The first significant word here is arneomai. What does this word mean biblically?
714. ἀρνέομαι arneomai verb
Deny, renounce, disown, refuse.
Classical Greek and Septuagint Usage
Classical writers understood arneomai to mean “to refuse.” Under certain conditions other shades of meaning appear, such as “to reject” or “to decline”; the word can even mean “to deny something or someone.” It was during the Hellenistic period that arneomai first denoted the meaning so dominant in the New Testament— “to renounce, to deny.” Arneomai is rare in the canonical writings of the Septuagint; it appears only in Genesis 18:15 where Sarah denied that she had laughed.
New Testament Usage
Arneomai is set in antithesis to homologeō (3533) “to confess”: “He (John the Baptist) confessed, and denied not; but confessed” (John 1:20). Just as homologeō can apply to confessing one’s sin as well as confessing one’s faith, so too, arneomai/ aparneomai (529) can indicate denial from two widely different perspectives. It can mean to “renounce” or “deny” oneself, i.e., self-denial, but it can also denote “to deny” the faith or God.
Self-denial is regularly expressed with the intensive form aparneomai, but arneomai occurs in Titus 2:12 when Paul wrote that grace disciplines us to “renounce” ungodliness and worldly pleasures (cf. Hebrews 11:24, where the same word is used of Moses’ refusal to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter). Self-denial involves giving way to God’s desires and others’ before our own. To renounce worldly pleasures involves rejection of their rule and power in our lives.
The term arneomai appears in 1 John 2:22 concerning denying the Father (i.e., atheism). Some, through their conduct and evil acts, demonstrate that for all practical purposes they have renounced God (Titus 1:16).
The New Testament is most concerned with someone denying Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:33; Mark 14:31; Luke 12:9; John 13:38; Acts 3:13; 2 Timothy 2:12; etc.). In every instance to deny Him means to reject or to denounce association with Him. Renunciation is therefore actually a denial of discipleship.
To “deny Jesus Christ” can involve denial of His person (2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:22f.); His name (Revelation 3:8); the Faith (Revelation 2:13; cf. 1 Timothy 5:8); and the power of Christianity (2 Timothy 3:5). Such rejection is fatal to man and tantamount to a denial by God of that person at the Day of Judgment. Jesus himself confirmed this: “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33; cf. Luke 9:26; 2 Timothy 2:12).
Nevertheless, the denial of Christ is not an unforgivable sin. Jesus declared that even if someone speaks against the Son of Man, he could receive forgiveness (Matthew 12:32). Peter denied Jesus, but God fully forgave him and restored him totally. “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “714. ἀρνέομαι,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “714. á¼€ÏÎ½á½³Î¿Î¼Î±Î¹”.
Hebrews 11:24 (CJB) 24 By trusting, Moshe, after he had grown up,
refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
Would it be safe to say, based on this biblical understanding of the word, that renounce in Titus 2:12 means refuse as in reject or decline? Based on Hebrews 11 above, would it also be safe to say that renounce not only means refuse, but “not willing to be any part of? Renounce and refused in these 2 verse are the same Greek word arneomai. The BIG question then comes down to this:
How would you re-write this part of the verse:
It teaches us to _________ godlessness and worldly pleasures,
so that the biblical understanding of arneomai, which is both renounce and refused, is understood?
You see, the biblical writer had a specific meaning of the word that he used, as he was inspired by God himself, through revelation. It is our duty, and should be our passion, to understand God’s intended message instead of the message we want it to be. Study of God’s word is one of the most intimate forms of worship there is. Do we want to be careless? Do we want to approach God’s word with the same mindset that Cain did with his offering? Of course not!
How would I rewrite renounce in this verse based on the biblical understanding of the word?
It teaches us to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with, godlessness and worldly pleasures,
The next significant word is “godlessness.” This is the Greek word asebeia and it’s biblical meaning is:
757. ἀσέβειαasebeia noun
Impiety, godlessness, wickedness.
Asebeia is another word formed by adding a negating alpha (1) to an already existing word (in this case the verb sebomai , “to feel religious awe or fear,” or “to honor, to worship”). This noun means “godlessness, impiety” (cf. its cognates asebeō , asebēma, and asebēs ). In classical Greek the word refers to ungodliness and impiety. In Rome, disloyalty to the emperor (who was venerated as a god) was considered asebeia (Liddell-Scott).
In the Septuagint asebeia translates 14 different Hebrew terms as well as 2 other forms. It appears to span both religious improprieties (Deuteronomy 18:22; especially Amos 1:3,6,9,11,13,etc.) as well as civil disobedience (Deuteronomy 19:16; 25:2; Proverbs 28:3,4,13). Perhaps these concepts are actually inseparable (especially in Amos; cf. Ezekiel, the refrain “turn from all your asebeiōn” [Ezekiel 14:6; 18:28,30,31; 23:27,48]). In the Septuagint this word is closely related to the terms adikia (92), “wickedness, injustice,” and hamartia (264), “sin.” In Greek culture adikia referred to behavior which was contrary to state (city) ordinances while asebeia described behavior which was against the gods (Gunther, “Godliness,” Colin Brown, 2:91). This distinction is lost in both the Septuagint and the New Testament.
