Discipleship of Men

John Hanes likes to joke around about pastors cutting sermons off like slicing a piece of baloney. Well, that's what we did two weeks ago. We sliced it off at verse 5. Hopefully the sermon wasn't baloney, but we did give you a smaller piece to chew on.

The week before that sermon we had already established the parameters of discipleship, the foundational principles, the dangers, methods and goals. So all that was left to do was go through the text verse by verse.

And when we looked at verses 2-5, we pointed out that this chapter is set up as a chiasm. The A sections in verses 1 and 15 are parallel — they show Titus's oversight. The B sections (verses 2-3 and 11-14 are parallel — they show the character qualifications of maturity. The C sections show the work of discipleship with immature women (verse 4-5) and the work of discipleship with new believing men (verses 6-10). It was the ABCCBA kind of parallelism. And so, just in terms of Hebrew thought patterns, though Titus is being mentioned in verses 6-7 as a modeler of discipleship, he is just one representative of the older men (whose qualifications for discipleship were already laid out in verse 2.

A' Titus — oversight (v. 1)

B' Character qualifications of maturity (vv. 2-3)

C' The work of discipleship with immature women (vv. 4-5)

C'' The work of discipleship with immature men (vv. 6-10)

B'' Character qualifications of maturity (vv. 11-14)

A'' Titus — oversight (v. 15)

And so let's pick up at verse 6.

Paul has just finished talking about the women, and now he says, Likewise, - In other words, what's good for the goose should be good for the gander. Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded. Sober-minded is the same word as "discreet" in verse 5. He's not just picking on women when he said earlier that they need to be sober-minded. We saw that the Greek term means to have clear thinking. Sometimes it is translated as self-controlled — in other words, behavior driven by clear thinking rather than driven by emotions.

And one of the stereotypes that people give about women is that they think with their emotions rather than with their heads. But Paul is unwilling to stereotype on this issue. He knows better. He says, "likewise the young men need to be thinking with their heads instead of with their emotions." It's an issue of human nature, not of sex. How many men have had ruined their marriages with a fling? Is that not thinking with your emotions rather than with your head? How many men make purchasing decisions that they later regret because of the appeal of the moment. This is a uiniversal problem. Actually, the way that the stereotype is usually phrased for men is that they tend to think with their hormones rather than with their brains. Well, once a month some women get accused of the same.

But, stereotypes aside, I think it is just plain human nature to allow sin, emotion, lusts, pride or any number of things to get in the way of God-honoring thinking. You know, when you think about it, every sin is irrational. Why in the world do people sin when they know that they are going to ruin their lives with their sin? They do it because it feels good. They are thinking with their feelings, not with their heads. Well, literally, you can't think with your feelings, but you know what I mean. God wants us to be rational — to swfronei√n — to be in the right mind. When you look at life as God sees it, to sin is the stupedist thing to do. Paul wants us to be rational. And he applies this even-handedly. So don't ignore that word "likewise."

And how are Titus and the other older men going to correct this tendancy toward irrationalism? Well, there's a whole series of steps. First, he says, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works. You're not rational if you say one thing and do something else. It's not enough to teach. God wants us to show a consistency of walk to those that we are discipling. I think my parents captured my heart with far more than words. It was their lifestyle that was a rebuke to my immature heart. I didn't always listen, but the consistency of their walk made an impact upon me. And notice how comprehensive this admonition is: in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works. We spent a long time two weeks ago looking at the ramifications of this modeling side of teaching. The Bible says that a disciple when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. And I won't revisit what we covered in that sermon. But just notice how the works and the doctrine are connected in this verse:

Verse 7 — in doctrine showing integrity. The word integrity is a good translation. The literal rendering is incorruptibility. It is so easy for us to become corrupted — to compromise our doctrinal teachings because of pressures from the immature. The immature don't want to be pressed in areas that are uncomfortable and teachers sometimes get their nose bloodied when they bring the clear teaching of the word. And we all know what happens: after getting burned a few times, it is easy for a teacher to get gun-shy and to begin to soft-peddal the word and to compromise. This happens with pastors, it happens with politicians, it happens with voters. After a while we soft-pedal the doctrine, become pragmatic, and lose integrity. That's what he is getting at. And the only way people will be drawn upward toward the Biblical goal in church, in family or in politics is if the Biblical goal is not constantly being lowered out of a desire to please and not to offend. In doctrine showing incorruptibility. You men must not compromise the principles of Scripture in your desires to get along.

