Titus 1:15 – 2:10
Paul has already told Titus about the basic beliefs which are implicit in the gospel.
These doctrines are the foundation for the Christian life.
There are people who imagine that good living can be produced by self-effort and will, apart from belief, but this is not true.
The Christian character is the result of what is believed.
There is a natural goodness which produces a type of character with a simulated moral standard,
but this is not the Christian ethic.
The Christian is one who has recognized his own unworthiness and inadequacy.
Then in his need of a Saviour, he finds that Christ imparts a new spirit and a new virtue.
This is not natural goodness, but divine righteousness imparted.
The nature of true virtue or the moral and ethical life is based on love.
A Christian in the Roman Empire was a marked person.
His new allegiance to Christ ran counter to the popular belief of the Lord of the State who was then the Caesar.
The new devotion had in it a transforming concept which showed itself in acts and habits.
By this means the Christian testified to the heathen around them.
Courtesy, helpfulness, readiness to serve and do one's duty, honesty, friendliness – these and others like these
became the means of demonstrating the moral life of a Christian.
The Christian could act in a new way because of his conversion experience.
So in this book of Titus, Paul describes how a Christian ought to live.
1. Attitudes, verses 15, 16
The Cretans were notorious for their lying and their gluttony.
Now some of them became Christians, and the change was most noticeable in them.
(1) "To the pure all things are pure."
This is a principle of far-reaching importance.
All around were the debasing forces of the unclean.
Heathen worship in temples was associated with immorality as well as idolatry.
The new life for the Christian implied purity of thought and deed.
This was a dramatic change.
No wonder the effect would be so visible and seen by all.
The power of the gospel to transform the moral life began here.
The heathen world had its philosophers with their various schemes of wisdom and knowledge.
They were given the right to teach the best ways of living in the line of what they knew.
What was the right conduct for man?
What standards were final in decision?
Was there an imperative which gave man a feeling of what "ought" to be done?
The questions of right and wrong arose to plague man's inner sense of being.
Socrates spoke of his philosophy as that which brought well-being to man.
It was his unwearied cross-examination of common opinion which made him a moral philosopher.
However, the majority opinion of men could never be the final standard.
It is here that the Christian faith released the dynamic power of conscience.
What is purity, and how could Christians be pure in an impure society?
Chastity and self-control are most important for the well-being of physical and mental life.
But there must be even a higher motive than this.
The glory of God, the fact that we are God's creation in Christ has redeemed us are more potent reasons for purity.
Paul is saying to Titus that the thought life becomes the motive for good living.
If the thoughts are pure, then the actions of life will be pure.
The impure thoughts come by feeding on impure literature, salacious movies, lewd television, and suggestive art.
The eye is the chief channel of seduction in our day.
Modern life has multiplied the mechanical means of seduction.
A young person is surrounded by the temptation to impurity.
The contrast of those who are "defiled and unbelieving" is striking.
Impurity and idolatry go together today even as they did in Cretan days of heathen worship.
Impurity is closed to faith in God and the worship of God.
Impurity is near to unbelief and the denial of God's presence.
In this day of low sexual standards and the flaunting of divine ideals, Paul's words are much needed.
The youth of our day is puzzled because of the exploitation of the natural by sexual symbolism in business,
recreation, art, and in almost every area of interest.
What should being pure and sacred become debased and degraded.
A Christian is one who dares to stand for the pure in an impure society, who dares to affirm the Christian standard
in an age of defection.
(2) "By their works" (verse 16)
A familiar saying is that "Actions speak louder than words."
Added to the low moral standards then existent was their profession that God was known to them.
This was the final hypocrisy.
To say they knew God, and yet they denied Him in their way of life, and this was condemned by Paul.
Many Jews would fit in this situation.
They professed to be the Chosen People, elect of God, yet their way of life was a lie to this.
In their hearts they were far removed from God.
Outwardly, they kept up the formalism and ritualism of religion but in spirit they lacked the purity
which supplied the motive of sincerity and truth.
Hebrew religion had become encrusted over with "extras," and the traditions of the elders had become
more important than the Law.
The trouble with the Jews then as well as the Cretans who were touched by the Christian faith
was seen in their substitutions.
