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Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
September 5, 2022 4:00 am

Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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September 5, 2022 4:00 am

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Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
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Robby Dilmore

And what makes a healthy church is not how many programs it has or how much money it has, or how big it is. What makes a healthy church is its holy character.

And yet that's very, very infrequently ever even suggested today in the area of church growth. The renowned preacher Charles Spurgeon offered a clear warning to those who say they are Christians, but do not live a righteous life. He said the man who talks about his experience as a Christian, but who never does anything for Christ, is only an idle dreamer. John MacArthur helps you avoid that kind of spiritual hypocrisy with a lesson titled, Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living. It's part of his current study that's taking you through the New Testament beginning to end.

And now with the lesson, here's John. What then makes a church healthy? Holy living, the fruit of healthy doctrine. I can't emphasize this enough because there are so many options being offered today in building a church. What the Lord wants has nothing to do with the size of a church. What He wants has to do with the virtue of a church, the character of the church. As I've said through the years, my job is to concentrate on the spiritual depth of the church and let God take care of the breadth of it. The size is not an issue to me.

The character is. And what makes a healthy church is not how many programs it has or how much money it has or how big it is. What makes a healthy church is its holy character. And yet that's very, very infrequently ever even suggested today in the area of church growth. It's just so very important to understand that the Lord is concerned about the quality of a church, not the size of it. The size of it is all bound up in His own sovereign purpose.

And the size of it, I'll go a step further and say is directly related to the virtue of it. We're continually told that if we want to build the church, we've got to come up with technique, strategy, marketing savvy, etc., etc., etc. That does not concern the Lord. What concerns the Lord is the character of the church, the virtue, the godliness. Now before we look specifically at the flow of the chapter and the specific commands that are here, there's another key element to be acknowledged in this chapter and it gives you the feeling of this chapter powerfully.

The commandments that are given here and the standards for behavior that are given here are required and it is true that if you obey them and I obey them, we'll be blessed. But that's never pointed out in the chapter. That's just a given. We know that. We know that obedience brings blessing.

That's a given. That's taken for granted. The issue here is not the effect of our holiness on us. The issue here is the effect of our holiness on others.

That's the issue. For all that virtue does for me, the compelling issue here is what it does for somebody else. Obedience to the requirements in this chapter are essential, Paul points out, not only for their own sake, which is a given, for you can then know the blessing and the joy of Christian living, but because it has such powerful effect on others. Now this is stated in three purpose clauses in the chapter.

One is in verse 5, the second is in verse 8, and the third is in verse 10, and they are potent. Let's look at verse 5. All of this matter of behavior, end of verse 5, is in order that or for the purpose that the Word of God may not be dishonored.

That's it. The first compelling issue here is the honor of the Word of God. Back in 1 Timothy 5, 14, younger widows are instructed to get married and bear children and keep house.

Why? To give the enemy no occasion for reproach, for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. In other words, how you live is going to impact how people view Christianity, and it makes Christianity attractive or turns them away into the path of Satan. The Word of God, he says, may not be dishonored. That's what holy living produces. The word here is really the word for blasphemed at the end of verse 5, disdained, rejected, treated as a lie, disregarded, mocked, shunned, ignored. In other words, how you live will directly determine how people feel about the Word of God.

Amazing. A Christian wife who is not what she ought to be, a Christian young man who is not what he ought to be, a Christian older man who is not what he ought to be, a Christian older woman who is not what she ought to be, is going to give reason for people to blaspheme God's Word. You see, the world doesn't judge us by our theology, the world judges us by our behavior, right? And they judge the validity of the Scripture by our behavior.

They judge whether Scripture is really true and powerful and life-changing by whether it changes our lives. I remember Sam Erickson telling me that time some years back that he had invited a lawyer, he was working for a law firm in L.A., he invited a lawyer to come to church and he said, we want you to come because our church teaches the Bible, we have a pastor who teaches the Bible and I think you'd appreciate it. And he said, what church is it? And Sam said, Grace Community Church.

He said, ha. He said, I don't go to any church but I sure wouldn't go to that church, the most crooked attorney I know in the city goes there. End of discussion. The Word of God was blasphemed in that man's life and consequently this man turned his back on the truth. I mentioned that, by the way, on the following Sunday to our congregation without naming which lawyer it was and I think 25 lawyers repented.

