Bible Rank: 101
“Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” NIV
Bible Rank: 101
“Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” NIV
Under normal circumstances, lactation is the only uniquely feminine thing a woman can do on a continuous basis, almost all her life, and suffer no ill effects.
Bible Rank: 102
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. NIV
Bible Rank: 103
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” NIV
Bible Rank: 104
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die;” NIV
Bible Rank: 105
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” NIV
Leslie Basham: People will listen to your beliefs when they’re attracted to your actions. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: The gospel will not be heard and received by our culture, by our generation, by your children, by your neighbors, by the people in your workplace; the gospel will not be received if it cannot be seen in the lives of those of us who profess to believe it.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel. It’s Tuesday, February 7, 2017, and Nancy, this is an exciting day!
Nancy: It sure is, Leslie. Today is the long-awaited, official release of my brand-new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. To celebrate this special birthday, my good friend, Dannah Gresh, and I are going to join together for a special Facebook LIVE event tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. So let me say to our listeners, you’re all invited. I hope you’ll join Dannah and me tonight as we celebrate the message and the release of Adorned.
Leslie: To be part of that online LIVE event, visit the Revive Our Hearts Facebook page. Or come to ReviveOurHearts.com for more information. Yesterday, to mark the launch of the book Adorned, Nancy began a study of Titus chapter 2, verses 1–5. It’s full of valuable insight for us as women.
Nancy: Before we jump into the paragraph about women, we’re taking these first several days to give some background and some context for this passage by doing an overview of the book of Titus.
I want to encourage over these next weeks to getting into the book of Titus for yourself. It’s just three short chapters, forty-six verses. You may want to memorize this book as I have over the last several months. Memorizing doesn’t come any easier for me than it does for anybody else. It’s hard work. It takes a lot of review. But it is a good way of getting into the Scripture, meditating on it, and making it part of your thinking
I want to encourage you to at least be reading through the book of Titus. You could read it daily for the next thirty days. We love thirty-day challenges at Revive Our Hearts and so that would be a good one for these next thirty days. Jot down things that speak to you, things that you pick up from the passage that maybe I didn’t catch, but the Holy Spirit will direct you as you’re reading.
In the last session we talked about the fact that the book of Titus is filled with contrasts. There are two major categories or groups of people who are talked about—those who are unbelievers in the gospel of Christ and those who are believers in the gospel. Those who do belong to Christ are contrasted with those who do not belong to Christ.
We looked at the difference that this book talks about in the ways that they relate to each other, the ways they treat each other, the ways they think. I want to pick up today on some other contrasts between unbelievers and believers that you find in the book of Titus.
Unbelievers are described as being disobedient and insubordinate. They’re rebels. They’re rebellious against authority. With each of these contrasts, I’m giving you several phrases that come from the book of Titus. I’m not giving you all the references because that will just bog you down at the moment.
But go to our transcript on ReviveOurHearts.comand you can get the references. Or as I said yesterday, better yet, look them up and make your own list out of the Scripture itself.
In Titus, the Scripture talks about the children of unbelievers (1:4). It says that they are open to the charge of debauchery and insubordination. That doesn’t mean that all unbelieving children act out as wild rebels, but there is a bent in the unbelieving heart to be insubordinate. It’s a bent in the unbelieving adult heart and it’s a bent that is passed on to your children. And that is to be insubordinate, rebellious.
Chapter 1, verse 10 says, “There are many who are insubordinate. They are detestable, disobedient.”
Paul says in chapter 3, verse 3: “We ourselves were once foolish and disobedient.” This is a description of unbelievers.
Believers, on the other hand, are described as being submissive and obedient. Wives are challenged in this passage to be submissive to their own husbands (2:5). Slaves are to be submissive to their masters (2:9). We’ll talk more about this when we get to that part of the passage.
All of us are commanded in chapter 3 to be submissive and obedient to rulers and to authorities (3:1). There is a bent in the redeemed, believing heart to be subject, submissive to God-ordained authority.
I don’t know about you, but I was born with a “kick” in my spirit. I don’t mind doing what I’m supposed to do as long as nobody tells me I have to.
There is something just inherent in us that wants to break rules. We’re rebels at heart. But when Christ redeems us, He brings our wills into submission to His lordship and to the authority of Scripture. A submissive, obedient heart, a willingness to come under God-ordained authority is an evidence of a believing heart.
Here’s another contrast. Unbelievers are described as liars and deceivers. Paul says, “Many are deceivers” (v. 12). It was said of Cretans, the people who lived in Crete, that “Cretans are always liars.” They had a reputation for being liars.
And if that’s not something that describes our culture in this day, I don’t know what it is. You can’t trust people today. You can’t take their word. People lie to you to your face. If you are getting some work done on your car or some repair work done on your house, people are liars. That’s a characteristic of unbelievers.
Paul talks about those who believe and promote Jewish myths, promoting things that are not true about the faith, deceivers. Paul talks about some women who are slanderers (2:3). We’ll give extended time in this series to what it means to be a slanderer and how believing women are called not to be slanderers.
Unbelievers are liars and deceivers. Believers are committed to truth. Paul starts out this book in verse 1 by saying, “I’m Paul writing this to you for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth” (paraphrase). The truth is key. It matters to those who are believers.
Paul goes on to talk in the second verse about “God who never lies.” Cretans are always liars; God never lies. What should believers look like?
Should believers be deceivers and liars, slanderers, saying things about people that aren’t true? Or should they be like God, who never lies? There’s the contrast.
Paul says that the elders in the churches must “hold firm to the trustworthy Word” (1:9). They must have their lives rooted, grounded in truth. Again women are not to be slanderers. They are to be truth speakers. Truth should matter to believers. Truth does matter to believers.
Here’s another contrast. Unbelievers teach what they ought not to teach (1:11). When it comes to training others in spiritual matters, there are many people out there who are teaching things they should not be teaching.
They may claim to be Christians; they may not claim to be Christians. But they’re teaching things to people about areas of religion that are not true. They’re not based on the Word of God. These are people that Paul describes as turning away from the truth in what they teach.
But believers are exhorted to ground their lives in sound doctrine (2:1). That’s a really important phrase in this book. We’re going to take some extended time to talk about what is sound doctrine and why is it important and does it really matter.
Sound doctrine—that’s the kind of teaching that ought to characterize our believing church members and churches. Unbelievers are described as with their false teaching, their unsound doctrine; they are described as upsetting or overturning whole families.
That’s one of the reasons doctrine matters. It has an impact on whole families. Those who are teaching things that are not true, the effect of their teaching, the effect of their writing, the effect of the philosophies they’re promoting, is to upset or overturn whole families.
It’s a picture of unbelieving families that are in a state of chaos. They’re dysfunctional. They’re disorderly. That’s a picture of unbelieving families. They’ve been overturned.
Isn’t that true in our culture? Unbelieving families—highly dysfunctional and disorderly.
You say, “But that’s true of a lot of believing families.” But it’s not supposed to be true of believing families. That’s the point of this book. It’s said of believing families in Titus, “If they live out the implications of the gospel that the families of believers are in order. They fit together.”
So, children of believers are described as being under control. They’re obedient to God’s Word. Younger women are described as loving their husbands, loving their children (2:4–5).
That doesn’t mean that they don’t ever have issues. As we get to each of these phrases, we’ll talk about what it does and doesn’t mean.
But there is a love in the marriage. There is a love between parents and children in believing families who live out the gospel.
It talks about women who are working at home. We’ll talk about what that means and the priority of the family for the believing woman and wives who are submissive to their own husbands (2:4–5).
You see how the gospel works out in these different relationships in the homes where the gospel can be seen on the part of believers.
Think about all those different contrasts. Let me sum it up this way. Paul says this is what we used to be like. When we were not believers this is what we were.
Turn to chapter 3 and let me have you look at it for yourself. Chapter 3, verse 3. Paul says, “We ourselves were once foolish.” In our unbelieving state this is what we were like. We were “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”
Paul says that is the portrait of who we were.
You may be thinking, “But I was saved at the age of four,” as I was. “I didn’t do all those things.” Was I “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another”?
Boy, I don’t remember doing all that stuff before I turned four. Maybe I threw my bottle at my sister or something, I don’t know.
