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Maintaining a Balanced Life in an Obsessive-Compulsive World

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Grace Energized Men are Sober—

MAINTAINING A BALANCED LIFE IN AN OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE WORLD

Titus 2:2

 

God has placed a “Help Wanted” ad online in His Word. He wants to enlist a special group of older and younger men to be highly useful to Him. These godly men, along with their counterparts among the older and younger women, will be highly compensated with eternal, unfading, personalized reward accounts in Heaven. That summarizes our portion of Scripture in Titus 2:1-8 today.

 

As we begin to examine the first quality in the lives of men highly useful to God, remember that we are looking at the exact, literal Greek words that the Spirit of God guided the Apostle Paul to write. God’s Word teaches a doctrine of inspiration that declares that the Bible was “verbally” inspired. That means every “word” in the Scriptures God gave to us, was fully guided, superintended, and engineered by the Spirit of God.

 

Jesus believed in and taught this high view of Scripture. He often reminded the religious leaders of the day that every WORD of God was settled in Heaven, and was directly sent from Him. So, the Bible is not some collected impressions that can mean just about anything. No, we have a God who has communicated in specific, understandable WORDS. So as we look at Titus 2:2 remember:

 

God Chose

These Words

 

Our God has laid down a specific curriculum made up of 24 very powerful, very clear, and very understandable words. This morning in v. 2 we are examining the first word God uses to describe these godly, highly useful, and greatly compensated men.

 

In the five key translations of God’s Word, that are the most helpful and useful in bringing God’s Word into English, this word is rendered as:

 

Titus 2:2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; NKJV

 

  • “Sober” as this Greek[1] word nephalious is rendered in the KJV and NKJV;
  • “Sober-minded” is the way that the ESV renders it; and
  • “Temperate” is the rendering you find in both the NIV and the NAS.

 

This word is defined in Greek language dictionaries as: “to be sober, circumspect; to abstain from wine (keep sober), to be discreet, to be sober-minded, to watch, and to stay un-intoxicated”.

 

Practically applied, we can say that the word we will study today means:

 

To be un-intoxicated by any substance or pleasure; and to never get “controlled by” or addicted to any comfort, convenience, security, work, sports, amusements, or wealth. Which means a surrendered man with a godly, sober mind,  maintains a balanced life in an obsessive-compulsive world.

 

This first quality, that God wants taught, is not coincidental. God is very purposeful. Each of these qualities impacts all the rest of the person’s life. Our God knows what we each need cultivated in our lives to be useful to His plan. So within each of the four groups that make up ALL believers, God has specific and chosen qualities which were sent by God in a specific order.

 

What is the primary spiritual quality God wants cultivated by each group of people within His church?

 

  • Older men are to first pursue the balanced life, unintoxicated by work, sports, money, convenience, security or amusements in an extremely obsessive culture.
  • Older women have as their primary goal, the reverent life, behaving as a representative for our Holy God in an extremely unholy culture.
  • Younger women must be pointed to first seek a self-sacrificing love in contrast to an extremely self-centered culture.
  • Younger men need deep encouragement to above everything else, be living a restrained life in an extremely lust-filled, unrestrained culture.

 

So since God chose the priority and the plan, that means:

 

Balanced Men

Choose to Obey God

 

God’s plan to change the world is to reach into every church, every marriage, and every home by transforming men and women’s lives, from the inside out, into Christ’s image![2] But He starts with the men, for they are His God-designed leaders of all obedient churches, of Biblical marriages, and of godly homes.

 

Turn back for a moment and look at II Chronicles 16, where we find that Christ is always on the lookout for balanced, anchored men to lead and guide others to spiritual stability and maturity.

 

God has not changed, 2,700 years ago, back in Old Testament times He told us:

 

“The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal[3] to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).[4]

 

What does it mean to have a “loyal” heart? The word “loyal” (NKJV) is also rendered: “perfect toward Him” (KJV); “blameless toward him” (ESV); “completely His” (NAS); and “fully committed to Him” (NIV). Hence, a “loyal” heart is one that is perfectly turned in His direction—completely His, fully committed to doing and being whatever He wants. God is continually searching for men who are loyal, sold-out, full-hearted, true-seekers of Him.

