Truth must impact life

2 Jan

Why is it so important that the teaching we hear at church changes the way we live throughout the week?

1. There is a kind of behavior that goes with sound doctrine and there is a kind of behavior that does not go with sound doctrine!

Paul tells Titus this in Titus 2:1. He tells Titus that he is to teach believers sound doctrine and what is more he is to get specific about the type of lifestyle – the type of attitudes – that they ought to have – the type of lifestyle that is appropriate for sound doctrine.

Here you have the teaching of the Bible – these great truths; and over here you have our lifestyles, our choices, our habits, our attitudes. There are attitudes, there are lifestyles, there are choices – that don’t go with this – the teaching of the Bible. Attitudes, lifestyles, choices, that are not appropriate for sound doctrine!

If I came in here and yelled fire – and there truly was a fire – and you knew it – but you responded to my warning by just sitting there. That would be a strange, a wrong response to that message. That’s not appropriate. You should get up and go!

If I said that I really want to lose weight, that that was my great goal. And then when we went out to eat, I chowed down like a man on a mission, you would have to say – man what that guy professes with his mouth doesn’t match the way he behaves. That’s the point here – your behavior should match what you profess. There is an appropriate response to sound teaching and an inappropriate one.

This is one of the great themes of the New Testament. Think about this. Time and time again Paul says in various ways – truth should have a tremendous affect on the way you live your life!

In Romans 1-11, Paul goes in depth into the greatness of God’s mercy to lost sinners. I mean, these chapters are deep. Then in chapter 12, Paul writes, “I urge you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God…” In other words – in light of what God has done – in light of his mercy – you should live like this.

Let me get more specific, in Romans 5, Paul presents the gospel. Man rebelled against God. That’s what Adam did – God established laws, Adam broke them, and the consequences were devastating. He brought sin and death into the world. God created us as His friends, we sinned, and now man is born as an enemy of God. You are not born good, you are born a law-breaker. David says that he was a sinner all the way back to conception. Not only is your very nature sinful, your actions are sinful. You know this. You are not righteous the way you should be. You sin and break God’s laws. You’ve become angry, you’ve lusted, you’ve coveted your neighbor’s stuff, you haven’t loved your neighbor as yourself, you’ve haven’t loved God with everything that you are. God is holy, you are unholy. You are so unholy – and I am talking about me too – that your righteousness – the best works that we can offer up to God are like filthy rags in His sight. We have sinned and run away from God. Look into your own heart, you know its true. You know that your heart doesn’t naturally run to God, it runs away from him. The results of our sin – death and judgment. We can’t save ourselves. To be accepted by God, to enter into heaven – you have to either be perfect or you have to somehow obtain the righteousness of someone who is perfect. We can’t be perfect, so that option is out. So we have to ask – How can we obtain the righteousness of someone who is perfect – in other words – how can we get someone else’s actions credited to our account so that God looks at us like we are that person? That’s our only hope! This is where the gospel comes in! We couldn’t go up to God, so God came down to us! God, while were yet sinners, demonstrates his love for us in this, He sent His Son to die for us. You want proof that God loves believers and even the world – look to Jesus Christ. If you will repent of your sins, and put your faith in Jesus Christ you can have peace with God. How? Jesus – God became man – and the reason He came was to take the punishment of believers, and he lived a righteous life so that those who put their faith in Him might be covered by His righteousness. This is God’s free gift to us. You need to be covered by Christ. You can’t earn this peace with God, you can’t work your way up to heaven, you’ve got to rest in Jesus Christ.

So there’s the great doctrine – the gospel – you can’t save yourself by being good, because you’re not good enough. Your only hope is to stop trusting in yourself and start trusting in Christ. Now some perverse person out there, might reason like this. “If I can’t earn my way to salvation, if I can not make myself more righteous in God’s sight by what I do, than why don’t I just put my faith in Christ and then go live however I want – because I am clothed in Christ’s righteousness. And really my sin will just make God’s grace look greater, because look, he saved a wretch like me.” You know how Paul responds to that – look at 6:1,2 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin continue to live in it?”

