agcc Sun. a.m. 12/5/99
"WHO YOU LOOKING AT?"
TEXT: Titus 2:11-3:11
INTRO: Imagine a culture where telling lies was a normal part of life, where people only looked out for themselves, where people didn't get involved unless there was something in it for them. Lest you think this is only the culture of today it was also the culture of Titus' day on the isle of Crete. (Read Titus 1:10-13)
Some things never change in society! In the context of such lax morality God raised up His Church. The Christians were called to be pillars of virtue in a culture that lacked virtue. This of course raised many challenges, the world was looking in on the Church and on Christians in particular … what would they see? What do people in our world see when they view us as Christians?
Our culture today is emphasizing education over ethics, mental development over moral development, venture capitalism over virtue & character.
ILLUS: There is no paradox more tragic than a high mentality and a low morality. -- Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990).
We cannot afford as believers to live at the level of the world; we need to reflect the disciplines of Christian ethics in everything we do.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that Christians are to live a life of godliness and virtue in a world that sorely needs to view God's power in a human life.
I. JUST SAY "NO!" 2:11-15
A. Self-control 2:11-14
1. The isle of Crete was a cesspool of low morality!
a. The term "Cretan" was associated with lying and scandal. (Titus 1:12-13a)
b. Living for God in a culture like this was going to be a huge challenge!
2. We also live in a day when low morality is plaguing our society, and we are challenged as God's people to live a high morality.
ILLUS: Estimated number of Americans attending Twelve Step programs today: 14,000,000 -- Spires and Spirals (Vol. 5; 1995). "To Verify," Leadership.
3. There is a danger for Christians to simply retreat from society and let those who reflect a low morality experience the consequences of their sins.
a. However, Jesus did not ask us to hide our light! Mat 5:15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Mat 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
b. We are not to hide from the world or shut them out; in fact, we are to put before them an example of godly behavior so that they might be drawn to God.
4. It certainly is not an easy job living godly in a society that mocks spirituality! But it is not an excuse to hide and not get involved!
ILLUS: Peace-loving Francis of Assisi joined the Fifth Crusade in Egypt, though he did not fight. He risked his life crossing enemy lines to preach to Muslim sultan Malik-al-Kamil. The sultan did not convert, but he offered Francis riches (declined) and had him escorted back to the Christian camp. -- "The Crusades," Christian History, Issue 40.
5. There is always the possibility that our efforts will fail, but there is still the responsibility to reflect Christ's changing power to the world.
6. It will require the ability to say "NO" to ungodly things in our society, to take a stand for righteous living in an unrighteous atmosphere.
a. Paul recognized this challenge as he wrote to this young Pastor Titus who pastored a church in a low morality society.
b. Being a Christian means being responsible for our behavior, accepting Christ as our Lord does not make us automatically good, it takes self control!
c. Christians should be the finest examples of self-control.
7. In fact, Paul states here (2:14b) that we should even be "eager to do what is good."
a. When Christ dwells in our heart there is actually a desire to do what is right!
b. It is perhaps not as much "self-control" as it is "God-control"!
B. Scriptural Content 2:15
1. What determines what is "good"? - The Word of God!
2. Paul tells Titus to teach the believers on Crete, to even discipline with authority if necessary … using the Word of God as that authority.
3. There are some things that should not change though culture changes, and ethics and morality defined by God are things that should never change!
ILLUS: A compass is narrow-minded-it always points to the magnetic north. It seems that is a very narrow view, but a compass is not broad-minded. If it were, all the ships at sea and all the planes in the air would be in danger. We must discipline ourselves, personally, to fight any deviation from the course Jesus set for us. We cannot be tolerant of any other course. To deviate is to sin. -- Billy Graham (1918- ) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 9965.
4. God's Word will always stand as the barometer of Christian behavior, not culture.
a. The world may always think of Christians as narrow-minded with our morality.
b. But God will always be pleased with a people that will obey His Word.
5. There is however a responsibility for each believer to express God's Word in practical ways.
ILLUS: Trim your lamp often so that it will give more light and less smoke. -- Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990).