He goes on to show the second thing that should characterize the doctrine, and that is reverence. The idea is in doctrine showing... reverence. This was the same qualification that the older women were supposed to have. There needed to be a dignity and reverence for God in his teaching. When the teacher trembles at God's Word, it communicates a respect for the Word in those that they are discipling. But if you disobey Scripture with no thought of the repercussions, you are showing no fear, and those whom you are training will feel free to disobey what they want. And it may not be in areas that you want them disobeying. You fathers, if you want to have an influence on your children, make sure that you tremble at God's Word — that you take it seriously in your own life. In doctrine showing reverence.

Then finally Paul says in doctrine showing... incorruptibility. This is the same word as integrity but with an intensifier on the front of it. The idea is that when you start compromising and you lose your fear or reverence for the word, you eventually get to the place where its not just integrity that's out the window, but any moral principle that stands in the way is is out the window as well. That's the meaning of the word.

Make sure that doctrine is not corrupted or destroyed through pressures or compromise. Obviously Paul thinks a lot about doctrine, doesn't he? We have seen that throughout this book. Beware of people who show impatience with doctrine and say that we should just get on with living. The living they will get on with will inevitably be corrupt. You simply cannot maintain good living from one generation to another without good doctrine being passed on from one generation to another. So the whole of verse 7 connects the pattern of good works with the careful passing on of doctrine. And what God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Works need to be doctrinal and doctrine needs to be practical or we are not discipling as we ought.

Verse 8 says, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. Unfortunately some Christians say the right things (they've got sound speech), but they say them in such an ungodly way that people can focus on that and forget the message. We father's can do that. We can give the right words, but do it in such an abrupt, harsh way that the only message the kids and wife concentrate on is the message that we are jerks. They don't hear the sound words that really are for their good because they have been so blindsided by the way we speak it. How you say it and when you say it is so important. Proverbs not only speaks of good words, but words fitly spoken and of words spoken in due season. In other words the content, the manner and the timing of speech needs to be considered. Sound words, fitly spoken, in due season. That's all Paul is saying here. He is saying, have sound speech, but make sure you say the sound speech in such a way that it can't be condemned, and there is nothing people can say against you. Make sure you are so clean that when there is still rebellion, it is rebellion against the truth, not just rebellion against how you brought the truth. Now that's not to excuse the rebellion against the truth, but it's sure easier to take medicine when it is in syrup rather than some of the tinctures I take straight that make you shudder.

So Paul has covered the purity of the message, the gravity of the message and the way the message is communicated. All three are important. The purity, the gravity and manner of the message.

But now Paul comes to one more part of the family that has been missed, and that is the slaves — or as some people translate it, the indentured servants or bondservants. And this is probably going to be the most controversial part of the sermon in today's culture. Here's a definition of a bondservant from my massive Webster's Dictionary: "a person bound to service without pay; a slave." They are all synonyms. And people howl when they hear the Bible talking about slavery. So I want to take a long rabbit trail — a planned rabbit trail that will hopefully help you to not be embarrassed or apologize for the slavery in the Bible. There is nothing to be apologetic about. When you think about it, as long as there are criminals, slavery will be unavoidable. You will either have the horrible slavery of prisons that we have in America, the even worse slavery in Islamic and communist countries, or you will have the Biblical slavery that promotes a criminal or other person from immaturity into personal freedom and liberty. But make no mistake about it, American continues to have slaves — it's just a much worse system. Let me explain the difference.

