• johned@aibi.ph

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Eternity 77 - Seriously Christian

Titus 2:1-15 LITV But you speak things which become sound doctrine: (2) aged men to be temperate, sensible, discreet, sound in faith, in love, in patience; (3) aged women likewise in reverent behavior, not slanderers, not being enslaved by much wine, teachers of good, (4) that they might train the young women to be lovers of husbands, lovers of children, (5) discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, subject to their own husbands, so that the Word of God may not be blasphemed, (6) the younger men in the same way exhort to be discreet; (7) holding forth yourself as a pattern of good works about all things in doctrine, in purity, sensibleness, incorruption, (8) in sound speech, without condemnation, that he of opposition may he ashamed, having nothing bad to say about you. (9) Let slaves be subject to their own masters, well-pleasing in all things, not speaking against them, (10) not stealing, but showing all good faith, that they may adorn the doctrine of our Savior God in all things. (11) For the saving grace of God has appeared to all men, (12) instructing us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly and righteously and godly in the present age, (13) looking for the blessed hope and appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself on our behalf, "that He might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify a special people for Himself," zealous of good works. (15) Speak these things and exhort and convict with all authority. Let no one despise you.

This chapter in Paul's epistle to Titus is probably offensive to many modern Christians. It talks about being sensible, being discreet, chaste, pure and moral, of women being subject to their own husbands and so forth. It sets forth a view of the Christian life that sees the good Christian as quiet, honorable, serious and law-abiding.

J.I.Packer commends the Puritans for their simple, godly, reverent lifestyle based on a depth of spirituality seldom seen before or since. This passage is certainly a "Puritan passage". Its says that its not just our doctrine or our worship that's important but our lifestyle, the small but very important details of the Christian life. We are to live a separated live and one of self denial - denying ungodliness and worldy lusts. And we are to be not merely passive Christians, but active and zealous for good works.

Verse 14 says that Jesus came to "redeem us from all lawlessness" - and bring us into a lawful, peaceful and well-ordered life of godliness and good works. There is a certain lawful order that God wants us to live under, a lifestyle of love and peace that He wants us to observe. Lawlessness is not just robbing banks. Its the disordered life; a life that has no law or rhyme or reason to it. A life that is a continual chattering and clattering, an anxiety filled rushing about in clamorous disarray.

The lawless life has the unholy trinity of "I, me and myself" firmly in the centre of it. The Bible is "for me', worship must "suit me", Christian service must be "my self-expression". This dooms the Christian life to the lowest possible levels of sanctification. We must live "under the Word" reverently obeying the Scriptures, we must worship whether we like the musicians or not, and we serve not for ourselves but because the Lord has called us to the work.

One small but significant detail is "bad language". The Contemporary English Version renders verse 8 thus: "Use clean language that no one can criticize. Do this, and your enemies will be too ashamed to say anything against you." Christians seem to now accept the use of swear words deeming it to be "authentic".

But Scripture clearly says we are to use "sound speech" and to put off "shameful speech" (Colossians 3:8, 1 Peter 2:1). No godly, serious, reverent Christian uses foul language. Swearing is lawlessness of the lip. Another is flirting and sensuality among Christians.

Verse 12 says that Titus was to set an example of: "instructing us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly and righteously and godly in the present age". We are to deny our lusts and engage in discreet, righteous, godly living. Flirting is clearly the opposite of this! Flirting involves indulging our lusts, playing with other people's feelings and toying with what Jesus calls 'adultery of the heart". Christians are to "deny worldly lusts" including the cultivation of sex appeal. Instead we are to live "discreetly and righteously and godly in the present age", which means being careful about how we relate. This does not mean we should be dull or mean-spirited or legalistic. There is still a great deal of room for laughter, joy and the delightfulness of grace and hope.

The chapter concludes with Jesus giving Himself on our behalf that He might ... "purify a special people for Himself, zealous of good works". This says that Jesus intends for us to be a pure people, a special and different kind of humanity and one that is zealous for good works. Yes, Christians are to "go about doing good" just as their Saviour did (Acts 10:38)!

Some have caricatured the idea of being a pure, holy, different from the rest, do-gooder. But that IS what we are supposed to be. We don't need to be weird but we do need to be clearly different from the world and interested in the needs of others - not just interested in ourselves.

Once we are saved we are to live a life of good works (Ephesians 2:8-10), not to get into Heaven (for salvation is by grace) but to express Christ in us who enjoys doing good. So that's it - Christ in us is not lawless but lawful. Christ in us is reverent and holy and will not lead us to disobedience but to obedience. If we live from the true well-ordered center of our self, where Christ dwells, we will be pure, holy and sensible, we will not swear or flirt or steal, we will be radically different from the world - and the Spirit, who is holy, will rest on us in peace.

May you dwell in perfect peace!

John Edmiston


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