Paul says in Titus 2 that we are to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, referring to lust, unrighteous anger, selfish ambition and other desires like them. While many of us know this, we become frustrated because we have tried to say no many times and yet see little change. What should we do? Pay closer attention to the fine print of the Apostle’s Epistle. Paul says we must be trained to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.
What does he mean by this?
Why does he say we must be trained?
I believe he says this for two reasons. Number one, he wants us to understand that learning to say no to temptation is a process. These clashes a bit with many modern Christian expectations, mine included. I just want to get zapped in an instant. But instead Paul describes a process, one in which we are educated in the school of grace. That’s one reason. The second reason why Paul says that we must be trained is because there are all kinds of wrong reasons to say no.
The man I spoke with at the retreat knew full well that what he had done and was doing was absolutely wrong. He knew what he was doing. But it didn’t seem that he really knew why he kept doing it. I asked “Have you ever stopped and really looked into the reason you say yes to every sexual encounter?” He replied with a simple “not really.” After an hour of more conversation and a time of prayer, we discovered together that his reason behind his actions was that affection and attention from women was how he felt good about himself, and how he received the validation he thought he needed. The light began to go on for him not only when this truth started becoming clear but, more than that, when he started to see that the true validation and affection he needed only comes from God through Christ. That night this man said he realized that he had not only been blind to the seriousness of sin (oh, it’s not that bad really) but also to the beauty of Christ (is it really that great?). So often when dealing with the “what” of sin, we don’t deal with the “why” of sin, the motive and drive behind the behavior. Add to that, we quickly forget the real power for change. The lies of sin bind us to the beauty of Christ. It’s when we see both our sin for what it is and our Savior for who He is that we begin to experience radical change in the present.
1 Timothy 4:7-10 KJV
7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.