Leslie Basham: People will listen to your beliefs when they’re attracted to your actions. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.
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: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel. It’s Tuesday, February 7, 2017, and Nancy, this is an exciting day!
Nancy: It sure is, Leslie. Today is the long-awaited, official release of my brand-new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. To celebrate this special birthday, my good friend, Dannah Gresh, and I are going to join together for a special Facebook LIVE event tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. So let me say to our listeners, you’re all invited. I hope you’ll join Dannah and me tonight as we celebrate the message and the release of Adorned.
Leslie: To be part of that online LIVE event, visit the Revive Our Hearts Facebook page. Or come to ReviveOurHearts.com for more information. Yesterday, to mark the launch of the book Adorned, Nancy began a study of Titus chapter 2, verses 1–5. It’s full of valuable insight for us as women.
Nancy: Before we jump into the paragraph about women, we’re taking these first several days to give some background and some context for this passage by doing an overview of the book of Titus.
I want to encourage over these next weeks to getting into the book of Titus for yourself. It’s just three short chapters, forty-six verses. You may want to memorize this book as I have over the last several months. Memorizing doesn’t come any easier for me than it does for anybody else. It’s hard work. It takes a lot of review. But it is a good way of getting into the Scripture, meditating on it, and making it part of your thinking
I want to encourage you to at least be reading through the book of Titus. You could read it daily for the next thirty days. We love thirty-day challenges at Revive Our Hearts and so that would be a good one for these next thirty days. Jot down things that speak to you, things that you pick up from the passage that maybe I didn’t catch, but the Holy Spirit will direct you as you’re reading.
In the last session we talked about the fact that the book of Titus is filled with contrasts. There are two major categories or groups of people who are talked about—those who are unbelievers in the gospel of Christ and those who are believers in the gospel. Those who do belong to Christ are contrasted with those who do not belong to Christ.
We looked at the difference that this book talks about in the ways that they relate to each other, the ways they treat each other, the ways they think. I want to pick up today on some other contrasts between unbelievers and believers that you find in the book of Titus.
Unbelievers are described as being disobedient and insubordinate. They’re rebels. They’re rebellious against authority. With each of these contrasts, I’m giving you several phrases that come from the book of Titus. I’m not giving you all the references because that will just bog you down at the moment.
But go to our transcript on ReviveOurHearts.comand you can get the references. Or as I said yesterday, better yet, look them up and make your own list out of the Scripture itself.
In Titus, the Scripture talks about the children of unbelievers (1:4). It says that they are open to the charge of debauchery and insubordination. That doesn’t mean that all unbelieving children act out as wild rebels, but there is a bent in the unbelieving heart to be insubordinate. It’s a bent in the unbelieving adult heart and it’s a bent that is passed on to your children. And that is to be insubordinate, rebellious.
Chapter 1, verse 10 says, “There are many who are insubordinate. They are detestable, disobedient.”
Paul says in chapter 3, verse 3: “We ourselves were once foolish and disobedient.” This is a description of unbelievers.
Believers, on the other hand, are described as being submissive and obedient. Wives are challenged in this passage to be submissive to their own husbands (2:5). Slaves are to be submissive to their masters (2:9). We’ll talk more about this when we get to that part of the passage.
All of us are commanded in chapter 3 to be submissive and obedient to rulers and to authorities (3:1). There is a bent in the redeemed, believing heart to be subject, submissive to God-ordained authority.
I don’t know about you, but I was born with a “kick” in my spirit. I don’t mind doing what I’m supposed to do as long as nobody tells me I have to.
There is something just inherent in us that wants to break rules. We’re rebels at heart. But when Christ redeems us, He brings our wills into submission to His lordship and to the authority of Scripture. A submissive, obedient heart, a willingness to come under God-ordained authority is an evidence of a believing heart.
Here’s another contrast. Unbelievers are described as liars and deceivers. Paul says, “Many are deceivers” (v. 12). It was said of Cretans, the people who lived in Crete, that “Cretans are always liars.” They had a reputation for being liars.
And if that’s not something that describes our culture in this day, I don’t know what it is. You can’t trust people today. You can’t take their word. People lie to you to your face. If you are getting some work done on your car or some repair work done on your house, people are liars. That’s a characteristic of unbelievers.
