Saturday, May 25, 2013

Armed and Dangerous: A Study of Titus 2

I heard an illustration about being properly armed once that absolutely stunned me - It went something like this:

Imagine you are at home in your bed, in a deep, comfortable sleep. Suddenly, you hear a noise. Your eyes snap open and there, in the dark, you realize - you are not alone. Someone has broken in to your home. As you come to from your deep slumber, adrenaline pumping through your veins, you begin to frantically think about what you should do. Then, to your great relief, you realize - you have a gun in the side table just next to your bed. Your heart pounding, you (as quietly as possible) turn and reach to open the drawer. At this exact moment the the burglar enters your bedroom. There is a surprised pause between the two of you - he towers over you, just a few feet away. You snap into action, grab the gun, so comforted by your preparedness when...wait a second...You have all the parts here...bullets, gun. But suddenly panic washes over you as you remember that though you bought your gun but never bothered to learn to use it. Your stands there, he laughs at your ignorance, he smiles viciously at you. He has won.

the first P - PROCURE

That scenario has stayed with me for years. And you know, this works the same way with the Word of God. When we are under attack, it is our weapon of defense, our protection. But without a knowledge of its inner-workings, and how to properly use it, it is not a weapon at all. We should never allow the enemy to sneak in undetected only to laugh at us, to win the battle over us, because we didn't bother to learn, to take time, to prepare for battle.

I write a lot about the importance of knowing the Word of God in order to be an effective kingdom citizen, a warrior for the Lord. And Paul, in his letters to Timothy and Titus, also speaks to this. But here in Titus 2 we find an rare circumstance in which the teacher explains why we need to be familiar and knowledgeable about God's Word - he tells us exactly what we are expected to do with it! So in our study here, we will learn how, regardless of the season in which we find ourselves, we can be prepared for winning victories for the Lord.

When we profess to be a believer, in covenant with the living God, it is expected that we will begin to procure knowledge about God through His Word. But this is only the first step - there are three P's we must master in order to be armed and dangerous.

Let's begin to read the text and see what they are:

1 But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.

Right from the start of the chapter, in the first four words, Paul makes an excellent point. "BUT as for you," he says. How many moms have uttered the words, "If so-and-so jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?" or "Well you aren't in so-and-so's family. You're in this one - so start acting like it!" The inclination to want to assimilate is natural. But that's not the way the life of a believer works. You, Beloved, are to be different. Everything about who you are and what you stand for should contrast with the world. Holiness, after all, does mean set apart.

Next we see Paul commanding Titus to speak. Yes, the life of a leader entails action! If you want to lead, you must be willing to speak up...that is, assuming you have done your homework, to PROCURE a sound knowledge of the Word. It means we have searched out information and wisdom for ourselves, so we know what we're talking about. That is what is meant by sound doctrine. The word sound means whole, well, complete, error-free. Our goal is to learn everything there is to know about holiness, God, Christ and His work, redemption, and sanctification - so that when we tell others the Good News, it will be in its purest form, undefiled by errors, assumptions and ignorance.

But what do we do once we acquire this knowledge, this wholeness of understanding? The Greeks wanted to continue to take information in, to hear more, to talk more. Think about the great philosophers like Socrates, Plato and others. They wrote essays debating ideas. Their mindset was that knowledge is power, and they just wanted to accumulate as much information as they could get. Conversely, the Hebrew mindset was to learn in order to do. And Paul says himself, he is a Hebrew of Hebrews (Philippians 3:5). So hold on to your hat, because he's going to tell us just what to do what that sound understanding.

the second P - PERFORM

For the next several verses Paul will address different stages in which we might find ourselves. Don't be too quick to dismiss these if you're not currently in one of these places. Depending on the room you walk into during your day, you might find that you can fit in any number of them. Know that just because you don't fit into each one now doesn't mean God is not preparing you for what is around the corner. So try to stay tuned to what the Spirit is revealing here. But also, be looking for the common thread tying them all together. For each stage we will find there is a specific call and a temptation that would cause us to deny that call.

2 Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, and perseverance.