Those of us who have been raised in the church and who have grown up in good homes and maybe came to know the Lord as younger children, was this true of us? Paul says we ourselves were once this way. That was the bent of our heart.
We may not have had the fullest opportunity to express all of that, but that’s who we were. Apart from God’s grace that’s who we would be today, apart from the transformation that the gospel brings about in our lives. Paul says that’s what we were apart from Christ.
Go back up to verse 1 in chapter 3. Paul says, “This is what you should be.” Verse 3 describes what you were, what we all were at one time. But chapter 3, verses 1 and 2 says, This is what you should look like. This is how believers should be described.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
Do you see the contrast between verses 1 and 2 and verse 3? Two kinds of people—those who are unbelievers and those who are believers. Now the question is—and we’ve been hinting at it all along—what makes the difference?
No! That’s not what makes the difference.
There’s a woman sitting in this room today who’s been very open about her testimony that she spent, if I remember correctly, twelve years in a prison on a drug charge with a background that could match probably anybody else in this room. She was once living out some of the things we just described in verse 3.
But today she is a picture of verses 1 and 2. She is a believer. Her life has been transformed. It wasn’t the prison system that did it. It wasn’t books that she’s read. It wasn’t mentoring. It wasn’t some social program.
What made the difference in her life? What has made the difference in your life? What will make the difference in anybody else’s life that will take them from being that unbeliever we described, to being the picture of the believer who is like Christ? What makes the difference?
One word: it’s the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Look at verse 4 as we continue in chapter 3 here. Paul says this is what you should be. This is what you once were. Look at verse 4.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared.
God our Savior, He appeared to us with goodness and loving kindness. What did He do?
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (vv. 5–7).
That passage describes the whole point, the crux of the matter. It’s salvation. It’s the saving work of Christ. That is the gospel, the good news that Christ came into this world to save sinners.
The grace of God has appeared that takes us from who and what we were, which is following after the course of this wicked, fallen world, and makes us into someone and something that is totally different. Not just reformed, but regenerated.
Salvation is transformation. It’s not just a new creed that you get in your head. It’s not just something you sign. It’s not something you join. It’s not putting a new exterior on the same old, rotten person on the inside. It’s becoming a whole, new person.
If you have been saved by Christ Jesus our Savior, you are not the same person you once were. You have been transformed. You are a new and different person. Salvation makes all the difference in the world. We become according to 2 Corinthians chapter 5, a “new creation, old things have passed away, all things have become new” (v. 14).
There ought to be a huge difference between believers and unbelievers. You say, “You’ve already said that fourteen times.”
I want to say it again because there’s something wrong with the picture of twenty-first century Christianity and that is that there are millions and millions of people who can claim to be believers in Jesus Christ, but their lives give absolutely no evidence. There is something hugely wrong with that picture.
As you read the book of Titus, you say, “Apparently these people have not really experienced the gospel. Apparently they have never come face to face with the saving, redeeming grace of Jesus Christ. That makes a difference.”
There is a difference between believers and unbelievers. And that difference will be evident.
Paul is concerned that the Christians who will be reading these words not only profess to know God but that they actually live out the implications of the gospel. He’s concerned that their lives present a vivid, distinct, stark contrast to those who do not follow Christ, those who have not been saved.
Look at chapter 2 beginning in verse 11. Here you see another paragraph that describes the implications of the gospel, the implications of the grace of God.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
So Paul says the grace of God, if it has come into your life, if it has brought salvation to you, what does it do? It disciples you; it disciplines you. It trains you to say “no” to those things that were part of your old life—ungodliness, worldly passions—and to say “yes” to those things that are a part of your new life, to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
And it gives you something to live for, he says in verses 13–14, “Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us.”
Why? Why did Jesus Christ come to this earth and die on that cross? Why? To redeem us from all lawlessness.
How much? Just to clean us up a little bit to make us socially acceptable? No. He died to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. That’s why Jesus came.
So throughout this book Paul says, I want you to have the knowledge of the truth, which is the gospel and the grace of Jesus Christ. I want you to see that if you have ever experienced and received and encountered that grace, it will change your life. You will be a different person.
So throughout chapter 1, Paul applies this basic concept of the transforming power of the gospel. He applies it first to those who are spiritual leaders—those who have the positions of leadership in the local church, the elders, those who are spiritual overseers. He starts with them.
He talks in verses 5–8 of chapter 1 about the qualifications for those who spiritually lead the churches—those who are elders, overseers. He says their lives must demonstrate and illustrate the gospel. They have to be an example of the gospel of Jesus Christ, an example of true believers with their lives, their character, their families.
Paul says in verse 5:
I left you in Crete so that you might put what remained in order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.
He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but he must be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined (vv. 5–8).
Paul is saying those who lead the churches, those who are qualified to lead God’s people, must meet these qualifications. What’s the essence? Their lives demonstrate the gospel. They live out the implication of the gospel.
Then in verse 9 he says in their function, not just their qualifications, but in their function and in what they do they are to live out the gospel. They are to proclaim the gospel.
First of all, verse 9 says they are to give instruction in sound doctrine. They are to instruct in sound doctrine which is based on the gospel and which changes lives.
In chapter 2 which we’ll get to sooner or later here, he says they are to teach what accords with sound doctrine. They’re to pass on the gospel with its implications. Not only are they to instruct in the doctrine, the gospel of Jesus Christ, they also have a responsibility to rebuke those who do not teach sound doctrine, those who contradict sound doctrine.
Today the mindset is, “Just teach what you think is true, but it’s not considered appropriate to rebuke or to come against someone who’s teaching false doctrine or something that you don’t agree with.” In this relativistic culture, that’s just your opinion. You let them teach what they want to teach; you teach what you think you should teach.
Paul says, No! There is truth. There is sound doctrine. And those who lead the church are to teach the sound doctrine. They have a responsibility to protect God’s people from doctrine that is not sound, to rebuke those who contradict the truth.
Now, that will not earn you any points today. That will not get you elected to most positions. But Paul wasn’t running for an election. All he was running for was to be approved by God.
It’s a serious responsibility to me as I teach the Word of God to instruct in sound doctrine and then also to speak the things that will rebuke those who contradict things that are being taught to women today that are contrary to God’s Word.
That’s chapter 1. Paul says the spiritual leaders need to live out the gospel in the way they live and in the way they teach.
Then he gets to chapter 2 and he applies this matter of the transforming power of the gospel to the rest of us, to everyone in the church—old and young, men and women, people from every socioeconomic status. He says you are all to demonstrate, to live out, the implications of the gospel in your character, in your relationships, in your families.
Why? He answers that in chapter 2. We’ll get to more of this later, but let me give you three purpose phrases that Paul gives in chapter two.
Verse 5, Paul says, “That the word of God may not be reviled.”
Verse 8: “So that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
And verse 10: “So that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”
The gospel is powerful. The gospel is transformational.
But the gospel will not be heard and received by our culture, by our generation, by your children, by your neighbors, by the people in your workplace; the gospel will not be received if it cannot be seen in the lives of those of us who profess to believe it.
That’s the point.
You can call yourself a Christian, but if your life doesn’t bear witness to the implications, the transforming implications of the gospel in:
All these many practical issues that are the outflow and the overflow of the gospel in your life. If your life doesn’t show those, then there’s no basis on which the world can look at our lives and say, “I believe the gospel.”
We can’t just tell them it’s true. They need to see and feel and experience that it really is true through our lives.
Father, how I pray that you would help us to capture the heart of this book and all of the Scripture that says it really does make a difference to be a Christian. I want to thank You for the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the grace of God our Savior that has appears, that teaches us and trains us to say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness.
I pray, O God, for a revival of true, biblical, gospel Christianityin our world, in our churches, in our listening audience. Lord, may my life reflect the implications of the gospel. May my life adorn the doctrine of God. May my life make the gospel believeable to those around me this day. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She’s been giving us an overview of some of the practical issues we’ll cover as we continue to study Titus chapter 2 over the coming weeks here on Revive Our Hearts. Nancy, why is this particular passage so important for us as women?
Nancy: Let me say first that every word of the Scripture is inspired by God and is necessary for every believer, whether male or female. But in Titus chapter 2, the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, specifically lays out some practical instructions for women. I think it’s a great blessing and gift to be able to read these words, take them to heart, and apply them to our lives. But this passage needs some careful study and accurate interpretation. And that’s what I’ve tried to do in this series.
