A Few More Good Men

If grace is training us to live godly lives, why do pastors like Titus need to get involved?

Anson Kroeker on March 1, 2020
A Few More Good Men
March 1, 2020

A Few More Good Men

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Passage: Titus 2:1-2, 6-10
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Today is part two of one big three-part sermon. If you weren’t with us last week, I’ll need to begin by explaining that Titus chapter 2 has two main sections to it. Verses 1-10 are filled with instruction. Instruction that Titus was to pass on to the different groups of people within the Cretan churches. This was what he was supposed to teach.

And then verses 11-14 give the reason for why he was supposed to teach this. The reason for why people were supposed to act in these certain ways. And that’s actually where we started last week. We started with why. We began with the grace of God which appeared and saved us is also at work today to train us. It trains us to say no to sin and to live a godly life as we wait for the return of Jesus—this same Jesus who died to rescue us from the power of sin and make us His very own good works zealots.

That was what we considered last week. That’s the “why.” And knowing this “why,” today we are ready to dive in to the “what.” Over the next two weeks, we’re going to continue this one big sermon by considering what we need to live like, who we need to be, in light of this incredible gospel.


God or Titus?

But before we plunge ahead, there’s something we need to notice in verse 1. Something that will really help us understand everything that’s going on here.

Look at what verse 1 says. It’s not instruction for us on how to live. It’s instruction for Titus on what to teach. “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).  In other words, Titus needed to teach people to live in a way that lined up with the doctrine or teaching of verses 11-14.

And I wonder if you feel any tension here. Do you remember what verse 11 told us last week? How do we renounce sin and become godly? According to verse 11, grace trains us to live godly lives as we wait for the return of our Saviour.

But here verse 1 says that Titus is supposed to teach these different groups of people to act in certain ways. So if you were Titus, would you have wanted to write Paul back and say, “Please clarify. Who is responsible to teach God’s people to be godly? It is God’s grace, or me?”

And the answer is yes. So much of the time, God uses His people to accomplish His work in His people. Titus was an instrument of grace in God’s hands, ministering God’s grace to the Cretans.

And the main way he did that was through teaching, like verse 1 says. This is another big idea in Scripture. God uses teaching and preaching to make His people grow.

I trust that’s not a surprise to you. This has been a major theme in this series, as we’ve heard all of the things that Timothy and Titus were to teach to their congregations. God uses teaching and preaching to make us grow.

Just think of Colossians 1:28, where Paul wrote about his goal to “present everyone mature in Christ.” And what did he do to achieve that goal? What was his part in making people grow in Christ? “Teaching everyone with all wisdom.”

So there’s no conflict between verse 11 and verse 1. Verse 11 says that God’s grace trains us to live a certain way. Verse 1 says that Titus is to teach them to live a certain way. And when we put them together, we can say that teaching and preaching is one of the ways—perhaps even one of the main ways—that God’s grace trains us.

So that old song was a bit misguided, wasn’t it? “Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” It’s true, but it’s not the whole picture. God did not design us to grow in isolation. He designed us to grow as a part of His church, because it’s there that we encounter the preaching and teaching that His grace will use to change us.


1. Older Men

So, what was Titus supposed to teach? That’s what verses 2-10 tell us. These nine verses give us the instruction that Titus was to give to the different groups of people within the church.

Today, we’re going to look at four of these groups, and finish up with the last two next week.

Verse 2 tells us what Titus was to teach the older men. This is the behaviour that lined up with the sound doctrine of the gospel. “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” (Titus 2:2).

“Older men” is a polite way of translating a single greek word that just means “Old men.” And you might wonder, “When does a man become an old man?” Will some of you be discouraged to find out that scholars guess that this refers to those who are 40 or 50 or older? Before you get too sad about that, remember that people didn’t live as long back then. Very few lived past 60.

But even for us, I think we understand that as a man approaches midlife, something does or at least should mature in him. Our expectations of him change. We expect more out of him than we did when he was 20, for example.