 

As Christ looks on your heart today, what does He see? Does He see a desire to be all that He wants you to be? Does He see a yearning to know and obey the pattern set forth in His Word?  He wants us to give back to Him:

 

Lives He

Can Use

 

Titus 2:2 is what God is watching for in the life of a surrendered man; and the first of six character traits that describe a man God uses, a life that God rewards, and a grace-energized man of godly balance.

 

We’ve already noted in Titus 1:12-13, that the Cretan culture was obsessed with the pleasures of the moment, and would grab them compulsively with no thought for the consequences. Things are the same today.

 

We live in a culture that often goes from one obsession to another—people wanting something or someone so badly that they sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. Our culture, like Paul’s world of the Bible times, is filled with compulsive people, who do things just because they felt like it, at the moment. There is no stability or balance, just a wandering, restlessness always looking for some new attraction.

 

God’s answer then and now is the same. Please follow along in your Bibles as I read this message from God to every man who wants to be highly useful to God:

 

Titus 2:2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; NKJV

 

The word sober in Greek implies being unintoxicated. But it portrays far more than distancing your body from alcohol. There are so many powerful agents that can intoxicate and cloud the minds of men.

 

Paul is also saying, if you are God’s man you will be careful to stay unintoxicated by anything—whether comfort, convenience, security, money, work, sports, amusements, or alcohol. This is God’s two thousand year old, online posting that reads:

 

Wanted: Men of Balance in

An Unbalanced World

 

Grace-energized men live a balanced life while surrounded by people who are driven back and forth by fads, obsessions, trivial pursuits, lusts, and emptiness.

 

Paul first charges Titus with training the godly, “older” men.

 

These “older” man are defined in God’s Word as men who are over 50 years of age. This age group of men often at their peak of earnings, at the top of their careers, and thinking more-and-more each day about what really matters in life. These older men are making decisions about the significance and the lasting impact of their lives.

 

If you are a man age 50 or older, and missed the message last Sunday, please consider this. We studied God’s clear and direct call to all 50 plus year old men who are believers, to invest their lives in Christ’s church, and not waste these best years of their life.

 

If you missed that challenge from God’s Word—I’d encourage you to go and get that CD out and prayerfully consider how you are spending these strategic days of your life from God’s perspective.

 

God wants men of balance. The foundation of God’s man that doesn’t sway with the winds of life, and who life is not driven by the waves of the culture beating against him each day—is founded upon God’s promises.

 

And each man who systematically makes choice to anchor his life to God’s Word grows into…

 

A Balanced

Man

 

The balanced man of Titus 2 has a solid Biblical orientation that keeps them on even keel emotionally and spiritually. They know God is ruling all things from the galaxies down to every event in their lives.

 

In each sphere of life the Lordship of Christ is evident:

 

  • As a dad, or husband, or grandfather he would be a man who tries each day to be a caring, and sacrificially loving;
  • As an employee or employer he would work hard at being diligent, consistent, and hard-working;
  • As a believer he holds on to the consistent goal to stay in the Word, prayer, and ministry.

 

What others watching this type of man would notice is: that he is not given to extremes.

 

This man neither wearies himself with the mistaken idea that he alone can solve all the problems of the world and those around him; nor does he go through life uncaring of all the problems. He is balanced, he tries to follow his personal Biblical priorities and encourage others that he can reach out to in his life.

 

Seven Habits of

The Highly Useful Man

 

Just briefly, listen to what I found by searching more than a dozen published books on this word, and finding what many have said about this word through the centuries:

 

  1. This man has learned what is worth living for, he invests his time, money, and strength carefully, living by priority rather than the moment—and has become contented with fewer and simpler things.