The Temptation

When we have lived a little bit more life than those around us, when we have had great battles and achieved some milestones, the temptation is to become relaxed in our morals, to to say "I have worked hard, I deserve to take it easy now," believing that we have earned or deserve complacency. Older believers may even believe the lie that they are useless or finished. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Call

Here in verse two is described the reverent, self-controlled and secure demeanor you find in a man seasoned by years of truly walking with the Lord and pursuing holiness. Notice the underlined word in the verse - here it is in Greek:

σώφρων (sophron)

It means self-controlled, and we will see it again. I love that it says sound (again, complete) in love, faith and perseverance. This person has a complete understanding of not just trust in God but of the doctrine, of God's love and our responsibility to love others, and has been tested in these areas, developing patience and endurance. It's hard to describe this person verbally, meeting one is an unmistakable experience. My husband's grandfather just happens to be such a man. A baptist preacher from a little town in South Carolina, he embodies warmth, availability, godliness and vigor. And at 85 years old, he is still active. He preaches and instructs in every God-given opportunity, he is generous with his time and his resources (he literally gave us his entire pastoral library), and he is even going on a mission trip to Costa Rica in a few weeks. Wow! This is a man that my husband can look to as a model, something to strive toward.


It is good for younger or less experienced men to see what a life of obedience and self control in youth can become in the later years of life. The call here is to model that the work of a Christ follower is never done. As long as there is breath in our lungs, we are still to be serving, reaching, teaching and building up the body. The younger generations, the less experienced, they need the knowledge you possess. Don't  disappear, don't abandon them. Be the vessel through which God teaches, empowers and inspires the next generation. Finish strong!

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

Let's look now at the second group:

3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women...

The Temptation

Women like to take care of things. We crave opportunities to nurture and be needed, we feel we have valid advice and love to come to the rescue - it gives us purpose. So when a woman finds herself in a season of life when her children are grown, when maybe her husband has passed on, she may be tempted to feel discontent about this season of her life. So temptations arise to try to stir up opportunities to meet a perceived need - like pointing out, gossiping, diagnosing or criticizing. On the other side of that pendulum, the temptation is to shut down, become embittered and deal with our fear of uselessness through our appetites, finding comfort in unhealthy things or in an unhealthy way.

The Call 

Paul's use of words here is very interesting. The word reverent is made up of a few words smashed together:

ἱερός (hieros) + πρέπω (prepo) = ἱεροπρεπής (hieroprepos)

Why do I tell you this? Because the word hieros (the first word) means sacred and refers to divine things. The second word in the equation, prepo, means fit for duty. So in essence, what he is saying is that older men and women are sacred objects for divine duty. Both find themselves in a place where they can be special, set apart vessels for the Lord, uninstructed by new marriages and the hectic schedules of children and teens. They are free to devote themselves fully to God. It is a very serious, prestigious calling.


Paul's words are an exhortation to take seriously the call of this season of life and not to waste it. When we find ourselves to be the older, more mature females in the room, God's expectation is that we not be controlled by our passions, our appetites or our emotions as so many worldly women are, but rather that we stand out as holy vessels. Prayerfully seek out the younger women God puts in your sphere of influence who need a mentor. You are, let me assure you, desperately needed by the young women out there today. For an outline of how to instruct them, let's move on to the next verse. love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. 

The Temptation  

This is the category in which I find myself in the domain of my home. I'm a new wife in a new house. I can say with certainty that there are things that truly test your ability to be kind and subject to your husband. Being a helpmate can sometimes feel like a tedious and thankless job. For instance, I am still learning that God seems to have wired men not to be troubled by the laundry pile that grows and grows. I, on the other hand, have some unmarked meter in my mind that sounds an alarm after it has grown to a certain height. I just have to take care of things, I can't leave them. After only two years of marriage, housework feels so monotonous, never fully done and something I always feel I have to take ownership of. What is that job function in your home? Whatever it is, you know it is enough to make you crazy...and resentful. I can only imagine how this must increase exponentially when noisy, messy (albeit wonderful) children enter the picture. And through it all, the biggest temptation here is to begin to resent this domestic role, to lose our home work ethic, to mistreat our husbands and children in response to that frustration and to forget that there is a divine order in the home. We should never let our freedom in Christ or our frustrations in the home serve as an excuse for not to submitting to God's order and to our husbands. 

The Call

For you to dislike this role and so not to perform it, or even worse, for you to try to take from your husband his God-give job, casting yours off, is exactly what the enemy wants. Because your divine call as a wife and mother is to show servant leadership in contrast to your husband's shepherding and protecting. These are both attributes of God that we must understand to have a full picture of who He is. If you do not submit to your role as godly mother and wife, if you forget to love and begin to fuss and complain or not do the work in the home, if you demean or usurp your husband rather than to support him, then your family misses out on understanding God's nature and divine order. The role of the mother is one of the most important - and Christ-like - callings there is. Don't cheat yourself out of that great honor or your family out of that crucial experience. 


