Self-Controlled, Upright and Godly- Titus 2:12

In our previous post, we examined Paul’s admonition to believers to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions. Having seen what Paul tells us not to do, we will now examine what Paul tells us we should do, which is translated in NIV as “to live self-controlled upright and godly lives in this present age”. The Greek word self-controlled here is sophronos, literally as “of sound mind”. The term sophronos is one of two Greek words rendered as self-controlled in English, with the term sophronos referring primarily to our thinking. In using it here with the verb zao, Paul exhorts us to live lives controlled by thinking derived from the Word of God rather than lives controlled by passions derived from the world, which he describes in his usage of the phrase “to nun aioni”, translated as “this present age”. This exhortation refers to whatever “age” is dominant in the world at the present time. In our present age, we live in a time in which life is not lived primarily out of our thinking , but rather lived out of the emotions, in which discussions are not characterized by rational arguments, but rather by heated exchanges of hurt feelings and name calling. We then find this contrast further described by Paul in his next admonition to be “upright, dikaios in the Greek. The word dikaios literally means to conform to a standard, with that standard being determined by God. We are told to live lives which conform to an objective standard determined by God. Living this way also puts us in conflict with the present age, in which it is asserted that their are no objective standards, that we should not live based upon any objective standard, but rather by our own subjective feelings and intuitions. Paul has exhorted us here to live our lives characterized by living based upon sound decisions based on the objective truth of the Word of God, rather than lives characterized by emotional outbursts based on one’s on subjective feelings. Paul then concludes his series of admonitions here by telling us to live lives which can be described as “godly”, or more literally as lives lived in the fear of the Lord. This is the exact opposite of the “ungodliness” which was examined in our previous post, and refers to a life lived in the “fear of the Lord”, a life lived according to the objective standards which God sets, as opposed to a life lived by the subjective standards which every individual sets for him or her self. So what we find here is the opposite of what Paul exhorted believers to in the first part of this verse, what we are told not to do, as opposed to the first part which told us what we should do, which is to live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives. This will by nature put us in opposition to the “present age”, for to live by the objective standards set by God will by definition cause us to live in a way which contrasts the “present age”, and doing so will make us shine as light in the darkness, a light which some (maybe most) will vehemently oppose, but through which some may be drawn to God by the self-controlled, upright Godly lives of believers.

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