Titus 2 Taught by Grace
What does ‘sound doctrine’ look like in practice? Imagine Titus asking, ‘OK, Paul. I understand the importance of sticking to sound, healthy doctrine. But how does that work out in the lives of the different age-groups in the church here in Crete? What should I teach the older people, the younger people, and those who work as slaves, household servants. What do I tell them?’
In v2-10 Paul answers these questions. A couple of things stand out here.
The first we’ve mentioned already – ‘sound doctrine’ – healthy (hygienic), not weak or infected, but strong and robust. Sound/healthy doctrine works as a kind of theological infection control, monitoring health and safety in what is taught, believed and spoken. We need to be on our guard, on the lookout for teaching that is infected, diseased, dangerous. Is it truly based on Scripture? Not just a verse from here, another from there, but does it fit with the balance and flow of Scripture, centred on the gospel of Christ – the trustworthy message as it has been taught? Or does it over-emphasise some aspects of Scripture and ignore others? Leaders, elders in particular need to be alert in this way, but all Christians have a responsibility to read and study Scripture, and to check what you hear, what you read, listen to, against what is clearly taught in Bible. We need to be sound, fit, healthy, strong in doctrine, faith and speech.
Secondly is the idea of being ‘self-controlled’. In 1:8 this is required of elders; here in ch. 2 older men, younger women, and young men are to exhibit it. The word means sober-minded, balanced, with everything in its proper place in our heads and in our hearts. To have yourself under control means not being ruled by your appetites, urges or desires. James 1:14 talks about being dragged away by our evil desires; temptation says to us, ‘Come on! You’re coming with me.’ Self-control says, ‘No, I’m not’, and then walks away from temptation. Jude speaks of those who follow their own ungodly/evil desires. Self-control takes charge of those desires, and says ‘I’m not following you; you’ll follow me.’ Note also the importance Paul gives to the impression other people gain of gospel from way we live (v5, 8, 10).
Look closely at v11-14. The grace of God has appeared in the gospel of Christ, and the glory of God will appear at the return of Christ – hallelujah! But notice the emphasis here on the impact these events should be having on our daily conduct and behaviour: the grace of God teaches us to say no to ‘ungodliness and worldly passions’; meanwhile we look forward to the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, remembering that he ‘gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good’.