As I am teaching through Paul’s epistle to Titus, it has been eye opening to see the description of the followers of Jesus Christ, those who bear His Name as Christians. I would like to share that here in this article. Because there are so many cultural “Christians” in our world today, it is very difficult to get a grasp on what a genuine Christian looks and acts like. In order to discover the Truth on this subject, we need to turn to the perfect Word of God to find our answer. God’s description of a Christian is what matters, not our own thoughts and ideas. This lesson can be very eye opening to those who are cultural “Christians”. Take a moment to read Titus 1.
I. Genuine believers are bondservants
Paul introduces himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ. In order to understand what being a bondservant means, we have to turn to the Old Testament passage of Deuteronomy 15:12-18
There are some things that we need to understand about bondservants.
- they became bondservants because they owed a debt that they could not pay
- their masters cared for them as they worked off their debt
- they fare well with the master
- they end up loving the master
- the master sets them free
- they choose to stay and serve the master of their own free will
- the master still cares for them as they serve him
- he stays with the master the rest of his life
- he has a physical mark in his body to show how good his master is
How does this compare to believers?
- We had a debt that we could not pay (sin)
- God chose to pay that debt for us
- He sets us free
- We fare well with Him
- We love Him
- We choose to stay and serve Him all of our lives
Do you consider yourself a bondservant of Jesus Christ? Have you chosen to serve your Great Master faithfully? Do all the people whom you meet and with whom you interact know that you serve an amazing Master? Do you encourage others to become bondservants of the Lord?
II. Genuine believers mature in faith
When you are a bondservant of the Lord, you dedicate yourself to your Master. His desire is to teach you sound doctrine that leads to godliness. Godliness is not the way of life for those who are not bondservants. When you dedicate yourself to sound doctrine, the healthy teachings of the Bible, then godliness will be a natural result. You will mature in your faith. In fact, since Paul planted the church in Crete and left Titus there to continue the work, sound doctrine had done its work and now there were mature believers in the faith. Titus is to recognize the elders “mature” in faith and appoint them to help him in preaching and teaching in order to make more disciples. What does godliness look like practically? If you asked 15 people this question you would probably get 15 different answers. Therefore, we need to see how God defines godliness.
- Above reproach – this has the idea of having enemies search your life and not be able to find any blemishes to your attitude, actions, and character. I think of Daniel, a man who was definitely above reproach. He had enemies follow him around and the worse thing that they could accuse him of was praying too much. I pray that I could be the same.
- A good steward of God’s gifts – this carries the idea of a person who sees everything that he has as a gift from God and employs it in serving the Lord.
- Not selfish – this is a person who has gone from having a selfish, sin nature to a person who wants to spend the rest of his life in serving others.
- Not quick-tempered – while dealing with people who are selfish, he is not quick to get angry and retaliate. He is not easily provoked.
- Not addicted to wine – He is not controlled by anything other than his Master, Jesus Christ.
- Not pugnacious – Not only is he not easily provoked, he is also not going to fight with people, in this case, physically. He will be provoked but he will not give into the temptation to retaliate.
- Not driven by dishonorable means – He is not involved with questionable or shady deals. He does not bribe others. He does not scratch other people’s back so that they can scratch his later. There are no under the table deals. He does not show partiality.
- Hospitable – He is open to serving others and he uses every aspect of his life to serve the Lord, even his home. This is one reason why believers should have small group Bible studies in their homes, to show hospitality to others. My wife and I have been married for 13 years and we have always hosted an in home Bible study in order to serve the Lord and show hospitality to others.
- Loving what is good – This carries the notion of not just wanting good to happen, but, of actually making good happen, promoting what is good.
- Sensible – clear headed and curbing one’s desires. As believers, we all have a sin nature that is inclined to cause us to be led by our passions and desires. A believer has the desire and ability to overcome those desires and he keeps his head clear in order to make those decisions.
- Just – Sin means to be off center, to miss the mark, to be crooked. Being just carries the ides of being correct, straight, that there is nothing hidden that needs to be revealed.
- Devout – This means not being defiled by sinful thoughts or actions.
- Holding fast the faithful Word – This phrase means being led with the Bible right before your eyes. It is a word picture meaning that a believer is led by God’s Word, by the teaching of God’s Word moment by moment, day by day.
- Able to exhort in sound doctrine – Because he is a student of the Word of God and is led by the teachings of the Word of God, he is able to come along side others and teach them, more specifically here, he is able to encourage people from God’s Word.
- Able to refute those who contradict – In this sense, refute means to show people where they are wrong and help correct them. This must be done with the Word of God. Sound doctrine gives a believer the ability to do this.
III. Genuine believers are sound
One of the words that Paul uses often in this epistle is “sound”. He writes about sound doctrine and sound faith. The two are interconnected. Sound doctrine teaches about sound faith. In fact, sound doctrine produces sound faith which produce the character traits that we saw in the above paragraph. The Greek word that is translated “sound” in English actually means healthy. Being healthy is important because health allows for proper growth. Unsound, or, lack of health does not allow for healthy growth. The chain of events is:
- healthy doctrine produces . . . healthy faith
- healthy faith produces . . . healthy growth
- healthy growth produces . . . maturity
- maturity is seen in good deeds to meet pressing needs to share the healthy doctrine to begin the process all over again in the lives of others.
Are you following sound (healthy) doctrine? Has that sound doctrine produced sound (healthy) faith? Is healthy growth a part of your spiritual life? Are the character traits in paragraph two present in your daily life?
May the Lord help us reflect Him in all that we do by dedicating ourselves to sound doctrine!