Teaching That Accords with Sound Doctrine — Part One
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Teaching That Accords with Sound Doctrine — Part One

Titus 2:4–10  (ID: 2874)

In sharp contrast to the false teaching and man-made regulations that had become popular in Crete, Paul exhorted Titus to teach in accordance with sound doctrine. Solid biblical teaching, he explained, silences opponents, glorifies God, and edifies His people. Examining Paul’s instructions for young men, women, and slaves, Alistair Begg notes that regardless of social status, a pure, self-disciplined life makes the Gospel beautiful and God’s Word respected in the world around us.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Titus, Volume 2

Sound Doctrine, Sound Living Titus 2:1–15 Series ID: 15604

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn with me to Titus and to chapter 2. It’s page 998, if you would care to use one of our church Bibles. And I encourage you to do that. It’s always good to be able to see that what is being said is actually in the Bible, or to check that it’s in the Bible—to make sure it’s in the Bible. You need to bring all of the sermons under the control of the Bible. Never just take anybody’s word for it. Make sure that you have a good, careful look.

Verse 1:

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they[’re] 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 the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

“Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”


Well, it was a wonderful Sunday morning last Sunday, when we had Derek here with us and that terrific study from Romans 8, “How Do We Know That God Is for Us?” This morning, now, we return to our routine studies in Titus. And before we look to this passage, we’ll pause and pray:

Gracious God, with our Bibles open before us, we earnestly ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to illumine the page to us, to help us both to see and to understand, to believe and to obey. Accomplish your purposes, we ask, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, the teaching ministry of Titus—and it is a teaching ministry, as we can see from these three chapters—is to stand out in contrast to the false teaching that has already begun to invade these congregations on the island of Crete.[1] And what he does in terms of “integrity” and “dignity” and “sound speech that can[’t] be condemned,” as is mentioned in verse 8 here as we read it, is to be in stark contrast to what is coming from the mouths of those who, according to 1:10, are “insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers”—people who are devoting themselves to all kinds of mythology attaching to Judaism, and people who are pronouncing for people commands that are essentially the inventions of men; they’re man-made regulations. And Paul is warning Titus against such individuals and is saying to him, “It is absolutely imperative, Titus, that when you teach, you teach what is in accord with the sound doctrine. In other words, all the things that I have made clear to you, Titus, about the gospel, about who God is and how he has made himself known and what he has done in the Lord Jesus Christ to redeem a people that are his own—when you lay that down for the people, then you must make sure that you teach them that there are things that emerge from the clarity of that instruction: a view of the world that is mandated by those convictions, characteristics of interpersonal relationships and private life that flow from the gospel, and implications in the everyday events of society,” as we’re going to see in chapter 3. “But all of it, Titus, you must make sure is comprehensive in the minds of those that you’re instructing.”

And this is no easy task, as becomes clear from verse 15, which we noted a few weeks ago, when we dealt with the instruction to Titus himself from this second chapter. But there’s no reason for Paul to come back at the end of this section and say, “Declare these things,” apart from the temptation that would be there for Titus not to declare these things—for him to step away from the implications of much of what he is forced to say about what it means to be married, what it means to unmarried, what it means to be controlled, what it means to be involved in the politics of life in Crete, and so on. No, he has to make sure (again, in verse 15) that he exercises a ministry of exhortation and that he is prepared to rebuke and that he is prepared to do so with all authority—not the authority of Titus’s personality, but the authority which is his as a minister of the gospel—and no one should disregard him. No one should disregard him. And again, the reason that it is so important is in order that those who are his flock, who are under his care, would understand that there is a lifestyle that accompanies this sound doctrine.

How in the world am I going to find out how to glorify God and enjoy him? By turning to your Bible.

Now, we’re jumping back into it here halfway through verse 4. Because the exhortation that has been given to the older men we have looked at; to the older women, in verse 3, we have considered. And then we had begun to look at the fact that to these more mature women has been entrusted a training and a teaching role within the church—not one that is primarily formalized, as in a classroom (although there is a place for that, as is clearly obvious), but rather the kind of teaching and training that emerges as a result of rubbing shoulders in the everyday events of life. And the personal trainers that are to be emerging just as folks run into one another are to be providing the opportunity to teach these young women—notice in verse 4—“to love their husbands and [their] children.”