What does it mean in our day, for instance, for younger women to be “working at home” like Titus 2 says? You’ll read about that and many other practical, helpful topics in the brand new book, Adorned, released today. You can find it in stores—brick and mortar store and online retailers—but when you get your copy from Revive Our Hearts you’re investing in this ministry and helping us to continue to provide this kind of teaching in your area.
We depend on support from listeners like you. When you make a gift of any size during this series on Titus 2, we’ll say “thank you” by sending you a copy of this brand new Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together.
Leslie: To get your copy of Adorned, call 1–800–569–5959 with your gift of any amount, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
What do you think of when you hear the word “doctrine”? … Nancy will show you why that’s a good word, a joyful word, and a practical word for your life. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth loves the beauty of the gospel, and it’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.
*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.
Bible Rank: 106
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. NIV
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, perhaps one of the more polarizing holidays of our year. It’s very fun and exciting for the love birds, too commercial and insincere for the skeptics, and sometimes especially lonely for the single.
Singleness’s greatest sorrows are secretly reinforced every February in the souls of the not-yet-married still waiting for their wedding day. While many of our friends and family are inundated with dates, flowers, chocolate, and love notes, lots and lots of the valentine-less are overwhelmed with everything from impatience to bitterness, from shame to regret to confusion.
There will likely be good-intentioned, lovingly-naive husbands and wives who forget the emotional complexities of unwanted singleness and enthusiastically encourage you to just enjoy this season of “dating Jesus.” Yes, Jesus is our only hope and cure, but it won’t be in some hopelessly romantic, chocolate-covered, neatly-wrapped way. The truth is that the unfulfilled desire for a companion and lover, especially year after year, much more often feels like the grief and bondage of joblessness or infertility than the uninhibited emotional and devotional freedom many imagine. “It is not good for man to be alone.”
We want our lives to be full and fruitful. We want to experience all God has made and given us as much as possible, and we want our experience in this short life to really count for his glory and the good of others. Sadly too often in our not-yet-married lives, we’ve made marriage a qualification for that kind of happiness and significance. There’ve been days — a lot of days — when I really couldn’t imagine a full and fruitful life without a wife.
But as much as God loves marriage, he didn’t design it to bear the burden of our eternal purpose and happiness. From the beginning, it’s been a means of experiencing and expressing a far greater union — union with God, through his Son, by his Spirit. Paul says the key to experiencing the freedom purchased for us at the cross is walking in the newness of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), turning away from the desires of the flesh and filling ourselves with new fruits — love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self–control (Galatians 5:22). The free and full life is found in Christ and played out in Christ-likeness, summed up in these nine prizes of the Christian life.
As much as God loves marriage, he didn’t design it to bear the burden of our eternal purpose and happiness.
Perhaps the greatest sorrow of the single life is that so many put off pursuing the produce of the Spirit until they get married. We foolishly think finding love will mysteriously unlock these fruits in our lives. It’s true that marriage very often brings sanctification, but the testimony of many is that marriage is more diagnosis than prescription in our pursuit of holiness. Rather than unlocking fruits, it will more often (graciously) uncover flaws — flaws we will then trust God to cleanse and correct.
In reality, none of the fruits of the Spirit are reserved for marriage. They’re the produce of conversion (our union with Christ), not of marriage (our union with a spouse). And fortunately for the not-yet-married, the union that matters most doesn’t require a license from your local county administrator. When we’re looking down the wedding aisle expecting a bride or groom to finally make us happy and fruitful, we’re looking for love, joy, and peace in the wrong places. God’s already given his Spirit — and all his fruits — to every person saved and satisfied in him — valentine or not.
Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). And his most effective means of starving our not-yet-married lives of this soul-satisfying fruit are his lies. Lies about you. Lies about your past. Lies about marriage. Lies about your future spouse. Lies about your friends and family. And without a wife or husband, if we’re not careful, we might find ourselves with a lot more time to listen to him.
If we’re going to fight for fruitfulness, we need to hear the lies as lies and confront them with God’s invincible love for his children, which he has given us in the truth of his promises. So here are nine deceptions we singles need to defeat, each with a weapon from God’s word, holding joy for last. Whether you personally struggle with each or not, I hope every single promise equips every single person with a joy-filled hope and resolve to make much of Jesus in this not-yet-married life.
Sure, selfishness might be just as rampant in marriage — and certainly more on display — but the single life by nature caters to and cultivates it. Each day, you’ll make most of your decisions based on what you need and want, and no one will really know the difference. But as promising as self-centeredness and self-gratification might seem, love offers a better promise.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). The promise of love is the promise of God. Those who love meet more and more of the God who is love (4:8). And this love and this God are available to the married and not-yet-married alike.
There may be more intense anxieties among young people in our church than unfulfilled desires for marriage, but there also may not be a more prevalent one. Fears and grief over love, relationships, and marriage steal a lot of sleep and energy from our single people. Preoccupation and self-pity in our inadequacies promises to make us feel better, but it lacks any power to help. But God can give us real peace.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)
God has promised us peace in every circumstance and protection against every evil plotted against us. Whether you meet your future spouse this afternoon or live alone the rest of your life, God knows your needs, promises to provide, and really can give you a peace-filled rest and perspective at every point.
Amazon, Netflix, and smartphones have depreciated patience. It’s not reallytrue, but instant gratification has gratified us enough to make us forget how priceless and beautiful patience really is. Do you appreciate patience in yourself or others? You won’t find it applauded much online and certainly not in most television today, so we’ll have to look in other (more reliable) places.
God promises through Paul, “To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:7). There are some things we can only have through patience. Glory. Honor. Immortality. God. No technology will ever speed up the process. And the muscles we need to wait well for God are built in our waiting for lesser things, like weddings. All of our waiting is worth it, if through it we get more and more of the one for whom our souls are all ultimately waiting.
Entitlement is one of the great dangers of singleness. It creeps into everything, but at its core it convinces us to focus exclusively on us — a kind of survival mentality — often at the expense of others. As entitlement and self-preoccupation grow and invade our hearts, we become less interested in and compassionate toward others. But the life-giving fruit of the Spirit is kindness — an attitude of friendly sympathy and generosity.
Enjoying all God has created as God intended will require self-control.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). The beautiful, liberating promise behind our kindness is the kindness of God to us in Christ. Those who put on Christ — and are found to be kind in him — have received kindness from an almighty, holy God despite what they deserve. Jesus says, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:35). We’re kind because that’s the kind of kids God keeps.
One excuse for procrastination in our pursuit of holiness is that single Christians are not yet accountable in the same ways as married Christians, as if we’re somehow less human. When we have wives or husbands or children that are affected by our attitudes and behaviors, then it will really matter who we are and how we act. When a man and woman get married, they do become one, but not more fully one than a single believer. Each and every Spirit-filled child of God is accountable to God regardless of our marital status (Romans 14:12). And each and every Spirit-filled child of God has access to the blessings of God-wrought goodness in this life.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. . . . Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:6, 8). Blessed — happy — are single men and women who love and pursue goodness and virtue and integrity. And the blessing comes right now in your not-yet-married, not-yet-perfect pursuit of God and his righteousness.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue. (2 Peter 1:3–5)
With the very power of God on your side, supplement your faith and singleness with goodness.
At our worst, some of us really love this about singleness. Those who haven’t settled down feel the freedom to move from one thing to the next, to leave old responsibilities and obligations for fresh new things. It could be a new job or church or relationship or even city. People put off marriage to avoid commitment and keep their felt freedom. But as free as flakiness feels, the Bible teaches us to love faithfulness, devotion, and fidelity in every stage of life.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). When life, work, relationships, or ministry becomes hard, inconvenient, or mundane, our consistent, selfless investments in those around us reveal our faith in God’s exciting, unfailing work. When it seems on the outside like it might not be worth it, we rest, work, and stay knowing every sacrifice in this life for the sake of Christ is never in vain.
In the Spirit, against the patterns of the twenty-somethings around us, we can set aside our selfish and impulsive ambitions in order to be faithful members of a local church, engaged in long-term ministry to our community, and slow to walk away from God’s work, however hard and uncelebrated it might be. And we rejoice in this kind of endurance, because, “endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5).
