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Adorning the Doctrine

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. (Titus 2:1-10)

The first chapter of St. Paul’s letter to Titus concludes with reference to the “unbelieving” (1:15) who “profess to know God, but in works deny Him, being an abomination, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (1:16). As a follower of Jesus Christ as well as a spokesman of God, Titus was to be different. “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (2:1).

Sound doctrine is drawn from the Holy Scriptures. Its substance is the law and the gospel—the law which uncovers sin and convicts the sinner, and the gospel which pronounces upon the sinner forgiveness through the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus. This gospel also works in the heart the will to live to the glory of God.

God’s Word is the life-blood of the Christian hope and life. God’s Word and doctrine (teaching, precepts) are absolutely pure and holy. The Word and doctrine are integrally essential to the Christian life.

To outward appearance there is no distinction between the life and “good” works of the heathen and the life and “good” works of the Christ-believer. However, to the Lord God what is “good” is born alone of faith (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is a consequence of the Spirit of God working through the gospel. The source from which the Christian life proceeds is what distinguishes the life and actions of the believer in Christ from those of the heathen.

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Should not a people seek their God…To the law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19,20). Inasmuch as God’s Word and doctrine have been entrusted to us, we hold the Word sacred, teaching it faithfully without addition of human wisdom, philosophy, and opinion.

Both Teaching and Living

We need not rehearse again how many within outward Christianity have perverted the Word of God, distorting law and gospel, turning upside down right and wrong, and fostering immorality.

What the apostle of the Lord wrote to Titus was intended also for all believers in Christ. Titus was commissioned to tell people what is right according to sound teaching. There is something in this chapter for old and young, men and women, husbands and wives, masters and slaves [today we would say, “employers and employees”] (vv. 2-6,9).

What is written in the context of husbands and wives actually applies to everybody. All Christians are expected to live sanctified lives “that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (v. 5). Every expression of our Christian faith glorifies the Father. Conversely, every evil thought, word, and action blasphemes God whose name we Christians bear. God, for Jesus’ sake, forgive us!

If what the apostle Paul exhorts here was to reflect sound doctrine—or if our own witness is to be effective in this decadent world—it follows that a Christ-believer will be “a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned…” (2:7,8).

Sanctified living before God is created only by the Spirit working through the Word of God, and it is nurtured through sound doctrine—the whole counsel of God. If our teaching and life is inconsistent with what we profess, then “sound doctrine” may fall on deaf ears and give lovers of sin an excuse to speak evil of us and our God.

The world may speak evil of us because we speak the truth in calling out sin and teaching what is in accord with the Lord’s will, but let us not give the world reason to speak evil of us because we have played the hypocrite or reflected badly on our Lord and Savior.

We are not called to live unto ourselves in this world, but rather to live unto Him who redeemed us by His blood. Truly reflecting the redeeming love of God, we will “instruct men of all ages and classes by word and example in that wholesome conduct of life which God’s universal grace in Christ has made possible; the life of the redeemed people of God is to be a living preachment of that enabling grace…” (M. Franzmann, Concordia Bible with Notes, p. 424).

Our Heavenly Father for Jesus’ sake has forgiven us our sins and daily blesses us with the peace of forgiveness and certain hope of heaven. In view of that, we prayerfully ask Him to give us the will and the thankful spirit to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (v. 10) through both our teaching and our living.