And we pondered the fact that it is an interesting thing that you would have to be trained to love your husband and your children. Are you not just supposed to do that naturally? Well, what he’s referring to here is not love as a victim of our emotions but love as a servant of our wills, and that the first blush and enthusiasm of early married life lasts about thirty-six months, I think, by recollection. After thirty-six months, you move into another phase where she’s a wonderful girl, but she’s not just as wonderful as she was at thirty-two months, and you haven’t been as wonderful since about twelve months, and so the whole thing has moved into another dimension. And the lady may find herself saying, “Dear me! Maybe I should read People magazine and find out what I’m supposed to do.” No, you daren’t do that. Don’t read that nonsense. Just find an older lady in the church. She’ll help you. She’ll be able to say, “Don’t worry. I can help you with this. I can train you to love your husband and to love your children.”

The Glory of God

Now, this is going to go on with further instruction. And I want to pause very purposefully and for a fair moment of time here to identify for you the purpose statements that run through this entire instruction. There are three of them. First, in verse 5, the reason for this instruction in relationship to the women—the young women in the home—is in order that, you will notice at the end of verse 5, “the word of God may not be reviled.” We’ll come back to that. So “that the word of God may not be reviled.” In relationship to Titus’s ministry himself, the soundness and integrity of it, it is in order that—verse 8—opponents “may be put to shame.” And then in verse 10, in relationship to the functioning of employers and employees, or slaves and the slave owners, it is in order that “in everything … the doctrine of God our Savior” may then be adorned.

Now, the reason I pause here is because I think if we lose sight of the purpose of this instruction, we may fall foul of all kinds of ideas: that somehow or another, this is an archaic expression of a lifestyle that is embedded in a kind of Pauline theology in a first-century church that has no immediate application to those of us living in the twenty-first century; or that we may view the instruction simply as a mechanism for our own well-being, that it is here in the Bible in order that we might sort of live happy and peaceable lives. There is no question that when we do as God intends for us to do, the potential for peaceful lives and a measure of happiness is there. But you will notice that the purpose in all of these instances, with this intensely practical instruction for the local fellowships in Crete, is in order that God, in everything, may be glorified, that God’s Word may be magnified, and that God’s people may be built up.

So in other words, if you come to the passage about “How am I supposed to live as a young woman?” and sort of treat it in an atomized way—in a “How does this affect me?” way—then you will immediately go wrong. And if we’re tempted to do that, then the rest of us who are not young women will find ourselves saying, “Well, why is this not just a class for young women? I mean, I’m not a young woman. Why are we even studying this passage?” Well, we’re studying the passage because it’s in the Bible, and all of the Scripture is profitable for correction and reproof and for training in righteousness,[2] and all of us are involved with one another as brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

Therefore, if we’re going to exhort and encourage one another, we’re going to have to do it on the basis of something; and the something that is the basis for our exhortation and encouragement is nothing other than the Word of God itself. So how am I, as a father, to encourage my daughters to live with their husbands in relationship to Titus chapter 2—not exclusively but definitely? How am I to learn to live in a way that is honoring to my wife in relationship to Titus chapter 2? How am I to make my way through the journey of my days in relationship to the instruction of God’s Word? In other words, all of it is about God and about the gospel and about his glory. It’s all about God and the gospel and his glory.

When I was thinking along those lines this week, I said to myself, “You know, it is very important that I keep in mind, and the folks keep in mind as well, the Westminster Shorter Catechism.” And I’m sure you would agree with that immediately just when I mention it to you. And we needn’t go any further than the first two questions to help us here and to establish purpose. First question in the Shorter Catechism is “What is the chief end of man?”—which is the fundamental question of all of life. It’s the question “Why do I exist?” It’s the question that says, “Why do I go to work?” It’s the question that addresses everything that I do and all that I am. And to get the answer wrong is horrible. To get it right is fantastic. What is the answer? The answer that is given is that the chief end of man—that is, men and women—the chief end of man “is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” “To glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” And the second question then asks, “What rule has God given in order that we might know what it is to glorify him and enjoy him?” And the answer is, “The only rule that he has given us is his Word, the Bible.” Now, we see how that all fits together. Why do I exist? As a young woman, as a young man, as a senior, or whatever it might be, I exist to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. How in the world am I going to find out how to glorify God and enjoy him? The answer is, by turning to your Bible.

Now, let me just remind you of what the theologians have taught us concerning the glory of God.

