The Normal Christian Life, Rooted in the Gospel - Titus 2

Have you ever wondered what the normal Christian life is suppose to look like? I mean what are we suppose to do? How are we suppose to act? What are some of our goals as believers waiting for the return of our Savior, Christ? This question is harder than we give it credit. Many would say it is to be as radical as possible. Do the craziest things you can think of for the Gospel and live in the gnarliest places. Part of this life scheme is also to give all our money to the poor and live in sack cloth and ashes. Others would say it is to be the most loving human being we can be, to do crazy things in the name of love. God is love, so we should be love. Some would say that anything approaching the ascetic practices of a monk is the right way to go. Finally, some would say to live as licentious as possible. I mean we are free in Christ right? These fanciful takes on the Christian life are powerful because they all hit on aspects of truth. Sometimes God does call us to take radical steps of faith for the Gospel. Sometimes we do need to express the love of God in new and refreshing ways to others. Practicing the spiritual disciplines of a monk is a good idea when coupled with real life outside of the monastery, and living free is wonderful while staying in the bounds of holiness and moderation. But what about the work-a-day world that most of us live in with families and responsibility? How do we live a powerful, extraordinary, normal Christian Life? Titus 2:1-15 has our answer.

While I was a member of Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, KY my pastor and friend Jim Hamilton delivered one of the best sermons I have heard on Titus 2:1-15 (You can listen to the sermon here). Previous to Jim’s sermon, I had many ideas and ideals of how a Christian life should be lived. I wanted to do crazy things for Christ, I wanted to be radical in every way. God used Titus 2:1-15 to totally redefine, for me, what is the normal Christian life.

Titus 2:1-15 could be outlined as follows:

B. Set What Remains in Order Titus 2 & 3
   I. 2:1-10 How the Household of God Should Act
      a. 2:1 Opening Imperative to Teach Sound Doctrine
      b. 2:2 Older Men
      c. 2:3 Older Women
      d. 2:4-5 Young Women
      e. 2:6-8 Young Men
      f. 2:9-10 Slaves
   II. 2:11-15 Why the Household of God Should Act this way
      a. 2:11 Because the Grace of God has appeared bringing salvation
         1) 2:12 We have been Instructed to Live Godly
         2) 2:13 We are Looking for the Return of Christ
      b. 2:15 Closing Imperatives Mirroring 2:1 to speak Sound Doctrine

Titus 1:5 set the stage for the rest of the book stating Paul’s purpose in writing the letter, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.” In Titus 1:1-16 Paul told Timothy what must be done concerning elders and why. Now Paul is going to set in order what remains in Titus chapters 2 and 3. In Titus 2:1-15 Paul forms an inclusio with the first verse Titus 2:1 and last verse Titus 2:15 being very similar; highlighting the importance of the Christian behaviors Paul lays down for member groups (old men, old women, young men, young women, slaves) of the household of God. Paul understands the church to function as a household and it is important to see his imperatives in Titus 2:1-15 set within the backdrop of family. Elders are the head, setting the prime example of the Christian life as well as the protectors of the Word from within and without. All other members should be growing in the Word, behavior, and deed in a way that reflects the Gospel and passes it on to future generations. So where is the normal life? Looking at Paul’s imperatives to the old men, old women, young men, young women, and slaves, I don’t want to pour over each and every word used to describe their proper Christian behavior (though that is a great study and should be done), I want to look at the larger themes that develop. Here are three.

1. The words Paul uses to describe the proper Christian behavior in each of these demographics are not mutually exclusive. In fact Paul’s use of “likewise” in Titus 2:3 and Titus 2:6 should clue us in that the aspects of behavior Paul is describing in Titus 2 are for every demographic in the household of God. Women should not be the only ones concerned about gossip, men should be too. Slaves should not be the only ones that are not argumentative, young men should not be either. All groups should learn to be dignified in their behavior as Christians. What Paul seems to have done is hit on the aspects of behavior and speech that each group usually falls prey to. We would do well to heed every aspect of Christian attitude and behavior in Titus 2. If we begin to live in the way Paul has described in Titus 2 we will be anything but normal. It is a radical thing for old men to be dignified, it is a radical thing for women and men to love their spouses and children. It is a radical thing to have sound speech in young men and women. And it is a radical thing to work in a way that reflects the Gospel. We will be living a radical, crazy, Christian life that shows forth the Gospel if we heed Paul’s imperatives. The normal Christian life means behavior in everyday life that looks nothing like the world but screams the Gospel.

2. Did you notice how much Paul relates Christian behavior to the Word of God? He wants each group to be rooted in sound doctrine, to speak things that are fitting for sound doctrine (Titus 2:1), teaching what is good (Titus 2:3), having purity of doctrine (Titus 2:7), not blaspheming God’s Word (Titus 2:5), being adorned with the doctrine of Christ (Titus 2:10). Titus 2 is pointing out to us that the way we live directly reflects what we think about the Word of God. If we love Him, pursue holiness, and are zealous for good deeds, we will show forth the Gospel in this world. If we continue to live, speak, and think like the world, yet claim to know God, we will show His Word to be worthless. What you do and say directly relates to what you think about the Word of God, and you are broadcasting that to the world when you claim Christ. The normal Christian life means living in a way that broadcasts the truth about God’s Word.

3. Everything we think, say, and do as a Christian should be rooted in the Gospel. Paul has given a string of imperatives to the household of God in Titus 2:1-10, and in Titus 2:11-15 he roots all Christian action and behavior in the Gospel. Because “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11) we are compelled to strive to live in the way Paul has described in Titus 2:1-10. Paul gives two further aspects of the appearing of God’s Grace clarifying why we should act in the ways he as described. The Grace of God has instructed us to deny the world and live godly and righteously (Titus 2:12), and we are looking for the return of Christ (2:13). If we love Christ we will strive to live in Godly ways, contrary to the world. We will also be looking for the return of Christ that means the completion of the Hope of salvation we have been given. Finally, in Titus 2:14 Paul goes off on the glorious work of Christ, as Paul often does at the mention of Christ’s name, reviewing Christ’s work as our redeemer from sin, making a people for Himself, zealous for His deeds. The normal Christian life roots everything in the Gospel. It is the reason we live, move, and breath. This is a radical way to live.

There is so much good stuff in this chapter. I wish I could take the time to write about every word Paul uses to describe Christian life in this chapter. The basic point is this: Because Christ has made Himself known to those of us that claim to be Christians, our life should reflect the truth of the Gospel in everything we say and do. We should be growing up in Christ from young men and women to old men and women that love God, the Gospel, Christ, and His Word. Every Christian should be aspiring to be the elder described in Titus 1, and every Christian should be living the pattern of life set out in Titus 2. Not only should we live out the Christian life, but we should pass it on to others starting with our family. We have been entrusted with the truth about God through Christ, now live it out.

Paul closes chapter 2 with an imperative to Titus in Titus 2:15 saying, “Let no one disregard you.” Will we disregard Paul’s teaching in Titus 2? If we do, we have missed the normal Christian life.
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