Our responses to being harmed say a lot about the state of our heart. How do you react to people who misunderstand, overlook, or minimize the pain of your not-yet-marriedness? Though good-intentioned, they unwittingly offend you with their advice, questions, or indifference. You feel justified in your anger, expressed in an insensitive word or violent, bitter thought toward them. But God rewards gentleness in the face of offense.
He encourages us and our teachers to patiently endure evil, “correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25–26). Ultimately, God corrects and directs hearts. We’re not called to inflict judgment on one another, but to clothe ourselves in the grace and gentleness with which God has shown us. You might be right to be offended, but you will not solve it with a second offense. God calls us instead to gentleness, and promises to do the harder work of redemption and retaliation for us.
There’s no unchecked life like the single life. It can be very easy to live wildly and unwisely when we live in isolation. Our flesh wants us to eat more of this, drink more of that, buy more of this, and watch more of that. None of these things is necessarily bad by nature, but our unchecked sinful cravings will eventually lead us into more sin and idolatry. Enjoying all God has created as God intended will require self-control — saying no enough to show we enjoy him more than any of his gifts. And the rewards of restraint in this life are absolutely worth it.
“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:25). When we forsake food, drink, television, sports, shopping, websites, anything in this life for the sake of having and enjoying Christ, we take another step toward an infinite, imperishable inheritance kept in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4; Matthew 6:20).
Marriage can offer the up-close and personal accountability you might not have in your singleness. Self-control, though, is a fruit of the Spirit, not a spouse. Look to God for strength, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” and your self-control (Philippians 2:13).
Any not-yet reality in our lives is accompanied with pain and longing. We don’t hear too many testimonies of the “happily not-yet-married,” at least not among Christians. Unwanted singleness can be very lonely, and loneliness can be very miserable. In those moments, the really compelling lie is that marriage will be the most satisfying solution. Sadly, looking to marriage and a spouse to fill the hole only God can fill will only leave you more depressed and hurt. God graciously gives us another answer for joy.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). In Jesus — the way, the truth, and the life — God has shown us the paths of life and happiness, and it’s not the path between the pews at your future wedding. It’s the scandalous marriage of a holy God to his chosen, sinful, and forgiven bride, the church. Jesus lived, died, and rose again for our joy — even in singleness. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
The seed of every other fruit of the Spirit is a deep, enduring satisfaction in Jesus.
The seed of every other fruit of the Spirit is a deep, enduring satisfaction in Jesus. A lack of love communicates you treasure yourself more than Jesus and the people he purchased by his blood. Our anxiety tells God we’re not happily content to have him and his fatherly plan (and timing) for our lives. Impatience says the Jesus you already have is not enough. An inability to say no suggests you believe this food, purchase, or website will make you more happy than Jesus. But real joy in Jesus, through the gospel, will free you from the poisonous fruit of sin.
What can separate us from the love of God? “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). Shall singleness? “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (8:37). Nothing — certainly not our marital status — can keep us from receiving and fulfilling all that God has become for us in Jesus. His favor already rests on you. His power is at work in you. His word will lead you. His grace is able to sustain you. God really can satisfy you and make you very, very fruitful right now. Yes, even single you.
Valentine’s Day is a human-created holiday. As it appeals to our desires for love and marriage, it can have the deceiving power to divert our attention and priorities from God’s plan and perspective. We know, though, that “the flower fades” — every single rose — “but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8). Step back and be amazed how short Valentine’s Day, marriage, and even our lives really are by comparison to glory. Know that they will all pass away in an instant and pale in beauty, worth, and happiness before an eternity with our Savior — an eternity we taste today in the fruits of his Spirit.
And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
As we come to the end of our series on marriage — this week and next week— it is fitting that we think together about the implications of the meaning of marriage for divorce and remarriage. For many of you who have walked through a divorce and are now single or remarried, or whose parents were divorced, or some other loved one, the mere mention of the word carries a huge weight of sorrow and loss and tragedy and disappointment and anger and regret and guilt. Few things are more painful than divorce. It cuts to the depths of personhood unlike any other relational gash. It is emotionally more heart-wrenching than the death of a spouse. Death is usually clean pain. Divorce is usually dirty pain. In other words, the enormous loss of a spouse in death is compounded in divorce by the ugliness of sin and moral outrage at being so wronged.
It is often long years in coming, and long years in the settlement and in the adjustment. The upheaval of life is immeasurable. The sense of failure and guilt and fear can torture the soul. Like the psalmist, night after night a spouse falls asleep with tears (Psalm 6:6). Work performance is hindered. People don’t know how to relate to you anymore and friends start to withdraw. You can feel like you wear a big scarlet D on your chest. The loneliness is not like the loneliness of being a widow or a widower or person who has never been married. It is in class by itself. (Which is one reason why so many divorced people find each other.) A sense of devastated future can be all consuming. Courtroom controversy compounds the personal misery. And then there is often the agonizing place of children. Parents hope against hope that the scars will not cripple the children or ruin their marriages some day. Tensions over custody and financial support deepen the wounds. And then the awkward and artificial visitation rights can lengthen the tragedy over decades. And add to all of this that it happens in America to over four out of every ten married couples.
“Few things are more painful than divorce. It cuts to the depths of personhood unlike any other relational gash.”
There are two ways to respond lovingly and caringly to this situation. One is to come alongside divorced persons and stand by them as they grieve and repent of any sinful part of their own. And then to stay by them through the transitions and help them find a way to enjoy the forgiveness and the strength for new obedience that Christ obtained when he died and rose again.
The other way to respond lovingly and caringly is to articulate a hatred of divorce, and why it is against the will of God, and do all we can biblically to keep it from happening. Compromises on the sacredness and life-long permanence of marriage — positions that weaken the solidity of the covenant-union — may feel loving in the short run, but wreak havoc over the decades. Preserving the solid framework of the marriage covenant with high standards may feel tough in the short run, but produces ten thousand blessings for future generations. I hope that both of these ways of loving and caring will flourish at Bethlehem.
One of the reasons that I have emphasized the ultimate meaning of marriage so much in this series is that the meaning of marriage is such that human beings cannot legitimately break it. The ultimate meaning of marriage is the representation of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church. To live this truth and to show this truth is what it means, most deeply, to be married. This is the ultimate reason why marriage exists. There are other reasons, but this is the main one. Therefore, if Christ ever abandons and discards his church, then a man may divorce his wife. And if the blood-bought church, under the new covenant, ever ceases to be the bride of Christ, then a wife may legitimately divorce her husband. But as long as Christ keeps his covenant with his bride, the church, and as long as the church, by the sustaining grace of God, remains the chosen people of Jesus Christ, then the very meaning of marriage will include: What God has joined, only God can separate, not man.
Oh, how I pray that one of the effects of this series will be to make us as a people profoundly serious about the sacredness of marriage. The world treats this diamond-like just another stone. But in fact, marriage is sacred beyond what most people imagine. It is a unique creation of God, a dramatic portrayal of God’s relation to his people, and a display of the glory of God’s covenant-keeping love. Against all the diminished attitudes about marriage in the world — Jesus’s world and our world — Jesus’s words about marriage are breathtaking. This is the work of God, not man, and it does not lie in man’s prerogative to end it.
In our text in Mark 10:1–12, the Pharisees came to Jesus and asked him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” That’s the question. Today, people don’t even ask the question. It is assumed. It’s not only lawful but easy and cheap. Just Google the word “divorce” and see what you get (“Easy Online Divorce,” “Simple Divorce Online,” “No Fault Divorce, $28.95,” “Easy Online Divorce, $299”). Let me say cautiously and seriously: Those who scorn the design of God and the glory of Christ, and build their lives and businesses and whole industries around making divorce cheap and easy are under the wrath of God, and need to repent and seek his forgiveness through Christ before it is too late.
Jesus knew that the Pharisees, in general, were an adulterous generation (Matthew 12:39). He knew how they defended their divorces. So he lead them to that very place and asks them in Mark 10:3, “What did Moses command you?” He takes them to Moses. But they should be careful here. Moses didn’t just write Deuteronomy, which they are about to quote. He also wrote Genesis. Verse 4: They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” That’s true. It’s a reference to Deuteronomy 24:1.
“The ultimate meaning of marriage is the representation of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church.”