Paul talks about those who believe and promote Jewish myths, promoting things that are not true about the faith, deceivers. Paul talks about some women who are slanderers (2:3). We’ll give extended time in this series to what it means to be a slanderer and how believing women are called not to be slanderers.
Unbelievers are liars and deceivers. Believers are committed to truth. Paul starts out this book in verse 1 by saying, “I’m Paul writing this to you for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth” (paraphrase). The truth is key. It matters to those who are believers.
Paul goes on to talk in the second verse about “God who never lies.” Cretans are always liars; God never lies. What should believers look like?
Should believers be deceivers and liars, slanderers, saying things about people that aren’t true? Or should they be like God, who never lies? There’s the contrast.
Paul says that the elders in the churches must “hold firm to the trustworthy Word” (1:9). They must have their lives rooted, grounded in truth. Again women are not to be slanderers. They are to be truth speakers. Truth should matter to believers. Truth does matter to believers.
Here’s another contrast. Unbelievers teach what they ought not to teach (1:11). When it comes to training others in spiritual matters, there are many people out there who are teaching things they should not be teaching.
They may claim to be Christians; they may not claim to be Christians. But they’re teaching things to people about areas of religion that are not true. They’re not based on the Word of God. These are people that Paul describes as turning away from the truth in what they teach.
But believers are exhorted to ground their lives in sound doctrine (2:1). That’s a really important phrase in this book. We’re going to take some extended time to talk about what is sound doctrine and why is it important and does it really matter.
Sound doctrine—that’s the kind of teaching that ought to characterize our believing church members and churches. Unbelievers are described as with their false teaching, their unsound doctrine; they are described as upsetting or overturning whole families.
That’s one of the reasons doctrine matters. It has an impact on whole families. Those who are teaching things that are not true, the effect of their teaching, the effect of their writing, the effect of the philosophies they’re promoting, is to upset or overturn whole families.
It’s a picture of unbelieving families that are in a state of chaos. They’re dysfunctional. They’re disorderly. That’s a picture of unbelieving families. They’ve been overturned.
Isn’t that true in our culture? Unbelieving families—highly dysfunctional and disorderly.
You say, “But that’s true of a lot of believing families.” But it’s not supposed to be true of believing families. That’s the point of this book. It’s said of believing families in Titus, “If they live out the implications of the gospel that the families of believers are in order. They fit together.”
So, children of believers are described as being under control. They’re obedient to God’s Word. Younger women are described as loving their husbands, loving their children (2:4–5).
That doesn’t mean that they don’t ever have issues. As we get to each of these phrases, we’ll talk about what it does and doesn’t mean.
But there is a love in the marriage. There is a love between parents and children in believing families who live out the gospel.
It talks about women who are working at home. We’ll talk about what that means and the priority of the family for the believing woman and wives who are submissive to their own husbands (2:4–5).
You see how the gospel works out in these different relationships in the homes where the gospel can be seen on the part of believers.
Think about all those different contrasts. Let me sum it up this way. Paul says this is what we used to be like. When we were not believers this is what we were.
Turn to chapter 3 and let me have you look at it for yourself. Chapter 3, verse 3. Paul says, “We ourselves were once foolish.” In our unbelieving state this is what we were like. We were “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”
Paul says that is the portrait of who we were.
You may be thinking, “But I was saved at the age of four,” as I was. “I didn’t do all those things.” Was I “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another”?
Boy, I don’t remember doing all that stuff before I turned four. Maybe I threw my bottle at my sister or something, I don’t know.
Those of us who have been raised in the church and who have grown up in good homes and maybe came to know the Lord as younger children, was this true of us? Paul says we ourselves were once this way. That was the bent of our heart.
We may not have had the fullest opportunity to express all of that, but that’s who we were. Apart from God’s grace that’s who we would be today, apart from the transformation that the gospel brings about in our lives. Paul says that’s what we were apart from Christ.
Go back up to verse 1 in chapter 3. Paul says, “This is what you should be.” Verse 3 describes what you were, what we all were at one time. But chapter 3, verses 1 and 2 says, This is what you should look like. This is how believers should be described.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
Do you see the contrast between verses 1 and 2 and verse 3? Two kinds of people—those who are unbelievers and those who are believers. Now the question is—and we’ve been hinting at it all along—what makes the difference?
- Is it just that some people are better than others?