II. JUST SHOW "NEWNESS" 3:1-11
A. Social Conscience 3:1-8
1. The call to live righteous in an unrighteous society has practical implications.
a. The call includes a demonstration of respecting authority.
b. Even when authority isn't necessarily Christian we are called to obey if it doesn't conflict with our walk with God.
2. All authority is given from God; it was given to control the unbridled expressions of sinfulness in the world.
a. It is not blind obedience that is called for, but it is discipline for Christians to exercise.
b. It is the duty of all Christians to obey the authorities over them as long as they don't require us to disobey God's Word.
3. God's sovereignty works through all authority, God is ultimately in charge, not man!
4. God does not call us to just hang out until He comes; we are to be busy serving until He comes!
ILLUS: During his 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy often closed his speeches with the story of Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives. One day in 1789, the sky of Hartford darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out the windows, feared the end was at hand. Quelling a clamor for immediate adjournment, Davenport rose and said, "The Day of Judgement is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought."
Rather than fearing what is to come, we are to be faithful till Christ returns. Instead of fearing the dark, we're to be lights as we watch and wait. -- Henry Heintz, Troy, New York. Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 2.
5. We must be engaged in this world, not only submitting to the authorities of this world by showing the positive qualities of godliness in the process.
a. Hence Paul admonishes Titus to have the Cretan Christians devote themselves to doing good even if their society was corrupt. 3:8b
b. Christians should be engaged in the world to do good!
6. Christianity has been the most pervasive power in the world for good than any other philosophy or religion!
a. The modern hospital system in western culture was the result of Christians who developed health care for the needy as an expression of Christian love.
b. The education system of our own country was the result of the Gospel of Christ, not scientific interest! - The first 100 college and universities in America were all founded as Christian colleges to promote the discovery of truth with the foundation of the Gospel.
(1. This included places like Harvard and other ivy league schools.
(2. Unfortunately many of these places of higher learning today have strayed from their spiritual foundations, and as a result have lost their moral underpinnings.
c. The development of hard work in our culture was the result of a Christian work ethic - the sense of duty to work hard.
d. The great philanthropic work of Americans was created out of Christianity - it is what made Americans some of the most generous and giving people on Earth.
e. Even our judicial system was created out of Scriptural commands such as the 10 commandments, and demanding a fair hearing and process came right out of the many laws in the Old Testament concerning guilt and punishment.
7. As Christians we are to engage our culture while expressing our faith in God, this is our duty.
B. Spiritual Conduct 3:9-11
1. Responsibility is a crucial element of Christianity.
a. We are to be careful not to get sidetracked by foolish arguments, to stay focused on godly living and responsibility.
b. We are called to be responsible to one another.
c. Real Christianity includes accountability.
2. One of the best ways we help deal with irresponsible behavior in others is by expressing responsible behavior ourselves!
ILLUS: If you try to improve one person by being a good example, you're improving two. If you try to improve someone without being a good example, you won't improve anybody. James H. Thom - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 3436.
3. We are called to challenge one another to live up to high standards.
a. If we fail to help others do this we must not fail ourselves to do this.
b. Accountability is one of the reasons being a Church family is so important … we need each other and the accountability that it provides.
4. While we need to love each other the way we are we must also encourage growth in each other if it is lacking.
ILLUS: God loves us the way we are, but he loves us too much to leave us that way. -- Leighton Ford, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 1.
5. The world is looking in on Christians, what do they see?
6. Is our Spiritual conduct such that the world sees the influence of God's Word in our lives and through us the love and power of God?
7. We need to live in such a way as to say "NO" to ungodliness first in our own lives and then through our engagement with society to challenge them to a higher righteousness than merely a man made righteousness.
CONCLUSION: Paul wrote to two young pastors, Timothy and Titus. In his two letters to Timothy he stressed "doctrine;" in his letter to Titus he stressed "DUTY." It is important for us to realize that as Christians the eyes of the world are upon us. We have a duty to walk worthy of the calling Christ has put upon us. Our lives should reflect the highest duty and good of Christian living.