Godliness and Self-Control

Feb 8, 2013
Akron, Ohio
Monday, November 03, 2014, 6:42 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “As the Deer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 1-2 (NIV84).

For the Faith

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time… ~ Tit. 1:1-2

Paul was a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. He was chosen of God to be a servant and an apostle for a very specific purpose. The purpose for Paul’s apostleship was for the faith of God’s elect (chosen) and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.

We, as followers of Christ, are all called of God for a purpose. We are all called to be his servants and witnesses. A servant is one who does what the master requires. He or she follows the master’s orders and he or she, if one is a willing servant, desires to please his or her Lord with all his or her heart. If we are truly the Lord’s servants, our hearts’ desire should be for him, and for his word, and to live holy and godly lives pleasing to Him.

As servants of the Lord, we serve as his envoys (messengers) and as representatives of him, of his word, and of his gospel of salvation. We are to be his witnesses and we are to make disciples of Christ of people throughout the world, teaching them to obey all that he has commanded us (See: Ac. 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20). We are, as well, to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth in spreading the message of the gospel of our salvation throughout the world by how we live our lives and by our testimonies for him.

We are also part of the body of Christ. Each one of us has been given spiritual gifts for the common good. We have also been given ministries within the body, by the Spirit, for the encouragement and strengthening and maturity of our fellow believers in Christ. So, as fellow servants of God we, too, should serve God and be his representatives in order to help our brothers and sisters in Christ to grow in their faith. We should also share with others the truths of God’s holy word, for when we know the truth of God’s word, and we apply its truths to our lives, it leads us in how to live godly and holy lives pleasing to our Lord.

Of Sound Doctrine

You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. ~ Tit. 2:1

Paul wrote this letter to Titus, a son in the faith, a leader in the church, and a co-laborer for the gospel of Jesus Christ. He told him that he must teach what is in accord with sound (whole; pure; uncorrupted) doctrine (instruction; teaching). So, what is sound doctrine? It is the teachings of God’s Word, in particular those of Christ and of the apostles – teachings which are applicable to the Body of Christ under the New Covenant relationship between God and his people.

It is the pure and unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ, not diluted and tarnished, twisted, or manipulated or otherwise altered by humans to make it more acceptable and pleasing to the world. It is the God-breathed words we call scripture, which are for our instruction, reproof, correction, encouragement and training in righteousness. It teaches us how to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God. It is not of human origin, but is of the Spirit of God. It convicts of sin, calls for repentance, warns of judgment and offers forgiveness of sin.

Reverent and Self-Controlled

2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. ~ Tit. 2:2-8

What is meant by self-control? It is “restraint exercised over one's own impulses, emotions, or desires” (Merriam-Webster). It is one of the characteristic traits of the fruit of the Spirit. It is the opposite of being out-of-control. It means we are able to choose what we do or don’t do, i.e. we are not puppets on a string nor are we possessed by some outside force which makes us do things over which we have no ability to choose or to manage. This is why we are cautioned in scripture about the abuse of strong drink, because alcohol does things to our minds and our emotions, it breaks down our inhibitions, and it can numb us to the point to where we lack self-control, and we end up doing and/or saying things we would not normally do or say.

Self-control, in this context, is also submission to the control (management) of the Holy Spirit over our lives. Yet, we still maintain the ability to yield or to not yield to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And, we can still choose to sin or to not sin, too. In other words, we can either choose to cooperate with the Spirit’s work in our lives, and we thus choose to restrain our sinful impulses and desires, or we can choose to let our lives be out-of-control by throwing caution to the wind and just doing what our flesh desires and craves. The Holy Spirit does not possess us like evil spirits, and he does not make us do what is right. Daily we must choose to follow Christ with our lives or to follow our flesh; to exercise self-control by yielding to the control of the Spirit, or to live lives out-of-control, ruled by our flesh. So, if some kind of spirit takes over your body and does things through you over which you have no control, then that is not the Holy Spirit.

And, what does it mean to be reverent in the way that we live? Strong’s concordance defines the word translated as “reverent” as: “Suitable to a sacred character” (Source: biblehub.com). To be suitable means: to be “of the right type or quality for a particular purpose or occasion” (Encarta). Sacred means to be devoted and dedicated to God and to his purposes, and to the worship of him and obedience to his teachings and instructions. It is similar to holy, which means to be separate (unlike; different) from the world and set apart to God and to his service. And, our character is “the way someone thinks, feels, and behaves: someone's personality” (Source: Merriam-Webster). So, to be reverent in the way that we live means that our thinking, attitudes, words and behaviors should be reflective of those who are dedicated and consecrated to our Lord, set apart from the world, and set apart to God and to his service.

This is how we should all live, both in reverence, living holy and godly lives, which are pleasing to God, and with self-control, yielding to the control (management) of the Holy Spirit over our lives. We must be sound in faith and doctrine, not wavering from the truth, pure, teaching what is good and right, and showing integrity in our speech, in our teaching and in our actions. And, we should live what we say we believe, thus walking our talk.

The Grace of God

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. ~ Tit. 2:11-14

The grace of God is not just a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. It is not carte blanche to continue living sinful lifestyles while excusing our sin away by claiming it is all covered under grace, either. Jesus Christ died, not just so we could escape hell and have the hope of heaven. He died so we could die with him to sin and so we could be resurrected with him to new lives in Christ, free from the control of sin over our lives, and free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. As well, He died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. [See: Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24 & 1 Jn. 1-5.]

In fact, God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. He redeemed us not just to free us from eternal punishment, but to deliver us from all wickedness, and to purify us for himself so that we are eager to do what is good. This is why Jesus died, and this is the true understanding of the purpose of God’s grace to us.

So many people these days are teaching a grace that does nothing more than transport human lives from hell to heaven, but does not deliver them out of the darkness of sin and bring them into the light of God’s truth. Jesus died to give us completely new lives; changed lives by the power and working of the Spirit in spiritual transformation. He did not die so we would continue to live for self and sin. In fact, we read in 1 John that if we claim to know God and to have fellowship with him, but we continue to live sinful lifestyles, we are liars, we do not live by the truth, and we do not truly know God.

Jesus Christ saved us, not just so we could go to heaven one day. He saved us to fulfill within us his purpose for our lives, which is to deliver us from sin, and for us to live in reverence, in self-control, in obedience, in submission, in love, and in the grace and working of the Spirit in our lives in purifying us and in making us holy. He also purposes for us to enjoy such sweet fellowship with our Lord and with the Body of Christ, using our gifts for the common good, and ministering in the roles the Spirit has assigned for us. And he purposes for us to be his messengers in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.

As the Deer / Martin J. Nystrom
Based off Psalm 42:1

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after You
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You…