 

  1. This man is balanced in that he has learned how to exercise appropriate emphasis upon the priorities he has concluded are his before God.

 

  1. This man is not given to overindulgence, knowing what God’s Word that the pleasures gleaned from self-indulgence cost far more than they are worth.

 

  1. This man has mental sobriety exhibited in self-restraint, a freedom from the debilitations of rash decisions, words and behavior, as well as being stable, circumspect, and clear-thinking.

 

  1. This man is in charge of his priorities, is steadfast, morally decisive, and not under the sway of the various allurements of the world, his flesh, and the devil.

 

  1. The man is not controlled by outside circumstances but directed by inward convictions. In English we would say he is level-headed, clear-minded, well-balanced, and unwavering.

 

  1. This man is obedient to this quality that Paul explains ten times in the pastoral epistles; and shares this sober-mindedness that also is to be the habit of elders in 1 Tim. 3:2. A Titus 2:2’s grace-energized well-balanced man is a spiritually mature member of the church.

 

Grace-energized men are to model a balanced life in the midst of a people being driven back and forth by fads, obsessions, trivial pursuits, lusts, and emptiness. Because they are grounded in God’s promises, these devout men won’t sway with the winds of life; nor will they be driven by the waves of the culture beating against them each day.

 

We only have two possible operating systems: God’s or ours. We were born with ours, so we naturally go astray from the womb. But when we were saved, the Lord implanted His Spirit within us and He wants to guide and lead us in God’s way instead of our own. As a result, every man who systematically makes the choice to anchor his life in God’s Word will grow into a balanced man.

 

A man whose faith is anchored won’t swing from pole to pole in tangents. His strong sense of security in Christ’s will leads to an inner peace and tranquility. In an increasingly obsessive and compulsive world, such a grace-energized man stands out.

 

He knows he’s just one of the “strangers and pilgrims” here (1 Peter 2:11). That was the conclusion that comes when we understand:

 

Living the Balanced Life

According to Peter

 

Peter writes the same thing we are seeing from Paul as he writes to Titus. Now let’s look at what Peter had to say on this subject in I Peter 1.

 

Writing near the end of his earthly ministry, Peter pointed out that God’s people are called to be separate in mind from those who are not God’s; we are to be holy-minded in an unholy-thinking world; and we are to live in each generation of Christ’s church according to the standards of our high and only King Jesus.

 

To explain the grace-energized life of balance in an unbalanced world, Peter surrounded this word translated “sober” (the same word in Greek nephalious) with a series of commands we must heed if we love the Lord and want to be useful to Him.

 

1 Peter 1:13–16 “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written,  “Be holy, for I am holy.”

 

Peter reminds us that the grace-energized man never gets intoxicated by thinking as the world thinks:  This world is my home, and this is what I want to live for! In contrast, a biblically balanced man is focused upon God’s promises; his heart has an anchor line tethering his thoughts and emotions stretching to God’s Throne (Hebrews 6:19–20) that tugs him daily toward setting his mind on things above rather than here on earth (Colossians 3:1-2). Look further on at 1 Peter 2:11.

 

1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works, which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (see also 1 Peter 1:17–2:10).

 

This means that the highly useful man is balanced, and by God’s grace resists the obsessions of this culture. In summary:

 

Balanced Men

Are Pilgrims

 

In 1 Peter 1:13–16, Peter explained the balanced-mind God desires for His children.

 

1 Peter 1:13–16 “Therefore (1) gird up the loins of your mind, (2) be sober, and (3) rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children,(4) not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also (5) be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written,  “Be holy, for I am holy.”

 

This passage in 1 Peter has five exhortations in the form of two imperative commands surrounded by three participles. The NIV renders them all as commands, and that is the direction being taken in this section. The “sober mind” (or “temperate mind”) is a life balanced by these choices.

