Monday, September 21, 2015

Titus 2:1

“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;” 
                                                                             1 Timothy 1:9-10

In his letter to the young pastor Timothy, Paul explains a smorgasbord of flagrant sins, and finishes the list of heinous lifestyles with “and any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” Here, Paul makes a direct correlation between what you believe and what you do. If you believe correctly, your life will mirror that truth; but if you don’t believe correctly, your life will mirror that error. In the estimation of Scripture, pure doctrine is key to right living. Orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy.
Failing to see this can lead to a serious problem. While there is always a danger of teaching right living apart from right believing, the motivations that should underlay our obedience in the Christian life should go far deeper than convictions brought about by a clever minister. The Christian life is not merely a list of do’s and don’ts, rather, it is a life informed by motivating truths that will lead to obedience not disobedience.
For example: because God loves me, I can love Him and those around me. The doctrine of the love of God results in my life of love. Having been loved, I cannot help but love others, friends or enemies, because not loving is equivalent to saying that I am better than God and know more than he does. However, just telling people to love their enemies because “they should” leaves them frustrated and hurt, even feeling as though inequality and injustice are winning in their lives. We must have our lifestyle informed by the truth of doctrine as it is revealed from Scripture.
Right doctrine will always result in right living, because right doctrine includes an element of responsibility. Those people are wrong who would argue that the “overly-intellectual” get all the doctrine right, but don’t ever live on the ground with the rest of us. If someone truly understands the doctrine of Scripture, then they will be doing what Scripture tells them. Similarly, it is impossible to live the Christian life apart from understanding sound doctrine. Good works devoid of the motivating truths of Scripture is merely self-righteousness.
As Paul writes to Titus in chapter 2, he has this perspective of the connection between good works and good doctrine. Without these two pillars of the Christian life, you will end in either cold, calculated religious-sounding inactivity or in excitedly inconsistent and misguided exertion. So Paul’s simple admonition to Titus in his efforts to “set in order the things that are wanting” (ch.1v.5) is to “speak the things which become sound doctrine.” He did not need to necessarily roll out just a list of do’s and don’ts. He needed to teach the people of Crete the truth and doctrine of God that would result in their desiring to live out the do’s and don’ts of Christianity.
Reflect: How do Titus 2:1 and Titus 1:16 relate to one another in their content?