Notice that Paul begins with love as the command for young women. Love is an action, not an emotion. One that requires self control. Notice again the underlined word in verse four - it is that same word we already saw (sophron) meaning self-controlled. But realistically, it is much easier to be so, to love actively, to overlook all the tedium if we simply meditate on things that spark emotional reactions. For instance, think about the day your husband proposed, and the day you married. Remember what things were like when you dated, and remind yourself how he is everything you need, your perfect compliment. Think about how much you yearned for your children, about what it felt like when you carried them, and how you've watched them grow and become unique individuals, how amazing they are. Allow yourself to remember that love, foster it and guard it. If we can focus foremost on the love, everything thereafter will simply fall into place.

6 Likewise, urge the young men to be sensible

The Temptation

Now after having giving all those specific directives to young women and older men and women, here we find that Paul simply tells the young men to be sensible. First of all, this word sensible - we've seen it before. It's that same word that we saw in verses two and four. We know enough about this word now to know that Paul is telling young men to be exercise self control. Now at this point, you might be thinking what I was thinking. Really!? That's it? So, for a little insight, I spoke to my husband.

In our conversation I discovered that there are many battles young men face that can be won with self discipline. Lust, dedication to Bible study, spiritual leadership, work ethic to name a few. Fostering self control in these areas at a young age, creating good habits, are what enables a man to succeed in God's eyes. So while the world says, 'live it up,' 'look out for number one,' and 'do what feels good,' the godly young man must be different.

The Call 

Everything about becoming a man like the one we read about in verse two hinges on how you set your course now as a young man. Be disciplined in your finances and you will be able to provide for your family. Be disciplined in your biblical study and you will be blessed with wisdom and leadership opportunities. Be disciplined with lustful desires and you will find the mate who is God's best for you - or if you've already found her, you will be equipped to best honor the gift God has given you in her. Be intentional, not careless, in all areas of your life, and you will become a revered, tested, honorable and sound man. 


When my husband and I were friends, we spent so much time together. Since we were both adults by the time we met, we had our own living spaces and lots of freedom. There were evenings that would be getting late, we would be at my apartment watching a movie and having fun when suddenly, the phone would ring, a few hushed words would be spoken and he was quickly out the door. Other times there was no phone call, just an abrupt departure. Finally one day I asked what this was about. It turns out that he and his friends had an accountability system, rules they lived by and helped each other to honor to keep them out of trouble with girls. His best friend, living in New York at this time, would call at a certain time to see if he was alone with me. He would say, 'It's time to go home.' And then he would call again to ensure he was in the car. Other times, when the phone hadn't rung, he said, there were thoughts or impulses in his mind, and he didn't want to act in a way that would hurt or dishonor me. So he would just flee the temptation, literally. I was so impressed that he had the foresight and wisdom and discipline to plan such a strategy. Set up safety checks for yourself. Set up goals and boundaries. Live intentionally. This is the way of a man of God that leads to success,'s very attractive and appealing to godly women, bosses, peers and friends.

7 In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

The Temptation 

Now Paul turns his attention to the power structure. He is speaking to Titus, the leader of the congregation. The temptation for those who find themselves in power is to take advantage of that anointing by misusing it. 

The Call

Paul is charging leaders to be servant-minded and ever aware that they are the living, breathing model for others to follow. You are a representative of the Lord in all your dealings when you find yourself in a position of authority. God has put you there for a reason. Make sure you are executing his agenda and not serving yourself.


God doesn't like when we represent him by tearing others down or by shying away from confrontation and instruction that is needed. Instead, leaders are to "urge (see verses 6 and 9) which essentially means to beg, to plead. Be very careful that you choose a leadership style that is Christ-emulating as well as God-honoring. I heard my pastor say once that everything we say is encouraging an idea. When you are in a position to lead others, what ideas are you encouraging in your interactions with them? Are you modeling the behavior you want to see? If not, maybe it's time to rethink the whole "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. It's just not biblical. 

9 Urge bond slaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. 

The Temptation

I read a great description of a bond slave - it is one whose will is completely swallowed up in the will of another. Many of the people in Crete, where Titus was ministering, were in this demographic. Now suddenly they were being told that they were free in Christ. It must have been very confusing for them to sort out this new found freedom in the face of living in subjection to someone else. Here Paul teaches the principle that though we are free in Christ, we must still honor our earthly authorities. 