In the Bible, the slaves were part of the household as long as they remained slaves, which hopefully wasn't very long. For example, in Genesis 14 it speaks of 318 slaves who were born in his house. They were considered a part of Abraham's household. And they were treated as part of the household on many levels. Galatians 4:1 says, Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all. If a child didn't differ at all from a Biblical slave, then a Biblical slave didn't differ at all from a child — with two exceptions that Paul mentions — sons inherited more, and there was a different time frame that Paul speaks of. In terms of both, Jesus said in John 8:35, a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Notice that God's purpose was not to have perpetual slavery (such as we had in America), just as His purpose was not for children to be perpetually immature. He wants both to grow up. He says, a slave does not abide in the house forever... God's whole purpose was to move a slave out into freedom. But as long as the slave was in the house, Paul says that he did not differ at all from the child. That's Biblical slavery. And it had an incredibly wonderful function, unlike the pagan slavery of the Roman empire. And that is why a lot of these translations use the softer term for slavery — bondservants.

Bond servants in the Old and New Testaments were treated with the dignity of children. That's quite different from modern conceptions of slavery. And so masters were not to abuse them. And the slaves were expected to grow up and to get beyond their immaturity and to gain their freedom. In fact, the limit of slavery for any believer was six years (no matter how much money he owed — which by the way does factor into certain types of bankruptcy), and in the seventh year the master was to provide sufficient resources for the slave so that he could start his own business or enterprise. For example, Deuteronomy 15 says, If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. For what the LORD has blessed you with, you shall give to him.

And there are many reasons why a person could get into slavery. Some of the reasons were simply poverty, where they sold themselves for a certain number of years of labor. But more often, it was to pay for a crime So here would be a sample reason why a Hebrew would be enslaved in our culture, if our culture was Biblical. Fred has been a problem child and has grown into a terror in the neighborhood. He's always picking on kids. He's getting drunk, vandalizing buildings and generally showing a great deal of immaturity. Well, one day he gets caught driving a chariot half drunk and wildly swinging a torch around. Sparks from the torch accidentally catch a neighbor's house on fire, which scares him and he goes tearing off down the road to escape detection but in the process runs over a man badly breaking the man's leg. In court the judge fine's him for two year's worth of lost labor from the broken leg, and at $60,000 a year, that's more money than this eighteen year old or his dad have. Furthemore, the house he burned down cost $250,000. Since the dad can't come up with the money, the kid is sold as a slave at a certain rate of money per year for a maximum of six years. The businessman who purchases the labor almost always gets it at quite a discount. But the victims get their money plus some compensation, and the business man gets discounted labor. And so everybody benefits, including the slave.

During that time as a slave, this young man would be learning how to control his anger, how to be future minded, how to show respect and all of the things that he had failed to learn as a child — that he should have learned as a child. If he gets out of line, the master has the authority to use the rod of discipline on the young man, just like he would on his own children, even though he might be twenty-five years old, or forty years old for that matter. — Why? Because he still has the immaturity of a six year old. Anyway, ideally, by the end of the six years of apprenticeship and discipleship, the goal was that this young man would no longer be immature. He would have gained life skills from this mature family that his parents failed to give to him, hopefully character qualities through discipline and at the end of the period some money and produce that could get him a start in life. And in the process both he and society as a whole would have been helped. It's a beautiful system. It's much better than the slavery most criminals in our country endure in prisons where they learn what? They learn irresponsibility, learn bad habits from other criminals and come out penniless, with a bad record that makes it hard to find a job. And so they end up in crime once again. The years in prison end up being a total waste and worse than a waste. Much better to be treated as a child in a godly home and to be forced to grow up into liberty.

Now most people can see how with Christians this is a beautiful system, and that it's even much better than the working prisoners down south (the chain gangs), but what about pagan slaves? Didn't the Bible allow perpetual slavery there? Well, yes and no. If a slave escaped from a pagan home, the Bible mandated that the Hebrews not return him to his master, and to give him liberty. That's Deuteronomy 23:15. Why? Because the purposes for indentured servitude — to turn out mature, godly citizens, would be completely absent from a pagan home. In fact, the pagan would often want the person to remain as a dependent. So the Bible was absolutely opposed to pagans being perpetually enslaved to pagans, or for Hebres to remain enslaved to pagans. They were to try to purchase their freedom.