Whenever men offer a substitute for the reality, Christianity is debased and devalued.
This attitude was, and in Paul's day, and to Titus he gave warning and counsel concerning this acute situation.
This was a moral problem.
Paul's language is strong.
He described these as "abominable." "disobedient," and "reprobate."
What was more abominable than idolatry?
Who were more rebellious than those who defected from the truth?
Who were those who more worthless than a hypocrite saying one thing and living another?
These "works" are not necessarily the gross, sensual deeds of immorality and indulgence.
They refer for the most part two religious acts.
Our Lord condemned the sins of the spirit as much as the sins of the flesh.
To love the good, and guard the faith was the task of Titus.
He is encouraged by Paul to stand firm for the right.
He is to denounce false teachers and wrong-doers.
His example is to be by his life, and he is to translate Paul's teaching into a moral practice.
Righteous living is related to attitudes of mind and heart.
The pure in heart see God.
"To the pure all things are pure."
Profession without practice is a dead religion.
2. Actions, verses 2:1-9
The Christian life is seen as a model -- as an example.
The deeds and habits of life are manifest.
(a) Aged men and women
The adult and the mature are given first place in honor and respect.
As befits their station in life they are also expected to be samples of godly living.
Counsel is given concerning their moral behavior.
In his Letters Paul has much to say about the home and the family.
If Christianity made much impact at first it was here where it was most noted.
Changing actions within the family was seen by the heathen as they looked at their neighbors' way of life.
Sound doctrine is translated into healthy living.
Every doctrine of faith has a corresponding duty.
There is a gravity and becomingness of life for the Christian.
To be "sound in faith, in love,, in patience" is good, but the moral virtues listed must stem from those doctrines.
Temperate suggests that no one loses self-controlled in the use of wine (common drink in those days).
The habit of drink has destroyed millions of victims.
Our day with its materialistic and computer world, and with much speed has in it greater perils
through intoxicating liquors.
The Christian adult should be free from such association lest he destroy his example and influence for good.
Grave is a word speaking of a becoming behavior.
There is no superficiality or frivolity which would be out of place in an adult, and in one who is grown up.
Sober-minded tells of sanity and discrete habits of life.
To be serious and self-controlled is a mark of maturity.
Reverent carries with it the fitness for duty as belonging to a mature woman.
They, like men, are to be free from indulgence and to be free from malicious speech or backbiting.
How tragic today when a woman becomes a victim to alcoholism or drugs.
The home is the place for godly living.
(a) Young men and women.
The wise self-control an example of the mature is to be encouraged in the young.
Think of how much we learn from one another!
To shun excess, and to keep life in balance makes for true virtue immorality in Christian living.
Train… to love.
The elder women were to train the younger.
Our age thinks in terms of romantic love and easily forgets the Eastern background where marriages were
planned and arranged in order that love may follow up as will and action.
There is training in love.
The betrothed young woman entered into marriage with the intention to love her husband
(whom she knew little about, and perhaps had rarely seen him).
The home and family were built on this foundation of mutual respect and honor.
Verses 4 and 5 tell of the qualities brought to such a marriage including the work of the keeping
of the home in purity and honor.
The young men were encouraged to be like mature.
Sober-minded young man did not infer gloominess or lacking in spirit.
Christian manhood is not weak or flabby, but is strong and gracious.
Godly self-control is enjoined here for the example.
If the young women were to be "and subjection to their own husbands" it was an inference that the social order
of that day was loose in the relation of the sexes.
The home was in danger of breaking up unless the wife respected and honored the husband.
Close to this was the encouragement to the young husband to see to it that he was "an example of good works."
Self-mastery, self-discipline, and self-control were expected of him as a Christian husband,
and as the head of the household.
One of the outstanding requirements was to be seen in his demeanor and spirit.
Again, frivolity is out!
A clown or an unseemly person does not commend the gospel if leadership is looked for.
Clean-cut doctrine, trustworthy and helpful speech go together.
No one should be able to smear or attack such a character.
These characteristics are for the Christian in relation to his home, but they also apply to those
who would give leadership through the church.
(b) Servants and masters
Outside the home was the community and social order with its various levels of life.
