Leslie Basham: Revive Our Hearts invites you to explore the riches of Titus chapter 2 in a series called “God’s Beautiful Design for Women.”
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: The gospel will not be heard and received by our culture, by our generation, by your children, by your neighbors, by the people in your workplace; the gospel will not be received if it cannot be seen in the lives of those of us who profess to believe it.
Leslie: Titus 2 will challenge you to know what you believe.
Nancy: How important is doctrine to you? Do you know what your doctrine is? How much do you care?
Leslie: This series will encourage you to invest in other women.
Nancy: Teach out of your life, and help those who are coming behind you to be guarded and protected in their steps. My life is so much richer today as I’m getting older because of older people who have poured into my life.
Leslie: And it will help you develop true beauty.
Nancy: When you’re young, there are some character defects—whether bitterness or selfishness or pride—that can be covered up or glossed over with youthful energy, good looks, natural ability, or natural personality. But as you get older and those physical, outward things fade away, if those character defects have not been sanctified, they’re going to become more pronounced and more visible.
Leslie: This is the teaching series “God’s Beautiful Design for Women,” on Revive Our Hearts for Monday, February 6, 2017. Our host is Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, whose brand new book, Adorned, Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel releases tomorrow. That book is a study of Titus 2:1–5, and to celebrate that launch of that book, we’re going to be studying that passage here on Revive Our Hearts. So open your Bible to Titus 2, and stick a bookmark there, because we’ll be getting to know this passage for the next couple of months. Here’s Nancy.
Nancy: If you’ve been listening to Revive Our Hearts for any period of time, you’ve heard me talk about this counter-cultural revolution that we’re believing God to bring about in the hearts of women today; and Titus 2speaks to the issue of the counter-cultural woman.
What does she look like? Does it really matter that we have this counter-cultural revolution? What difference would counter-cultural women make in our culture?
And how can this kind of movement actually take place? Is this just a dream? Is this just a vision that can’t really happen? Is it realistic? How can it happen?
In Titus 2, especially verses 3–5, we see a portrait of the counter-cultural woman. We’re given by the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a curriculum for the training and developing of counter-cultural women. In this passage we’re going to discover and uncover:
- the mission of a counter-cultural woman
- her motivation
- what will make us want to be that kind of woman—because to be that kind of woman, you do have to swim upstream
- what’s the purpose of being a counter-cultural woman
Also in this passage we have, very importantly, what I think is one of the most definitive passages in all of God’s Word about the whole subject of women’s ministry in the local church, and we’re going to talk about what that looks like, or what it should look like.
Let me start by reading the first paragraph of Titus 2 (vv. 1–5). Here at Revive Our Hearts we don’t want you to just hear me teaching the Word, and we don’t want you to be “spoon-fed” believers. We want you to learn to feed yourself from God’s Word. So if you are in a place as you are listening to this program, or you can stop what you are doing, where you can pick up a Bible and follow along, that’s a good thing. If you are driving your car or you are in the workplace and maybe you can’t do that right now, I want to encourage you over these next weeks (because yes, it will be weeks that we will be walking through Titus chapter 2) to be getting into this passage yourself—soaking in it, immersing yourself in it, saturating yourself in it—over these next weeks until it becomes a part of the warp and woof of how you think, and more importantly, how you live.
So let me read verses 1–5 of Titus chapter 2 The apostle Paul says,
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
It was several months ago that the Lord first put it in my heart to start developing a series on Titus 2. In order to teach Titus 2, I felt it was important to understand the context under which this chapter falls.
The book of Titus has only three chapters. It’s only forty-six verses. It’s not real long. On my Bible the whole book falls on a page and little bit on the second page. So I have spent the last several months saturating my mind and heart with this little book of Titus. What a gem it is!
I’ve been reading it again and again and again and again. I’ve studied it. I’ve memorized it. I go to sleep some nights quoting Titus to myself. I wake up some mornings quoting it to myself.
I say that because that’s an important thing for you to consider as you study God’s Word. There are no shortcuts to getting God’s Word into your life and to really understanding it.
People sometimes say to me, “I wish I could get out of the Scripture what you do.”
And my answer is, “You can—but there are no shortcuts.” I’m over these next weeks going to teach you some of the things that God has been teaching me. But I have spent hours and hours just reading the text, thinking about it, looking up the individual words, meditating on it, pondering it, looking at it, examining it from many different angles.
The wonderful thing about the Scripture is that it is alive. I’ve read the book of Titus scores of times, maybe hundreds of times over the years, but now as I’m focusing on it, it’s coming alive to me in a whole new way.
