Household Rules

Christ Covenant Church
Bo Cogbill
24 August 2014
Sermon Text: Titus 2:1-10

Healthy doctrine is massively important because it’s the basis for a holy life. – Dave Bruskas

Should Christians really care what unbelievers think? The biblical answer is just as much yes (if not more so) as it is no. But most significant is why, and both the apostle’s example and his exhortation agree: that they may be saved. – John Piper

Do I merely do the minimum required of me, or do I take the initiative to bless my employers? – Tim Chester

This morning we are continuing our walk through Paul’s letter to Titus, and our sermon text is from chapter 2 verses 1-10. You can turn there with me in your Bibles, or you can follow along with the translation provided for you, which we will be working from today.

The Word of the Lord.

But as for you, speak what accords with healthy doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, worthy of honor, prudent, healthy in faith, healthy in love, and healthy in endurance. Similarly, older women are to be like priestesses in their disposition, not slanderous, and not enslaved to much wine so that they might urge younger women to be loving their husbands and loving their children, prudent, untainted, working at home, kind, subordinate to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Similarly, encourage the younger men to be prudent. In all things, offer yourself as an example of good works, in your doctrine show incorruptibility, seriousness, and healthy words that cannot be condemned, so that those from the opposition might be shamed, having nothing bad to say concerning us. A slave is to be subordinate to his own master in everything, to be pleasing, not speaking against them, not embezzling, but demonstrating faithfulness in all, so that the doctrine of our God and Savior might be adorned by all.

May God bless the reading, hearing, and preaching of His Word, and may He grant us the grace to obey it.

This is week 4 of our series in Titus, which we’ve titled Unfinished Business because Paul has charged Titus to straighten out what was crooked and to take care of unfinished business in the churches in Crete, and we’ve begun to look at the church as a building project that is begun, but yet to be finished. The first week was probably comforting to us as we focused on our Foundation, which is God our Savior. We saw how our unlying God chose to love us from before time began, and that our common faith was secure because of the objective person and work of Jesus Christ. The second week was tougher as we moved from the Foundation to the Construction phase. We saw that presbyters and bishops with solid character and healthy doctrine were given to the church to instruct her with that doctrine and to rebuke those that contradicted that doctrine. And last week was even tougher as we heard that these ministers of the gospel were given the task of condemning those in the church that have snuck in sick, defiled doctrines. Paul said these mind-benders were detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work, and you heard that we would do well to heed the warnings given by the presbyters who love you.

Some people might accuse us of taking these things too seriously, but we have to remember what Paul said at the very beginning, the very first line, of this letter, where he says that he wrote this for the sake of the faith of God’s elect. What is on the line here is our very faith, and I hope you get the impression that to the degree that we ignore and refuse to apply Paul’s counsel to Titus and the churches in Crete, we are putting ourselves in grave, mortal, and even eternal danger. If we think we’ve got this whole Christianity thing figured out, and if we think we don’t need to be in a house well-constructed, then we are at risk and we are putting others at risk, others who we say we love at risk, of being dead wrong. As Titus in Crete, we too, here at Christ Covenant Church, must straighten out what is crooked and take care of our unfinished business.

Up to this point, most of the focus has been on the teachers in the church, both good and bad, but today we get to the rest of the church.

When I was a boy and would talk about how other families did things, usually things like not having to work as hard or make as good of grades or any number of lower standard that I wanted to have at the moment, my dad would reply something along the lines of, “Well, that may be how they do things in their family, but you’re not in their family, you’re a Cogbill, and this is how Cogbill’s are going to do it.”

As a kid I never really liked that answer, but as an adult, I’m so glad he taught us that because it usually lifted me to a higher standard than I would have given myself, and it also gave me a framework for texts like this.

God’s people are always being confronted with the temptations of an easier life, a better life, a lower standard than is fitting for the household of God, but God tells us, through messengers, “Though the world may do things that the world does, we’re not a member of their family, we’re Christians, God is our Father, and this is how we do things when we take His name.”