 

Today, if you want to begin, or deepen your usefulness to Hod, respond to these truths and say, “Yes, I want to”:

 

  1. AVOID DISTRACTIONS: “gird up the loins of your mind” (NIV—“Prepare your minds for action”). In Bible times men often wore long, flowing robes. When strenuous work or running was required they would pull up and cinch that robe into their belt to make what we call “shorts.” This ancient practice of gathering up one’s robes when needing to move in a hurry is here being metaphorically applied to one’s thought process.

 

The meaning is to pull in all the loose ends of one’s thinking by rejecting the hindrances of the world and instead focusing on the future grace of God (cf. Ephesians 6:14; Colossians 3:2). In other words, Christians in conflict need a tough-minded holiness that is ready for action, and this obedience is a conscious act of the will.

 

  1. AVOID INTOXICATIONS: “be sober” (NIV—“Be self-controlled”). This is the word “sober” from Titus 2:2[5] and describes a person free from every form of mental and spiritual “drunkenness” or excess; and one who resists the control of outside circumstances. God wants believers to be directed from within. The sober Christian is correctly in charge of his priorities and not intoxicated with the various allurements of the world.

 

  1. AVOID VACILLATIONS: “rest your hope fully” (NIV—“Set your hope fully”). This balanced mind and holy life demands great determination. A believer’s hope is to be set completely, unwaveringly, and without reservation, solely by faith upon God’s grace. Only God’s grace can energize an anchored mind.

 

  1. AVOID NEUTRALIZATIONS: “not conforming yourselves to” (NIV—“do not conform to”). Here we see Peter using that famous word from Romans 12:1 (Greek suschematidzo)—“not squeezed into the mold of” the evil desires of their past sinful lives, or the present evil culture surrounding them. Rather, as obedient children (lit., “children of obedience”), they were to pursue godly responses, and to seek the Spirit of God transforming power over their minds each day.

 

  1. AVOID COMPARTMENTALIZATIONS: “be holy in all your conduct” (NIV“all you do”). Grace-energized living brings a denial of the old, flesh-dominated ways in every part of our lives (their former ignorance), and a chosen daily walk in the Spirit. To be highly useful to God we open every door of our hearts, minds, and lives to God. We invite to the desires and wishes of our God Who gave us salvation; and we live to please God Who called us to be His own.

 

Balanced Men Cling to the

Promises of God

 

In summary, a grace-energized man is one who lives a well-balanced life even though he’s surrounded by people driven back and forth by fads, obsessions, trivial pursuits, lusts, and emptiness.

 

He sets out each day to avoid distractions that divert his focus from God; and avoid intoxications that dilute his passion for God; and avoid a lack of faith that leads to vacillations and double mindedness. He also avoids any situation that neutralizes God’s power; and finally brings every area of life under Christ’s Lordship, avoiding compartmentalization.

 

Because he is “sober,” he stays true to the Lord while living in the midst of the allurements of this world.

 

This godly man’s balanced life therefore models the first of six character traits that describe a mature man of God. And that is a man God uses—a life He rewards.

 

If you want to be a highly useful and greatly rewarded man of God—I exhort you.

 

Heed God’s call, and maintain a sober-minded, balanced life, in an increasingly godless culture!    

 

 

 

 

[1] Strong’s number 3524

[2] This chapter is drawn from messages presented the morning and evening of October 28, 2007, the morning of November 4, 2007, plus the evening of November 11, 2007, which are parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Grace-Energized Men series. These messages are available in their entirety at http://www.dtbm.org.

[3] The word translated “loyal” in 2 Chronicles 16:9 is the adjective form of the Hebrew verb shalam (Strong’s #8003 perfect 16, whole 4, full 2, just 1, peaceable 1, misc 3; 27x in Old Testament: complete, safe, peaceful, perfect, whole, full, at peace; full, perfect; finished; Strong’s #7999 verb – be at peace; to be complete, be sound).

[4] Emphasis added to some verses in this chapter.

[5] via the Greek verb nepho (Strong’s #3525—“be sober”), which is always used figuratively in the New Testament.

 
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