"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works."
Titus, the youthful disciple of the Apostle Paul, faces a significant responsibility. The church at Corinth is struggling with worldliness and fleshly demonstrations of spirituality. Fornication is rampant, and the level of idolatry has increased. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians brought about a level of repentance, and the people walked as believers in Christ. Faithfulness was being restored. Then Paul sends Titus to Corinth with the second letter of reconciliation, and the message is clear: "Come out from among them, and do not touch the unclean." Titus takes this opportunity to instruct believers in the behaviors and practices that will make them better examples of Christ. One of the most definitive statements by Titus is found in Titus 2:11-14, where he instructs the believers to live soberly, godly, and righteously in this present world. We can only hope that his audience took those words to heart and changed their lives as a result. God's message through Titus remains alive and vibrant for Christians today. But how are we to live Christ-centered lives in a world that seems increasingly spinning out of control? There are many satanic traps placed in front of us. We often hear the voice of the ungodly culture whispering that we cannot live above sin. Therefore, we must accept the flaws of others and those of ourselves as part of the human experience. But is that God's view? Absolutely not! He has called us to holy lives of righteousness amid this secular, hedonistic society. How do we live above sin and embrace the Kingdom principles of God's plan? Is it possible to escape the snares of the Evil One in this life? Can we rise above our fallen nature, be washed of our sins, and cling to God's purity? The writer of the letter to the Hebrews exhorts followers of Christ to do just that: "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord..." (Hebrews 12:14 NKJV) I am writing to you today because I want you to have a better understanding of the challenges we face in our society. We often hear warnings against murder, fornication, and stealing, but we hear little about gluttony, greed, pride, and theft. People usually accept these behavioral problems as typical human nature. To the contrary, they weaken the Christian just as effectively as the "BIG" sins. These are the sins that our culture accepts, and this careless and condoning attitude has led us to accept them in the church. But we must remember the warning that Jesus gave His followers:
"Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
(Matthew 5:17-20 NKJV)
Christians cannot afford to become complacent about their culture. We know temptation is everywhere, and excuses will not be accepted. We must stand against the pull of the enemy and discipline ourselves for the Holy Spirit to use us for the Glory of God. We must be vigilant to understand God's expectations for us and to withstand the wiles of the devil. Blessings to all.