Thursday, October 05, 2023

2023.10.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Titus 2:6–8

Read Titus 2:6–8

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom does the apostle now direct Titus’s attention in Titus 2:6? What characteristic of older men (cf. Titus 2:2) and elders (cf. Titus 1:8) appears as a verb (in the original) in Titus 2:6? Who is to be a model for them (Titus 2:7)? In how many things? Of what? With what sort of doctrine/teaching? And what sort of behavior? Impossible to have what happen to him? What characteristic will mark his speaking (Titus 2:8—and especially the speaking of the things in Titus 2:1-10)? What can’t accusers succeed in doing to this speech? What happens to opponents instead? What don’t they actually have? 

What do young, Christian men need? Titus 2:6–8 looks forward to the second serial reading of in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that young Christian men need to persist in sober-minded living, after the pattern of exemplary ministers. 

Young men pursuing sober-mindedness, Titus 2:6. The root is the same as “temperate” from Titus 2:2’s description of the older men and “sober-minded” from Titus 1:8’s description of the elder/bishop. Here, it is in the form of a verb. The difference is that, whereas in the case of the elders and the elderly being sober-minded has become a condition of settled character, for the young men it is an activity, a pursuit.

A young man is designed to be a man of activity and initiative. In personal or cultural moral decline, these are channeled after something other than mature and manly godliness, or perhaps exchanged for passivity and self-indulgence. But here the apostle urges Titus to set before all of the young men a singular pursuit: conduct yourself sober-mindedly. Channel the vigor of youth into developing a manner of life that is reasoned, sensible, serious, noble. He should aim that by grace he will conquer the silly, useless, worldly mindset of the flesh. This is always a concern, but in the season of youth, there is more energy and ability at stake, and it mustn’t be wasted. And it is through diligence and discipline in this season that he goes from actively pursuing sober-mindedness as a young man to being characterized by a trained sober-mindedness as an older man.

The elder’s exampleTitus 2:7. It is not as explicit about Titus, as it was about Timothy, that he too is a younger man. But, it does seem to be implied by the connection of Titus’s character to that of the rest of the young men. It seems to be the case that God calls as preachers young men in the season of energy and passion, and that this necessitates that they be such men as are matured beyond their years. 

The teaching elder must aim at being a pattern of all good works. The Word that he preaches and teaches is sufficient to equip a man for every good work (cf. 2 Timothy 3:17); let him seek by the Lord’s grace to be an example of the Lord’s work of grace through that Word. And this good work—of pursuing sober-mindedness as a young man—is the one immediately in view here in Titus 2:7.

How, then, does the Lord bring us to sober-mindedness? (1) doctrinal integrity. Doctrinal incorruption—the negative that corresponds to the positive of soundness. There is ever the fleshly temptation to be innovative or creative or unique in our doctrine. A young man, forging his own identity, is especially susceptible to this. But the elder must hold fast the faithful word “as he has been taught” (Titus 1:9a), resulting in “sound doctrine” (verse 1:9b). (2) reverence. Dignity. Seriousness. Behavior that corresponds to the majesty of the business that he is about. If a young preacher does not pursue the ministry of the Word in shepherding and teaching in an honest, honorable (weighty), holy manner, how can he then expect the young men to pursue their callings from the Lord in an analogous sober-mindedness? (3) incorruptibility. As our spiritual fathers used to say, in paraphrase of James 1:21–27, “the Bible is a doing book.” Yes, it is first and foremost about God—what God has done, what God is doing, what God will have done. But for us, it is not only a believing book but also a doing book. What man is to believe concerning God, AND what duty God requires of man. So “doctrinal incorruption” must be matched up with personal incorruption. The minister must live with a moral character that does not belong to the decaying, dying world, but to the enduring, everlasting kingdom to which believers rightly belong, and as an ambassador of which the minister preaches.

The elder’s speechTitus 2:8. Finally, that which the apostle urges Titus to demonstrate his life, Titus must display especially in his speaking. There will be accusations and opponents to be sure. But the speaking must be so careful, so true, so obviously scriptural that upon fair consideration, it holds up against criticism. And his conduct as a preacher should be such that those who oppose him end up just bringing shame upon themselves. In this, the reputation of good doctrine as a whole is on the line (verse 8, “nothing evil to say of us” in the majority text)—for if he matches shameful living to good preaching, he will give opponents the opportunity to say evil things of others who preach the same good doctrine.

Young men in the church serve a great King. Preachers are ambassadors of that great King. Let them so live and so speak as is appropriate to the greatness of the King! 

In what circumstances are you tempted to live unseriously or self-indulgently? What habits of life will help to frame your days and your weeks such as to remind you of your high calling? What habits of thought and speech will help you bring that seriousness from worship times into working times?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for giving us such a high calling as to be subjects and royal servants of King Jesus. Forgive us for how often we live in a way that does not embrace the greatness of our calling. And conform us to Christ, our King, we ask through His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Stirred” or TPH523 “O God, My Faithful God” 

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