The structure of the Roman empire held millions of slaves.
Many of these became the early converts to Christ.
In Crete, as elsewhere, there were those who entered the church through conversion.
Paul writes concerning their relationship to their masters as both are now "in Christ."
Righteous living as an example to the heathen world would show itself in this level of life.
Be in subjection indicated something more than the usual way of the slave to his master.
The heathen slave knew only that he had to be in subjection.
This was compulsory, and there was no escape.
He might hate the master and detest the system, but there was no way out for him
as long as he was unredeemed.
But a new situation had arisen.
A slave became a Christian and then a master sensed a new spirit within him.
Instead of defiance, hatred and the spirit of disobedience, the Christian slave gave willing obedience!
Not only so, but the slave now sought to please his master, and was not greedy or given to stealing
to help himself when opportunity presented itself.
This was a day in the relations between masters and slaves.
Paul's counsel through Titus was to be relayed to the slaves who are now Christian.
They were exhorted to show this new spirit from Christ.
Socially they had been wrong, and even then there was no escape from their lot.
However, a new day was dawning for them although it would take a long time before they would be free
and able to share in the benefits of a common life and freedom.
If slavery was to be broken, it could only come through a new spirit.
That spirit was born in the heart of the slave himself when he became a Christian.
Then, he realized that in Christ there were other relationships possible – even with his master.
The slave who become a Christian learned not to speak back, and not to lose his temper.
He also learned to respect the property rights of his master.
The master then saw righteous living by a slave and was stabbed in conscience about his behavior
and the need for a new spirit in his own life.
Masters were also converted and became Christian so that a new spirit brought a new understanding one to another.
3. Adornment verse 2:10
The previous section has dealt with the acts of slaves within the social order wherein Christ had penetrated.
It is the Pauline honor which is given to the Christian slave, and not to others which is surprising.
The climax and outcome of the new attitudes and actions on the part of slaves finds here
"that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things."
To the slave belongs that distinction in the church.
(a) The adornment
The women in the church were urged by Paul to adorn themselves becomingly in dress and deportment.
(cf. 1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Corinthians 11:5)
The word "adorn" comes from the root for "cosmos" or world, although this means to arrange, order, ornament,
and therefore to beautify.
The cosmos implies cosmetic, and thus Paul counsels through Titus that the slaves beautify their lives
with righteous living.
Already the Christian slave was urged not to revolt, either from a pagan or a Christian master;
not to disobey or render dishonest service; and not to speak back or steal.
In giving loyalty in this way the Christian slave would "adorn the doctrine."
The question arises – how can one adorn what is already good and beautiful as the truth about Christ?
The thought and inference here is that this is so when the truth is carried out into moral living and practice.
The philosophers of that day could talk a great deal about their views, and in that sense they adorned
their teaching – with words and wise sayings of argument.
But the Christian disciple adorned what he believed by a simple, homespun, practical actions in daily life.
(b) The doctrine
The beauty of the Christian character lies in its relation to what we believe.
If we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God then a Christian follows His steps.
If we believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins then a Christian loves God for the forgiveness that he has received.
If we believe that life eternal is God's free gift now then a Christian starts living on a new and higher moral plane.
Here Paul expresses the truth in terms of "God our Saviour" implying that in salvation there is new life,
true life, and full life.
In Christ Christianity brings Christ as Saviour.
In Him lies the secret of righteous living.
In ourselves we cannot live righteously.
In Christ we are made righteous, and then to live righteously.
Social relations today are shot through with lowered moral standards, delinquency, drunkenness, immorality,
broken homes, and enslaved people through sin and selfishness.
Christians live within this moral order as examples of what God's grace can do in life.
We have found a new attitude to God and to others.
Now we are given to new actions of love and unselfishness.
Now we can make beautiful what has been distorted by sin.
Because of what we believe, we are empowered to truly love and to really live.
As George Herbert sang:
"A servant, with this clause,
Makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps the house as for Thy laws
Makes that and the action fine."
This concludes the study of the book of Titus.
Most of this study can be found in a book by Ralph G. Turnbull in his Bible series, "Letters To Christian Leaders."