So, older men, what does it look like for you to be transformed by the gospel? What was Titus supposed to teach you to be like?

First, older men are to be sober-minded. In other words, clear thinkers. They’re not under the influence of passions or emotions or false ways of thinking.

They are to be dignified. This speaks about carrying yourself in a way that is worthy of respect.

Older men are to be self-controlled. They don’t need other people to be telling them not to do stuff all the time. They reign themselves in, carefully weighing their words and actions and decisions. They don’t need others to control them because they have control over themselves.

Older men are to be sound in faith. Remember that “sound” speaks about healthiness, like “safe and sound.” So older men are to have a confidence and trust in God that is healthy. That doesn’t mean they’ll never struggle with doubts or faith, but there should be a strength to their belief.

They also are to be sound or healthy in love towards others. This should be a part of who they are. They should love and they should love well.

And they need to be sound or healthy in steadfastness. In other words, they needed to be the kind of people that you can count on. The kind of people who stand up during a tragedy and say, “We’ve trusted God all these years, and we’re not about to change now.” The kind of men who can persevere and endure.

Older men, this is who grace is training you to be. This is who Jesus died to make you. This is who you must be.

Let’s make a few observations about this list as a whole. Do you notice how the first three items in this list show up in other lists relating to elders and deacons? Elders are to be sober-minded and self-controlled in 1 Timothy 3:2. Deacons are to be dignified in 1 Timothy 3:8.

This reminds us that nobody can say, “Well, I’m not really interested in church leadership, so my character doesn’t really matter.” Spiritual maturity is expected of all of us.

I also want us to notice how different this portrayal of “old men” is from what we often see in our world or culture. Just think about the fact that the ESV has to translate this as “older men,” because “old man” on its own is seen as rude or offensive. Why is that? Is it because of some of the associations that go along with being an “old man” in our culture?

Think about some of the words that get attached to “old man.” Like “grumpy old man.” Or “crazy old man.” Or “dirty old man.” These phrases point to the fact that as many men age, they don’t age well. They get cynical and grumpy and complain about everything. Or they lose touch on reality and become gullible and buy into every new conspiracy theory. Or they allow their sexual appetites to rule their life, and become the kind of person that women feel neither comfortable nor safe to be around.

But look at what grace does. Grace trains men to age well, becoming the kind of strong and compelling men described here in verse 2. The kind of men that you feel safe around, the kind of men who you feel enriched and blessed by when you are around them.

Older men, this is who Jesus died to make you. This is who God’s grace is training you to be as you wait for His return. This is who God’s word instructs you to be.


2. Younger Men

The next group we’re going to consider this morning is younger men, in verse 6. Ladies, you get a whole week to yourselves next week—we’re not ignoring you.

But compared to the older men, look at how much easier you younger men have it. There’s only one requirement here in verse 6. “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6).

Why do you think older men are required to be so many things, but younger men are ok with just being self-controlled? Do you think Paul doesn’t expect younger men to be sober-minded, dignified, sound in faith, love, and steadfastness?

That’s not what I think is going on here. I can think of at least two reasons for why self-control is zeroed in on for young men.

The first is that young men really struggle with self-control. And there’s many reasons for that. We could point to the presence of testosterone which makes them more willing to take risks and do crazy things without thinking first.

Young men also typically have fewer responsibilities than older men. They may feel like they can get away with sleeping in and playing too many video games and overusing their phones and eating whatever they want and not taking life very seriously because it doesn’t really affect anybody else.

But here’s the rub, and here’s why I think Paul zeroes in on self-control for younger men. How does a younger man become an older man who is sober-minded and dignified and sound in faith and love and steadfastness?

By being self-controlled. By being disciplined. By starting to grow up, today, before people are depending on him, so that he’ll be ready for that when the time comes.

Young men, listen up: you are not magically going to transform into a mature man of God some day when you reach a certain age. You are not magically going to stop struggling with temptation the day you get married, if that’s what God has in store for you. You are not magically going to become spiritually mature when you turn 25 or 30 or 40. You are not magically going to know how to run your own home one day, out of the blue.