New Testament Usage
Romans 1:18 suggests that asebeia—an active opposition to God (so Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, p.227)—is especially a mark of the heathen (cf. Deuteronomy 9:4,5; Habakkuk 1:3; 2:8,17), but it is also a condition from which God’s people must turn (Romans 11:26 = Isaiah 59:20; cf. Ezekiel above). Asebeia is also the result which follows listening to the “godless chatter” (bebēlous kenophōnias) of false teachers. These stand over against eusebeia (2131)—“godliness, piety”—the mark of the believer (1 Timothy 2:2; 4:7; 6:3; cf. 2 Timothy 3:5; Jude 15,18).
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “757. ἀσέβεια,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “757. á¼€Ïƒá½³Î²ÎµÎ¹Î±”.
This word is fairly straight forward but with some nuances that need to be pointed out. What is godlessness? Obviously, it is impious to be part of godlessness. But it is more than that. It is wickedness. It is disloyalty to the ruler – Yeshua is our King. It is against God – ie, godless, and it can be become a reality for those that listen to false teachers. I would say Westboro Baptist is a very good example of “godless chatter by false teachers” which becomes asebeia. The most important part is “an active opposition to God.” Understand this if nothing else, being worldly is “an active opposition to God” because his word says it is.
So how would you re-write this part of the verse:
It teaches us to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with, __________ and worldly pleasures,
so that the biblical understanding of asebeia, which is disloyalty to the king, impiety, wickedness and active opposition to God, is understood?
It teaches us to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with, anything that is in active opposition to God or an behavior against God’s commands and worldly pleasures,
Now we get to the next significant word in this verse: kosmikos. This word is the one that most people have a problem accepting for what it is biblically. A lot of rationalizations regarding this word. Let’s see what it means biblically.
2859. κοσμικός kosmikos adj
The classical use of this adjective has no moral overtones; it simply means “belonging or pertaining to the world.” Although kosmikos means “worldly,” it is in a morally neutral sense of simply cosmic or earthly as distinct from heavenly. Kosmikos is not used in the Septuagint.
New Testament Usage
In the New Testament this word, used only twice, has two distinct meanings. In one instance it follows the classical usage and is used without any negative moral overtones, simply meaning “of this world” rather than of heaven. It is used in this sense in Hebrews 9:1: “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.” The Old Testament sanctuary was a physical entity in this world as contrasted with the very presence of God in heaven. Of course, there was nothing morally wrong with the sanctuary.
But also in the New Testament this word means “worldly” in the sense of being at enmity with God or morally reprehensible. Worldly desires are those that lead people away from God. Paul used the word in this sense when he wrote the words “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts . . . ” (Titus 2:12). This word is the adjective form of the noun kosmos (2862), and its meaning follows that of kosmos.
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “2859. κοσμικός,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Zeta-Kappa, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2859. ÎºÎ¿ÏƒÎ¼Î¹Îºá½¹Ï‚”.
2862. κόσμος kosmos noun
Adornment, world, universe.
Originally kosmos denoted “building” or “construction,” but it soon acquired a far wider usage. Kosmos indicates the presence of “order” and “arrangement,” or “organization.” The word can represent an arrangement by rank or a battle configuration. Later, kosmos came to describe ornaments and jewelry, especially those used by women (Guhrt, “Earth,” Colin Brown, 1:521). It is possible that the use of the term to describe the adornment of women—“sparkling jewelry”—may be related to the use of the term in relation to the “starry sky,” the universe, and the order which may be observed there.
In Greek philosophy contemplation about the origin of the kosmos became a principal pastime. Kosmos represented the total world system, but it also indicated various parts of this system. But principally the kosmos was the all-embracing cohesive order which prevented the world from chaotic dissolution (ibid.).
The different schools of thought had their own unique opinions of kosmos. Plato taught that the kosmos was formed by a demiurgos, a creator or “energizer” (ibid.). Later, gnosticism shaped this idea further so the evil, material universe was seen as a work of a demiurge who was different from God and distinct from Him. Aristotle’s worldview, which persisted for several thousand years within European culture, understood the kosmos to be the earth surrounded by a series of lower and higher spheres (ibid.). The Stoics appropriated from Oriental astrology the idea of an eternal cycle of catastrophe followed by restoration (apokatastasis ). The dualism of Neoplatonism sharply defined the distinction between the material present kosmos and the original true kosmos which was the prototype of the present (ibid., 1:521,522).
Such dualistic tendencies became fully developed as a result of the invading Oriental cosmologies which penetrated at virtually every level of thought. The former unity of the kosmos seen in Hellenism breaks apart into two different regions: the lower parts of the earth and the higher parts of the sky (ibid.).
In gnosticism this two-part universe is totally separate and distinct. To the Gnostics the kosmos is an evil creation produced by demonic forces that originated in the regions of darkness. The material universe is not understood to be a copy of an original prototype; rather, it is viewed as an evil imitation and distortion of this. The separation between the immaterial God and the material kosmos is absolute. The material kosmos is a prison for preexistent souls who long for deliverance (ibid.).