But that's the simple illustration of what happens. When you don't live the life, you bring reproach on the truth. If it's life-changing truth, then it ought to change your life.

Why should people believe it's life-changing truth if your life isn't changed? An unbelieving husband or other family member may reject the gospel and mock the Bible because of the failure of a Christian wife to do what God has called her and empowered her to do. William Kelley translates this little phrase, so that God's Word may suffer no scandal. Listen, the world will judge the validity of the gospel, which is certainly inherent in the term the Word of God. They'll judge the gospel word by the character of the people who believe it and acclaim it and say they're transformed by it. You see, that's why it's so absolutely devastating when some well-known evangelists are caught in gross kinds of sin and immorality and the world just says, oh, the transforming power of the Bible they preach, huh? The credibility of the Christian gospel is tied to the integrity of the life of those who claim it.

The impact of the lives of men and women who carry the Lord's name is vital to the credibility of the faith and the effectiveness of personal witness in preaching and becomes a determiner as to whether someone turns and comes to Christianity or falls away and follows the path of Satan. There are some graphic illustrations of this, perhaps none more vivid than the story of David in 2 Samuel 12 who was confronted by Nathan, confronted because of his gross sin with Bathsheba and then the consequent murder of her husband. And he is confronted by Nathan in the 12th chapter of 2 Samuel and it's an incredible account. I won't read it all, but down into verse 13, David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.

David is here honestly confessing. And Nathan said to David, the Lord also has taken away your sin, you shall not die. There is forgiveness for the sinning believer, okay?

We want to make that clear. There's forgiveness. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die. God will forgive your sin, but your sin made the Gentiles, the pagans, the unbelievers, blaspheme God. What do you think the world thinks when they watch Christians, prominent well-known Christians, and they read about them in the newspaper as adulterers and fornicators and whatever?

What do they do? They blaspheme the Lord. They blaspheme the Word of God by depreciating its power, by mocking it. In Romans, you have another powerful statement, tragic, but powerful statement with regard to Israel when it says in Romans 2 24, for the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.

Well, that was the opposite of what they were supposed to do. They were a nation called by God to be a witness so that the name of God would be glorified. But because of their crimes and their sin, the name of God was defiled. That's a quote, by the way, from Isaiah 52 5 where Isaiah says, and my name is continually every day blasphemed because of you. In Ezekiel 36, there is an equally poignant text.

It's in verse 17 a place to start. Son of Man, God says to Ezekiel, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their way was before Me like the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity, or her period. Therefore I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land because they had defiled it with their idols. And I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands.

According to their ways and their deeds, I judged them. When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name. Because it was said of them, these are the people of the Lord.

You get the picture? It was bad enough they were so bad in the land, but when they got scattered everywhere, they defiled the name of God by the way they behaved and the comment of the nations was, Look, those are the people of the Lord. So you can see what kind of God He is. He's either immoral or impotent.

He either doesn't do anything about it, or He can't. And His name was dishonored. Because of the sins of Israel, their crimes were attributed to the influence or the impotence of their deity, their God, so that the pagans were looking at God in blasphemous perspectives. You see, that's why Jesus said, Let your light so shine that men may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven, Matthew 5 16. That's why Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3, 2, and 3, You are our letter about Christ known and read by all men. You're the gospel they see. You're what makes the Word of God believable or unbelievable. So when Paul says to Titus, Here are the standards, older men are to live like this, older women like this, younger women like this, younger men like this, and everybody out in the workplace like this. Here is the reason, because if you don't live holy lives, then the Word of God will be mocked and shunned and disregarded and dishonored and thought little of, and that constitutes a form of blasphemy. You see how much is at stake in the way you live?

And it isn't just for your own benefit. We've got to get Christianity somehow beyond that, because that's where we're stuck right now. What can Christianity do for me?

And the question is, What can your kind of Christianity do for everybody else? That's the issue. Now I want you to notice in verse 8 a second purpose clause that gives us the heart of what Paul is saying. Verse 8, toward the end, that the opponent may be put to shame, the Greek word literally means to blush because he's so embarrassed, having nothing bad to say about us.