What will Jesus say in response to this defense of divorce? Verse 5: Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.” This is amazing. It implies, in other words, there are laws in the Old Testament that are not expressions of God’s will for all time, but expressions of how best to manage sin in a particular people at a particular time. Divorce is never commanded and never instituted in the Old Testament. But it was permitted and regulated. Like polygamy was permitted and regulated, and certain kinds of slavery were permitted and regulated. And Jesus says here that this permission was not a reflection of God’s ideal for his people; it was a reflection of the hardness of the human heart. “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.”
Then Jesus takes the Pharisees (and us) back to God’s will in creation and quotes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 and shows us the way it was supposed to be. Verses 6–8: “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’” That’s the end of his Scripture quoting. Now the question is: What will he do with it? Clearly Jesus sees a tension between Deuteronomy 24 and Genesis 1 and 2. The but at the beginning of verse 6 (“But from the beginning of creation . . .) means: God’s will about divorce in Genesis 1–2 is not the same as his will expressed in Deuteronomy 24.
So the question is “Which way will Jesus go?” Will he say: Well, there is still hardness of heart today, even in my disciples, and so Deuteronomy expresses God’s will for Christians today? Or will he say, I am the Messiah, the Christ. The Son of Man has come into the world to gather a people who by faith in him and union with him display the true meaning of marriage in the way they keep their marriage covenant? Will the emphasis fall on the fact that in the church there is still hardness of heart, or will the emphasis fall on the fact that the old has passed away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17)?
Jesus draws three conclusions in verse 8b and verse 9. He says (1) in verse 8b, “So they are no longer two but one flesh.” In other words, since God said in Genesis 2:24, “The two shall become one flesh,” therefore Jesus concludes for his day and ours: “So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Marriage is that kind of union — very profound, just as Christ and the church are one body (Romans 12:5).
Then (2) the second conclusion Jesus draws is that this union of one flesh is the creation, the work, of God, not man. He says in verse 9, “What therefore God has joined together . . .” So even though two humans decide to get married. And a human pastor or priest or justice of the peace or some other person solemnizes and legalizes the union, all that is secondary to the main actor, namely, God. “What God has joined together . . .” God is the main actor in the event of marriage.
Then (3) Jesus draws the conclusion at the end of verse 9: “Let not man separate.” The word translated “man” here (“Let not man separate”) is not the word for male over against female, but the word for human over against divine. The contrast is: “If God joined the man and woman in marriage, then mere humans have no right to separate what he joined. That’s Jesus third conclusion from Genesis 1 and 2. Since God created this sacred union with this sacred purpose to display the unbreakable firmness of his covenant love for his people, it simply does not lie within man’s rights to destroy what God created.
That’s the end of the Jesus’s conversation with the Pharisees about divorce. He has more to say to his disciples, but he is done with the Pharisees. They ask no more. He tells no more. They came with their question. Jesus gave his answer. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” And Jesus answers: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” No. It is not lawful. It contradicts the ultimate meaning of marriage.
Of course, someone might say, it has always contradicted the meaning of marriage — even when the permission of Deuteronomy was written. But Jesus is not thinking that way. He is calling his followers to a higher standard than the compromise with hardness of heart in Deuteronomy.
Jesus did not come to simply affirm the Mosaic law. He came to fulfill it in his own consuming, forgiving, justifying obedience and death, and then to take his ransomed and forgiven and justified followers into the higher standards that were really intended when all of Moses is properly understood. Remember Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
And then he gives six examples of what this radical obedience will look like in his disciples. Here are just two: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder . . . but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:21–22). 2) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart’” (Matthew 5:27–28). And there are four more like this in Matthew 5.
“I have come to give you the power to stay married, or to stay single so that either way you keep your promises”
In other words, Jesus came not only to fulfill the law in his own work, he came to take his people to a radical understanding of the law and a radical obedience to the law that is not based on law but on himself, and therefore reflects the fullness of what God wills for us — and especially reflects the gospel, the covenant-keeping work of Christ at Calvary for his church. Marriage among Christians is mainly meant to tell the truth about the gospel — that Christ dies for his church who loves him, and never breaks his covenant with his bride.
In essence, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You are permitted to divorce.’ But I say to you, ‘I have come to conquer the hardness of your heart. I have come to die for your sins. I have come to count you as righteous. I have come to show you the drama that marriage was meant to represent in my sacrificial, covenant-keeping love for my sinful bride. I have come to give you the power to stay married, or to stay single, so that either way you keep your promises and show what my covenant is like, and how sacred is the covenant bond of marriage.”
So when the Pharisees are gone and Jesus is in the house with his disciples, he puts the matter even more bluntly and more radically. Mark 10:1–12: “And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’”
Mark does not report how stunned the disciples were at these words; Matthew does. I will try to show more fully from two important passages in Matthew (5:32; 19:9) and three in 1 Corinthians (7:10–11, 12–16, 39) and one in Romans (7:1–3) why I think we should take Jesus at face value here, and counsel against all remarriage after divorce while the spouse is living. That’s what I think Jesus calls us to as his followers. Keep your marriage vows in such a way as to tell the truth about the unbreakable covenant love of Christ.
But in closing today I want to emphasize that what Jesus says here in verses 10–12 is incredibly good news — even to those who have been divorced and are remarried. Here’s why: Jesus says, “Don’t divorce your spouse and marry someone else. If you do, you’ve committed adultery.” Why is it adultery? Ultimately, it is adultery because it betrays the truth about Christ that marriage is meant to display. Jesus never, never, never does that to his bride, the church. He never forsakes her. He never abandons her. He never abuses her. He always loves her. He always takes her back when she wanders. He always is patient with her. He always cares for her and provides for her and protects her and, wonder of wonders, delights in her. And you — you who are married once, married five times, married never — if you repent and trust Christ — receive him as the treasure who bore your punishment and became your righteousness — you are in the bride. And that is how he relates to you. “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sin’s through his name (Acts 10:43).
The radical call of Jesus never to divorce and remarry is a declaration of the gospel by which people who have failed may be saved. If Christ were not this way, we would all be undone. But this is how true, how faithful, how forgiving he is. Therefore, we are saved.
Leslie Basham: Revive Our Hearts invites you to explore the riches of Titus chapter 2 in a series called “God’s Beautiful Design for Women.”
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: The gospel will not be heard and received by our culture, by our generation, by your children, by your neighbors, by the people in your workplace; the gospel will not be received if it cannot be seen in the lives of those of us who profess to believe it.
Leslie: Titus 2 will challenge you to know what you believe.
Nancy: How important is doctrine to you? Do you know what your doctrine is? How much do you care?
Leslie: This series will encourage you to invest in other women.
Nancy: Teach out of your life, and help those who are coming behind you to be guarded and protected in their steps. My life is so much richer today as I’m getting older because of older people who have poured into my life.
Leslie: And it will help you develop true beauty.
Nancy: When you’re young, there are some character defects—whether bitterness or selfishness or pride—that can be covered up or glossed over with youthful energy, good looks, natural ability, or natural personality. But as you get older and those physical, outward things fade away, if those character defects have not been sanctified, they’re going to become more pronounced and more visible.
Leslie: This is the teaching series “God’s Beautiful Design for Women,” on Revive Our Hearts for Monday, February 6, 2017. Our host is Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, whose brand new book, Adorned, Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel releases tomorrow. That book is a study of Titus 2:1–5, and to celebrate that launch of that book, we’re going to be studying that passage here on Revive Our Hearts. So open your Bible to Titus 2, and stick a bookmark there, because we’ll be getting to know this passage for the next couple of months. Here’s Nancy.
Nancy: If you’ve been listening to Revive Our Hearts for any period of time, you’ve heard me talk about this counter-cultural revolution that we’re believing God to bring about in the hearts of women today; and Titus 2speaks to the issue of the counter-cultural woman.
What does she look like? Does it really matter that we have this counter-cultural revolution? What difference would counter-cultural women make in our culture?
And how can this kind of movement actually take place? Is this just a dream? Is this just a vision that can’t really happen? Is it realistic? How can it happen?
In Titus 2, especially verses 3–5, we see a portrait of the counter-cultural woman. We’re given by the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a curriculum for the training and developing of counter-cultural women. In this passage we’re going to discover and uncover:
Also in this passage we have, very importantly, what I think is one of the most definitive passages in all of God’s Word about the whole subject of women’s ministry in the local church, and we’re going to talk about what that looks like, or what it should look like.
