these are quite challenging questions. I’m convicted of certain things myself.
Maybe till now we didn’t pay attention to adorning the gospel of Jesus or maybe we’ve forgotten it. There’s hope in the gospel for us today. 2000 years back, Jesus Christ became man and lived the life of goodness, righteousness, mercy, patience, humility according to the standard required by God. He perfectly reflected and showed who God Is. He lived the life we couldn’t live. Perfect obedience. And then he took on the punishment of sin as our Savior and substitute.
He died the death we deserved to die. If there was one thing we earned on our own merit…it was death and separation from God eternally. Jesus willingly gave himself up on the cross…humiliated by his own creation to save us from the holy wrath of God. He died and rose again on the third day because his sacrifice was complete and fully satisfied the wrath of God.
Those who repent and trust in Jesus will see the hope of the gospel being reflected in their lives. Jesus would begin to display Himself through their lives. One more thing…it’s not as though God needed us and without us he cannot adorn the gospel. Let’s not trivialize it that way. God chooses to use us to adorn the gospel. In His wisdom and greatness, redeeming the lives of sinful, dead people and allowing them to reflect His glory brings Him more glory! He is the glorious One who restores the broken and condemned ones. So if we find ourselves not adorning the good news, not reflecting Jesus….solution…go back to Jesus!