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The Minister Teaching His People

(Titus 2:7, 8, 11 - 3:9)

Lesson 13 -- third quarter 2004
August 29, 2004

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Rejecting worldly lusts

Titus 2:12 makes it very clear that those who have received grace and salvation from God must deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. I suppose that leads to the natural question, What is lust?

Generally speaking, we think of it as the desire for that which is forbidden, especially in the realm of moral issues. One outstanding example of this dimension of lust is found in Matthew 5:18 -- "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

However, lust as used in the Bible is much broader than mere sexual immorality. It stretches to include such synonyms as desire, craving, and longing. In fact, if you were to use Strong's Concordance to track the use of the Greek word translated lust in Matthew 5:18 above, you would find it used in some interesting ways (for example, in Luke 15:16; 16:21; Acts 20:33, 1 Timothy 3:1 -- go ahead and check them out!). Also notice that Romans 7:7 establishes covet as another synonym, stating in part, "I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet."

So, lust simply means "strong desire." If you did the Strong's exercise, you saw that these desires can be positive or negative, good or bad, godly or ungodly. That helps us understand why Titus 2:12 says we are to deny worldly lusts, as opposed to all lusts. In a similar vein, Romans 6:12 calls on us to resist the sinful lusts of our body -- "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof."

In the past, we coddled our flesh and let its lusts dictate our living. We lived to fulfill "the desires of the flesh and of the mind" (Ephesians 2:3). We spent our lives "serving divers lusts and pleasures," but that was when we were foolish and deceived (Titus 3:3)! Those were the days of walking after our own lusts (Jude 1:16). But this should no longer be the story of our lives! We spent sufficient time living that way, let's live the rest of time in the flesh to the will of God (1 Peter 4:2,3)!

The time is upon us to make no provision for the flesh, but to flee and deny lust (Romans 13:14; 2 Timothy 2:22). Rather than fashion ourselves according to our former lusts, we ought to abstain from them (1 Peter 1:14; 2:11). Otherwise the Word will become choked and unfruitful in us (Mark 4:19).

A substitute for worldly lusts

Why did Jesus die for us? According to Titus 2:14, He "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." He died to redeem us and purify us from all worldly lusts. He died to make us His own, putting into our lives godliness instead of ungodliness, and good works instead of selfish, worldly lusts.

Notice that Titus 3:8 calls us to carefulness in this area: "they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works."

Good works make a terrific replacement for worldly lusts. They also reveal the exquisite craftsmanship of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:10)!

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