Let me start by reading the first paragraph of Titus 2 (vv. 1–5). Here at Revive Our Hearts we don’t want you to just hear me teaching the Word, and we don’t want you to be “spoon-fed” believers. We want you to learn to feed yourself from God’s Word. So if you are in a place as you are listening to this program, or you can stop what you are doing, where you can pick up a Bible and follow along, that’s a good thing. If you are driving your car or you are in the workplace and maybe you can’t do that right now, I want to encourage you over these next weeks (because yes, it will be weeks that we will be walking through Titus chapter 2) to be getting into this passage yourself—soaking in it, immersing yourself in it, saturating yourself in it—over these next weeks until it becomes a part of the warp and woof of how you think, and more importantly, how you live.
So let me read verses 1–5 of Titus chapter 2 The apostle Paul says,
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
It was several months ago that the Lord first put it in my heart to start developing a series on Titus 2. In order to teach Titus 2, I felt it was important to understand the context under which this chapter falls.
The book of Titus has only three chapters. It’s only forty-six verses. It’s not real long. On my Bible the whole book falls on a page and little bit on the second page. So I have spent the last several months saturating my mind and heart with this little book of Titus. What a gem it is!
I’ve been reading it again and again and again and again. I’ve studied it. I’ve memorized it. I go to sleep some nights quoting Titus to myself. I wake up some mornings quoting it to myself.
I say that because that’s an important thing for you to consider as you study God’s Word. There are no shortcuts to getting God’s Word into your life and to really understanding it.
People sometimes say to me, “I wish I could get out of the Scripture what you do.”
And my answer is, “You can—but there are no shortcuts.” I’m over these next weeks going to teach you some of the things that God has been teaching me. But I have spent hours and hours just reading the text, thinking about it, looking up the individual words, meditating on it, pondering it, looking at it, examining it from many different angles.
The wonderful thing about the Scripture is that it is alive. I’ve read the book of Titus scores of times, maybe hundreds of times over the years, but now as I’m focusing on it, it’s coming alive to me in a whole new way.
The verses we’re going to be particularly focusing on in this series—that little paragraph we just read—will take on new meaning and will become even richer to us as we consider them against the backdrop and the context of the whole book of Titus.
So I want to spend the first several days of this series, before we get to the part about women, looking at the bigger picture. How does that passage fit into the whole message and themes and context of the book of Titus?
First of all, as I just mentioned, the book of Titus is written by the apostle Paul. Titus is one of three small books that are called the Pastoral Epistles.
An epistle is a letter written by an apostle, and they’re letters meant to be read. They’re communication. They’re very personal. These three Pastoral Epistles were written by the apostle Paul to two men who were pastors—1 and 2 Timothy written to Timothy, and the book of Titus written to Titus.
There are a lot of parallels between 1 Timothy and Titus. Actually, some passages sound very similar. Both of these books may have been written about the same time, between Paul’s two Roman imprisonments. They were written toward the end of Paul’s life and ministry.
Three or four years later, in 67 AD, the apostle Paul would be beheaded by Nero. So Paul is coming toward the end of his life.
All of God’s Word is important; it’s all true; it’s all inspired; but when you think about what a man is saying as he knows that his life is coming to a close, it’s really important. These are the things that are heavy on his heart.
Titus was a Gentile believer. He was a pastor, probably young, and apparently led to the Lord by the apostle Paul. In Titus 1:4, the apostle Paul calls Titus “my true child in a common faith.” He was probably a spiritual son in the faith.
Titus had served and traveled with Paul on one or two of Paul’s missionary journeys. He’s mentioned eleven times elsewhere in Paul’s epistles, most (eight) of those in the book of 2 Corinthians.
Paul had sent Titus on a number of special assignments to the church in Corinth. Then, when Paul and Titus arrived in Crete, Paul left Titus there on the island of Crete to provide leadership to the churches on that island.
Crete is a large island in the Mediterranean Sea, about 150 miles south of Athens, Greece. The island is 160 miles long, and at its widest point it’s thirty-five miles wide. It has a number of different towns, villages, and cities. There were churches starting up in these different towns, and Paul had left Titus there to oversee the work and the churches on the island.
As I mentioned, Nero was the Roman emperor at this time, and it would not be long after this letter was written before the Roman government would take an official stand against Christianity. Christianity was soon to be outlawed; and, of course, the reason such a fuss was made was because Christianity was making such an impact.
I wonder, as we believe God for revival in our day . . . As Christianity begins to make the kind of impact it was intended to make in our culture, there’s a good chance that it will become harder rather than easier to be a Christian.
That certainly was true in the days of the early church. It would not be long, as Paul was writing this letter, before the church would experience intense persecution.
So Paul is burdened for Christian leaders in the local churches who would be responsible to lead the church in the days to come. He’s going to address questions like:
Paul was concerned not only about the current generation but about generations to come. In fact, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I believe God led Paul to write these things not only for his generation but for our generation, because we have to deal with these same sorts of questions.
Questions like, “How can the church impact and evangelize and be an effective witness in a very messed up world?” Now, we think our world is messed up—and it is—but Paul lived in a world that was exceedingly corrupt.
So we have to ask these same questions. Do we just hunker down in our little Christian fortresses and bunker up together and make sure that nobody attacks us? Or is there some way that we’re supposed to have a vibrant, vital, effective witness in our world? Well, the answer is certainly the latter, but how do we do that?
I think sometimes, as Christians, we develop this kind of fearful mentality. We don’t want the world to corrupt us—which we ought to be concerned about—but we also need to be concerned about how we season and leaven and salt and influence a wicked world.
How do we make the gospel believable in a world that rejects truth, in a world that has little if any serious interest in Christ, in a world that rejects Christ as being divine, as being the Savior, the Messiah of the world? In that kind of world, how do we make the gospel believable?
I have the sense that many times our proclamation of the gospel is falling on deaf ears. People just aren’t interested, by and large. Why is that? There are a lot of answers to that question. There are a lot of reasons, but Paul addresses some of these questions.
I received in my email the other day a newsletter. The heading at the top of the subject line was “Youth Abandoning Christianity at Record Rate.”
I opened up this email newsletter that comes from a ministry called Passing the Baton, and there were some very disheartening, discouraging stats about how young people who have grown up in the church are abandoning Christianity at record rates. They say, if current trends persist, that this next generation will be the most unchristian and unchurched of any generation in the history of our nation. In fact, the newsletter started out by asking this question: “Is this the last Christian generation?”1
There’s a lot we could say about that, but the Scripture has a lot to say about how we respond to those kinds of concerns. The first century could have been the last Christian generation, humanly speaking, when the Roman government set out to destroy Christianity.
But it didn’t happen because God gave people like the apostle Paul the wisdom and direction and inspiration to write books like Titus that tell us as the church:
So the apostle Paul is concerned, as we ought to be, about what will it take to preserve the church from extinction and to enable the church to pass on the baton of truth to the next generation. The answers to all these kinds of questions we’ve just been touching on here take us back to the gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul is concerned that the church in his day—the local churches, the local expressions of the Body of Christ—both the leaders and the members learn how to live out the implications of the gospel. He wants them to know the gospel and to know what it means and how it affects the way we think and live in this world.
Now, as I’ve been meditating and pondering on the book of Titus, reading it over and over, it began to strike me that there is a series of major contrasts in the book of Titus. I started making a list.
There are two different kinds of people described in this book, and there are many terms and descriptors used in relation to each of these two groups. I want to take the rest of this program and the next one to list some of those descriptions for you. I want you to see this contrast between two kinds of people, because it gives us a picture of what the church is supposed to look like in our world.
Paul talks about two different kinds of people. The first are what he refers to in 1:15 as the “unbelieving.” These are non-Christians, the unsaved, unbelievers, lost people. That’s one major category.
The second category is those who are believers. They’re called, in one verse, “God’s elect” (1:1). Paul talks about Titus, “my true child in a common faith” (1:4). He’s a believer. He talks in 3:8 about “those who have believed in God.” In 3:14 he calls these believers “our people.” This is a community of faith. These are believers.
Now, how do they look different from each other? All through the book you’ll see contrasting characteristics of these two kinds of people.
