The last time I posted on this subject, someone complained that behavior is not better than belief. Godly behavior is the produce of belief and cannot be obtained without belief, so how can behavior be better?
Okay, that’s true. “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). I agree.
I think my point is still true. My statement means two things:
- Many people claim to believe in Jesus, but your behavior tells the truth about what you believe.
- Today we honor theological doctrines. We are awed by terms like soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology and exegesis and hermeneutics. We are impressed by people who know how to use them, when we should be impressed by behavior.
What Behavior? What Belief?
I could jump in here and point out an important verse. John says that the person who claims to know God but does not obey his commandments is a liar.
I don’t want this post to be about conviction, judgment, or warning, though. I want this post to be about guidance and direction. I want it to answer the question, “What should we be doing?”
For that, I want to turn you to two passages, one of which I covered just a few days ago.
This chapter is too long to be cited here. Instead just let me summarize.
The chapter begins with Paul telling Titus to “say the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.” That command is followed by the word “that.” In other words, Paul is explaining in the rest of the chapter what sound doctrine is.
It is not what most of us think it is.
Older men should be serious and self-controlled. They should have a healthy faith, love, and patience. Older women should behave in a holy manner, limit their alcohol, teach good things, and teach the younger women how to be sensible, love their husbands, love their children, be chaste, and submit to their husbands. Young men should be clear-headed, and Titus is to set an example for them of good works. Employees should obey their employers, make sure not to steal, and be faithful.
We do all of this, Paul says, because the grace of God has come to us and taught us to deny the world and live sensibly, righteously, and godly and to look for the coming of King Jesus who died so that he would have his own people, unique in their zealousness for good works.
That’s it. No big words with -ology at the end. No Greek words that end in -eutics and -esis. Don’t get drunk. Don’t steal. Love your wife. Respect your husband. Raise your children in love and the way of the Lord. Be a great employee, as though you work for the Lord.
This is the “doctrine which is according to godliness.” It is sound doctrine.
2 Pet. 1:3-11
The first thing we add to our faith is virtue. Plain, simple goodness as described in Titus 2.
The next thing we add is knowledge.
“There it is! There’s the place we get down to soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology” In fact, there’s the place for some geology, too!”
Here’s the knowledge that we are supposed to get from the Bible:
All Scripture is breathed into by God. It is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instrution in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for all good works.
Wow, the very purpose of the Bible is to equip us for all good works. No wonder Paul says that the foundation of God only has two inscriptions on it:
- The Lord knows those who are his.
- Let those who name the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.
Our obsession with hermeneutics and exegesis has hit us right at the root, right at the most important level: the leaders of the church (re: Eph. 4:11-16).
Today, we send young men off to post-graduate school to learn “theology.” They get out of school in their mid-20’s, and they apply for a pastorate somewhere. They are hired and whisked off to somewhere they’ve never lived before, where they no one, and no one knows them.
It was not always so. The churches once knew that behavior was more important than belief (see first couple paragraphs of this post for disclaimer). Therefore they chose men of proven character, known in the church as a worker, able to teach (sound doctrine), and able to care for his own family and for the family of God.
Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind, they say.
Free Bonus 2: Leukemia
If Leukemia didn’t kill people, the process would be amazing. One defective cell, which never grows up into the job it is supposed to do, clones itself repeatedly. These clones don’t go away. Unlike normal blood cells, they do not die. Unlike normal blood cells, they do no work.
Because they do not die, they multiply much more quickly than normal blood cells. Worse, normal blood cells care about the body, not themselves. Therefore, when the veins are too full, too crowded, normal blood cells sacrifice themselves. They die so that the blood vessels are not overwhelmed.
That multi-cloned leukemia cell, it does not die. It doesn’t care about the body. It will just keep multiplying, crowding and destroying other blood cells until the body itself dies.
We have an abnormal cell in Jesus’ body. It’s a young cell, not grown up to fulfill its proper role. Instead, it is factory-produced, churned out of a post-graduate theological seminary. Trained to believe that the letter gives life, it kills off good cells in massive portions, sitting them in pews to listen to speeches rather than raising them up to function as Spirit-filled children of God, essential to the body of the Anointed One (1 Cor. 12).
Acute leukemia, without treatment, kills in an average of 45 days or just a little less. Chronic leukemia takes much longer. Stealing the role of all the other blood cells but not actually performing the roles, that takes longer with chronic leukemia.
The treatment is the same as with all other cancers.
Kill the bad cells. Eradicate them. If you don’t, these are master clones that do not die. You have to destroy so many that the now healthy body can eradicate the last few.
I’m talking about the position, friends, not the people. I know people in that position whom I admire. This illustration is just a metaphor, though it’s a good one. Not every detail works. A leukemic blood cell is never good. Occasionally, though, a man is so good that he is a blessing to the body of Jesus despite functioning in the office of cancer cell.