Summary: Deals with the necessity of self-control in the Christian spiritual life.
The Productive Life, prt. 3
Wildwind Community Church
March 26, 2006
David K. Flowers
Annie Dillard once wrote that you don’t have to go outside on a dark night. You don’t have to clear away all distractions, get far away from everything in the city, and look up into the sky with a telescope. Unless of course you happen to be interested in learning more about the stars. That’s what I love about God’s Word. You don’t have to open that book and learn what’s in it. You live in America, where you don’t have to know how to find anything in it, or believe anything it says. Unless of course you are interested in the possibility of a God who created you, loves you, and has a purpose for you that goes beyond what you can easily observe around you every day. If you’re interested in knowing that God, it’s essential to look into the Bible. The Koran won’t show you that God. Judaism won’t show you that God. In neither of those religions does God have much interest in any personal interactions with you – that God just wants you to follow the rules. Buddhism won’t show you that God – Buddhism actually is what’s called an atheistic religion and does not really believe in God at all. Hindu won’t show you that God, because in Hinduism there is no personal God of any kind – just kind of an impersonal life force. Pop culture – most movies, TV shows, books, music, and magazines, will certainly not show you that God, for they’re all too busy saying that God is whoever you make Him out to be – they don’t consider that God might have a mind of His own that we could seek, and partly find, and act on in order to see our lives changed.
You don’t have to come to church on a Sunday morning and listen to a preacher talk, and crack the pages of an ancient book. But if you sense in the deepest part of your soul that something is missing, and if you would like to see what can be done to find that missing part, and maybe make some kind of contact with a God who created and loves and has a purpose for you, then you came to the right place. Welcome, my friends.
Our current sermon series is called The Productive Life, and we’re trying to find out what it means to live a spiritually productive life – in other words, a life that begins on the inside, at the deepest part of who we are, and extends outward from there. Here in Titus the writer (Paul) doesn’t say, “You know what, rules are evil, Titus – ditch ‘em all – tell the people they can do whatever they want to. That’s the key to a productive life.” Nor does he say, “Crush these people with an iron fist, Titus – show them who’s boss – make them beg for mercy.” Not at all. The fact is, if you want to be a certain kind of person (a Godly person), there are certain paths that will get you there and certain paths that will not. In Titus we explore a little of each. In Titus, Paul says the path is not to just blindly follow your leaders – in fact he lays out the kind of people leaders need to be in chapter 1. He says the path is not to just blindly follow rules – in fact, as we saw last week, rules can sometimes be the main thing that KEEP us from God. What Paul says is that the path that will help us achieve real spiritual change in our lives is a path he calls the path of “sound doctrine.”
Titus 2:1 (NIV)
1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
If you want to live a spiritually productive life, then you must follow the path of “sound doctrine.” My search on Google for the definition of “sound,” revealed three relevant definitions. If teaching is sound it is logically valid, in good condition, and free from moral defect. Doctrine is defined as a belief or system of beliefs accepted as authoritative. So Paul instructs Titus to teach people systems of authoritative belief that are logically valid, in good condition, and free from moral defect. Teaching that claims to be moral teaching, but that is done for immoral reasons, contradicts itself before the message lands on the ears of those who hear. Spiritual teaching cannot be sound when done for the sake of dishonest gain, or really for any other purpose other than what we have already covered – the embrace of God’s cause, the love of God’s people, and the teaching of God’s truth.