But beyond that, in a spiritual sense, we are all bond slaves. We are born in servitude to our sinful nature, but when Christ redeems us, we become a bond servant to Him. As we read in this verse, it is a temptation to try to rebel against our authority. Sometimes we want to pilfer what belongs to God - particularly when we are not in control, when we are not getting our way, when things are uncomfortable. 

The Call

As a redeemed bond servant of God, our will must be completely wrapped up in His. We must live every day in awareness that we are members of His kingdom. When we say yes to Christ, we must give him all of ourselves, holding nothing back, showing ourselves to be grateful and living our lives to be pleasing to Him.


What are we holding back that belongs to God? Often it is easy for me to be obedient when I'm getting my way. But recently I've walked through some things for the Lord and have been asked to serve in ways that are a challenge for me. He wants to know that we are willing to submit even when it's not on our terms. Are we well pleasing to our master always? Are we argumentative, or are we embracing our place and His authority over our lives? 

the third p - PROTECT

At this point, we've talked about many seasons and phases in life. Through all of them, the common thread has been self control. No matter where we find ourselves in life, in leadership or in subordination, the most experienced or the newest, we must practice self control over the temptations of each phase in order to succeed. We must not only possess the knowledge, but we must use it to perform in a manner that brings glory to the Lord.

But why do we have to do all of this? Well, Paul has been explaining why all along, and we're going to discover how - it's our next 'p.' 

If you notice, in these verses we have seen in several places the phrase "so that." Go back and read through if you like. What is being done here is we are being shown the purpose of exercising this self control in each of these seasons in life. Here are the reasons Paul gives:

1. So that you may encourage others who are younger in the faith (v 4)

2. So that the Word of God will not be dishonored (v 5)

3. So that your opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us (v 8)

4. So that we will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect (v 10)

More than that, though, he really drives home the purpose for Procuring and Performing with the final verses of the chapter:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. 

Here Paul speaks of self control again, so living a vigilant lifestyle. But what caught my eye about what he says here is the phrase "a people for his own possession." 

When I read New Testament passages, I always try to note key phrases or allusions to the Old Testament that will help me understand what I'm reading. And here is such an example. This is not the first time we see God choosing a people for His own possession. In fact, He chose to redeem the Hebrew people from Egypt and made them a nation called Israel. And from that nation, he chose a very specific group to be His special possession:

“Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the sons of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine. Then after that the Levites may go in to serve the tent of meeting. But you shall cleanse them and present them as a wave offering; for they are wholly given to Me from among the sons of Israel."
Numbers 8:14-16
Why were they set apart as God's? Read this passage:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring the tribe of Levi near and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him. They shall perform the duties for him and for the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle. They shall also keep all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, along with the duties of the sons of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. You shall thus give the Levites to Aaron and to his sons; they are wholly given to him from among the sons of Israel. So you shall appoint Aaron and his sons that they may keep their priesthood, but the layman who comes near shall be put to death.”

Numbers 3:5-10

These people would be those who would serve all of the rest. Never make the mistake of thinking the priesthood of God in the Old Testament was a bunch of monk-ish namby pambies. No, they were tough enforcers, guardians, laborers. There is a reason that priests had to be in the 30-50 year age range - it was hard work! And notice that last verse - they had to be able to defend God's holiness and territory, even to the death. 

In their day, the Levites were the only thing standing between God's judgement and the people. If they did their job properly, they facilitated in the atonement of people so that they could draw near and not have to experience God's wrath. They were guardians of God's sacred name and territory. They were the protectors of people. They were servants, their inheritance was not worldly belongings (land) but in God. 

So what's that got to do with me, and with Titus 2?

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...

1 Peter 2:9

That's right, Beloved. If you are a believer, then you are part of the spiritual priesthood God is building. That means everything that the physical Levitical priesthood did, you are now spiritually responsible for. You have been entrusted with the holy things, charged with facilitating the cleansing and atoning of God's people. In short, the only thing standing between the world and God's judgement you. We must be guardians protecting God's holy name and preventing those around us from experiencing judgement by not experiencing the atonement found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. It's a very serious call. Are you living in a manner worthy of that call?


No matter where you find yourself now or a year from now, you have a great calling as a priest of the Most High God. Every role in life is designed to reflect a particular aspect of our God. Each comes with its own unique challenges, but through Titus 2 we are shown if we exercise self control and anticipate the temptations of each stage, we can be equipped to stay on track. 

How are you functioning as His servant today? What has He entrusted you with? How can you better mediate between others and God in what you say and how you live? Pray today about which of these you need to focus more closely on.


Acquire these skills and become armed and dangerous, Beloved. It's time to get to work, and win this battle for our King!


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