Adorning the Doctrine
Charles Naylor, 1918
In Titus 2:10 we read, "That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." The doctrine of God as revealed in the New Testament is a glorious system of truth. His law is noble and holy—and one that excites our admiration. When it is preached, it draws men unto it and unto God. Even in the worst of men, there is something that approves it. It is strikingly beautiful and noble. It has a grandeur all its own. The problem of the Christian is to translate it from words—into deeds and life and character. When this is done, the gospel is seen to be a practical reality, and not a lofty and impossible standard.
Our lives are to adorn the gospel in all things. To adorn means to ornament, to beautify. Only that which is beautiful and attractive can adorn; hence if we adorn the doctrine of Christ—then we must be attractive and beautiful in character and life. But can our lives and characters be such as to adorn the doctrine? God has promised to "beautify the meek with salvation" (Psalm 149:4). In Psalm 29:2 we are told to "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
In the sight of the Lord, therefore, holiness is beautiful. It is also beautiful in the sight of men when they look at it with unprejudiced eyes. Sin, on the other hand, is unlovely and defiling in all its aspects. There is nothing in it to adorn the life or the character. It is ruinous. "Sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).
Only when we are made holy, can we adorn the doctrine of Jesus Christ our Savior. Only when we are made partakers of the divine nature and have in us the beauty of the Son of God, can we shine so as to adorn the doctrine as jewels. Speaking of his children, the Lord said, "And they shall be mine, says the Lord of host, in that day when I make up my jewels" (Malachi 3:17). Speaking of his people collectively as his bride, the Lord says, "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints" (Revelation 19:8). This shows a condition in which his people must be, in order to adorn his doctrine. Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven" (Matthew 5:16). It is this way that we adorn the doctrine. The doctrine teaches such good works, and when those good works are seen in our lives—it reacts to the glory of the doctrine and to him who gave the doctrine.
If we desired to adorn ourselves, we should not put on old rags, or lumps of clay over our clothing, nor put on anything that was repellent. We know very well that such would attract no one. We would not smear our faces with soot or dirty grease, to render ourselves attractive. How ashamed the housewife feels when visitors come and find her children with dirty hands and faces and clothes ragged and unclean! As these things destroy attractiveness—so does sinful conduct. One who professes to be a Christian and yet whose life and character are not Christ-like cannot adorn the doctrine. Unkindness in a person does not attract us to him nor to his religion. Untruthfulness or insincerity is not only a blot on his own character and life—but a blot on his religion if he professes to be a Christian. To be harsh or rude or unreasonable, to be selfish or self-willed, or to be proud—is to dishonor God instead of honoring him.
Sometimes people are hard to please. Do as you will, you cannot satisfy them. They are always wanting things some other way. These same people are sometimes very well pleased with themselves. This is not a characteristic of holiness. This is not something that will honor God. Instead of these things and other things like them being an advertisement of grace—they only show the lack of grace.
What would such people do if they were to go to Heaven? The mere transference from earth to Heaven will not change our spiritual state. If there is anything in us here that we should not like to have in us in eternity—here is the place to get the change made. Here is the place to have our lives made as we desire them to be in eternity. Here is the place for character-building. Here is the place to become Christ-like. Here is the place to adorn the doctrine, that men may see your good works. God has told us that nothing which defiles shall enter Heaven. Only that which is good and holy will be there.
Oh for more holy lives! Oh for more consistency among those who profess to be Christ's! Oh for more of the glory of the Lord resting upon hearts and lives! Oh for more of the beauty of salvation, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit!
Many professors of religion adorn themselves outwardly with gold, pearls, and costly array, with feathers and flowers, and with many other things that they think adorn them. But oh for that inner adornment of heart which is precious in the sight of God and that lets the beauty of God's light shine out into the world! How often outward adornment covers a heart filled with iniquity! How often such adornment is the outward show of that inward pride which God hates! How often it reveals the corruption of the nature, instead of its purity!
God wants our lives to be adorned with jewels, and the gold in which those jewels are to be set, is purity. This is the background upon which all the jewels of character are to be displayed. It is the fundamental requirement in every life. If we are not pure—then our lives will not be pure, and God will not be glorified. Impurity in word or thought or desire, cannot long be hidden; it will manifest itself, and always in a way to dishonor the individual and his God. The pure in heart and life, always shine for God, and they always adorn his doctrine.
God wants us to be true and faithful. He desires "truth in the inward parts" (Psalm 51:6). He desires truth manifested in the life. He wants all our words to be true. He does not want us to speak evil of any man. He does not want us to speak that which dishonors him, or that which is evil in his sight.
He wants us to be faithful, "showing all good fidelity," as he has said. Fidelity is one of the most glorious of Christian virtues. God wants us to be faithful to our word, faithful in our dealings, faithful in our public life and in our private life, and faithful in every way. In this way we can adorn the doctrine. If we are unfaithful, we dishonor him.
He wants us to be earnest and sincere, to be gentle and meek, to have the law of kindness in our tongues. He wants us to be kind in our thoughts, in our actions, in our words. He would have the sound of his own kindness in our voices, the look of his own kindness in our eyes, and his own pity and tenderness in our feelings.
He desires us to be temperate—temperate in our lives, our actions, our words, in every way. If we are to adorn the doctrine, we must avoid excesses and extremes.
We must also be reasonable in the positions we take, in our actions, and in the things that we require of others. By this means people will see that we are Christ-like, and the doctrine will be glorified and adorned as no earthly jewels can adorn it. Men will listen to it and say that it is true, for that person lives just as the Book teaches!