Good morning guys, if we haven’t met, my name is Jason, I’m a pastoral resident at south campus. I’m glad to be with you this morning. I want to remind you that through our time in intern chapel, we’ve heard a common theme throughout the book of Titus. We’ve heard over and over again that gospel belief leads to gospel behavior. That what we believe about Jesus affects what we think, what we feel, and what we do. It affects every aspect of our being, and. It should change how we live our lives. We’ve learned that our behavior has significance in God’s kingdom.
In fact, Sam showed us last week why the way we live matters so much. He shared Paul’s exhortation to us to live godly lives so that we don’t revile the word of God. He talked about how believers are called to live in a way that’s completely different than the world around us, and that if we don’t live in that completely different way, we can make the gospel look worthless to other people. We can revile the gospel. That’s an incredible weight that’s given to our actions, isn’t it?
The text that we’re studying today is going to continue down the same path that we’ve been on. It’s going to show that yes, gospel belief should result in gospel behavior. But the focus of this passage is about the purpose our behavior. What I want you to know, and believe today, is that God wants to use you to show off the beauty of the gospel to others.
Turn with me to Titus 2:9-10.
Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
For a passage like this, it’s pretty clear what the message is. It’s right here in the text. Paul is telling slaves to be well-pleasing, non-argumentative, to not steal, and to show good faith. This text – a text that on first glance is extremely practical – is all about glory. That we are meant to live in such a way that Jesus is glorified in everything we do. For us reading this today, I think that there are two temptations for us that we may fall into that can steal away the meaning of this passage for us.
First, it’s possible to dismiss this message as not applying to us. Paul is clearly speaking to slaves, and none of us in this room fit into that category. But if we look to the very first statement of this letter, it’s clear that this word from Paul still has meaning for us. Paul says that he writes for the sake of the faith of God’s elect. The instructions that follow focus in on different groups of people, but Paul’s intention is that by addressing these different groups, that the whole church would be exhorted. This is his word for the elect, and his word for us today. So if you’re tempted to brush off this passage because you’re not a slave, remember that this word is for you, the elect.
The second temptation some of us may have is to take this word as a only list of things to do. We’re going to try and adorn the gospel without experiencing the beauty of the gospel. We can read the command to be well-pleasing, and work at being well pleasing. We can read the command to not steal – and most of us can pull that off – I hope. If that’s the command Paul is calling us to, most of us can probably check that off the list. The temptation for us in these things is going to be engaging in gospel behavior without engaging our gospel belief. When we try to obey God without being rooted in and motivated by the gospel, our obedience will run dry. We can only go so long on our own strength.
To avoid that temptation, we have to remind ourselves of the doctrine we’re meant to adorn.
The Doctrine of God our Savior
This doctrine of God our savior is the gospel. Over Easter weekend we had a sweet reminder of exactly what this doctrine is; that God sent his son Jesus to die for our sins, and that he rose from the dead in order to conquer sin and death. This is the gospel. In an earlier letter, Paul summarizes exactly what the gospel is. He says,
… that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
The doctrine of God is found in looking at the son of God. This is what we’re meant to adorn with our behavior. And the very reason that we can adorn it is because Jesus fundamentally changes who we are.
Obedience Comes from Identity
Jesus is God our Savior. In him, we are made into new people – new creations who not only want to glorify God, but are actually able to. We didn’t have that desire before God saved us, and even if we had, we had no means by which we could carry it out. But we have been made new. We have the Holy Spirit to remind us of the good news of Jesus. And through the Holy Spirit, belief in Jesus produces gospel behavior.
That’s why Paul isn’t only instructing on how to live, but is reminding us why we should live that way. Every command in scripture is like this; it’s always rooted in who we are as believers in Jesus. If Jesus hadn’t rescued us, there’s no way we could obey. Slaves wouldn’t have a chance at obeying their masters in the way Paul called them to. We wouldn’t be able to glorify God with how we live. If we’re going to have any hope of adorning the doctrine of God our Savior with our lives, we have to engage with the doctrine of God our Savior with our hearts. We have to remember who we are in Christ.
So when we adore the gospel in our heart, we will adorn the gospel with our behavior. The new person that you and I are in Christ has a new spirit that wants to glorify God. That’s what adorning means… it’s glorifying God and pointing to the beauty of the gospel
Adorning the Gospel
The gospel is beautiful on its own. So we aren’t supposed to make it look beautiful – we get to show off its beauty that is already there. To adorn something means to show it off. Another definition means to embellish with honor. Paul’s word for us to adorn the gospel with our behavior means that it should compliment the gospel – it should put it on display and highlight its beauty. Our behavior should reflect the gospel that we proclaim.
At my last job, I worked for a non-profit. When I hired new staff, I explained that the most important part of their job was how they interacted with people. I explained that they are representing our organization in every phone call, in every meeting, in every time they interacted with someone. Every interaction was a chance to build on or tear down the reputation we had established in our city.
