Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 7, 1967
NUMBER 18, PAGE 5-6a

Sober, Righteous And Godly Living

Harry E. Ozment

In Titus 2:12, Paul said, "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." In this one verse, we have the epitome, I believe, of all that Christianity requires. I believe that you will agree with me after further study on the verse.

Paul said, first of all, that Christians must live soberly. This word implies that we have a duty to ourselves. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour." (I Pet. 5:8) The devil is after you and he's after me. We have the responsibility in Galatians 6;3-5, when he said, "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden." To live soberly requires a control over our passions, our lusts, and our habits. For example, the duty which we have to ourselves should prevent us from smoking. Smoking harms the body - there's no doubt about that. Dr. Eldon K. Siebel, a Dallas chest surgeon, says, "Every cigarette you smoke reduces your life span eight to ten minutes." Paul says that it is wrong to harm our bodies: "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and are ye not your own?" (I Cor. 6: 19) Therefore, we have duty to our own bodies not to harm it by smoking or any other such sin.

Paul then said that we, as disciples of Christ, should live righteously. This word has reference to the duty which we have toward our fellow-man. Jesus summed up this duty in Matthew 7:12: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even to them." Some Christians evidently think that they "are an island" unto themselves - what they do is their business and nobody else's! They are offended when the preacher condemns worldliness or when the elders admonish them to stop their worldly living. They have no concern whatever for the influence they might have on others. These people manifest the same attitude as did Cain in Genesis 4:9. When God asked Cain concerning the whereabouts of his brother, the murderer replied, "I know not: am I my brother's keeper?" Little did Cain know that he was, indeed, his brother's keeper. This is a principle that is taught again and again in the Bible. For example, Paul said in Romans 15:1-2, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification." Are we seeking to build each other up? If we see an opportunity to help our brother or our sister to heaven, we have the God-given obligation to do it! And if we know of something that we are doing that might be hindering another's walk to heaven, we have the God-given obligation to stop it! Paul, in listing some characteristics of love in I Corinthians 13, said in verse 5, "Charity... seeketh not her own." If we love our brother as we should, we will be seeking what we can do to help him - not ourselves! Our minds won't be centered on "Old Number 1. " Our energies won't be spent in the "dog-eat-dog rat race" of this world. Furthermore, Paul said in Philippians 2:3-4, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Now Paul is not encouraging us to be busybodies and gossips - heaven forbid! He is admonishing us to manifest an interest in the welfare of others. We have a duty to our fellow-man. To illustrate, let's consider dancing. When the "dancing Christian" is told that dancing is wrong because it is lascivious, that person often replies, "But I don't commit lasciviousness when I dance. Very well, - but what about your partner? "Why, I'm not responsible for what he (or she) does or thinks. Let's see - it seems like I've heard something like that before. Who said that? It seems like his name starts with... with a.... with (uh) a "C" - oh, yes! I remember now - Cain! "Am I my brother's keeper?" Yes - you certainly are responsible for what your brother (in this case, your dancing partner) thinks! Consider immodest apparel. Did you know that when you walk down the street scantily dressed that you might be causing others to commit adultery (cf. Matthew 5:27-28)? Someone, though, is sure to bounce right back with this famous (or, should we say "infamous"?) rejoinder, "I can't help it - I'm not responsible for what that fella thinks!" Oops - there's "ole Cain" again. Brethren and sisters, let us wake up to the realization that we are responsible for our brother.

Finally, Paul says that we must live godly. This, of course, means that we have a duty to God. God through Moses said in Deuteronomy 30:15, "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil." God has likewise given us these same two ways to go. We have a choice. I suppose that many people sometimes think, "If God knew that man would choose the way of evil and death, why didn't He make man so that he couldn't sin?" The simplest answer that I've ever heard to that question goes something like this: When God made man, He had already created all the animals He wanted. When God created man, He wanted a being who would love and obey Him because that creature wanted to, and not because He had no other choice. And so, God gave to man a mind with which to choose. Then He gave to man these two choices. He admonished and encouraged man to make the right choice. The first man didn't - and so, sin entered the world. Today, we have the same two choices. He admonished and encouraged man to make the right choice. The first man didn't - and so, sin entered the world. Today, we have the same two choices. God is encouraging and admonishing us to make the right choice - to fulfill our duty to Him. Which way will we go? The choice is ours.