Paul is crying out – don’t be crazy! To continue to sin in light of the great work of God on your behalf – in light of this sound doctrine – doesn’t make sense – it’s ludicrous – it’s ridiculous – it is absolutely unfitting! It’s like somebody giving you two billion dollars and you responding by spitting him on the face. It’s like Jesus saying to you – “I am dying for you on the cross” and you responding by pounding the nails into his wrists.

Charles Spurgeon tells a story that helps us understand the perversity of living in sin when Christ has died to save us from it. He explains,

“There was a day as I took my walks abroad when I came to a spot forever written on my mind, for there I saw a friend, my best friend, my only friend, murdered. I stooped down in sadness, and looked at Him, I saw that His hands had been pierced been with iron nails and His feet pierced in the same way. There was a misery in his dead countenance so terrible, that I scarcely dared to look upon it. His body was emaciated with hunger, his back was red with it, bloody scourges, and His brow had a circle of wounds around it, clearly one could see that it had worn a crown of thorns.

I shuddered for I had known this friend full well, He never had a fault, He was the purest of the pure, the holiest of the holy. Who could have injured him? For he never injured any man; all His life He went about doing good. He had healed the sick, He had fed the poor, He had raised the dead, for which of these works was he killed? He had never breathed out anything but love, and as I look upon his face, so full of agony, and yet so full of love, I wonder who could have been the vile wretch who would pierce hands like his.

I said within myself, “Where can these traitors live? Who are these who could have smitten such a one as this? Had they murdered an oppressor we might have forgiven them. Had they killed one who indulged in vice or criminal activities, he might have deserved such a death, had it been a murderer or rebel, we would have said, “Bury his corpse. Justice has been served.”

But when were you slain my best and only friend? Where did the traitors hide? Let me seize them and put them to death. If there be torments that I can devise, surely they shall endure them all. Oh what jealousy, what revenge I felt! If I might but find these murderers what would I do to them. And as I look upon that corpse, I heard a footstep and wondered what it was. I listened and I clearly perceived that the murderer was close at hand! It was dark and I groped about to find him. I found that somehow or other wherever I put out my hand, I could not meet with him, for he was nearer to me than my hand could go.

At last I put my hand upon MY BREAST. “I have you now” said I, for lo – he was in my heart – the murderer was hiding in my bosom – dwelling in the recesses of my inmost soul!

Ah then I wept indeed, that I, in the very presence of my murdered master should be harboring the murderer – and I felt most guilty when I bowed over the corpse and sang that old hymn – “Twas you my sins, my cruel sins, his chief tormentors were, each of my crimes became a nail, and unbelief the spear.”

Amid the rabble which accompanied the Savior to his doom, there were some gracious souls, who were so incredibly sorrowful that they had to cry and weep. Fit music to accompany that march of woe. When my soul in imagination can see the Savior bearing His cross to Calvary, I join those godly women and weep, with them, for indeed there is a reason for tears, far beyond what those women thought, They cried for innocence mistreated, goodness persecuted, love bleeding, meekness about to die – but my heart has a deeper and greater reason to mourn.

My sins were the scourges that lacerated those blessed shoulders, and that crowned with thorns those blessed brows, my sins cried “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And laid the cross upon those gracious shoulders. His being led forth is sorrow enough for one eternity, but my having been his murderer, is more, infinitely more grief than one poor fountain of tears can express.

If Christ has died for me ungodly as I am without strength. Then I cannot live in sin any longer, but must arouse myself to love and serve the one who died for me. I cannot trifle with the evil that killed my best friend. I must be holy for his sake. HOW CAN I LIVE IN SIN WHEN HE DIED TO SAVE ME FROM IT?”

Each one of you needs to ask yourself – is my behavior fitting for what I say I believe? Does it match? Unholy lives are the mark of wrong beliefs, sound beliefs should produce holy lives! Young people – at school- does the way you live match what you say you believe here on Sundays? Older men – does the way you lead your families, the way you work does it match what you say you believe? Young women – how about you – does the way you relate to your husbands – is it appropriate, is it fitting for the sound doctrine you profess?