The verses we’re going to be particularly focusing on in this series—that little paragraph we just read—will take on new meaning and will become even richer to us as we consider them against the backdrop and the context of the whole book of Titus.
So I want to spend the first several days of this series, before we get to the part about women, looking at the bigger picture. How does that passage fit into the whole message and themes and context of the book of Titus?
First of all, as I just mentioned, the book of Titus is written by the apostle Paul. Titus is one of three small books that are called the Pastoral Epistles.
An epistle is a letter written by an apostle, and they’re letters meant to be read. They’re communication. They’re very personal. These three Pastoral Epistles were written by the apostle Paul to two men who were pastors—1 and 2 Timothy written to Timothy, and the book of Titus written to Titus.
There are a lot of parallels between 1 Timothy and Titus. Actually, some passages sound very similar. Both of these books may have been written about the same time, between Paul’s two Roman imprisonments. They were written toward the end of Paul’s life and ministry.
Three or four years later, in 67 AD, the apostle Paul would be beheaded by Nero. So Paul is coming toward the end of his life.
All of God’s Word is important; it’s all true; it’s all inspired; but when you think about what a man is saying as he knows that his life is coming to a close, it’s really important. These are the things that are heavy on his heart.
Titus was a Gentile believer. He was a pastor, probably young, and apparently led to the Lord by the apostle Paul. In Titus 1:4, the apostle Paul calls Titus “my true child in a common faith.” He was probably a spiritual son in the faith.
Titus had served and traveled with Paul on one or two of Paul’s missionary journeys. He’s mentioned eleven times elsewhere in Paul’s epistles, most (eight) of those in the book of 2 Corinthians.
Paul had sent Titus on a number of special assignments to the church in Corinth. Then, when Paul and Titus arrived in Crete, Paul left Titus there on the island of Crete to provide leadership to the churches on that island.
Crete is a large island in the Mediterranean Sea, about 150 miles south of Athens, Greece. The island is 160 miles long, and at its widest point it’s thirty-five miles wide. It has a number of different towns, villages, and cities. There were churches starting up in these different towns, and Paul had left Titus there to oversee the work and the churches on the island.
As I mentioned, Nero was the Roman emperor at this time, and it would not be long after this letter was written before the Roman government would take an official stand against Christianity. Christianity was soon to be outlawed; and, of course, the reason such a fuss was made was because Christianity was making such an impact.
I wonder, as we believe God for revival in our day . . . As Christianity begins to make the kind of impact it was intended to make in our culture, there’s a good chance that it will become harder rather than easier to be a Christian.
That certainly was true in the days of the early church. It would not be long, as Paul was writing this letter, before the church would experience intense persecution.
So Paul is burdened for Christian leaders in the local churches who would be responsible to lead the church in the days to come. He’s going to address questions like:
- What is a healthy church? What does it look like?
- How can the church best fulfill its role in the world?
- What do believers need to know?
- How does the church need to function in order to fulfill its mission in a corrupt world?
- How can believers be protected from being led astray by false doctrines, false teachers?
Paul was concerned not only about the current generation but about generations to come. In fact, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I believe God led Paul to write these things not only for his generation but for our generation, because we have to deal with these same sorts of questions.
Questions like, “How can the church impact and evangelize and be an effective witness in a very messed up world?” Now, we think our world is messed up—and it is—but Paul lived in a world that was exceedingly corrupt.
So we have to ask these same questions. Do we just hunker down in our little Christian fortresses and bunker up together and make sure that nobody attacks us? Or is there some way that we’re supposed to have a vibrant, vital, effective witness in our world? Well, the answer is certainly the latter, but how do we do that?
I think sometimes, as Christians, we develop this kind of fearful mentality. We don’t want the world to corrupt us—which we ought to be concerned about—but we also need to be concerned about how we season and leaven and salt and influence a wicked world.
How do we make the gospel believable in a world that rejects truth, in a world that has little if any serious interest in Christ, in a world that rejects Christ as being divine, as being the Savior, the Messiah of the world? In that kind of world, how do we make the gospel believable?
I have the sense that many times our proclamation of the gospel is falling on deaf ears. People just aren’t interested, by and large. Why is that? There are a lot of answers to that question. There are a lot of reasons, but Paul addresses some of these questions.
I received in my email the other day a newsletter. The heading at the top of the subject line was “Youth Abandoning Christianity at Record Rate.”
I opened up this email newsletter that comes from a ministry called Passing the Baton, and there were some very disheartening, discouraging stats about how young people who have grown up in the church are abandoning Christianity at record rates. They say, if current trends persist, that this next generation will be the most unchristian and unchurched of any generation in the history of our nation. In fact, the newsletter started out by asking this question: “Is this the last Christian generation?”1
There’s a lot we could say about that, but the Scripture has a lot to say about how we respond to those kinds of concerns. The first century could have been the last Christian generation, humanly speaking, when the Roman government set out to destroy Christianity.