If you are not a Christian here this morning, or you are a young Christian who has never heard the things you’re about to hear, please don’t be too discouraged. A father doesn’t expect his children to know every household rule the moment they leave the hospital. Being a part of a family takes time and work and grace, and we’re here to help you grow up in your faith as we grow in ours.

But, if you have been a Christian, and these things are somewhat familiar to you, I hope your reaction this morning is better than the reaction I had as a kid, and that, as a mature adult, you’re looking forward to hearing how exactly we’re to live as members in God’s household.

I know you can’t wait to be told what to do, but first, let’s look at verse 1 in chapter 2 to find out the basis for that behavior.

But, as for you, speak what fits healthy doctrine.

If you missed the last couple weeks, or are just joining us this morning, there were false teachers that had crept in to the churches in Crete that taught you could be made right before God by something you do externally, and then there were those who taught that you could know God without having to produce good works. Paul says both teachings or both doctrines are to be condemned. Titus was shame those false teachers and tell the whole church to avoid them.

But, he wasn’t just instructed to refute them and tell the churches what was wrong in their teaching. Titus was given the charge to teach what was right as well, what was fitting with healthy doctrine.

Healthy doctrine teaches us that God accepts sinners because He made a promise to and with Himself to love them before time began; healthy doctrine teaches that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, lived the life sinners could not live and died the death sinners could not die; and healthy doctrine teaches us that God loves and accepts sinners by grace through faith in Christ alone. He seals them with His Spirit and brings them into His covenant community through baptism, and their salvation is secure because God cannot lie. That is the foundation of healthy doctrine.

But there is something that accords, something that is fitting with healthy doctrine, and that is a healthy life. It’s very simple, if you’re sick on the inside, it will produce death; if you’re healthy on the inside it will produce life. In both cases, your life is determined by your doctrine.

So, the sick doctrine that doctrine doesn’t matter is misguided.

God really does care what you believe, and he cares how you live. He wants both to be healthy. Doctrine produces life and life reflects doctrine. The two go hand in hand; they fit with one another.

Now I want to give a bit of a disclaimer here before we get going. Paul is telling Titus how all of these people are to behave, and he doesn’t leave much room for nuance.

He is very straightforward, and it may come across as idealistic and hard-lined, but remember, he has just given the churches ministers to help massage these things into people and help them deal with the messiness of life.

So, while it may feel hard, and you’re going to hear some things you may not like or know how to work out in real, messiness of life, know that Marq and I are here to help you wrestle through the questions you might have from what I freely admit is just as counter-cultural in Texas as it was in Crete.

I know the saying usually goes, “Ladies first,” but not today fellas.

Older MenOlder men are to be sober-minded, worthy of honor, prudent, healthy in faith, healthy in love, and healthy in endurance.

Older men, you’re up first, and that should tell you something. Older men, men over 50, you are to be sober-minded, worthy of honor, prudent, healthy in faith, healthy in love, and healthy in endurance.

Some of your translations may say temperate, but that isn’t as clear as “sober-minded.” Sober-minded means exactly what it sounds like. You are to have sober minds. Your minds are to be sober, you are to be free from drunkenness and gluttony, in all its forms. We might be tempted to think that’s easy, but not in a culture like Crete, and not in a culture like ours. Older men may be tempted to let themselves go and give in to the desires to consume much food and much drink because, “I’ve earned it,” but that’s not the only form of mind clouding indulgence older men may be prone to. They may be prone to retire and live high on the hog, you know, the bigger the boys, the bigger the toys, but that’s not a godly frame of mind. You are not to cloud your minds with the desires of the flesh, but clear your minds, sober up and set your minds on the things of God. After all, people are watching, and as an older man, you are called to be worthy of honor.

So many older men want to be respected and honored, but they refuse to live lives worthy of honor. Tim Chester says it well when he says, “Older men need to live in such a way that younger guys look at them and think: I want to be like them.” Now some young men may look at a Bill Gates or a Mark Cuban and say, “I want to be like them,” but godly young men don’t.