I’m going to read to you some of the different phrases. I won’t give you all the references, because you won’t be able to get that all down, but go to ReviveOurHearts.com, look at the transcript, and you’ll be able to find the references if you want to. Better yet, go to the Scripture and find them; look them up for yourself.
Unbelievers, Paul says, “profess to know God, but they deny him by their works” (1:16), whereas believers’ lives match up to what they profess to believe. Paul says these believers “adorn the doctrine of God” in everything (2:10). One profess to know God but their works deny Him; the other, their works match up to what they say they believe.
Unbelievers are described as being “defiled” (1:15). They’re called “evil beasts” (1:12). They act like evil beasts. This description is given of them: They are “detestable, disobedient” (1:16), and “defiled” (1:15). They are called lawless (2:14). That’s a picture of unbelievers.
Believers, on the other hand, are described as being “pure” (1:15), as being godly. They are called “above reproach” (1:6–7). Paul talks about “the truth, which accords with godliness” (1:1). He calls us to “renounce ungodliness” and live “godly lives” (2:12).
He says Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession” (2:14). That’s the description of believers—pure. Not because they are inherently better people, but because the gospel has cleansed them from their sin.
Paul says that unbelievers are slaves. They are slaves to sinful desires. They’re slaves to their flesh, and he uses terms such as “debauchery” (1:6). We’ll talk later about what that is.
He talks about those who are drunkards (1:7). They’re slaves to much wine. He talks about those who are “lazy gluttons” (1:12). They’re slaves to carnal pleasures. He says they’re “slaves to various passions and pleasures” (3:3), and the interesting thing is, they think they’re free, but they’re not. They’re slaves to their flesh, to this world, to sinful passions and pleasures; whereas, believers are self-controlled, not slaves to this world, not slaves to their flesh.
For example, they’re told not to be “slaves to much wine” (2:3). They’re supposed to be free from addictions, and in this series we’ll talk about the whole issue of addictions and Christians and how we can be free from some of these addictions.
There’s another contrast given between believers and unbelievers, and that has to do with the way they deal with other people. It’s said of unbelievers, for example, that they are “quick-tempered” (1:7). They fly off the handle easily; they’re “violent” (1:7). That’s how they deal with people.
The believers are described as being “kind” (2:5), “not argumentative” (2:9). They’re told to not “speak evil of” anyone (3:2), to “avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (3:2). They’re told to be “hospitable” (1:8)—just practical Christianity 101 here is lived out. It’s the implication of the gospel.
Paul says at the end of this book, “Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing” (3:13). You say, “Why is that inspired in the Bible?”
The Scripture is telling us that it’s important the way believers treat each other. So Paul is telling Titus, “There are some servants of the Lord coming to visit you. Take care of them. Give them a place to stay, give them what they need.” This is practical Christianity in our dealings with other people.
The relationships of unbelievers are described as being hostile. It says that they are “hated by others, and [they hate] one another” (3:3).
That’s how their relationships are described; whereas, the relationships of believers are intended to be a reflection of the “loving kindness of God our Savior,” as it’s referred to in 3:4. Our lives are supposed to reflect His love in our relationships, so Paul says they’re to be “sound . . . in love” (2:2).
We’re to have healthy love relationships with each other. At the end of his book, kind of the P.S., Paul says, “All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith” (3:15).
We see this description of people who like each other. They get along with each other. That’s an outflow, an overflow of the gospel. That’s the gospel at work in the lives of believers.
This book describes unbelievers as being “unfit for any good work” (1:16). “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works” (1:16). There’s no evidence that they really are children of God. They’re hypocrites. They’re play acting. They claim to believe something, but their lives give no evidence of it.
Believers, on the other hand, are described as being “zealous for good works” (2:14), a model of good works(2:7), “ready for every good work” (3:1), devoted “to good works” (3:8, 14). Those are just some of the phrases you’ll find in the book of Titus.
Now, we’ll pick up in the next session with some further contrasts in the book of Titus, but already, can you see the extreme contrast, the difference between believers and unbelievers?
That difference is supposed to be crystal clear. It’s supposed to be obvious to anyone who’s looking that there’s a huge difference between those who are unbelievers and those who are believers in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, sadly, that’s not always the case.
I saw a survey recently taken of sixteen–twenty-nine-year-olds, and a group of those who do not claim to be born again, in this survey, were called outsiders. They make no profession of being Christians.
Of those outsiders to the faith, eighty-four percent of them said, “We know a Christian personally.” They said, “I’m not a Christian, but I know somebody who is.” But of those who know a Christian, only fifteen percent said that they can see any lifestyle differences in those Christians.
Now, the book of Titus says there’s something wrong with that picture. The difference should be clear-cut, obvious.
In the next session we’ll look at some more of those contrasts, and then we’ll see what is the key that makes the difference between those two groups.
Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been introducing us to Titus chapter 2—such a rich text for us as women. Nancy will be teaching it to us word by word over the coming days. And Nancy, you clearly have put a lot of thought into this letter from Paul to Titus.
Nancy: You know, I feel like I’ve spent years in Titus chapter 2. I first taught through the passage here on Revive Our Hearts a number of years ago. And at that time, I thought, this would make a very helpful book for women. So I started writing, and the process has been slow, it’s been laborious. I’ve gone back and forth and in and out over it over the last several years. I’ve labored over it, praying about the topics in the passage and thinking through what it means for us today.
There have been some tough phrases, and we’ll be talking about them in this series; like, women are to be “reverent in behavior.” What does that mean? What does that look like? Does that mean we always walk around with hushed tones and never have any fun? The phrase “working at home,” the phrase “not slaves to much wine,” the phrase “submissive to their own husbands.” What do those instructions mean for us as women today?
I’ve grappled long and hard with those topics. And, I address all of those in this new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together.
As someone who has spent years soaking in this passage, I can wholeheartedly recommend that you explore this passage too. And we’ll do that together when you get a copy of this new release that’s “hot off the press.” We’ll be glad to send you a copy as our way of saying “thank you” when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount.
To get your copy of Adorned, give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.
Leslie: The new book Adorned will be released tomorrow, and I know listeners are excited to get a copy. Starting tomorrow, you can get a copy from Revive Our Hearts when you make a donation of any amount to support the ministry. Be back to take us up on that offer, or get more information at ReviveOurHearts.com.
After a political season full of outrageous claims, have you noticed how many people are asking whether we live in a post-truth era? But it doesn’t have to be that way. Titus 2 shows us why holding fast to the truth is so important. Please join Nancy then.
She’s back to pray with us now.
Nancy: Thank You, Lord, for Your Word. Thank You for the power of the truth, and thank You for the gospel. It is what makes the difference in our lives.
I pray that You will do a work of reviving and reforming in the thinking and the lives of us as Your children so that the day will come when our world can look at us, and those taking surveys like this can say, “Yes, I know a Christian, and yes, I know there is a huge difference in the way that they think, the way they live, the way they treat each other, the way they respond to pressure.”
Oh, Lord, may our lives reflect and reveal the difference that being a believer in Jesus Christ really does make in our lives. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live out the beauty of the gospel, and it is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.
1Dr. Jeff Myers, Passing the Baton, October ’07 newsletter.
*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.
1. Recognize that sexuality is a good gift from God.
- Genesis 2:24-25
- For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
- Proverbs 5:18-20
- Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress, And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?
- 1 Corinthians 7:3-5
- Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (Cf. 1 Tim. 4:3)
2. Recognize that Biblical prohibitions are intended to protect something precious not deny something pleasant.
- Exodus 20:14
- You shall not commit adultery.
- 1 Corinthians 6:18
- Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
- 1 Corinthians 7:2
- But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3
- For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;
- Deuteronomy 10:12-13
- And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?
3. Believe God is for you.
- Psalm 84:11
- For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
- Romans 8:32
- He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
- Mark 10:29-30
- Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
4. Ponder the eternal danger of lust.
- Matthew 5:27-29
- I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Remember the story of the man who cut off his leg to save his life.
5. Think often that God has given you even now many good things.
- Genesis 39:7-9
- And it came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?”
6. Preach to yourself that there is more joy in God’s presence than in sin. Transpose desire.
- Psalm 4:7
- Thou hast put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound.
- Psalm 16:11
- Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fulness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.