There’s a lot of young men who think that way, and that’s why they never grow up. That’s why the age of the average video gamer is 34—my age.1https://techjury.net/stats-about/video-game-demographics/ Right when men should be pivoting into some of the most fruitful years of their life, right when they should be doing things of real significance and importance in the really world, making a contribution and really helping people, they’re just playing and using games to give them an artificial sense of importance.

If you wait to grow up, it will never happen. The day to man up and grow up is today. If it’s not today, there will never be a day.

And what will all of this take? What will it take you to start growing up? It will take self control. It will take self-control for you to go to bed on time and start waking up on time. It will take self-control to turn off your devices. It will take self-control to start thinking like a man who looks for ways that he can contribute to those around him instead of just take.

Growing up will take self-control. And so younger men, I’m doing this morning what Titus was told to do: I’m urging you to be self-controlled. I’m using you to be who Jesus died for you to be. Because He didn’t suffer and die so that you could spend the first third of your life entertaining yourself in front of a screen.

So start today. Pick an area of your life that is out of control and work on it. Don’t do it alone. Being self-controlled might mean stuffing your pride and going to ask for help. Asking someone to mentor you, if that’s not already happening.

And please don’t forget last week. Don’t forget where the power for self control comes from. It comes from God’s grace, and one of the main ways that works is by causing us to eagerly waiting for the return of Christ.

Young men, if nothing I’ve said so far sounds compelling, then I dare you to go home and read Matthew 24 and 25. The king is coming and he’s going to look you in the eyes and you’re going to give an account for what you did with what he gave you.

Do you want to hear Jesus say, “I caused you to be born in that country. You had my complete Word on your phone in your pocket at all times. I gave you a church where people loved you and wanted to build into you. I gave you so much opportunity to grow and to contribute and to be a part of my people. And you spent your time doing what?”

The power for self control will come from setting your mind on the return of Jesus and making it your aim to please him (2 Corinthians 5:8). That perspective will cut through the power of temptation and give you the motivation to do what you know you should instead of what you feel like at any given moment.

Younger men, in the light of that truth, I urge you to be self-controlled.


3. Titus Himself

There are two more groups which are addressed in our passage today. So far we’ve considered older men and younger men, and now we come to the third group, which is really just one person: Titus himself.

The way that verse 7 flows out of verse 6 suggests that Titus was likely considered one of the younger men himself. That’s backed up by 1:4, where Paul referred to him as a “true child.” And so Titus was told, in verse 7, to show himself “in all respects to be a model of good works.” Who was he supposed to be a model of good works to? Everyone in the church, on one hand, but it’s fair to say that he was to be a specific model to the other younger men, and perhaps especially those younger than him.

Jesus died to make us zealots for good works, and this goes for young men just as much as everybody else. And so Titus was to be a model to them of these good works.

This reminds us that we need models, don’t we? We need to be shown what godliness looks like by others. If we want other men, especially men who are younger than us, to be godly, we will need to show them what that looks like.

Verse 7 goes on to give Titus specific instruction in his teaching ministry. “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” (Titus 2:7b-8).

If you go back to chapter 1, you’ll remember that Titus had opponents. There were false teachers in Crete, and so everywhere Titus went to teach these things, he could expect opposition. And so Paul encourages him to teach in such a way that his opponents have no opportunity to attack or slander him. He was to be so careful in what he said and how he said it that he had no gaps in his armour, no material to use against him.

This is something we can all learn from. We may not all be in public teaching ministries, but we all talk to people. Many of us use social media for communication. I sometimes put my face in my palm when I read certain things that Christians post on Facebook. Often there is little attempt at integrity or dignity or sound speech. Often what is said could be condemned and gives opponents lots of evil to say about us.

As the times continue to change, we need to be so careful how we communicate, especially out in public. This is actually one of the important ways that we exercise self-control and use our words and communication for good works instead of bad works.