I was telling some of the guys the other day, I remember a conference Marq and I went to several months ago, and on the stage were two men who will go down in history as maybe the top pastor-theologians of our time, but I didn’t admire them because of that. Here were two older men, who when they were younger men, labored closely in the gospel together, reading, praying, wrestling, fighting sin, and pursuing Jesus. They parted ways almost 30 years ago, but that day they were on stage quoting Scripture and answering questions in unison and in conformity with the gospel of God’s grace in Christ, like they’d never skipped a beat. In that moment I couldn’t help but think, “I want to be like them.” Here were two older men who were and are worthy of honor, and that’s the kind of men all older men are to strive to be.

Older men are also to be prudent. Some of your translations say “self-controlled,” and this definitely includes self-control, but there is a feeling or a sense of wisdom that this word carries as well. The word actually sounds like the word for wisdom, but it’s more than just wisdom. It’s an outworking of wisdom in a life of prudence and self-control. There is a hesitancy to act rashly, but rather a thoughtfulness to everything he does.

It’s no surprise then that older men are also to be healthy in faith, healthy in love, and healthy in endurance. Surely if a man has these other traits, it’s because he has a healthy faith. His doctrine is healthy and so is his faith. It isn’t sick, weak, or dying, but there is a strength and vitality to his faith.

Older men are to be healthy in love as well. We all know older men who are prone to grumbling or complaining of how the world is so messed up and think that things would be better if things were just like they used to be. They accuse kids today of being different from kids back then, (even though older men who weren’t healthy in love accused them of the same thing). But, older men are called to fight against this temptation, and instead to be healthy in love. There is a gentleness and a kindness to these men because their love for their neighbor is alive and well.

And finally these older men are to be healthy in endurance. This healthy endurance expresses itself with resolve and perseverance in the face of adversity. Their faith has stood the test of time, the ups and downs of not just bad days, but bad decades, and as a result there is a calmness, a steadiness to the older man who is healthy in endurance.

Older men, you are to strive to be this way, and selfishly I think us younger men pray that you do. We need older men, for we will be older one day too.

Paul does something pretty insensitive next…he dares to address a group of people called, older women, women over 40 or 50. Yes. Older women exist, and though culture tells them they should fight with all their might to retain their youth, the Scriptures teach them and you to embrace your age and to do so with grace and dignity. This doesn’t mean you don’t take care of yourself; one of the most godly older women I ever knew also enjoyed running and staying in shape for her husband, but this does mean that you shouldn’t expend your energy trying to remain young; expend your energy being devoted to godliness.

Older Women – Similarly, older women are to be like priestesses in their disposition, not slanderous, and not enslaved to much wine so that they might urge younger women

Some of your translations say reverent, and that is a good word because it explains that an older woman is to behave with reverence; the word even more specifically implies that older women are to behave or have the disposition of a priestess. So there is this inward reverence and seriousness for the things of God, so much so that that reverence exudes from the older woman’s being. This type of woman doesn’t go around gossiping and spreading fear and lies. Rather, she’s in constant control of her tongue and her appetites, as Paul also says that these women shouldn’t be enslaved to wine. These women are slaves of God, and they act like it.

But why? What’s the big deal if you want to eat healthy and exercise an hour a day and live for yourself after all your years of giving to others? Why guard your heart and your life and your tongue? Why be like a reverent priestess?

Because our younger women need you. In God’s household you are to urge the younger women to grow into the same. My wife and the other wives don’t need our older women to be a bunch of Cindy Crawfords or Suzanne Summers, and they don’t even need you to be Martha Stewarts or Pioneer woman. They need you to be examples of piety and godliness, and they need you to urge them to do things that only an older woman with a godly perspective can urge them to do.

You are to urge

Younger Women – younger women to be loving their husbands and loving their children, prudent, untainted, working at home, kind, subordinate to their own husbands, so that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

There was a movement in Crete urging women to be free from traditional roles and commitments in the home. This “new woman” was liberated to live life the way she wanted to live it, to pursue her passions and desires rather than those set forth for her by others.

But Paul tells the older women they are to teach the younger women this isn’t the case. Now that assumes that the older women reject this “new woman” ideal, but let’s assume for sake of argument they agree with the Scriptures and disagree with the popular culture. What were they to teach these younger women?