- Psalm 73:25-26
- Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
- 1 Peter 2:2
- Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
7. Realize that lust disables and weakens our capacity for higher spiritual joys with God.
8. Don’t ask, What’s wrong with it? Ask: Does it maximize my experience of the power of Christ, my enjoyment of his fellowship, my perception of his beauty, my reflection of his glory?
- Philippians 3:12
- Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
9. Cultivate a passionate devotion to the honor of God’s name.
- 2 Samuel 12:10, 14
- “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. . . . However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”
10. Develop a worldview that views absolutely everything in relation to God.
11. (For singles) Recognize that sexual relations are not essential to full personhood and happiness.
Jesus was single and chaste and fully human.
- Isaiah 56:3-5
- Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from His people.” Neither let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 4 For thus says the Lord, “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, 5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.
12. (For the married) Recognize that God designed marriage to be a living parable of his commitment to the church.
- Ephesians 5:21-32
- Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.
13. Be vigilant over your eyes. Avoid unnecessary stimulation.
- Job 31:1
- I Have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?
- Romans 13:14
- But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
- 2 Timothy 2:22
- Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
14. Look on the opposite sex as eternal persons. Realize that lust inevitably depersonalizes and despiritualizes people.
- John 5:28-29
- Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
- Matthew 25:46
- And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
- 2 Corinthians 5:16
- From now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
15. Think often that Christ suffered agony for your purity. Fight image with image. Christ crying in agony.
- Titus 2:14
- Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
- 1 Peter 1:18; 2:24
- You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, [but with the precious blood of Christ]. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
- 1 Corinthians 5:15
- He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
- Hebrews 10:29
- How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
16. Beware of assuming past successes guarantee future purity.
- 1 Corinthians 10:12
- Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
- Galatians 2:13 (Contrasted with Acts 11:24 (Barnabas)
- Barnabas was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and faith. (Acts 11:24)
- And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. (Gal. 2:13)
17. Beware of feeling above accountability.
- 3 John 9 (Diotrephes not submissive)
- I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.
18. Do not be excessively alone.
19. Get in a group where you exhort one another every day against the deceitfulness of sin.
- Hebrews 3:12-13
- Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
20. Memorize many scriptures.
- 1 John 2:14
- I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
- Psalm 1:2
- But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
- Psalm 119:11
- Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.
21. Stockpile your thoughts with good things.
- Philippians 4:8
- Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
22. Read the great literature of devotion, biography, etc.
When I read the stories of how much others have suffered and fought and struggled and achieved measures of joy and holiness and fruitfulness in fellowship with God it makes me want to give my all to this quest and settle for nothing less than all that a saved sinner can be for the glory of Christ.
23. Never assume that you are above suffering or that you deserve relief through sin. The pitfall of powerful self-pity.
- Acts 14:22
- [Paul went to his churches] strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
- Luke 9:58
- And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
- 2 Timothy 2:3
- Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
- 1 Timothy 4:16-17
- At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion’s mouth.
24. Get busy with some task.
25. Pray at all times in the Spirit for God’s deliverance.
26. Be encouraged; God is patient.
- Exodus 34:6-7
- Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. “
- Nehemiah 9:17
- And they refused to listen, And did not remember Thy wondrous deeds which Thou hadst performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But Thou art a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness; And Thou didst not forsake them.
Bible Rank: 107
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” NIV
Bible Rank: 108
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. NIV
Bible Rank: 109
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. NIV
14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.
But the LORD
Bible Rank: 110
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” NIV
Bible Rank: 111
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. KJV
Bible Rank: 112
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, KJV
Although all believers are subject to many failings and can fall before the smallest temptation, their determination to continue in the faith and their gradual and progressive sanctification are great evidences of salvation and provide a solid ground for assurance.
Bible Rank: 113
For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. KJV
God does not call men to make Jesus Lord (as though they had such power), but to live in absolute submission to the Lord He has made
Avoid trivial pursuits. You are a child of God, destined for glory, and called to do great things in His Name. Do not waste your life on hobbies, sports, and other recreational pursuits. Do not throw away the precious moments of your life on entertainment, movies, and video games. Though some of these things can properly have a ‘small place’ in the Christian’s life, we must be careful not to give undue attention to temporal and fruitless activities. Do not waste your life. Employ the time of your youth in developing the character and skills necessary to be a useful servant of God.
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
Behold Him there the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I am
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God!
With Christ my Savior and my God!
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God!
With Christ my Savior and my God!
Why would we want fame, when God promises us glory? Why would we be seeking the wealth of the world when the wealth of heaven is ours? Why would we run for a crown that will perish with time, when we’re called to win a crown that is imperishable?
From The Gospel Coalition
We’re supposed to flee from things that can kill us.
Active volcanoes, oncoming traffic, and snakes come to mind. So should sexual immorality. To Christians in a sexually confused culture, Paul issued this clear order: “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). That is, flee from the dangerous enjoyment of sexual pleasure outside of God’s wise design for its enjoyment in marriage.
So how are you doing at fleeing? Maybe you are fleeing into sexual immorality. Or maybe you’re just thinking about it . . . all the time. You’re already there, of course. Maybe you’re running, but in circles. Images are glued to the walls of your brain. Or maybe this whole subject just adds to the feeling of shame.
Thankfully, God is committed to our sexual purity. Scripture says, “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Christ died to purify our consciences and our very lives. What grace! When we see him we will be like him, but until then we flee sexual immorality.
What’s your plan for the next encounter with temptation? Or for the next conversation with a friend, child, or spouse who needs your counsel?
Here’s a strategy: F.L.E.E.
It’s biblical, it’s hard to forget, and it fits on a napkin.
The seductress of Proverbs 9:17 says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” That’s the voice of the ancient serpent promising satisfaction to a hungry man passing by a pretty girl’s house, “but he does not know that the dead are there” (9:18).
This is why the first step in our flight is to fill ourselves with Jesus Christ, who says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Sexual pleasure can never do what only God can. But Christ, on the other hand, is satisfaction.
How, then, do we fill ourselves with Christ?
You get air out of a glass by filling it with something else, and you can shake that taste for stolen water by going to the One who offers “water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
Why do we run to instead of from sexual sin? Lies, I tell you!
If a koala so much as looks at me, I’m going to run. They’re cute, but they have large claws, sharp teeth, and I’ve heard they can destroy you. Sexual immorality is similar. Sure, it looks just good. But watch this guy:
She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him . . . “I have perfumed my bed. . . . Come, let us take our fill of love till morning.” . . . With much seductive speech she persuades him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter. (Proverbs 7:13-23)
Our flight from sexual immorality requires that we lock out the lies that give it power. Or, as Solomon said, “keep your way far from her” (5:8).
So what would that look like for you?
When and where are you hearing seductive speech? How can you get away? Whatever the cost—your smartphone, home internet, a relationship—if it helps you see God, it’s a net gain. After all, “it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire” (Matthew 18:9).
Seduction’s voice calls “to those who pass by” (Proverbs 9:15). Flee now! Better yet, don’t pass by.
Unless we retreat from the world, we’re going to encounter seductive lies. Actually, we lie to ourselves. We are born exchanging the truth about God for a lie, along with everything else, including sex (Romans 1:25-26). For Christians, God reverses the exchange. While our old self was corrupt through deceitful desires, the new self is created after the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:22-24).
What, then, should you do when tempted? Unsheathe your sword and go on the offensive, rejecting lies and rehearsing truth:
Are you embracing lies, or exchanging them for the truth? Are you glorifying the body, or are you glorifying God with your body? When seductive speech calls out, remember, “all her slain are a mighty throng” (Proverbs 7:26).
If you fall to sexual sin you will be tempted to hide in the dark and pretend it didn’t happen. But remember: we are still sinners. So we confess sin.
Confession brings sin to the light and light to our eyes to see what we could never see in the dark: the holiness of God, the sinfulness of sin, and the glory of God’s grace. John weaves these themes together beautifully:
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)
Coming to Christ means coming out of hiding to be exposed by the light and covered with Christ’s blood. As Christians, the best thing to do, of course, is just stay in the light. But the best thing to do when we wander into the shadows is to run back. Confession is where that starts.
So, are you hiding? Confess your sins to God. He forgives! But don’t stop there. “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another” (James 5:16). That’s what Christian friends are for.
It is good news that we are not condemned in Christ, and it is good news that we are no longer slaves to sin. My friends, flee from sexual immorality.