The purpose of God is fulfilled when we give proper honor to his Word.
Titus 2:7-8 – “Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that any opponent will be ashamed, because he doesn’t have anything bad to say about us.”
As Paul is writing to Titus regarding how he should be a godly leader, he mentions that his works and his teaching should be supportive of each other. He shouldn’t just teach about the right things but he should practice doing good, as well.
In regard to the nature of Titus’ teaching, Paul uses two terms that I believe are lacking among many modern Bible teachers, and these terms are typically translated as integrity and dignity. Looking a little deeper into these terms we might learn a little more about how unique these characteristics are.
By looking at the second word first, the word usually translated as dignity, we can see an important aspect represented here. The Helps Word Studies reference provides an interesting expanded definition for us.
“[this word] reflects what has been transformed by God and exhibits “moral and spiritual gravity (gravitas)” – like what attends a deep, godly character. This sense of dignity also invites reverence from others, who should likewise exalt what is noble (morally-elevated).”
I think that this is a significant characteristic that is lacking in much of modern Bible teaching today. Many, if not most of those espousing biblical concepts will do so in a way that panders to their audience, usually using many informal colloquialisms to try to make the message more palatable for their tastes.
A Christian writer by the name of Alec Satin writes about the continual increasing informality of worship today in his article, What is irreverent worship?
“Reverence to the Lord is sober. It’s attentive, quiet and alert. It’s inconceivable that you would simultaneously check your email on your phone while you’re having an audience with the Queen of England. So how in the world could it possibly be okay for you to check Facebook while you’re supposedly worshipping the King of all creation?”
This indication of the informality of the congregation leads back to the informality of the leadership and the type of teaching going on in congregations today.
Returning to Paul’s admonition to Titus, the first word describing the type of teaching Paul recommends is usually translated as integrity or purity. It is unique in that this form of the word is used nowhere else in the Greek New Testament. Because of its uniqueness, it can be helpful to get to its root word to see what it is derived from that can perhaps broaden our understanding of its use.
The underlying Greek root is a word that is typically translated as immortality or incorruptibility. Here are some examples:
- Romans 2:7 – eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality;
- 1 Corinthians 15:53 – For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality.
- 2 Timothy 1:10 – This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Messiah Yeshua, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Once again, an expanded definition from the Helps Word Studies provides an explanation of the term:
“properly, [it means] no-corruption (unable to experience deterioration); incorruptibility (not perishable), i.e. lacking the very capacity to decay or constitutionally break down.”
This idea of teaching that lacks the capacity for decay means that, by default, it must be based on the most foundational aspects of the gospel message, not what is considered the most culturally acceptable aspects of that message. When all we take away from the Bible is a paradigm of social acceptability and fodder for a cause du jour, we rob the Word of its power and we defame God’s honor. We should not be using the Word to serve our purposes, but instead we should be submitting our purposes, goals, and aspirations to the Word.
We read in the Bible how the Word of God is eternal and unchanging.
1 Peter 1:22-25 – Since you have purified yourselves by your obedience to the truth, so that you show sincere brotherly love for each other, from a pure heart love one another constantly, because you have been born again – not of perishable seed but of imperishable – through the living and enduring word of God. For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this word is the gospel that was proclaimed to you.
Peter, quoting from Isaiah, mentions not only how the Word of God endures forever, but is the imperishable seed that causes people to become born again, or born from above. When that message is compromised by becoming culturally issue-oriented, it robs God’s Word of its power, and reduces the majesty of God to the image of man.
It is up to us to ensure our message remains focused on the eternal and imperishable gospel of the Kingdom, and thereby any opponents will not be able to say anything bad about us or our teaching. In this way, the honor and glory of our God will remain intact and visible for all to see, and those seeking the immortal Word of life can be satisfied.
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