Well, they were to first and foremost be loving to their husbands. This word is closely associated with a word for love that is multifaceted. Younger women are to delight in their husbands, to treasure them, to focus on and have a special interest in them. They are to consider their husbands a friend; younger women are to be affectionate to and have an affection for their husbands. And younger women, listen to this, you are to like your husband. That may sound silly, but Rachel and I used to tell each other during a fight that we love each other, but we’re having a hard time liking the other person right now. Think middle school or elementary school or when you first met your spouse; you are to feel this way; to love your husband, and while your love for your husband is definitely deeper than this, it includes this as well.

Older women are also urge younger women to be loving to their children, and it’s no coincidence this is listed second. No matter what our culture of child idolization tells you, you’re to love your children well by loving your husband first. But younger women are urged to be loving to their children as well. In the midst of a “new woman” movement where women all around were pursuing their careers and social lives and hobbies, the Christian younger woman would be tempted to be envious of that freedom and bitter with their children. They needed older women to urge them to love, to delight, to treasure, to have a special focus on their children, and I would imagine there are some younger women here that feel those same pressures and temptations and need to be encouraged to delight in their husband and to delight in their children.

That older women would encourage these younger women to be prudent is to give them the same encouragement that older men received. Again, some of your translations say “self-controlled,” and this definitely includes self-control, but there is a feeling or a sense of wisdom that this word carries as well. Think Proverbs 31 and the prudent or the woman of wisdom. This younger woman who is prudent is showing an outworking of godly wisdom her life. There is a hesitancy to act quickly, out of emotion, but rather a thoughtfulness to everything she does; prudence and self-control covers so many areas.

Younger women may be tempted to lose self control in how much they eat or how little they eat; how much or what they watch or read; do you eat, drink, watch, and read any and everything that you want, or do you exercise wisdom and prudence in making sure what enters into your body and mind and heart are in accordance with a wise woman of God?

These younger women are to be untainted as well, or pure. They aren’t to indulge in fantasy or flirtatious activity that the “new woman” is so prone to do. This word could also be undefiled and carries the idea of not being corrupted by sin, particularly of the sexual nature, whether in act or in provocation of other males to sin.

Younger women weren’t to be out doing their own thing and pursuing the same things as the “new Roman woman,” but Paul says the older women are to encourage these younger, godly women to be working at home. We touched on this a little bit already, but the priority of these women, the priority God gives them, is to be working first and most, at home.

I tried and tried to make this word mean things it doesn’t. I tried to sermons of men I respect, hoping that they would give me some way out of telling you this this morning, but time and time again I kept hearing what I was afraid I was going to hear, this word, οἰκουργός, means home-worker. Older women are to encourage and they are to urge younger women to be home-workers, and if the older women are too had bought in to the “new Roman woman” idea that was being taught, if the older women were too rebellious to urge the younger women to do this, then Titus was to do this.

Now we can give reasons why this isn’t possible. You need the money; you enjoy your job; you don’t like staying at home; you’re in debt; you like your house; you need an extra car; you want to be able to go on vacations; or any other myriad of excuses, I mean reasons, why this is impossible. And, to be fair, some of you may be in a situation where your husband has put you and your family in a situation where you actually do have to work or you may be homeless, but Paul’s instructions to Titus for the younger women to be urged to be home-workers is crystal clear, and it should be all of our heart’s desires to obey these words, and men, it is your responsibility to put your wife in a situation where she is able to obey the Household rules of God. I confess openly that decisions I made before and after our marriage put Rachel in a situation where she could not honor God’s Word in these areas, and I can tell you from experience that the failure or faithfulness of our wives and women under our care to act in these ways is a direct reflection on our failure or faithfulness as leader of our homes.

That brings us to our next point. Not only are younger women called to do these things, they are called to do so while being kind and subordinate to their husbands. It’s no coincidence that they need to be reminded to be kind and subordinate. I know enough of you well enough, and you know me well enough, to know that all of our wives are smarter than us some of the time, and some of our wives are smarter than us all of the time! But, that doesn’t excuse them from having to submit to us, and to do so kindly.