This is similar to Paul’s word in this text. We show off the gospel by the way we live. We show that God is alive, and that the gospel actually changes us. That because of God our Savior, even the most marginalized of his people prove their good faith when they are mistreated .
Showing All Good Faith
Paul uses this phrase, showing all good faith, to be absolutely clear that our behavior should reflect our beliefs. That phrase could also be said another way – proving all good faith. For slaves, Paul knew that in their situation that being submissive, well-pleasing, and not stealing, would prove their faith to their masters.
Can you think of how radical it would be for a slave master to witness the changed life of one of his slaves? hey would know that other slaves would rebel, talk back, and probably steal – but not slaves who knew Jesus. They would see their behavior and how it compliments, displays, and proves the gospel. What an incredible witness to the gospel. God is honored by that. The same is true for others in our lives.
God will be glorified when you love other people like this. What if, in every interaction we had with others, we acted in response to this question; will God be glorified in how I act towards this person? Will the gospel be adorned, and shown to be beautiful, in what I say, in what I do?
Adoration through Demonstration
There’s no question that Paul is telling us that our actions have a direct relationship to glorifying God. If you want to show off and prove the one who has saved you, you do that through demonstrating the fruit of being saved. If Jesus has really changed your heart, he’s going to also change your behavior.
He says in everything, adorn the gospel. Not just in the way you submit, or don’t argue, or don’t steal – in everything! That means every aspect of our lives, everything that we do in private, and everything that is seen by others, should adorn the gospel.
How amazing is God’s grace to us! Think about what God has done. We were a people that were his enemies, people that rejected him, and worshiped lesser things than him. But through Jesus, God has now made it possible for us to glorify him. His grace has covered the worst of who we were… Now we’re able to show off God’s grace by the way we live.
The whole of our person and our behavior should prove that the gospel is true. That’s an incredible call from an incredible God.
When We Revile the Gospel
At the same time, there’s some tension here. There’s tension because if you take an honest look at your life – at your week even, or the past day – can you say that in everything, that you’ve adorned the doctrine of God our savior? That the whole of your actions have glorified God and displayed the gospel to others? Because that’s what Paul is calling us to do; he’s saying that in everything, God should be glorified by what we do.
I think that for some of us, today, this word for us might seem more of a burden than a joy. For some of us, we’re far too aware that not everything in us adorns the gospel. That even over Easter weekend, there’s been things we have said, thoughts we’ve thought, and lies that we have believed, that have not proven the good news that we proclaim. If we can be honest with ourselves for a moment this morning, we can point out times that we’ve actually reviled the gospel.
Sometimes, we look more like slaves to the sin of this world than like the children of God.
So what is our hope? What do we do when it feels that you just can’t measure up.
The means of grace to us when we fail to adorn the gospel is through repentance. It’s through repentance that we confess to God where we’ve failed to glorify him. It’s through repentance that we turn away from our failure towards obedience. And it’s through repentance that we get to experience the good news of the gospel again. When we hold up the darkness of our sin to the light of the gospel – when we repent – we adorn the very gospel that we previously reviled.
We have the freedom to confess where we’ve failed, the ways that we’ve dishonored his name, the times that our actions have reviled the gospel. We have that freedom because… what? Because God our savior has come for us, bringing salvation for our souls. And it’s because of God’s grace alone that our repentance can actually bring him glory. God is glorified because we are confessing that he is better than what we had, or what we did. God is glorified because he is proven to be alive, and powerful, and good to bring his people back to himself. God is glorified because we are declaring his grace and our need for him in that moment.
When we repent, it’s first to God. But we can also repent to others. If we’ve failed to be well-pleasing to someone, if we’ve failed to demonstrate the gospel that we declare, we need to confess that to them and seek their forgiveness. If you’re in that place, God will be glorified through confessing to that person your need for God’s grace. God will be glorified by you pointing to his faithfulness to call you his own despite the ways you revile him.
Friends, if you have reviled the gospel… today, this weekend, last week… God still wants to work in you to glorify himself. He’s inviting you to adorn the gospel through your repentance. There is an immeasurable grace that is here for you right now in Christ Jesus. If that’s you, have hope that the gospel will be adorned through your repentance. Rejoice in God’s grace that has appeared to you and brought you salvation.
Maybe that isn’t you today. Maybe today, you heard Paul’s exhortation and thought, “Amen!” By God’s grace, I’m doing that. He’s working in me every day to show off his beauty and glory. If that’s you this morning, my encouragement in you is to not rejoice in your obedience, but to rejoice in God’s grace that has appeared to you and brought you salvation.
Wherever you are this morning, rejoice that Jesus has made you new, and that he will be faithful to work in you to bring him more glory. And through that, you’ll find you deepest joy.