First of all, that God in himself, possesses an intrinsic glory—an intrinsic glory, a glory that is essential to his being as God. It’s not something that is added to him or may be subtracted from him. The Queen is celebrating her jubilee. In fact, today, I think, the barge is going down the River Thames. (Half past ten, halfway… Yeah, she’s probably going down the River Thames right now.) And she has a glory that is represented on her barge this afternoon, is represented by her throne, is represented by her crown, is represented by her jewels. But when you remove the throne, the crown, the jewels, the barge, the coaches, she’s just like everybody else. All of that glory is not intrinsic glory. It is, if you like, an attached glory. But the glory of God is intrinsic to his being. To remove his glory would be to remove him as God. It is impossible.

So when we think about giving glory to God, we don’t think for a moment that we’re adding to the intrinsic glory which is his as God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but what we’re doing is actually ascribing glory to him. So there is an intrinsic glory that is inherent in his being—the glory that he has in himself, that is an essential part of him—and then there is the glory that is ascribed to God, which simply means that we lift up his name, that we magnify his glory in the world and in the lives of others. We make much of God. So, whatever it might be… We’ve sung already this morning that “creation sings the Father’s song.”[3] We were making much of God as Creator. We go back into a world that is increasingly interested in denying that truth. And we teach our children to say that before there was time, before there was anything, there was God; that he created the heavens and the earth; that the evening stars declare his glory; that the birth of every child is an indication of his handiwork; and so on. And in saying these things and in affirming these things, we give glory to God.

Thomas Watson, who was so tremendously helpful in his day, uses four words that I want to give you.[4] I won’t expound them. I’ll just give you them, and you can ponder them yourself. But he uses four words to describe what is involved in glorifying God.

The first word is appreciation. Appreciation. The psalmist says, “You are exalted far above all gods.”[5] “We appreciate the fact that you are above and beyond every other kind of manmade, invented god.” Appreciation.

Secondly, adoration. Adoration. Giving to God the glory that is due to his name.

Thirdly, affection. Affection. And not the affection which emerges as a result of receiving something, so that a godless, an unbelieving, person may have a measure of affection towards God because the sun is shining and it isn’t raining. So they say, “Well, if there is a God in heaven, I’m feeling predisposed to him today, because it’s a nice day. It’s not a nice day, then I don’t feel that way.” That’s not the affection. Not the affection which emerges in response to something, but the love or the affection or the delight that sets its heart upon God in the way that we would set our hearts upon a treasure, or in the way that just rejoices in the company of a good friend, so that the friend doesn’t bring us anything; the friend is just there, and we just say, “Ah, this is great. Isn’t it great to be together? I love you as a friend. I’m glad of your company. This means everything to me.” We glorify God when we display that kind of affection.

And the fourth word is the word subjection. Subjection. A-A-A-S: appreciation, adoration, affection, and subjection. When we are subjecting ourselves—our minds—to God’s truth, our tongues to his praise, our hands to his service. When we bring our minds, if you like, underneath the privileges, the responsibilities, and the demands that are set out for us in the Bible. Because remember: How will we learn to glorify God and enjoy him? The answer is, he’s given us the only rule to this in his Word, the Bible.

Now, loved ones, do you understand how this transforms everything that you do? When we understand this, then it changes everything. It changes the way we view life in its infancy. It absolutely transforms what it means to be a teenager trying to work out your existence—figure out your hormones and everything else that goes on. It actually makes a huge impact on the way in which we decide how we’re going to live our lives in relationship to vocation and employment and everything else. It affects what happens to us in middle life, when, having done our very best, we have now discovered that our hopes and our aspirations have not quite gone the way we wanted them, and we find ourselves now in office number 21 when we were hoping for office number 67, or whatever it might be, or that we thought that life would have gone in a different way in relationship to our children, or whatever it is. Unless we constantly stand back and say, “God, what am I doing here in the universe?” and get the answer right, then we will be like everybody else in the universe, chasing desperately for a Friday to try and get through the miserable existence of the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—so that we can constantly hear on the radio, “Don’t worry! It’s only three days left now to the weekend! Only three days to go, and you can make sense of your existence down at the such-and-such place, or over here at the next place.” Our whole world is programmed in that way! And if we’re not careful, we’ll be right there as well. So we’ll see everything that we’re doing as simply an addendum to all the things we really want to do.

