Mt. 24:4-5 π Mt. 24:9-12 π Rom. 12:1-2 π 1 Cor. 11:3 π 1 Cor. 11:11-12 π Gal. 5:22-23 π 1 Tim. 4:1-3 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π Tit. 2:1 π Tit. 2:2 π Tit. 2:3-4 π Tit. 2:4-5 π Tit. 2:6-8 π Tit. 2:9-10 π Tit. 2:11-14 π Tit. 2:15 π 2 Pet. 1:5-6
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. ( 2 Tim. 4:3-4; top )
Before we examine what exactly sound doctrine is (and Scripture does tell us exactly what it is), let us review these characteristics of the apostasy, the great falling away from the faith. (see also Mt. 24:4-5 , 9-12 ; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; top ) Those who have fallen from the faith:
- reject sound doctrine. (We will delve into this in a moment.)
- practice religion according to their own desires (lawlessness, doing what is right in their own eyes). “I like this” and “I prefer that” is their method of choosing what “church” they will attend. The question of how Christ wants them to live their life never even arises for the vast majority of these “Christians.”
- have itching ears. They love to hear the truth (or at least some reasonable facsimile thereof) but they don’t live by the leading of the Spirit of truth. They hear but do not do. This produces three results:
- heaped up teachers (sermonizing “pastors,” “teachers,” televangelists, TV “preachers,” etc.);
- rejection of truth (the Person, Spirit and facts of truth) and
- receiving of fables (stories that have only minimal relevance and application to every day life and godliness).
In a word, “churchianity.”
To see exactly what sound doctrine is, let us turn to Paul’s letter to Titus, and see Paul’s instructions there. As we read Paul’s instructions, let us note that these instructions apply to six kinds of people -
- older men,
- older women,
- young women,
- young men,
- servants and
- all men.
Every person who follows Christ will belong to two or perhaps even three of these categories. So let us not miss the relevance of this passage to all people who name the name of Christ.
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: ( Tit. 2:1 - emphasis added)
What follows are Paul’s clearly laid out instructions as to what constitutes sound teachings in the way of Christ. Paul goes on:
...that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience... ( Tit. 2:2; top )
This is Paul’s instruction for the older men: In a word, they are to be self-controlled (a fruit of the Spirit that comes with at least some spiritual maturity – Gal. 5:22-23 ; 2 Pet. 1:5-6 ) and well-formed into the likeness of Christ Jesus. (see Rom. 12:1-2 ) Paul continues:
...[that] the older women likewise...be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things - that they admonish the young women... ( Tit. 2:3-4; top )
Again we see the fruit of self-control and goodness. As we go on to see what the older women should admonish (teach) the young women, let us remember that the older women cannot teach what they themselves do not know. Thus the requirements for the younger women also apply to the older women. Paul continues:
...[that] the young women...love their husbands, ...love their children, ...be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. ( Tit. 2:4-5; top )
Yet again we see self-control, goodness, submissiveness to authority - and this is so the truth of God remains of good reputation. This aspect of sound doctrine - that women should be homemakers and obedient to their husbands - is one that is rejected by women for a number of reasons. The women’s lib movement of the 1960s and 70s was, generally speaking, a virulent reaction to an abnormal oppressive situation - the suburban home of the 1950s. Created by the unprecedented wealth after World War II (a sign of America’s having been given over to mammon), Americans flocked to the suburbs. The man went away to work 40 to 60 hours per week and magazine and then television editors and ad men used women’s lack of understanding of their godly role to foist upon them the role of the “housewife” who cooks, cleans and sends the kids off to school. This was so that all the new kitchen gadgets - refrigerators, can openers, dishwashers, etc. - could be sold to every house and the editors and ad men could rake in their own fortunes. Many believed (some still do!) that the superficial American “housewife” role is a valid expression of godly womanhood - but the resultant oppressive captivity proves otherwise.
The women’s lib movement rightly revolted against this oppressiveness but, rather than point women to God where they can attain to true fulfillment in Christ, it pointed women toward lawlessness - doing what was right in their own eyes. As a result, women rebelled against their husbands and, in some cases, virtually abandoned their families to pursue their own careers - with no thought as to what God might want of them. Women often came to think of themselves not as equal in merit to the man (as Scriptures teach - see 1 Cor. 11:11-12 ) but as superior. This has infiltrated into Christian circles as too many “Christian” women refuse to submit (or they “submit” with gossip, resentment and backstabbing!) to their husbands because they see their husband as something less than what they see themselves as - either spiritually, intellectually or emotionally. And too many Christian men tolerate this false relationship, finding it more “peaceful” to “lead” whenever the wife allows him to. The truth is that the man is called by God to be the head of his wife (see 1 Cor. 11:3; top ) - not some absentee “provider,” pseudo-“husband” and pseudo-“father” - while the woman is still called by God to be a wife whom the man husbands (manages, stewards). Let he - or she - who has ears hear.
Paul continues his instructions:
Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself [Titus, as a young man,] 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. ( Tit. 2:6-8; top )
Again we see self-control, reverence, godliness - and this is so that those who oppose Christ gain no advantage through the sinfulness of those who claim His name. Paul continues:
Exhort servants 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. ( Tit. 2:9-10; top )
Still yet again we see self-control, honesty, integrity - and this is so that the teachings about God are pleasing to behold. Paul continues:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. ( Tit. 2:11-14; top )
Self-control, right living, godliness, redeemed from lawless deeds (acts performed according to self’s agenda), a people purified from all darkness and zealous to do good. This is what the normal, usual Christian life is supposed to look like. Paul continues:
Speak these things [which are proper for sound doctrine], exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you. ( Tit. 2:15; top )
These things which are proper for sound doctrine are the very things which those who rely on teachers to scratch their itching ears will reject. Let he who has ears hear.
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