Did you hear about the man who said, “I put my foot in my mouth so often, I’ve learned to stomach defeat”? Then there was the man who remarked, “You know that little voice in your head that keeps you from saying things you shouldn’t? I don’t seem to have one of those!”
Speaking of men who say things they shouldn’t, you have to wonder if Titus might have been one of them. That might explain why the Apostle Paul had to write and talk to him about
“Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Titus 2:8).
Titus had a bold, fear-inducing kind of personality (II Cor. 7:14,15), and Christians with that kind of personality need to keep it securely harnessed so opponents of the gospel have no evil thing to say of them. If you suffer from that kind of boldness, you can avoid that kind of condem-nation by either closing your mouth, or by learning to adorn your words with “sound speech.”
The sound speech Paul had in mind here consists of the words of “sound doctrine” (Tit. 1:9), and the only way to determine if doctrine is sound is by “rightly dividing the word” (II Tim. 2:15). Before Paul, the law was sound doctrine. But “we are not under the law” (Rom. 6:15).
Of course, we know that doesn’t mean it’s okay to lie, steal, kill, covet, or do any of the other things prohibited in the ten commandments of the law, for Paul says otherwise (Rom. 13:9). It just means we are not under the curse of the law,
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse…Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things…in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10).
The law cursed any “that continueth not in all things” in it. It demanded 100% obedience 100% of the time. If you think that it’s unreasonable for God to demand that kind of faithfulness to His law, may I ask if you’re satisfied if your spouse is 99% faithful to you 99% of the time?
We know that “sound doctrine” consists of exhorting men to observe the moral code of the law’s ten commandments, for after talking about unsaved people who break those laws (I Tim. 1:8-10) Paul added, “and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.”
But we know that “sound doctrine” consists of more than just following the law’s com-mandments, for Paul spoke of “sound doctrine; according to the…gospel…committed to my trust” (I Tim. 11). That means sound doctrine today is doctrine that is in accord with Paul’s gospel.
Paul told Titus that speech like that “cannot be condemned.” That means it cannot be beaten in an argument. That’s one of the definitions of “condemn,” to show or prove to be wrong (cf. Job 9:20). Sound Pauline doctrine cannot be condemned, for no one can prove the Bible wrong if it is rightly divided (II Tim. 2:15)!
This is what Paul had in mind when he spoke to Titus earlier about “vain talkers” (Tit. 1:10) who were teaching the “vain jangling” of “the law” (I Tim. 1:6,7), and added: “whose mouths must be stopped” (Tit. 1:11). The way to stop the mouth of false teachers is not with duct tape—as tempting as that is sometimes!—but rather by teaching sound doctrine so accurately that the mouth of “he that is of the contrary part” is silenced, “having no evil thing to say of you.”
The Lord had to deal with men of the contrary part, religious leaders who tried to “entangle Him in His talk” (Mt. 22:15). He always handled such men with sound doctrine, “and when He had said these things…His adversaries were ashamed” (Luke 13:17). Isn’t that what Paul told Titus would happen if he taught sound doctrine, that men of the contrary part would be “ashamed”?
The moral of the story is that while closing your mouth will ensure you don’t stick your foot in it and earn the condemnation of our opponents, speaking the sound speech of sound doctrine will ensure that too—and will shut the mouths of those who teach things contrary to Paul’s gospel!
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.