Now I know there are some of you ought there thinking, “what’s the big deal how I live?” If you are not saying it right now, you are saying it when you face temptation – you give in – you think – nobody notices – or who really cares – I am just one small person – what difference does it make? What’s the big deal if I fall to temptation? I come to church on Sunday, what’s it matter how I live Monday through Saturday?

2. It matters how you live because the way you live can either make the truth look attractive or it can make the truth look ugly.

One place you see Paul making that point repeatedly is in Titus 2. I hope you feel the weighty responsibility here. SOULS ARE AT STAKE! THE TRUTH IS AT STAKE! THE GLORY OF CHRIST IS AT STAKE!

For example, Titus 2:5, Paul says that younger women are to be “sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands,” why? “that the word of God might not be dishonored.” LISTEN- how you live your lives ladies and men – how you treat your husband, how you take care of your household, whether you are kind or not, whether you are sensible or not – that has an impact on how people view the word of God. You say – so I am not submissive to my husband, what’s the big deal? I will tell you why it is a big deal – because you are dishonoring the Word of God! The word for dishonored here really means to disdain, to reject, to treat as a lie, to ignore. How you live will directly impact how people feel about the Word of God. And listen, the issues that Paul brings up here are not ones most people would feel are all that major. We think that someone really dishonors the Word of God when they commit adultery or do the big sins, and of course they do, but here Paul is saying that you can dishonor the Word of God by not being a kind person!

I pray that God will help you feel the weight of this verse – when you are at work on Monday- I want you to understand that your attitude, the way you treat other people – you can honor the word of God or you can bring dishonor to the Word of God. Teenagers – when you are at school – the way you treat your teachers, the way you relate to your friends, it’s not just about you – you can actually dishonor God by the way you live your life, you can bring shame on Him!

There’s an incredible illustration of this over in 2 Samuel 12. David has just sinned with Bathsheba, and so Nathan comes to him to confront him for his sin. David at first is so into his sin that he doesn’t even recognize that he is being confronted, but finally in verse 13, he breaks down and says, “I have sinned against the Lord.” He is honestly confessing his sin. He is broken over it. Nathan responds by saying, “The Lord has taken away your sin, you shall not die.” Praise God there is forgiveness for sin. You need to know that. Believer you can be forgiven for your sin.

But you also need to understand there are consequences for sin. Look at verse 14, “However, because by this deed you have given occasion for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” What a hard judgment – that’s worse than dying yourself – knowing that you killed your own son – but it was totally fitting because David had done something for which he was forgiven, but something that he could not take back – his actions gave others an occasion to blaspheme the Almighty God!

There’s a positive illustration of this over in 2 Timothy 3:14-17. Paul’s exhorting Timothy and he says, “You however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them and that from childhood you have known…” Do you catch what Paul is saying here? He’s telling Timothy, look, you have got to press on, you have got to stand strong in the truth, and here’s a reason, here’s one reason you ought to stand strong and trust the Scriptures, because of the character of the people who taught you the Scriptures! “Knowing from whom you have learned them…” He’s talking about Timothy’s mother and grandmother, and he is saying that the godly character of his mother and grandmother give him a reason to trust the Scripture, to stand strong in the truth!

And what is more, Paul says in Titus 2:8, we ought to be “sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame having nothing bad to say about us.” The Greek word for “put to shame” means to blush, to be embarrass. You are to embarrass the opponents of the gospel by your godly living. 1 Peter 2:12 puts it like this, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them glorify God in the day of visitation.” Live such a beautiful life that sinners slander you, but then realize because of the beautiful way you are living your life, that their slander just bounces off you, that their gossip are just plain lies, and as they think about the way you are living, God uses your life to draw them to himself, and they become Christians and glorify God when He returns!
The glory of God is at stake! Your life can either bring glory to God or it can bring shame to God!

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