But secondly, even a pagan being in slavery in Israel was intended for his eventual freedom. As this pagan got exposed to the Word in the family devotions, the hope would be that he would get converted. If he converted, he would go through the same six year process of discipleship and would be able to gain his freedom. So it was a wonderfull provision, and it was intended for the slave's maturity and liberty.

But not all slaves get it. Some of them waste their opportune to learn a trade and to grow mature, and they just stew in bitterness and resentment and do not make the best of their situation. Some are so immature that they hate freedom or at least fear freedom and they want to be dependants for life. And Scripture made a provision for such people: they could voluntarily have their ear bored through to the door and they would be slaves for life. Unfortunately, there are many people in the twentieth century who opt for the slavery of socialism out of the same fears, and socialism is a far worse form of slavery than that shown in the Bible. But the Scripture teaches so clearly that even the Biblical slavery is not the ideal. The ideal is for people to so mature that such dependency is not needed. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul says that every slave should try to gain his freedom if it is possible. Jesus said that a slave does not abide in the house forever. But don't apologize for Biblical slavery. It is far more humane than the slavery of socialism or the slavery of the prisons in America. It was intended to promote responsibility and eventually freedom for all.

So that's by way of background. What Paul was doing in this chapter was to #1 agree with the Old Testament provision for slavery, and #2 make sure that these slaves learned how to make the most of this time so that it would turn into an investment. So let's look at verses 9 and 10 and make some applications.

Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters (verse 9). Instant obedience to legitimate human authority is an absolute imperative for every human to learn. Most should be able to learn it while they are still children, but a few might have to learn it as adults — hopefully not in prison, and hopefully not even in a Biblical form of slavery. But you know what? Many people don't learn instant obedience. And many of the slaves in the prison system in America never do learn it. They become more and more hardened by bitterness. And to such, Paul would in effect say, "Hey, if you guys want to gain liberty, you will have the best chances at it by following my advice. And even if you never gain your liberty, at least you stand a better chance of improving your conditions. And even if your conditions don't improve, you will have made the best possible witness of the grace of Christ that it is possible to make."

And so (even though there is no one-to-one direct correspondence in modern society) there are multiple lessons here. Since a child is compared to the position of a slave in Galatians 4, one application is obvious - it is imperative that children learn instant obedience as early as possible so that they can gain more and more freedom and liberty as they grow older. God's intention for everyone was liberty. But liberty can only come through the path of responsible obedience. Some children want liberty before they have learned obedience. That's backwards. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul says that if slaves can gain their liberty, they should try to gain it. But even in that chapter he indicates there is no such thing as liberty without obedience. Training your children in instant, unquestioning obedience is a first and necessary step to maturity.

But that obedience needs to be accompanied by five other things if it is to be a godly testimony to the world. So whether you are in a position of a child, an employee, a person in prison, or one who is learning maturity in other ways, consider these additional character traits that should be added to obedience.

First, obey in a way that will please the one in authority over you rather than aggravate him. To sullenly obey is not pleasing. It's not going to get you any brownie points with your master. It's unlikely to get you advancements or liberties. So verse 9 goes on to say, to be well-pleasing in all things... The term "all things" is limited by the last clause of the sentence — that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. In other words, all things Biblical. So it obviously excludes the master's requests that you lie, or steal or murder or commit adultery. But in every area of life from morning to evening (where Scripture allows), the slave's goal should be to please the master, the prisoner's goal should be to please the warden, the child's goal should be to please the parent, the hired laborer's goal should be to please the employer in the things he was hired for. But our flesh rebels against this idea of pleasing our authority. And people have all kinds of crude ways of making this seem like a bad thing, rather than a good thing. They say that it is kissing someone's behind, or brown-nosing or other crude descripters that are designed to make something God says is good and helpful for you to appear to be bad.