But it didn’t happen because God gave people like the apostle Paul the wisdom and direction and inspiration to write books like Titus that tell us as the church:
- how we’re to respond in this kind of world
- how we’re supposed to think
- how we’re supposed to live
- how we’re supposed to act
- how we’re supposed to pass the baton of faith intact to the next generation
So the apostle Paul is concerned, as we ought to be, about what will it take to preserve the church from extinction and to enable the church to pass on the baton of truth to the next generation. The answers to all these kinds of questions we’ve just been touching on here take us back to the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul is concerned that the church in his day—the local churches, the local expressions of the Body of Christ—both the leaders and the members learn how to live out the implications of the gospel. He wants them to know the gospel and to know what it means and how it affects the way we think and live in this world.
Now, as I’ve been meditating and pondering on the book of Titus, reading it over and over, it began to strike me that there is a series of major contrasts in the book of Titus. I started making a list.
There are two different kinds of people described in this book, and there are many terms and descriptors used in relation to each of these two groups. I want to take the rest of this program and the next one to list some of those descriptions for you. I want you to see this contrast between two kinds of people, because it gives us a picture of what the church is supposed to look like in our world.
Paul talks about two different kinds of people. The first are what he refers to in 1:15 as the “unbelieving.” These are non-Christians, the unsaved, unbelievers, lost people. That’s one major category.
The second category is those who are believers. They’re called, in one verse, “God’s elect” (1:1). Paul talks about Titus, “my true child in a common faith” (1:4). He’s a believer. He talks in 3:8 about “those who have believed in God.” In 3:14 he calls these believers “our people.” This is a community of faith. These are believers.
Now, how do they look different from each other? All through the book you’ll see contrasting characteristics of these two kinds of people.
I’m going to read to you some of the different phrases. I won’t give you all the references, because you won’t be able to get that all down, but go to ReviveOurHearts.com, look at the transcript, and you’ll be able to find the references if you want to. Better yet, go to the Scripture and find them; look them up for yourself.
Unbelievers, Paul says, “profess to know God, but they deny him by their works” (1:16), whereas believers’ lives match up to what they profess to believe. Paul says these believers “adorn the doctrine of God” in everything (2:10). One profess to know God but their works deny Him; the other, their works match up to what they say they believe.
Unbelievers are described as being “defiled” (1:15). They’re called “evil beasts” (1:12). They act like evil beasts. This description is given of them: They are “detestable, disobedient” (1:16), and “defiled” (1:15). They are called lawless (2:14). That’s a picture of unbelievers.
Believers, on the other hand, are described as being “pure” (1:15), as being godly. They are called “above reproach” (1:6–7). Paul talks about “the truth, which accords with godliness” (1:1). He calls us to “renounce ungodliness” and live “godly lives” (2:12).
He says Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession” (2:14). That’s the description of believers—pure. Not because they are inherently better people, but because the gospel has cleansed them from their sin.
Paul says that unbelievers are slaves. They are slaves to sinful desires. They’re slaves to their flesh, and he uses terms such as “debauchery” (1:6). We’ll talk later about what that is.
He talks about those who are drunkards (1:7). They’re slaves to much wine. He talks about those who are “lazy gluttons” (1:12). They’re slaves to carnal pleasures. He says they’re “slaves to various passions and pleasures” (3:3), and the interesting thing is, they think they’re free, but they’re not. They’re slaves to their flesh, to this world, to sinful passions and pleasures; whereas, believers are self-controlled, not slaves to this world, not slaves to their flesh.
For example, they’re told not to be “slaves to much wine” (2:3). They’re supposed to be free from addictions, and in this series we’ll talk about the whole issue of addictions and Christians and how we can be free from some of these addictions.
There’s another contrast given between believers and unbelievers, and that has to do with the way they deal with other people. It’s said of unbelievers, for example, that they are “quick-tempered” (1:7). They fly off the handle easily; they’re “violent” (1:7). That’s how they deal with people.
The believers are described as being “kind” (2:5), “not argumentative” (2:9). They’re told to not “speak evil of” anyone (3:2), to “avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (3:2). They’re told to be “hospitable” (1:8)—just practical Christianity 101 here is lived out. It’s the implication of the gospel.
Paul says at the end of this book, “Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing” (3:13). You say, “Why is that inspired in the Bible?”