That's the issue here, again. The issue is, look, they're examining us, and we want to so live that those opponents of the faith will blush in sheer embarrassment because there is no just criticism. Don't you think that the opponents of Christianity love it when Christians scandalize the faith? Don't they love to pick up the magazines and the newspapers and read about the fornication and the adultery and the fiscal irresponsibility and the thievery and all of the conning that goes on in the fakeries of Christianity and all of the sin and iniquity and leadership?

Sure they do, and I'll tell you something else. The people in your little world would love those who deny the Lord, who don't know Christ, who at this point haven't come to faith in Him. They would love to see you fail significantly so they can justify their unbelief. They don't want to see God transform your life and then rebuke them, but that's exactly what you want to do. You want to make them red-faced.

You want to make them blush when they criticize because they can't find anything to criticize. You see, the issue here is evangelism. And again I say, just to put it in a context, the proper strategy for evangelization is not methodological. It is not some kind of strategy.

It is not some kind of marketing technique. The way we reach the world is through virtue, godliness, holiness, purity of life that makes our faith believable, makes God's Word believable. Peter, seeing the very same issue at hand, wrote words that fit right into this same thought. 1 Peter 2, 11, Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts. Don't get caught in them.

Why? Keep your behavior excellent among the pagans so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. You know what that means? How can you glorify God in the day of visitation? The day of visitation is the time when He visits when He comes. How can you glorify God in that day? By receiving Him.

You can only receive Him if you've come to know Him. That's exactly what Peter's saying. Let them look at your life, and whereas on the one hand they come to criticize, let your behavior be so excellent that their criticism turns to curiosity and their curiosity turns to conversion, and they're there to greet the Lord with you when He comes. You lead people to the credibility of Christianity and to conversion by the virtue of your life.

So stay away from fleshly lusts and let your behavior be excellent. So the issue here in chapter 2 again is the evangelistic strategy of the church. We reach the world by holiness, not by technique. And then there is a third text, verse 10, a third purpose clause. The end of verse 10, In order that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

That moves from a more negative tone in the first two to a positive one. First in verse 5, he says we want to make sure the Word of God is not blasphemed. Second in verse 8, we want to make sure that anybody who opposes Christianity will have their mouth closed and stand there in absolute embarrassment because there's nothing bad to say about Christians. And here he says on the positive side, verse 10, We want to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. This is such a powerful, powerful point.

Let me ask you something. What is our primary message to this world about God? Are we trying to tell the world that God is omnipotent?

Well, it's true. Are we trying to get across to this world that God is omniscient, that God is omnipresent, that God is immutable? Are we trying to get across to this world that God is the Creator and the sustainer of the universe, that God is sovereign, that God is eternal?

Yeah, all of that is true. What we're really trying to get the world to understand is that God is a Savior. Isn't that it? We're trying to get them to understand that God is there to save them. And that's verse 10. How can we adorn the teaching about God as Savior in every respect if we don't look like we've been saved? I mean, if I tell you about my barber and you look at me and say, your hair is a mess, you aren't going to my barber.

Now how obvious is that? If I tell you I have found a wonderful place to eat and I've been eating there for 15 years and I'm going to eat there till I'm dead, I have a terminal illness that came from food poisoning, you're going to say, I'm not going to that place. It doesn't do me any good to commend something to you that doesn't show up in my life. If I am going to adorn the doctrine or the teaching about God as a Savior, then I'm going to have to demonstrate that I've been saved. Saved from what? Sin. Sin.

We make salvation attractive when we demonstrate deliverance from sin, power over sin and temptation, lives characterized by purity, power, joy, blessing. By the way, that word adorn is great. There's a hairspray named that, adorn, and that really does speak about what that word means. It's from a Greek word cosmeo, from which we get cosmetic. It means to make something beautiful. We say a woman adorned herself with jewels, and it was used that way in ancient times.

The word cosmeo, to put on cosmetics, to make beautiful. In fact, in the Greek, one made cosmeo out of chaos. And that's what you ladies are doing, basically. You're turning the chaos into the cosmos. The disarray into beauty and order. Some of you are doing a wonderful job at it as well.