But when you realize that the fourteenth load of laundry… Not that I’ve ever done fourteen loads of laundry. I have never done four loads of laundry. But the fact is… And I don’t mean this in any disparaging way, but I mean, I’m in awe of that laundry room when I see all the things my wife does. How do you hold all these things in tension? How do you do all these things? I mean, be honest, fellows: you can’t make the toast pop up and the egg boil and the tea go simultaneously. If your life depended on it, you can’t do it. And yet she does this, this, this, this, this—multiple things! And she sits down and says to herself, “What the world am I doing?” And if she isn’t able to say, “I’m glorifying God and enjoying him forever,” then she doesn’t have sufficient motive for doing anything she’s doing.

Unless we constantly stand back and say, ‘God, what am I doing here in the universe?’ and get the answer right, then we will be like everybody else in the universe, chasing desperately for a Friday to try and get through the miserable existence of the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

It’s not hard to see how a failure to grasp the ultimate big picture then extends itself into the futilities and failures and alienations of contemporary life. There’s a reason Woody Allen is messed up as he is: ’cause he doesn’t know the answer to the first question in the Shorter Westminster Catechism, and he needs to. Tiger Woods needs to know the answer to this first question in the catechism. And so do you, and so do I.

Glorifying God in everything, enjoying him in everything.

Self-Controlled, Pure, and Kind

Now let’s, with that said, come back to the application which is ours to make in relationship to the home and, in particular, in relationship to young women: “train[ing] the young women to love their husbands and [their] children, to be self-controlled, pure.” I wonder if these are couplets—if it shouldn’t be “self-controlled, pure; working at home and kind.” It doesn’t really matter. They’re all commas in my version, and yours, too, I’m sure.

You don’t need to really work too hard to understand “self-controlled.” It is a call to be what we are, isn’t it? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, and joy, and peace, and gentleness, and kindness, and meekness,” and so on, “and self-control.”[6] He’s already said to Titus, “Make sure that the older women are not out of control. Don’t let them be hanging around wine bars and getting totally smashed. They’re not going to be any help to you in the congregation at all. Make sure that they’re not slanderous. Make sure that their tongues have not gone south.” And in the same way, the younger women are going to have to be self-controlled and pure. Pure. Purity: the scrupulous avoidance of everything that is impure. The avoidance of immorality in my thinking, in my reading, in my viewing, in my acting, in my dressing.

I know that there’s this book somewhere around, ’cause I see it every time I turn around. It pops up all the time. Some lady has written a book to try and help all the sexually frustrated women in the universe to cut free and live their lives the way they should. I haven’t cracked the cover of it, but I do know this: it’s trash, it’s immoral, it’s unhelpful, and it shouldn’t be anywhere near a young Christian woman’s library. Why? Because the Scriptures call us to absolute purity, and anything that undermines that purity is inevitably harmful for us. Now, I’m only pointing that out. I don’t know anything about the lady who wrote it or anything about the book at all, frankly, except I just keep seeing it. I think it has the word gray in it. I don’t know. See, there’s some people going, “Oh, he’s advertising a book now.” No, I’m not! No.

This meant something in first-century Crete, didn’t it? The people in first-century Crete, when they read it out—he said, “And make sure that the older women teach the younger women to be self-controlled and pure”—the people looked around and said, “We know what ‘pure’ means in Crete.” And you know what “pure” means in Cleveland! You know what it means in relationship to your mind! You know what it means in relationship to books and magazines and junk!

Paul writes to the Philippians the same thing, doesn’t he? “Whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are holy, whatsoever things are good and kind and nice and of good report, think about these things.”[7] That’s what you fill your head with. Do not think for a nanosecond, young lady, that you can fill your head with all that other drivel and have your emotions completely stimulated by that which is immoral and impure without finding that your lifestyle will begin to follow it. Because we are what we think. And unless our minds are completely disengaged from us—which is an indication of insanity—then what happens through our minds affects everything.

