Titus 2:11–12 (NKJV)
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
For the last few weeks I have been meditating on Paul’s insistence in this text that we should live soberly…in the present age. The term translated “soberly” is better translated “sensibly.” It is the Greek word sophronos. The term summons us, as God’s people, to live in accordance with the way God has made the world. To live sensibly is to live in harmony with the moral and social universe that God has created; it is to do that which is fitting / sensible considering one’s calling and station in life. I noted last week for the folks in CdA that Paul utilizes this term extensively in his letter to Titus though its use is often obscured by translations. By way of review, consider the variety of places in the letter that this term is used:
- 1:8 – Elders are to be “sober-minded” (sensible)
- 2:2 – Older men are to be “sober” (sensible)
- 2:4 – Older women are to “admonish” (make sensible) the younger women.
- 2:5 – Younger women are “to be discreet” (sensible)
- 2:6 – Young men are to be “sober-minded” (sensible)
- 2:12 – Grace of God teaches us to live “soberly” (sensibly)
Clearly this is an important virtue that Paul wants Titus to inculcate in the congregation. He wants all – officers and laity, men and women, old and young – to be sophronos, sensible.
Paul’s assumption, therefore, is that there is to be a correspondence between the created world and our attitudes and actions. To live sophronos is to embrace the world as God has made it and ourselves as God has made us.
Notice, therefore, that within a Christian worldview there is such a thing as “common sense.” Because God fashioned the world and because Paul commands us to live sensibly, to live in harmony with our creatureliness, common sense exists. Common sense reflects those created realities that we deny to our folly and peril. Within American culture, common sense used to be a much praised virtue. Unfortunately, we thought that we could keep common sense and abandon the God who made the world sensible. “Everybody has common sense regardless whether they believe in God.”
Recent decades have revealed, however, that when we deny God, when we apostatize or worship idols, then common sense is not so common. Everyone knows that you can’t spend more than you make and prosper, right? Everyone knows that boys are boys and girls are girls, right? Well, we used to. Just this week one of my children attended a choir class at the University of Idaho. On the first day of class they were handed 3×5 cards and instructed to write their name on one side and their preferred pronoun on the other. “Never mind how God made you; you can establish your own identity.”
Of course, there’s just one small problem. You can’t. God is the Creator; you are the creature. We must conform ourselves to the world He has made; we cannot remake the world as we desire.
So here’s the rub. We must repent the notion that common sense exists separate from the God who made the world. We believe in common sense; but we believe it because God has created us to live sensibly. So reminded that as sinners we often try to keep God’s virtues while rejecting God Himself, let us confess our sin and beseech Him to bless us with common sense. As you are able, let us kneel together as we confess.