And the true chaos will never be known, I'm sure. But that is precisely what the word means. And when we show the order and the beauty of the power of a saving God in our lives, we make salvation beautiful, we make God, as it were, attractive.

And He says you want to do that in all things, in every respect. You see what's at stake here? Souls, eternal souls. You see, wrong conduct on the part of Christians leads non-Christians to slander God. Holy conduct on the part of Christians leads people to glorify God. The issue in holy living, then again I say, is not just self-centered, I want to be happy, I don't want to get chastened. The issue here is the whole matter of evangelization. It's all bound up in this. And again I say, what makes the church powerful in the world is not its strategy, it is its virtue, its holiness. What we believe is linked to how we live, and how we live is directly linked to evangelism. So Paul in this chapter is going to set some standards down.

They're not negotiable, they're absolute. He says to Titus, don't let anybody get around this, don't let anybody circumvent this, don't let anybody rationalize and justify themselves and evade these things, they're crucial, keep on talking, keep on talking, and do it with authority. Because what is at stake? The Word of God, the saving power of God.

That's all at stake. And if we're going to have an impact on the world, it's going to be the impact of our holy living. Starting in verse 2, come the commands.

They run down through verse 10, and then in verses 11 to 14, the reason for them. It is a powerful chapter, and I believe God is going to instruct us in powerful ways. My prayer, that the result will be many will come to know Christ because of your life and your testimony. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, and today's lesson is part of his current study on grace to you, titled The New Testament, Beginning to End.

John, I want to go back to something you said today. You said that the credibility of the gospel is tied to the integrity of the life and the character of the one who proclaims it. And of course, fallen humans are inclined to sin and unbelief unless the Holy Spirit opens their spiritual eyes to understand and believe the gospel. But Christians can hurt their usefulness for the kingdom by living in a way that doesn't really correspond to what we say we believe. Is that a fair statement?

Well, yeah. Jesus said, Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. If they're going to glorify your Father who is in heaven, they have to see evidence of your Father working in you.

Otherwise, you completely undercut the message. You can't be saying, I trust God, I trust the Lord, I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior, and then your life is in disarray, you're having nervous breakdowns, you don't seem to have your life together, there's sin in your life, there's irresponsibility in your life. Somebody's going to say what the philosopher in Germany said years ago, Show me your redeemed life and I might believe in your Redeemer.

I mean, if you're claiming God can transform your life, then show me your life. And that means that your life of integrity, your life is one whole reflection of the divine work of God in your mind and in your heart. That has power, and that's why I wrote a book called The Power of Integrity. When your life is one single whole testimony to the power of God, that has power to influence other people.

In a day with very few heroes, at least heroes that can stand the test of time, the person who stands out with an exemplary life and an uncompromising standard has a great opportunity to influence people. The power of integrity can take you to the Word of God and help you build that kind of life, a life of real influence. It includes chapters on the consequence of an uncompromising life, the golden rule on closer examination, doctrinal integrity. Also includes a character study of Daniel, a man whose integrity still has an impact on people thousands of years after the fact. There's a built-in study guide and icebreaker questions for a small group.

It's a great book for young people heading into college, careers, and marriage. Available from Grace To You. Get a copy of The Power of Integrity.

Yes, do, friend. This book examines the lives of exemplary people who faithfully serve the Lord, even under constant pressure to compromise, and it will show you how to do the same thing. To pick up The Power of Integrity, contact us today. You can reach us at 855-GRACE or visit our website,

The title, again, The Power of Integrity. It's a practical resource that will help you develop the character Scripture calls for. To order, call 855-GRACE or visit And thanks for remembering that it's friends like you who help us connect people around the world with biblical truth through radio, television, and thousands of online resources, including 3,500 full-length sermons available for free download to help bring daily spiritual nourishment to people in your community and beyond. Express your support when you write to us at Grace To You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. You can also donate online at or when you call us at 855-GRACE. And thanks also for your prayers for John and the staff. It's really the most important way you can help strengthen this ministry. Now for John MacArthur and the entire staff, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here tomorrow when John considers a living lesson on forgiveness. That's the title of the sermon that comes your way with another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-02 06:46:14 / 2023-03-02 06:56:26 / 10

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