Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Doctrinal Integrity, Dignity, and Soundness
11/04/2005 - James White
Titus 2:7-8 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
I was reading through this text sort of "on my way" to verse 11 during a sermon lately, and could not help but be struck by how little attention is paid to this vital passage in so many churches today. Oh, there's plenty of emphasis upon being an example of good works, I guess, at least in an outward fashion. But for the large portion of folks today, good works and showing integrity, dignity, and sound speech in reference to one's doctrine and teaching...well, what on earth could be the connection between those two things? And yet, in biblical theology, they go hand-in-hand. One without the other involves imbalance. Doctrine and conduct, perfect balances of each other.
Literally Paul exhorts Titus to be "in teaching, incorruptible." The term, avfqori,an, is not a common one in this form: it is in essence the negation of the far more common term for corruption (fqora,). One's teaching can be corrupted by many things. It can be corrupted by the influence of human tradition, as in the case of the scribes and Pharisees with whom the Lord did battle over and over again during His earthly ministry. It can be corrupted by a desire for worldly things: money, fame, power, the adoration of the crowds. Paul told us about men who sought after these things and their teaching was corrupted thereby. But taking it in the positive form, "integrity, honesty, purity, soundness" what does this mean when it comes to doctrinal teaching? One lexical source sees it as communicating "telling the whole truth," and that would fit with Paul's words elsewhere:
Acts 20:26-27 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.To have integrity in teaching you can't hold back on any element of God's truth. This is truly a major area of failure today, and that for "fear of the face of men." As our culture becomes more and more post-Christian (and indeed, anti-Christian), the pressure to compromise on the content of the Christian faith will continue to grow, not only so as to create large mega-churches that do not at all challenge the sinner's rebellion against God so as to make him or her "comfortable," but even more directly in forcing us to count the cost of speaking the truth when the culture decides to make speaking the truth illegal. Who will we obey at that point? Who will we be willing to "offend"? Men, who love their sin and rebellion, or God, who gave us the Gospel? The day may well be coming when we will have to make that very choice, as recent events show.
Of course, to teach in honesty, integrity, and purity, assumes something that, sadly, apostate Christianity no longer confesses. If I am going to say "this gold is pure," I need to have a standard of purity and a way of defining the substance of "gold." If I can't tell you exactly what gold is, I can't claim to possess pure gold. In the same way, if you cannot define the gospel clearly and specifically you can't claim to be teaching it with integrity and purity, since those terms assume it exists and can be defined. So we see that those who plague the church today with their constant sowing of doubt and confusion are a manifestation of God removing his blessing, something that is hardly surprising in light of God's wrath coming upon Western Society, and the fact that a blessed, discerning church is a blessing upon any nation. [continued]