2 Corinthians 5:9 doesn't just tell us to obey God grudgingly. It uses the same Greek word and says therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. And Scripture says the same for all authority relationships. Of wives 1 Corinthians 7:34 shows how she may please her husband. 2 Timothy 2:4 says of a soldier, that he needs to strive that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And if people under authority could recognize this principle, it would help them to advance in their positions. Everybody recognizes a waitress that is out to please you and make your supper an enjoyable experience. You feel like tipping such a waitress, don't you? In fact, it's so rare, that when it happens to me, I tip very generously. And this attitude would solve many problems in almost all authority relationships. A business that succeeds the best is a business that seeks to please the customer in everything — in this case, the customer being in the place of the master. It's really the same principle. Think of a servant as someone who is selling his service just as a business man is.

Now related to this is the next phrase. The next phrase says, not answering back... The other two meanings in the dictionary are "not contradicting," or "not talking against." This is Paul's version of how to win friends and influence people. It's a no-brainer. When you talk back or contradict, you automatically put an authority figure on the defensive. He has to defend his actions. It makes it harder for him to be a leader. So when you do that with your employer, you are not earning yourself brownie points. You are making him less and less open to you and to your suggestions. On the other hand, when he can see that you are willing to do what he wants whether he follows your suggestions or not, and you give suggestions in ways that make the boss look good, he will find you more and more indispensable. By the way, don't ever complain about your wives and your children treating you with disrespect if you treat your bosses with disrespect. You're modeling that this is OK.

He goes on: not pilfering. Slaves would be very tempted to steal from the employer because they weren't getting paid, and they might feel that they are owed what they are taking. Many unions have this attitude toward employers despite the fact that they have signed a contract. But that is socialistic thinking. Unfortunately, the thievery of socialism is alive and well on planet earth. And it's not just slave citizens who steal from the government, but the government that steals from the citizens. Everybody seems to want to get in on the action. But Christian employees must be a cut above everyone else.

He goes on: but showing all good fidelity. Fidelity is actually a bad translation. The word is pistis which simply means faith. So the NASB is more literal when it translates this as but showing all good faith. Do you really have faith that God will take care of you? Then your faith will be shown by your actions, is what Paul is saying. And really, it is a lack of faith in God that leads to all of these behaviors we have discussed in verses 9 and 10. Why does the slave steal? Because he doesn't trust God to provide as God said that He would. Why does he talk back, because it grates on him that his rights are being undermined, and he doesn't trust that God can protect his right. But Paul says that by serving the master's interests rather than one's own, you are showing faith in God's ability to change the hearts of others; to control your environment and to take or give you any rights. It's a faith issue.

And once again, the testimony of Biblical doctrine is brought up. That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. In other words that your life would adorn or make God's doctrine look beautiful and attractive to those that look on. This rationale keeps coming up. God wants the Christian's life to be so changed by God's grace that the pagans become jealous of the Gospel. Now that's a worthy goal: that your life would adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

WE husbands should make it our goal that our relations with our wives are so godly that they praise the doctrines that led to our changes as being beautiful doctrines. They talk about the doctrines to their friends and the doctrine of God is honored. They say, "You know, I can't believe what is being taught to my husband at Dominion. He is a different man." That should be our goal. That beautifies the doctrine of Scripture.

You wives should make it your goal that your relations with your husbands and children is so godly that the husbands praise the doctrines that led you to that behavior and cannot say enough good things about the doctrine.

And you know what? I have heard such testimonies. I have talked to people who have visited the church and they have told me, "I donn't know what it is about this church's teaching, but the children are so well behaved." You children are beautifying the doctrine by your works. Your works are an adornment of doctrine. And I've heard good testimonies about the parents. So be encouraged.

We all know that this is not easy. In fact, that's why Paul ends this chapter with one of the most encouraging discussions of the transforming power of grace anywhere in the Bible. We need that encouragement. And we'll look at that passage next week. But men especially, le's make it out aim 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 us. Let's model to those who are under our authority what it means to live under authority ourselves that we may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. Amen.

Discipleship of Men is part of the Titus series published on November 7, 2004

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