So remember that next time you lay down the law or put your foot down, and try not to put yet another stumbling block in front of your wife’s call to obedience.

Younger women, your husband will be held accountable to the Lord for the way that he leads you and your family, but you will be held accountable for the way you follow him while he follows the Lord.

Again, I cringe to tell you these things, but Paul uses the same word for your responsibility to your husband as he uses for the slaves responsibility to their master; you are to be subordinate to your husband.

Some of your translations say submissive, and it’s the same thing really, but subordinate helps us see that, even though we’ve been sold the idea that every opinion is equal (which isn’t true by the way) and that all people are entitled to give their opinion and do what’s right in their own eyes, there is an hierarchy in the home. The husband is the head of the home, and the wife is subordinate to him, and she is to be subordinate to him in a kind and gentle way.

Now I have been married to a woman that pursues these things and has been pursuing them from the day we married, and though we are young, we are old enough to know that all of these commands and urgings for faithfulness in the home can be overwhelming, but a pattern that we’ve picked up on over the years is that they really become overwhelming when her focus tends to be outward.

What does the world expect her to do? What do other women do? What do the books say to do? What are people thinking about her ability or inability to do these things? What does tomorrow look like when I have to do this all over again? Why are these kids so crazy? How could Bo expect me to do all of this?

I’m overwhelmed when I think of her responsibilities in these ways, and they aren’t even mine!

But, when she focuses on being faithful today, in this moment, for the glory of God and the good of her family alone, the temptation and the feeling of so many external pressures fade away, and she is able to be loving to me and loving to our children, to be prudent and pure, a home-worker, kind, and submissive, even to a jerk like me.

But why would God urge her and you to do these things? Does He want you to embrace the sufferings of Christ? Does He want to establish a male-patriarchy all over again?

No. You are to be doing these things so that the Word of God may not be blasphemed. People can look down on our views and can say that we’re culturally insensitive and stuck in past of a closed-minded religion when we talk about the way our lives, and our women in particular, are supposed to look, but let them see it; let them see a woman who loves her husband well, who delights in her children, in that order; let them see a woman is prudent and undefiled, who works at home faithfully and joyfully, who is kind to her husband and defers to his wisdom; let them see a home that functions like this, and they will not be able to blaspheme the word of God.

I can’t tell you how many people, professing and non-professing Christian alike, that I’ve talked to whose homes are wrecks, their children are rebellious, their wives nag them to death, and their marriages are either over or soon will be, and they look at a church who tells them, at least in theory, yet their homes are wrecks, their children are rebellious, their wives give the impression they’re repressed and joyless and nag their husbands to death, and their marriage are over or for all intents and purposes are over, even though they stay together for 50 years, and they blaspheme the Word of God, the God of the Word, and ridicule God’s people for being so dumb to try to follow it.

They are doing the very thing that Paul implies they will do, and the church is giving them reason to do so, but if we stopped just talking about being different and actually started putting into practice what we say we believe to be true, then they may not be able to look at our churches and our homes and revile God’s word, but they may actually ask us questions about our faith. We might not have to guilt people into going door to door or downtown to handout tracks or street preach; we might not have to have the greatest youth group or the most attractive singles ministry in town to manipulate people’s flesh and trick them into thinking they want Jesus.

I know moms of young children feel guilty for not doing more for the kingdom of God, but you don’t have to put pressure on yourself that God doesn’t. You don’t have to go evangelizing or lead a bible study or start a new mission’s organization or some new blog. You don’t even have to bear the burden of providing for the family to be doing something meaningful for you or your family or the church. You aren’t called to do any of these things.

Don’t you see? When you do these things, the things the Word of God lays out for you, when you are loving your husbands and loving your children, and resisting sin joyfully, and delighting in the freedom of submission, then you’re doing for the kingdom of God exactly what He wants you to be doing! And don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise!

Alright, on to the younger men.

Young men – Similarly, encourage the younger men to be prudent.