- Is it just that some people try harder than others?
- Is it just that some people have been raised in better homes than others?
- Is it just that some people have been socialized better than others?
No! That’s not what makes the difference.
There’s a woman sitting in this room today who’s been very open about her testimony that she spent, if I remember correctly, twelve years in a prison on a drug charge with a background that could match probably anybody else in this room. She was once living out some of the things we just described in verse 3.
But today she is a picture of verses 1 and 2. She is a believer. Her life has been transformed. It wasn’t the prison system that did it. It wasn’t books that she’s read. It wasn’t mentoring. It wasn’t some social program.
What made the difference in her life? What has made the difference in your life? What will make the difference in anybody else’s life that will take them from being that unbeliever we described, to being the picture of the believer who is like Christ? What makes the difference?
One word: it’s the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Look at verse 4 as we continue in chapter 3 here. Paul says this is what you should be. This is what you once were. Look at verse 4.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared.
God our Savior, He appeared to us with goodness and loving kindness. What did He do?
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (vv. 5–7).
That passage describes the whole point, the crux of the matter. It’s salvation. It’s the saving work of Christ. That is the gospel, the good news that Christ came into this world to save sinners.
The grace of God has appeared that takes us from who and what we were, which is following after the course of this wicked, fallen world, and makes us into someone and something that is totally different. Not just reformed, but regenerated.
Salvation is transformation. It’s not just a new creed that you get in your head. It’s not just something you sign. It’s not something you join. It’s not putting a new exterior on the same old, rotten person on the inside. It’s becoming a whole, new person.
If you have been saved by Christ Jesus our Savior, you are not the same person you once were. You have been transformed. You are a new and different person. Salvation makes all the difference in the world. We become according to 2 Corinthians chapter 5, a “new creation, old things have passed away, all things have become new” (v. 14).
There ought to be a huge difference between believers and unbelievers. You say, “You’ve already said that fourteen times.”
I want to say it again because there’s something wrong with the picture of twenty-first century Christianity and that is that there are millions and millions of people who can claim to be believers in Jesus Christ, but their lives give absolutely no evidence. There is something hugely wrong with that picture.
As you read the book of Titus, you say, “Apparently these people have not really experienced the gospel. Apparently they have never come face to face with the saving, redeeming grace of Jesus Christ. That makes a difference.”
There is a difference between believers and unbelievers. And that difference will be evident.
Paul is concerned that the Christians who will be reading these words not only profess to know God but that they actually live out the implications of the gospel. He’s concerned that their lives present a vivid, distinct, stark contrast to those who do not follow Christ, those who have not been saved.
Look at chapter 2 beginning in verse 11. Here you see another paragraph that describes the implications of the gospel, the implications of the grace of God.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
So Paul says the grace of God, if it has come into your life, if it has brought salvation to you, what does it do? It disciples you; it disciplines you. It trains you to say “no” to those things that were part of your old life—ungodliness, worldly passions—and to say “yes” to those things that are a part of your new life, to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
And it gives you something to live for, he says in verses 13–14, “Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us.”
Why? Why did Jesus Christ come to this earth and die on that cross? Why? To redeem us from all lawlessness.
How much? Just to clean us up a little bit to make us socially acceptable? No. He died to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. That’s why Jesus came.
So throughout this book Paul says, I want you to have the knowledge of the truth, which is the gospel and the grace of Jesus Christ. I want you to see that if you have ever experienced and received and encountered that grace, it will change your life. You will be a different person.
So throughout chapter 1, Paul applies this basic concept of the transforming power of the gospel. He applies it first to those who are spiritual leaders—those who have the positions of leadership in the local church, the elders, those who are spiritual overseers. He starts with them.
He talks in verses 5–8 of chapter 1 about the qualifications for those who spiritually lead the churches—those who are elders, overseers. He says their lives must demonstrate and illustrate the gospel. They have to be an example of the gospel of Jesus Christ, an example of true believers with their lives, their character, their families.
Paul says in verse 5:
I left you in Crete so that you might put what remained in order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.
He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but he must be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined (vv. 5–8).
Paul is saying those who lead the churches, those who are qualified to lead God’s people, must meet these qualifications. What’s the essence? Their lives demonstrate the gospel. They live out the implication of the gospel.