4. Bondservants

Finally, there’s one last stop in our passage, and that’s in verses 9-10. “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” (Titus 2:9–10).

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. It was just on January 12 that we studied 1 Timothy 6:1-2, which spoke to the very same issues. The 1 Timothy passage said that bondservants were to “regard their own masters as worthy of all honor” (1 Timothy 6:1), and our passage today simply gives us some more detail on what that actually looks like. It looks like submitting to them, working to please them, not arguing, not pilfering or stealing, but showing all good faith—in other words, being trustworthy and reliable.

I hope none of that is earth-shattering or news to you. I hope it’s unthinkable to you that Christian slaves then or Christian employees today would be argumentative with their bosses, slip little bits of money from the cash register, or not really care about pleasing their bosses.

And yet, perhaps we all have struggled in different areas, haven’t we? Haven’t we all had that one boss that was so hard to please and so we finally didn’t really care about pleasing? Or maybe we’ve justified little bits of pilfering here and there, like bringing company supplies home to use for yourself? At least we understand the temptation to these things.

But let’s zero in on that last phrase of verse 10, which not only explains this instruction for slaves but really ties up this whole passage for us this morning. The motivation for the bondservants to act properly was “so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our saviour” (1 Timothy

“Adorn” is not one of those words that we tend to use in the English language these days, but it speaks about decorating or beautifying something. Revelation 21:2 uses this word when John says, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). When a bride puts on a white dress and a veil and her wedding jewelry, those are her adornments. They beautify her by highlighting and drawing attention to the beauty that she already has.

And so it is with us and our behaviour. Our good works and our self-controlled, upright and godly lives are the adornment for the teaching of God our Saviour.

In other words, we must live in such a way that the gospel looks good.

If we don’t do this—if we don’t devote ourselves to good works, if we give in to godliness and worldly passions, and we aren’t self-controlled or upright or godly, if we aren’t submissive to our employers, if we don’t care about pleasing them, if we argue and steal and aren’t trustworthy, if we aren’t sober-minded or dignified or sound in faith, love and steadfastness, then we made the gospel look bad. We make Jesus look bad. We make the teaching look bad.

Now this assumes that people know we are Christians and that we are not keeping the gospel a secret. For us to adorn the gospel, the sound “doctrine of God our Saviour,” people need to know what it is. We need to tell it to them.

And then we make it look good by being dignified older men, self-controlled younger men, top-notch employees—and reverent and loving women, like we’ll hear about next week.

So verse 10 is really saying the same thing that Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

This is the purpose for our life. This is why we’re breathing, why we exist. This is why God has assigned us to our station and situation in life. It’s all so that we might life in a godly way, zealously pursuing good works, and so bring glory to our Father who saved us.


Taking Stock

So as we apply this passage to our lives, let’s take stock. Do the people in our lives associate us with Jesus? Do they know that we act the way we do because of Him? Have we told them that we’re not just nice people, but that we have been rescued from our sin by a powerful Saviour?

And then, are we living in a way that makes this gospel, this good news, look beautiful and compelling? Are we living in a way that draws people to it?

Today’s passage, from start to finish, shows us what it looks like to live in that way. And it gives us a place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything this morning. Especially for you men, whom most of this has been pointed at today.

Don’t just hear me asking these questions, and maybe feel bad for a few minutes, and then move on. Use this passage as a tool. Pick one quality or characteristic we studied this morning and endeavour, by God’s grace, to become that. Write it down, put a sticky note in your Bible and on your dashboard. Ask the Lord to help you grow in that area. Ask your spouse or a good friend for feedback or even help. Train yourself for godliness.

And remember verses 11-14. Remember why this matters, and remember how this is all possible. Think about how seriously you’d take this if you knew that Jesus was going to come tomorrow and you were going to give an account to him. And how do we know that He won’t? He told us to be ready. So let’s ask for His help to live in a way that won’t bring us shame when He comes.


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