So much of what we read in the news these days expresses the moral climate of the world we live in. Certain ideas and actions which used to be censured are lauded today as human rights, and for a person to continue to censure them is to risk being labeled ‘intolerant’.
Take the so-called LGBT movement, for instance. Many social activists and politicians are pushing for homosexuality, transgenderism, bisexuality and transsexuality to be accepted as legitimate, mainstream alternatives to heterosexuality.
It is strange to read about how in certain developed countries—which boast of religious freedom—the expression of one’s belief in religion is aggressively persecuted while atheism, agnosticism and hedonism are applauded as enlightened beliefs.
When morality becomes subjective, a plaything to be moulded to one’s fancy and discarded when it doesn’t serve one’s purpose, mankind is on the slide to deeper morass of social ills.
In just such a setting, Christians can be sucked into the whirlpool and lose our influence. It becomes even more urgent for the church, the pillar and ground of the truth (1Ti 3:15), to carry out the Lord’s command to let our light shine.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mat 5:16).”
The apostle Paul was fully aware of the moral degradation of the Roman lifestyle. In his letter to Titus he reminded his protégé of the moral duty of Christians to uphold a standard vastly superior to that of the world.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Tit 2:11-14).”
Christians are to live sober lives in contrast to a world drunken in sin. The dividing line between one who lives for self and sin and one who lives for the glory of God must be distinct and precise.
Christians are called upon to exercise a sound mind, to practise self-control and not give in to the impulse of illicit pleasure. It can be a challenge given this environment we live in. All the more so we need to be vigilant.
In the same letter to Titus, Paul gave a series of instructions for the church. Christians are people who live with a purpose; we are not drifters tossed to and fro by the fads of this world.
“That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded (Tit 2:2-6).”
Again we see the apostle exhorting the church to be sober. He spelt out the details of what it means to live soberly, to have a clear mind. It requires us to give careful thought to our conduct and the influence we might have on those around us.
There are things which are serious, like the matters of one’s standing with God, righteous living, honesty and self-control. The godless of this world jest about these things. Where people used to blush at religious jokes, it’s not uncommon to hear it from our pulpits these days.
Sober living requires us to also give careful thought about what we believe and why we believe. The faith of Jesus Christ is not built upon wild imagination or a weak psyche as many detractors allege. It is built on the word of God with sound evidence and reasoning.
Having a deep reverence for God’s word and His worship is an indispensable component of sober living. Christians search the Scriptures deeply to discover the will of God, and once we discover it, we joyfully obey it.
In all things Christians who live soberly keep the Lord in mind. His glory is our foremost concern; we carry His name—‘Christ-ian’—and constantly remember we must be careful not to bring His holy name into disrepute.
Sober Christians love the Lord’s church with fervency worthy of the Lord. He loves His church and gave Himself for it (Eph 5:25). Likewise we who make up His church must fervently love the brotherhood and the Lord, who is the Head of the church (Col 1:18).
“This world is not my home”, we often sing. Yes, this is a world twisted by sin. Its allurements try powerfully to pull us over to partake of its forbidden fruits. Sober Christians, like Moses, choose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Heb 11:25).”
The Lord has promised us an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us (1Pe 1:4). This is the home and final glory we aim for. To inherit this great blessing, let us live soberly in this twisted world.