Christians Should Look Different

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
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When Paul urges Titus to teach what accords with sound doctrine, that implies that some ways of life are not in accordance with sound doctrine. Throughout the book of Titus, Paul identifies ways that Christians’ lives should differ radically from those of unbelievers.[1] Let’s look at some of these distinctions:

  • Consistency of belief and behavior. Unbelievers may “profess to know God, but they deny him by their works” (1:16)— whereas true believers’ lives are expected to be consistent with what they claim to believe.
  • Purity. Paul describes unbelievers as being “defiled” and lawless (1:15; 2:14), acting like “evil beasts” (1:12). By contrast, the doctrine of God’s holiness calls us to be “above reproach” (1:6–7) in every area of our lives.
  • Self-Control. Unbelievers are slaves to “various passions and pleasures” (3:3) such as drunkenness and laziness (1:7, 12). But believers in Christ are empowered by Him to be self-controlled.
  • Composure. Unbelievers are sometimes “quick-tempered” and “violent” (1:7). But believers are to be “kind” and not “argumentative” (2:5, 9), “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (3:2).
  • Relationships. Paul describes unbelievers’ attitude toward others as being full of “malice and envy” (3:3), whereas believers’ relationships should reflect the “loving kindness of God our Savior” (3:4).
  • Truthfulness. Paul describes unbelievers as scheming “liars” (1:12) and “deceivers” (1:10), he referred to believers, however, as having a “knowledge of the truth” (1:1) and
    a devotion to God, who “never lies” (1:2).

I could go on. But you get the point. The distinction between Christians and the world should be crystal clear. Not because we’re better people or come from better upbringings. In fact, we’re not inherently any different from anyone else. Our hearts would love to march to the same self-absorbed cadence that drives the rest of the world.

“Believers in Christ are empowered by Him to be self-controlled.”

The only difference—the only difference—is Jesus. The gospel. But what a difference that makes. What a difference He makes! And the means by which the Spirit keeps loosening our grip on old patterns of behavior, releasing us from the bonds of cultural conformity, and awakening our hearts to the beauty of Christ and His ways, is through the implanted truth of His Word.

Through sound doctrine.

Don’t think you can dress up your life with better behavior or become the beautiful woman you’re hoping to grow into without grounding your life in biblical truth. If you’re not willing to start there and stay there, saturating yourself in Scripture and receiving sound teaching from mature believers, your pursuit of a godly, fruitful life will always be an exercise in frustration.

And if you try to live without paying close attention to sound, biblical teaching, don’t think you’ll be avoiding an encounter with doctrine. You’ll simply be choosing to live by a different kind of doctrine.

Because all of us live (and die) by doctrine.

[1] Paul uses this term not only for non-Christians, but also for those who claimed to be in the faith but whose doctrine and lifestyles gave no such evidence.

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by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Known for her wisdom, warmth, and knowledge of Scripture, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has encouraged millions through her books, radio programs, and...

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