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Titus: Sound Doctrine, Sound Behavior

I.        INTRODUCTION

A.      The occasion for Paul’s writing to Titus is given in Titus 1:5.

                                                             1.      Titus was a young evangelist, like Timothy, who had been left by Paul on the island of Crete to “set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city.”  This letter was written to give Titus further instruction to complete his task.

                                                             2.      Titus was not mentioned in the book of Acts, but his name appears thirteen times in Paul’s epistles, indicating his close relationship with Paul.

                                                             3.      The events mentioned in Titus are not mentioned in Acts.  They occurred after the history recorded in Acts.  This epistle was written following Paul’s Roman imprisonment, perhaps A.D. 63.

                                                             4.      The inhabitants of the island of Crete were notorious as “liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (1:12-13). Therefore, Titus had quite a task before him.

B.      The emphasis of Paul’s epistle is the “sound doctrine” of the gospel and the sound behavior that should result in believers of that doctrine.

                                                             1.      In this is a sound message for man today.  Too often, sound doctrine is neglected.  With this neglect comes the lack of sound behavior.

                                                             2.      Sometimes sound doctrine is acknowledged, but the lack of sound behavior makes that acknowledgment of no effect.  True belief in the sound doctrine of the Scriptures results in obedience.  Notice that those who “profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him” are called “worthless for any good deed” (1:15-16).

 

II.      WHAT IS SOUND DOCTRINE?

A.      “Doctrine” is simply instruction or teaching.  A collection of teachings on a subject could be considered a doctrine.

B.      For a doctrine to be “sound” means that it is whole, complete and uncorrupt.

                                                             1.      The original word “sound” actually had reference to health.  We still use it in this way in certain contexts, such as in a last will and testament (“I, being of sound mind...”).

                                                             2.      Paul uses the word “sound” five times in this short epistle in reference to doctrine, faith, and speech (1:9,13; 2:1,2,8).

                                                             3.      Sound doctrine is not perverted or distorted.  To alter a doctrine by adding to it or subtracting from it is to distort it and therefore make it unsound.  For example, the Galatians were following an unsound doctrine because they followed a distorted gospel that had been changed from its original form (Gal. 1:6-7).

C.      Of course, the doctrine to which Paul refers as being sound is the undefiled doctrine of the gospel, the word of God (1:3).

                                                             1.      It is the only true sound doctrine with reference to spiritual things.

                                                             2.      Many doctrines are advanced in many books that are unsound regarding spiritual things (the Koran, the book of Mormon, denominational creed books, catechisms, manuals, etc.).  They are unsound because they have their origins in men, not God.

D.      Sound doctrine always stands against false doctrine.

                                                             1.      This is why Titus was told by Paul to speak sound doctrine to reprove the deceivers and liars of Crete (1:10-14).

                                                             2.      This is also why an elder must “hold fast the faithful word” (1:9) so that he can exhort the faithful and refute “those who contradict”.

 

III.   SOUND DOCTRINE:  THE GRACE OF GOD INSTRUCTS US IN RIGHTEOUSNESS

A.      Notice 2:1 - “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”

                                                             1.      What follows this statement is a list of behaviors that are fitting for sound doctrine for various classes of people in the church (2:2-10).

                                                             2.      Titus was told to “speak these things,” or in other words, tell these people to do these things.  This was his business and purpose for being among them.

B.      These are all good behaviors, but what makes them good is that they conform to and are fitting with the sound doctrine of the gospel of Christ.

                                                             1.      Specifically, it is the doctrine that is stated in 2:11-14.

                                                             2.      This doctrine is the reason and the motivation for the behaviors stated in 2:2-10.

C.      Let us examine this doctrine more carefully.

                                                             1.      Read 2:11.  This verse is readily accepted by many for its comfort and promise.  Grace, the unmerited favor of God, brings salvation to all men.

                                                             2.      Unfortunately, 2:12 is not as well accepted, but it is the driving force of this sound doctrine for the behaviors stated in 2:2-10.  Grace not only saves man, but it also instructs him to live righteously.

a.       Many want to accept verse 11 but deny verse 12.  However, grace has equal weight in this doctrine for bringing salvation and for instructing.  Therefore, if you want the salvation by grace, you must also accept the instruction by grace.

b.       To deny verse 12 would make one disobedient and would put one in the category of 1:16.

                                                             3.      Read 2:13-14.  This passage tells us what our salvation is to accomplish for Christ.

a.       The purpose for Christ’s sacrifice was not only to save us from punishment, but it was also to make us into a people fit for His service.

b.       We cannot be fit for His service if we continue in ungodliness and worldly desires.  We must be redeemed and purified from such things and zealous for good deeds.

c.        We are to continue in this service as we joyfully anticipate His return.

                                                             4.      In 2:15, Paul tells Titus that both exhortation and reproof are needed.  If they were needed then, they are needed today.

 

IV.    SOUND DOCTRINE:  WE ARE SAVED BY GOD’S MERCY, NOT OUR OWN WORKS

A.      More behaviors that are fitting for sound doctrine are listed in 3:1-2.

                                                             1.      Verse 2 pertains to a Christian’s conduct and consideration toward those who are outside of the church.

a.       It is easy to be a Christian who is doing right and look down at a sinner who is doing wrong.  However, we must avoid this self-righteous hypocrisy.

b.       “Malign no one.”  We have no right to speak evil of sinners.  We must exhort and reprove them, but we must not speak evil of them.

                                                             2.      The reason for this kind consideration is given in 3:3

a.       We were once in sinful rebellion as those in the world are today.  We were just like them.

b.       Consider 1Corinthians 6:9-11.

B.      Then, in 3:4-7, Paul states the doctrine that applies to this matter.

                                                             1.      God did not save Christians because of the good they did, but because of His mercy through Christ.

                                                             2.      The good that we may accomplish is only possible because the Lord purified us from our evil deeds and made us a “people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (2:14).

                                                             3.      Without His cleansing, we would still be “worthless for any good deed” (1:16).

                                                             4.      This stands as a warning against self-righteousness.  We are no better than they.

                                                             5.      The practical application of the sound doctrine in regards to how we consider those outside of the church is this:

a.       Christians are former sinners redeemed by God through faith and obedience for good deeds.

b.       Current sinners might also be redeemed in the same way.  God loves them, too.

                                                             6.      3:8 brings it into perspective: We perform good deeds because we were saved; we were not saved because we performed good deeds.

 

V.      CONCLUSION

A.      What shall we do then?

                                                             1.      We shall ground ourselves in the sound doctrine of the gospel of Christ.  Study the word of God to provide a foundation on which to grow.

                                                             2.      We shall behave in such a way that is fitting for that sound doctrine.  Carry out good deeds because we were redeemed for this purpose.  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

B.      Let us be consistent in our beliefs and our behaviors that God might be glorified and that we might obtain salvation.




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