But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.”
– Titus 2:1-2 [KJV]
Sound doctrine. Boy, do we need this today! We have talked quite a bit about sound doctrine, truth, pure and undefiled lives, and such things already in this study. Seeing these admonishments from Paul over and over again shows us that this is not a problem that is new to society. This problem of distorting God’s word and using it for our own pleasure is as old as the gospel itself. If there was heresy in the church as early as a few decades after Jesus died, now much more heresy has been created in two centuries? All of us need to take heed to these warnings, no matter how much we listen to those great preachers who draw large crowds and build huge followings, or those supposed prophets who are telling us that the end is near, or those radicals who go out on a limb to condemn everything around them instead of praying for God to intervene. We can see easily be led astray and be distracted by the one thing that we are supposed to do – Preach the Word. Not be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Know the truth. We get sidetracked so easily. Here, Paul gives us six ways to be sure we speak things that will become sound doctrine:
1. Be sober. This does not mean that we are abstaining from alcohol, although that is not a bad thing to do. Even the Bible says a little wine is good for the stomach’s sake. I am not a big one for drinking, but I enjoy an occasional glass of wine or a beer. I will take a shot of Blackberry Brandy when I have a bad cold. This is not bad, and it is staying sober when it comes to alcohol. But the sober Paul is talking about goes more to the tenor of our conversation. We should speak in ways that bring reality to light: the reality of a situation that someone is in; the reality of what lies ahead if someone should continue down the same path they are traveling; and the reality of doing that thing that they are thinking of doing. We need to speak words that will bring them back to the sobering idea that they may be heading down the wrong path, following their pride instead of humility. When we think of the word sober, we think of a drunken person coming out of that drunken stupor and back to reality. When a person is lost in his pride and wandering the path of pride, it can be worse than a drunken stupor! We need to speak sobering words to them and help them see their condition. Only God can reveal pride to a man’s heart. But we can help lead them through to their pride through grace and love. I know this because I have been burned by pride so many times. I would not listen to those who would tell me I was going the wrong way and have been brought down to low places. But now I have hit bottom and am climbing out due to the wisdom and prayers of some Godly friends. They spoke sobering words to me – sound doctrine.
2. Be grave. This has nothing to with death, just in case you might think so. It has much more to do with being serious. I have a friend who always wants to joke around and not speak about his own life. He cuts jokes all the time to avoid the pain he feels. Do you remember Alan Alda’s role as Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H? This is him. This is the opposite of being grave. It is true that using humor in our sermons and speeches, and lessons is helpful to get the point across. Humor opens a person’s heart up and allows the words that follow to enter more easily.
Ken Davis, Mark Lowery, and Ron Hutchcraft are great examples of people who use humor to bring the gospel to reality. They present a grave message after softening people’s hearts. There is nothing wrong with that. Being grave is like speaking the truth in love. We don’t just spew out a whole bunch of jokes, funny one-liners, and anecdotes about the present world condition. Yes, this is a messy world we live in. Yes, things are going in the wrong direction in our country. Yes, we have a lot of corruption taking place. Being grave (and sober) brings us to a place where we speak of these things from the vantage point of humility and pray for a better world and a better nation and for stronger leaders who will be saved and follow the Lord. Being grave means that we don’t poke fun at these politicians who are led astray by the same enemy hat is diverting us into condemning them instead of praying for them. Remember John 3:16? We all know that verse. But do you know John 3:17? Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. What right do we have to condemn anybody? Speak words of life – be grave.
3. Be temperate. Watch your words. Swearing has no place in a Christian’s life. No place. Grumbling, moaning, and complaining have no place in a believer’s life. Gossip and backbiting have no place in a Christian’s life. Speaking with temperance means that we are careful to avoid all of these pitfalls. I hear so much of this pointed at our government leaders, our President, and Vice President, and others in authority that I am not surprised our country is headed in the direction it is. Our job is to speak with temperance. With prayerfulness, watching our words carefully to make sure we are not speaking into existence the things we know are wrong. Our words are powerful. When we repeat the lies of the enemy, we only speak them into existence. We need to pray over our leaders all the time, hold them up in the highest regard and pray for their salvation and their ears to be open to the Holy Spirit. We are not being temperate. We are peaking out of our own pride, thinking God does not know what He is doing putting these people in charge. Is He not in control? Does the Almighty not hold the reins of every man’s heart in His hands? Can He not turn their hearts with one quick jolt, as He did with Paul on the road tom Damascus, or with me in that small country church in Fairfield, Iowa? He surely can! In an instance! What is He waiting for? I would attest to you that he is waiting for us to be temperate, sober, and grave, come to our knees in humility, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways and our improper speech and thoughts. It is then he will hear our prayer and restore our land. This is a promise, but we must be temperate.
I like to keep my posts brief, so I am going to end here. There are three more things to discuss regarding sound doctrine for men, and it will take more words than I want to put into a single post to cover them: faith, charity, and patience. I will say that I love how Paul puts patience at the end like it has to cover all the other things. We are so quick to fall away from these other points of sound doctrine because it seems to take forever. But we must approach it all with patience. More tomorrow on that!