The Scripture is telling us that it’s important the way believers treat each other. So Paul is telling Titus, “There are some servants of the Lord coming to visit you. Take care of them. Give them a place to stay, give them what they need.” This is practical Christianity in our dealings with other people.
The relationships of unbelievers are described as being hostile. It says that they are “hated by others, and [they hate] one another” (3:3).
That’s how their relationships are described; whereas, the relationships of believers are intended to be a reflection of the “loving kindness of God our Savior,” as it’s referred to in 3:4. Our lives are supposed to reflect His love in our relationships, so Paul says they’re to be “sound . . . in love” (2:2).
We’re to have healthy love relationships with each other. At the end of his book, kind of the P.S., Paul says, “All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith” (3:15).
We see this description of people who like each other. They get along with each other. That’s an outflow, an overflow of the gospel. That’s the gospel at work in the lives of believers.
This book describes unbelievers as being “unfit for any good work” (1:16). “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works” (1:16). There’s no evidence that they really are children of God. They’re hypocrites. They’re play acting. They claim to believe something, but their lives give no evidence of it.
Believers, on the other hand, are described as being “zealous for good works” (2:14), a model of good works(2:7), “ready for every good work” (3:1), devoted “to good works” (3:8, 14). Those are just some of the phrases you’ll find in the book of Titus.
Now, we’ll pick up in the next session with some further contrasts in the book of Titus, but already, can you see the extreme contrast, the difference between believers and unbelievers?
That difference is supposed to be crystal clear. It’s supposed to be obvious to anyone who’s looking that there’s a huge difference between those who are unbelievers and those who are believers in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, sadly, that’s not always the case.
I saw a survey recently taken of sixteen–twenty-nine-year-olds, and a group of those who do not claim to be born again, in this survey, were called outsiders. They make no profession of being Christians.
Of those outsiders to the faith, eighty-four percent of them said, “We know a Christian personally.” They said, “I’m not a Christian, but I know somebody who is.” But of those who know a Christian, only fifteen percent said that they can see any lifestyle differences in those Christians.
Now, the book of Titus says there’s something wrong with that picture. The difference should be clear-cut, obvious.
In the next session we’ll look at some more of those contrasts, and then we’ll see what is the key that makes the difference between those two groups.
Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been introducing us to Titus chapter 2—such a rich text for us as women. Nancy will be teaching it to us word by word over the coming days. And Nancy, you clearly have put a lot of thought into this letter from Paul to Titus.
Nancy: You know, I feel like I’ve spent years in Titus chapter 2. I first taught through the passage here on Revive Our Hearts a number of years ago. And at that time, I thought, this would make a very helpful book for women. So I started writing, and the process has been slow, it’s been laborious. I’ve gone back and forth and in and out over it over the last several years. I’ve labored over it, praying about the topics in the passage and thinking through what it means for us today.
There have been some tough phrases, and we’ll be talking about them in this series; like, women are to be “reverent in behavior.” What does that mean? What does that look like? Does that mean we always walk around with hushed tones and never have any fun? The phrase “working at home,” the phrase “not slaves to much wine,” the phrase “submissive to their own husbands.” What do those instructions mean for us as women today?
I’ve grappled long and hard with those topics. And, I address all of those in this new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together.
As someone who has spent years soaking in this passage, I can wholeheartedly recommend that you explore this passage too. And we’ll do that together when you get a copy of this new release that’s “hot off the press.” We’ll be glad to send you a copy as our way of saying “thank you” when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount.
To get your copy of Adorned, give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.
Leslie: The new book Adorned will be released tomorrow, and I know listeners are excited to get a copy. Starting tomorrow, you can get a copy from Revive Our Hearts when you make a donation of any amount to support the ministry. Be back to take us up on that offer, or get more information at ReviveOurHearts.com.
After a political season full of outrageous claims, have you noticed how many people are asking whether we live in a post-truth era? But it doesn’t have to be that way. Titus 2 shows us why holding fast to the truth is so important. Please join Nancy then.
She’s back to pray with us now.
Nancy: Thank You, Lord, for Your Word. Thank You for the power of the truth, and thank You for the gospel. It is what makes the difference in our lives.
I pray that You will do a work of reviving and reforming in the thinking and the lives of us as Your children so that the day will come when our world can look at us, and those taking surveys like this can say, “Yes, I know a Christian, and yes, I know there is a huge difference in the way that they think, the way they live, the way they treat each other, the way they respond to pressure.”
Oh, Lord, may our lives reflect and reveal the difference that being a believer in Jesus Christ really does make in our lives. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live out the beauty of the gospel, and it is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.
1Dr. Jeff Myers, Passing the Baton, October ’07 newsletter.
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