Believer, you are called to live a life above the life of the world. You are not alone and it is not impossible. I would venture to say that if you have the Truth within you, it would be almost impossible not to be distinctive from the world. You cannot depend on yourself to be live a higher life; if you do, you set yourself up for a pretentious and pretend walk to Hell. Verses 1-4 read,
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;
4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Paul was an apostle, a man who lived a Spirit-filled life who lived in a way that proved his authority to lead, teach, and speak the Gospel of Christ because he lived the Gospel of Christ. He cared about the church and wanted to ensure that the truth stayed pure, that no corrupted versions of the gospel were taught to desecrate us or defile the Word. He called the church God’s elect. Believer, we are His elect, His chosen. We were chosen before the creation of the earth to be His children, to be blessed, and to be the ones who reflect Him and reveal Him to the world. Ephesians 1:3-6 reads,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
You are charged to know the truth which agrees with godliness. In other words the truth of Christ doesn’t produce a life of sin, futile effort, blandness, or looking like the world, the truth of Christ manifests in a life that looks like Jesus, a life of love, goodness, and faith. The Truth makes a difference in the person who lives it. The Truth lived out allows the follower of Christ to have faith because of her hope. She doesn’t have to live by circumstance thrown back and forth by each happening, vainly wishing for a happy ending or despairing over bad news. The hope of the faithful is not wishful thinking, it is certain knowledge and comprehension of the heart in the promise of eternal life, God’s presence within her, and His love as a tangible work. It is that faith in the Truth that Jesus is the Christ that allows the faithful to live the higher life. 1 John 5:1-5 says it like this,
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
You don’t overcome the world and live the higher life alone, it is only because you know who Jesus is and because He has given you the Spirit of the Living God that you can. If you have been born of Jesus, meaning you believe He is Christ and love the Father by acquiescing to Him then you will live out your faith though that love which is obedience to God.
You can have faith because God never lies. He had this plan for you from the beginning. He chose you from the beginning. And He has made the way for you from the beginning. His timing is perfect. Though you wait and it seems you have waited forever, The Lord does what He does at exactly the right time, the perfect time for your benefit and His glory. He isn’t waiting for the last minute. He is waiting for precisely the right time, the moment that will have the greatest profit for the greatest good. Jesus came at exactly the right time, died at exactly the right time, and resurrected at exactly the right time. He will come again at exactly the right time. God isn’t waiting because He is unsure and you do not have to be unsure because God is waiting. God is waiting for the precise moment He has already decided on because He wants people to come to Him, to answer His call on their lives and be saved. 2 Peter 3:8-13 reads,
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Why do you live a holy life? Your godly life leads people to salvation. That is why you are called to live differently. 1 Timothy 2:3-6 says,
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time
What does this holy and godly life look like? How is it that the mature Christian should walk? Paul gave Titus an example of it when he gave him instructions for how to choose the elders of the church, the men who would lead, model Jesus, and serve the church. Verses 5-9 read,
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Titus had to choose the pastors, the elders of the church to exemplify Christ and teach the Gospel, the true, sound, and sensible doctrine and to censure those who taught anything contradictory to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They didn’t lead these lives because of their own great ability, they lived these lives because Jesus was their Lord and Savior, they had the Holy Spirit in them. God manifests Himself in us and it results in living, walking, and looking like Jesus. Read those verses again and compare them to Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-10.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
God is love. Love lived out is walking in the Spirit, manifesting Christ. To love is to be tangible Jesus to the world and the church. 1 John 4:7-12 says it this way,
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
Living a godly life, a holy life, a life above the life lived by the world means we walk in God and with God in us. He perfects us. He makes it possible for us to walk the way He has called us to walk. We can’t live a godly life without God. We cannot walk in the Spirit unless He is in us. People try. People try to live by the law instead of by faith. They try and earn salvation. Anyone trying to earn salvation has got the wrong gospel. They will try and teach the wrong gospel. They’ve missed out on Jesus and instead try teaching legalism. That is what the Pharisees did. They were so sure they had it right, but for all their piety and laws they completely missed holiness, godliness, and Holy God. Paul did not mince words when it came to describing them. He hated what they were doing to the church, how they defiled the truth, and ruined her reputation. Verses 10-16 read,
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
To tell people they ought to do good to be good, to tell people they should live up to an impossible standard that only God ever lived up to is a lie. These people told others to do good and keep laws but they weren’t doing it themselves. They had to know if they couldn’t live what they taught that no one else could either. Jesus had similar words for those teachers of the law that were just as piercing as Paul’s were. Matthew 23-12-15 reads,
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
The life lived for God results in good works because love is perfected in us. God makes us like Jesus. We can’t do that ourselves. We can’t do good to become good. We become good because God makes us the righteousness of Christ and it shows in the holy and godly life we lead, the higher walk we walk. I will leave you with Romans 3:21-31 which says,
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.