So, they are to be not only self-controlled and pure but “working at home” and “kind.” “Working at home” and “kind.” I like to keep them together, because I think that when you take that “working at home” thing… I think working at home, doing all that work at home—I think it’s probably hard to be kind. I mean, I don’t know, ’cause I don’t do that much work at home; I have to be honest. Not because I don’t want to, but I just… There’s not really a lot to do. We’ve not got a lot left. And Sue’s so good at it, I mean, why would I interfere? But the fact is…

What does this mean, to work at home? Some translations say “keepers at home.”[8] Does it mean you can’t go out the house? Clearly not. Now, we can’t make it say more than it says, but we can’t have it say less than it says. What’s the obvious application here? The obvious application is that a young woman’s sphere of influence is primarily in the home. The sphere of influence exercised by a young woman is primarily in the home. And if she fails to exercise it there by going somewhere else to exercise it, then she leaves a phenomenal gap behind. And so, apart from the necessities that maybe come upon us as a result of the exigencies of life, maybe as single mothers or whatever it might be, it’s hard to square the increased acceptance of a kind of daycare mentality in relationship to the clear instruction that you have here in this verse. The presupposition is that the young women have husbands and have children. If they have children, therefore they have to look after the children. Therefore, they’re going to have to look after them in the home, and that’s going to demand being kind.

I think this is probably the key place where young women, and actually young couples, face the supreme challenge of Romans 12:1–2. You remember, Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, [to] present your bodies [as] living sacrifice[s], holy, acceptable [to] God, which is your reasonable service,”[9] or “your spiritual worship.”[10] And then he immediately says, “And [do not be] conformed to this world: but be … transformed by the renewing of your mind[s].”[11] In other words, as Phillips paraphrases it, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.”[12] Just because everybody else has adopted a certain way of going at things, that doesn’t mean that you, as a Christian young woman, have to do the same thing. You can either choose to go with the flow, or you can choose to go against the flow. And any dead fish can swim with the tide.


Now, he’s not directing this solely to the young women. You will notice he immediately comes down and he says, “And the same thing is true for the younger men.” Verse 6: “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.” If the younger men are going to become the leaders in their homes, then they’re going to have to exercise a headship. Because their wives are to be “submissive to their own husbands.” So the husbands are going to have to be submissive to what the Scriptures say so that they can exercise the leadership so that they don’t abrogate their leadership—so they don’t walk away from it and say, “No, I’m not going to be a leader in my home.” Yes, you are. And if you’re going to be a leader in your home, you better be self-controlled, and so better I, so that our wives, then, can be submissive to us. Notice, and notice carefully: “submissive to their own husbands.” Not submissive to everybody’s husband. My wife’s not submissive to you, sir, nor is your wife to me. “Submissive to their own husbands.”

That doesn’t imply any sense of inferiority at all. If you think it does, you don’t understand your Bible. There is no more an expression of inferiority in this than there was any inferiority within the Godhead, whereby Christ, the Son, submits to the instruction and direction and will of the Father. Christ and the Holy Spirit and God the Father are coequal and coeternal with one another. So the Son submits to the Father in order that the purposes of God might be established in salvation, and the wife submits to the husband in order that the purposes of God in creation might be worked out. It’s really very straightforward. And the obedience that is represented in submission is not the obedience of children to their parents, as if somehow or another the husband now has a sort of autocratic authority to come up with a list of rules and regulations and then just demand that his wife fulfills them all. No. It’s not that. It is simply that the wife exercises her submission to the ultimate headship of Christ by exercising submission to the headship of her husband. And the husband exercises submission to the headship of Christ by providing the leadership that he, frankly, may want to avoid.

It’s straightforward, but it isn’t easy. And the reason it’s so important, as we’ve seen, is because a healthy home—a healthy home that functions in unity and in harmony, that brings glory to God—is a tremendous lighthouse in contemporary society. It was in Crete, and frankly, it is in Cleveland. And failure to live in the fulfillment and submission—“subjection,” to use Thomas Watson’s word—failure to live in subjection to the truth of God’s Word, whereby we give him glory and enjoy him, simply maligns the Bible and provides ammunition to those who look on and say, “You Christians are no different from anybody else at all. I was in your house. I didn’t see any indication of submission. I haven’t heard as many unkind words in a month as I heard from you about your husband. I met you for coffee, and all you did was ‘Neh, neh, neh, neh, neh, neh, neh. My husband, neh, didn’t come home, neh, and the thing, neh, neh…’” Are you doing that to the glory of God, were you? Did it help you to enjoy him? Of course it didn’t. So that’s what he says. He says, “I’m not giving you this instruction so that you will be able to pragmatically simply benefit from these things but in order that no one will malign the word of God, in order that people will not be able to say… They will be shamefaced when they say things against us.”

“Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam”

See, it takes it to an entirely different level. And that’s why he’s able to say the same thing—and we’ll finish here—with slaves. “Slaves are to be submissive”—notice again the phraseology—“to their own masters.” And notice how comprehensive this is: “in everything.” “In everything.”

You can think this out for yourself, but I think that creates the impression, at least, that these are Christian slaves and Christian masters. Because slavery was embedded within the context of Crete and the whole Roman world. When we think of it in terms of, you know, [1830s] in the Southern states of America, we think about it entirely differently from what it was. And Paul here is not addressing the question of slavery per se, but what’s he’s saying is this: that when Christ transforms you, whatever your status in life, then if you do what you do in wherever you are set to the glory of God and to the enjoyment of his purposes, and if you make sure that you’re not guilty of backchat, that you’re not stealing stuff, that you’re not argumentative, then what you will discover is that you will make the doctrine of God our Savior, the wonder of the gospel—you will make it increasingly and wonderfully attractive.

I think that these are probably Christians, because otherwise, he couldn’t say “in everything.” If they’ve got to submit “in everything”… They can’t submit to that which would violate their conscience. They can’t submit to that which would cause them to disobey the clear instruction of God’s Word. So the assumption would appear to be that they are living within that framework.

It all comes down to the simple things that we’ve learned along the way, doesn’t it? You know the old doggerel:

You’re writing a gospel, a chapter each day,
By the deeds that you do and the words that you say.
And men read what you write, distorted or true.
So what is the gospel according to you?[13]

What does the gospel look like when you have to go through another week as a young mom with a traveling husband or with children who are unwell, where you’re facing the blues, the discouragements? You’re saying to yourself, “I don’t know how long I can keep this up. What am I doing here?” Let me tell you what you’re doing: you’re glorifying God, enjoying him—pushing a broom, getting the cereal that all splattered on the way out, when you’re left, and the bomb has gone off, and father Joe went off with the screaming urchins that are your wonderful children, and you look at the thing, and you say, “Man!” The only way I know you can do this is that you’re going to have to do it to the glory of God. If you do it to try and feel good about yourself or to make others impressed with you, it’s insufficient motive. It’ll never work. It’ll never sustain you.

As children in Scotland, we had a song. Some of you will have sung it as well. This is not sentimentalism; this is actually quite good theology. Did you sing this song?

Jesus wants me for a sunbeam,
To shine for him each day;
In every way try to please him,
At home, at school, at play.

A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam;
A sunbeam, a sunbeam.
[Yes,] I’ll be a sunbeam for him.[14]

Sometimes, as yesterday, the sun has a peculiar iridescence to it through the lingering raindrops on the leaves and on the windows—the way that the smile of our lives may have an iridescence to it that shines through the tears which accompany our endeavors to fulfill the exhortations of God’s Word.

You see, you don’t stay married because of the benefit to you. You stay married ’cause God says, “Stay married. Glorify me. Live for me. Shine for me.” And if we want to know how to do it, it starts in verse 11, and he tells us. But I wouldn’t be no sunbeam if I went to verse 11 right now.

So we’ll pause and pray:

O Lord our God, for your Word we thank you. Help us to imbibe all that is true of yourself. Help us to forget everything that is untrue or unclear or unhelpful and live in the light of your promises. I pray particularly for those in our congregation who are up against it in relationship to these things, that your Word will be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path,[15] that your kindness will bring us to repentance and to faith,[16] and that we might walk with you in lowliness of heart, fulfilling the functions to which you’ve called us within your body. And we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

[1] See Titus 1:9–14.

[2] See 2 Timothy 3:16.

[3] Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Stuart Townend, “Creation Sings the Father’s Song” (2008).

[4] Thomas Watson, “Man’s Chief End,” in A Body of Practical Divinity (1692).

[5] Psalm 97:9 (ESV).

[6] Galatians 5:22–23 (paraphrased).

[7] Philippians 4:8 (paraphrased).

[8] Titus 2:5 (KJV).

[9] Romans 12:1 (KJV).

[10] Romans 12:1 (ESV).

[11] Romans 12:2 (KJV).

[12] Romans 12:2 (Phillips).

[13] Commonly attributed to Paul Gilbert. Paraphrased.

[14] Nellie Talbot, “I’ll Be a Sunbeam” (1905).

[15] See Psalm 119:105.

[16] See Romans 2:4.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.