Those of us who have been studying the book of Titus on Wednesday nights have seen repeatedly the tie between sound doctrine and godliness. Paul’s letter to Titus was occasioned by the presence of people in the churches of Crete who held to wrong doctrine and lived ungodly lives. He writes of this crowd both that they were “teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” and that they were “liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (1:11-12). Because of these two things, Paul commanded Titus to rebuke them. The first chapter ends with this assessment: They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works.
This concerned Paul primarily because it was discrediting the gospel. These people claimed to be Christians, but their ungodly lifestyles dragged Christ’s name through the mud. Their sinfulness indicated that this Christ was just like other gods, unable to change people.
We have noted numerous times that one of the most common objections to the gospel today is the hypocrisy of Christians. People claim to be Christians and they even share the gospel, but then they live ungodly lives just like the culture around them. They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works.
The book of Titus shows that our walk needs to match our talk. Paul teaches that sound doctrine accords with godliness (1:1) and godliness accords with sound doctrine (2:1). There needs to be both a balance and a consistency between what we say and how we live. We must understand that our witness to other people will be a combination of the things we say in sharing the gospel and the things we do in living our lives. We cannot consider ourselves faithful witnesses if we neglect one of the two.
Some people think that witnessing is all about the words we speak. But those who concentrate on speaking the gospel to the exclusion of living the gospel in front of people miss the point that our actions sometimes speak louder than our words. Jesus exhorts us in Matthew 5:16 to “let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to you Father who is in heaven.” Our actions can show people that our God is a God who does what we say He does. We must be living a life that validates the gospel we speak.
On the other hand, we must not think that living the gospel is sufficient. We must also verbally share the truth with people. The text of Titus presupposes that the gospel was being shared. We must be opening our mouths and actually telling people the good news. What good does it do for someone to see that I am a virtuous, godly person if I do not share with them the reason for my godly lifestyle? Romans 10:17 teaches, “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” A faithful witness is someone who not only lives the truth, but who also opens his mouth to speak it.
Consider whether or not you lean one way or the other. Do strive to live a godly life in the world without verbally sharing the gospel? Or do you share the gospel without keeping watch on your lifestyle to make sure it commends the gospel? It is never too late to balance the two. If you have been reluctant to share the gospel, get started. If you are concerned that you have destroyed your testimony by demonstrating ungodliness in front of unbelievers, seek help killing sin in your life so that those around you will notice the change and find your message more credible.
We are the light of the world (Matt 5:14). To shine as intended for God’s glory we must both share and live the gospel.
Posted by Greg Birdwell