Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. –Titus 2:7-8
I remember when I decided to take up Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). I was a scrawny seventeen-year-old young man riddled with all sorts of insecurities. I had never been an athlete, I had never even won an arm wrestling match. I wanted to be strong and tough, so I went to an MMA gym.
My first martial arts class ever was a boxing class. I had been in a few fights as a kid but I had no idea how to throw a proper punch. When my partner held his hand pads for me I punched those pads with all my might. Despite my skinny stature, the entire gym resounded with loud thuds. I was both surprised and satisfied with how much power my arms could generate. The only problem was my form, it was terrible.
Frank Savannah was my boxing instructor. Frank was a former professional boxer who retired with a record of 15 (wins)-1 (draw)-1 (loss) and is an inductee of The New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame. He took me aside, stood me right next to him facing a large mirror on the wall. For about 20 minutes he taught me proper fighting stance, how to throw a jab, a cross, and a left hook. In this time he stood right beside me and made me imitate exactly how he stood and threw these punches.
It has been a long time since I have step foot inside a boxing gym. However, because of Mr. Savannah’s tutelage, I can still throw a good jab, cross, and left hook. Every time I shadow box in front of a mirror for fun I still remember the image of my incredibly gifted coach throwing that exact combo.
This is how discipleship ought to work. Paul commands Titus to be a model for good works and to teach not just with sound doctrine, but with integrity, dignity, and sound speech. The point Paul is making is that younger Christians should be able to look at elders and older members of the faith as a blueprint for a godly life. Christians should have the confidence that if they follow the example of their Pastor they will be living a life that is pleasing to God.
Voddie Baucham makes a great point about this in the sermon clip posted below. He talks about how only among Christians do we think it is acceptable to be mediocre in holiness and sound theology.
It is not acceptable for Pastors and older Christians to have nothing they can teach younger Christians. God’s word does not call us to mediocre lives of faithfulness, but to lives zealous for good works. Consider what Paul says to Titus in the next few verses:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. –Titus 2:11-14
No man is saved by works. The Bible is crystal clear about that. Anyone who says otherwise is a heretic. However, the fruit of salvation is that those who believe will be a people zealous for good works. Older Christians ought to lead the charge in godliness, not sit as passive bystanders. Given this truth, I think it is perfectly fair to ask that when a man professes faith in Christ, but he has no godliness to show for it, is that person truly converted? A man that says he has been walking with God for forty years, but still lives like the world, is that a testimony of a life changed by the gospel or is that a testimony to a false profession?
These are weighty matters. I do not write this lightly. The last thing I want to do is cause a lack of assurance for a true believer. Yet, 2 Corinthians 13:5 commands us:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
The test of true Salvation is a changed life.
Pastors and older brothers, I want to encourage you to continue in godliness. Continue in steadfastness by the power of God. There are young men who are watching you Older believers, take the time to pour into the lives of younger men. There are young men who are watching you. There are young men that need you. There are unbelievers that are watching your example and are looking for a way to accuse you. How many Pastors have damaged the witness of the Church through sexual infidelity and greed? Do not be like them but be like Christ.
Lastly, if you have been professing faith in Christ all your life and yet there is no fruit of repentance, no understanding of the gospel, no love for God our His people, may I ask you to test yourself? It would be awful to be self-deceived only to be cast by God into hell as a false convert. Place your trust in Christ. Trust in His work on the cross. Trust that he was raised from the dead and now he lives victoriously over death. Repent of your sin and believe on Him.
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