Fellas, I know most of you are used to getting it handed to you. One of the things I’m grateful for about the movement that has come to be known as “The Young, Restless, and Reformed,” of which most of us bear some semblance, is the radical call to men, in particular younger men, to grow up and stop acting like mindless children. There is an outcry for men to put down their video games, get a job, lead your family, and pay attention to your doctrine, and I think all of these things are good for us to hear.

While the Scriptures are replete with similar urgings, Paul keeps it pretty simple here. Here he tells Titus, a younger man himself, that younger men are to be prudent; and that’s it. This is the same exact instruction he’s given older men and younger women, and the same type of behavior he instructs older women to have. Be self-controlled. Be prudent. I know some of us might be tempted to take a sigh of relief after hearing all the instructions given to everyone else, but don’t gloss over too quickly.

Think about your sins. How many of a young man’s sins involve a lack of self-control or lack or prudence? Remember, prudence carries with it the idea of a hesitancy to do things quickly, wisdom in action. Most of our sins cannot be attributed to a lack of knowledge, but a lack of restraint; a lack of thinking before we eat, drink, speak, or do anything.

The motto “Act first, ask questions later,” is in direct opposition to the way we are supposed to behave. In a Cretan, Texan culture that says young men should chase fast cars, fast women, the best cars, houses, meat, and beer, a culture that values self-expression instead of self-control; self-fulfillment instead of self-denial; and independence instead of submission. The Bible values the exact opposite, or at least redefines those values. As Christians, we are to express ourselves by controlling ourselves, find fulfillment in the fulfillment of others, and freed in order to submit joyfully.

In days gone by in the church, a man was one who displayed his manliness by his ability to restrain his passions and to bring them under control; now a man is supposedly someone who does what he wants when he wants by exerting his will over others. This is counter the Scriptures. A man is someone who exerts his will over his desires. So younger men, be prudent, be self-controlled. Don’t be controlled by your desires, be a man, control yourself.

Now I know that was a whirlwind look at household rules for some of us. Most places have this little section broken up into three or four sermons, but we didn’t, and we don’t have time to go over the responsibilities of slaves in great detail, but I don’t want to ignore it totally so I will touch on it briefly.

SlavesA slave is to be subordinate to his own master in everything, to be pleasing, not speaking against them, not embezzling, but demonstrating faithfulness in all, so that in everything, they may adorn the doctrine of our God and Savior.

Now Paul doesn’t address the rightness or wrongness of slavery here, and neither will I, but he does know it exists, and he addresses slaves who might be tempted by the freedom of the gospel to do things that would bring shame upon it. For our purposes, and for your own practical application, as we deal with this, think of it as pertaining to employees and their employers and to you as you live out your daily Christian life in the workplace.

Slaves, and workers, though they have great freedom in the gospel, are not permitted to use our freedom as a means of sinning. We are to be subordinate, the same word young women were given in their responsibilities to their husbands; we are to submit to our employers in everything. And we are not to submit and do the bear minimum. We are to strive to be pleasing to our employer, not talking back or speaking against them, not stealing money, goods, or even time, but we are to demonstrate faithfulness with everything.

But why? Why would we have to submit and put ourselves under such men? What if they’re bad bosses or dumb bosses or non-Christian bosses or any other kind of boss you don’t like? Does that give you an excuse not to submit? Do you still have to seek to be pleasing to them? Can you argue just a little or talk bad about them just a little? Aren’t you free to go against them, after all, you serve God, not men right?

NO! There is no room for that kind of behavior in the gospel; you are not free to be a cancer in the workplace; healthy doctrine does not allow it. You are to do exactly what Paul says because there is a greater purpose at work here than you being able to blow off a little steam and feel a little better for a couple more days. God demands that His people live healthy lives in order that His healthy doctrine might be adorned by our behavior.

What a privilege! You are given the power to adorn the word of God, to make it beautiful. How do you better your home? How do you better your workplace? How do you glorify God and live a life worthy of honor? By having healthy doctrine and adorning that doctrine with a healthy life, both of which are found right here in the very word of God.

——-

hochb

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