Then in verse 9 he says in their function, not just their qualifications, but in their function and in what they do they are to live out the gospel. They are to proclaim the gospel.
First of all, verse 9 says they are to give instruction in sound doctrine. They are to instruct in sound doctrine which is based on the gospel and which changes lives.
In chapter 2 which we’ll get to sooner or later here, he says they are to teach what accords with sound doctrine. They’re to pass on the gospel with its implications. Not only are they to instruct in the doctrine, the gospel of Jesus Christ, they also have a responsibility to rebuke those who do not teach sound doctrine, those who contradict sound doctrine.
Today the mindset is, “Just teach what you think is true, but it’s not considered appropriate to rebuke or to come against someone who’s teaching false doctrine or something that you don’t agree with.” In this relativistic culture, that’s just your opinion. You let them teach what they want to teach; you teach what you think you should teach.
Paul says, No! There is truth. There is sound doctrine. And those who lead the church are to teach the sound doctrine. They have a responsibility to protect God’s people from doctrine that is not sound, to rebuke those who contradict the truth.
Now, that will not earn you any points today. That will not get you elected to most positions. But Paul wasn’t running for an election. All he was running for was to be approved by God.
It’s a serious responsibility to me as I teach the Word of God to instruct in sound doctrine and then also to speak the things that will rebuke those who contradict things that are being taught to women today that are contrary to God’s Word.
That’s chapter 1. Paul says the spiritual leaders need to live out the gospel in the way they live and in the way they teach.
Then he gets to chapter 2 and he applies this matter of the transforming power of the gospel to the rest of us, to everyone in the church—old and young, men and women, people from every socioeconomic status. He says you are all to demonstrate, to live out, the implications of the gospel in your character, in your relationships, in your families.
Why? He answers that in chapter 2. We’ll get to more of this later, but let me give you three purpose phrases that Paul gives in chapter two.
Verse 5, Paul says, “That the word of God may not be reviled.”
Verse 8: “So that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
And verse 10: “So that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”
The gospel is powerful. The gospel is transformational.
But 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.
That’s the point.
You can call yourself a Christian, but if your life doesn’t bear witness to the implications, the transforming implications of the gospel in:
- how you talk
- in what you eat
- what you drink
- how you live
- your habits
- how you use your time
- how you treat other people
- how you open your home in hospitality
All these many practical issues that are the outflow and the overflow of the gospel in your life. If your life doesn’t show those, then there’s no basis on which the world can look at our lives and say, “I believe the gospel.”
We can’t just tell them it’s true. They need to see and feel and experience that it really is true through our lives.
Father, how I pray that you would help us to capture the heart of this book and all of the Scripture that says it really does make a difference to be a Christian. I want to thank You for the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the grace of God our Savior that has appears, that teaches us and trains us to say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness.
I pray, O God, for a revival of true, biblical, gospel Christianityin our world, in our churches, in our listening audience. Lord, may my life reflect the implications of the gospel. May my life adorn the doctrine of God. May my life make the gospel believeable to those around me this day. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She’s been giving us an overview of some of the practical issues we’ll cover as we continue to study Titus chapter 2 over the coming weeks here on Revive Our Hearts. Nancy, why is this particular passage so important for us as women?
Nancy: Let me say first that every word of the Scripture is inspired by God and is necessary for every believer, whether male or female. But in Titus chapter 2, the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, specifically lays out some practical instructions for women. I think it’s a great blessing and gift to be able to read these words, take them to heart, and apply them to our lives. But this passage needs some careful study and accurate interpretation. And that’s what I’ve tried to do in this series.
What does it mean in our day, for instance, for younger women to be “working at home” like Titus 2 says? You’ll read about that and many other practical, helpful topics in the brand new book, Adorned, released today. You can find it in stores—brick and mortar store and online retailers—but when you get your copy from Revive Our Hearts you’re investing in this ministry and helping us to continue to provide this kind of teaching in your area.
We depend on support from listeners like you. When you make a gift of any size during this series on Titus 2, we’ll say “thank you” by sending you a copy of this brand new Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together.
Leslie: To get your copy of Adorned, call 1–800–569–5959 with your gift of any amount, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
What do you think of when you hear the word “doctrine”? … Nancy will show you why that’s a good word, a joyful word, and a practical word for your life. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth loves the beauty of the gospel, and it’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.
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