Actually the Hebrew has no equivalent word to the Greek kosmos. The extent of how foreign such speculations as the above are to the Biblical idea becomes evident from the fact that kosmos—in the sense of the material “world”— is not used at all in the canonical writings of the Septuagint. (In the Apocrypha the term does appear in this way over 30 times.) On the contrary, kosmos occurs 10 times in reference to “cosmetic” adornment and/or jewelry and 5 times for tsāvā’, the “stars of the heavens.”
As stated above, there is no direct equivalent to kosmos in Hebrew. While the term hakkōl is used to denote “all,” the common expression for “universe” is the phrase “heaven and earth.” Kosmos is never considered to be anything independent, but it stands as the creation of the Creator.
Old Testament Background
The fundamental view of the Old Testament, as far as the world is concerned, is typically expressed by the Psalmist: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). The Lord is the Creator of heaven and earth (Psalm 115:15; cf. Isaiah 44:24; Jeremiah 10:16). This assumption of God as Creator appears in the first pages of the Bible (Genesis 1:1; 2:1; cf. Genesis 1:26-29; Psalm 8:6-9). It is quite remarkable that Biblical descriptions of the world are free from the mythological understanding of nature that prevailed among the nations which were neighbors of Israel.
The world, however, is not only the created world. When the Fall occurred the world was affected, and it too became subject to the curse of God (Genesis 3). The entire creation became tainted because of human sin (Genesis 6:5,12). God’s response could only be a reaction against the sin—with judgment and destruction (verses 13-17). But God’s mercy toward His creation is just as real as His judgment of sin. This is concretely expressed in His covenant with Noah which affected all of creation (Genesis 6:18-21; 8:15-22; 9:8-17). Notice the expression “a covenant between me (God) and the earth,” Genesis 9:13 (cf. also the Abrahamic covenant, Genesis 12:3; 18:18; cf. Exodus 19:5,6; Isaiah 49:6). God’s care for all His creation is described in Psalm 145:9: “The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.”
Within Hellenistic Judaism there was—especially in Philo of Alexandria—a certain mixture and adoption of Greek ideas. Philo distinguished between the material kosmos and the immaterial which can only be grasped with the mind. The physical world is “this world,” the “visible world.” Sometimes he referred to the kosmos as a living entity; he even called it God’s son (ibid., 1:523).
Rabbinic Judaism viewed this world and this age as subject to the power of Satan. The world is the victim of sin and death. Within Jewish apocalypticism the thought that there were two ages is especially prevalent. The present time of the kosmos is evil; the pious long for the world to come.
New Testament Usage
In the New Testament the noun kosmos occurs more than 180 times. Of these, more than 100 are in the writings of John, and almost 50 are in Paul’s letters. Only one text, 1 Peter 3:3, reflects a usage in reference to adornment; in every other instance kosmos equals the “world.” In this sense, though, the “world” assumes many different aspects of meaning. It can denote the earth or the universe, the creation (Matthew 13:35; John 21:25; Acts 17:24; Romans 1:20; 1 Timothy 6:7). Kosmos may also equal humanity as a whole (Matthew 5:14; John 1:9; John 3:16-19; 4:42 and elsewhere). Furthermore,kosmos consistently represents humanity in its fallen and rebellious state—the “world” in this evil age (ton aiōna tou kosmou; cf. Ephesians 2:2; see also John 7:7; 8:23; 14:30; 1 Corinthians 2:12; Galatians 4:3, etc.). It also occurs in a metaphoric sense in describing the tongue’s independence (James 3:6). The “world” further refers to earthly property (Matthew 16:26).
The New Testament writings have as their natural background the Old Testament understanding of the world—God is its Creator and He sustains it; He is Lord of the universe. Jesus addressed His Father as the “Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21). This relationship between God and His world is encountered repeatedly in early Christian preaching (e.g., Acts 4:24; 14:15; 17:24; Revelation 10:6). The New Testament emphasizes that everything is created by and through Christ (John 1:1-10; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-3). Christ is the mediator between the Creator and His creation.
Certain themes typically describe the state of this fallen world:it is darkness in contrast to light; it is a lie as opposed to the truth. Furthermore, the character of kosmos is a life of bondage, but the life of God is freedom. God’s world is a world of life, but the kosmos is death. Apart from God there can be no such virtues as light, truth, and life. God initially created mankind to live the divine life; He wanted to see His people experience light and truth. But humanity chose to follow instead the leader of the rebellion against God. He became self-seeking and turned away from God. But there is no other life apart from the Creator’s. When man, seduced by the devil, could no longer endure the light of God, there was the power of the lie. Mankind has surrendered to this world of darkness.It has chosen as its lord the “prince of this world” (John 12:31), the murderer from the beginning and the Father of Lies.
It is patently absurd for the believer to love the world since it is a hostile and rebellious power opposing God. Love of the Father cannot coexist with love of the world and its pleasures (1 John 2:15). Nonetheless, the believer’s relationship with the world is a paradox, just as his relationship with the Lord is. The world as a godless and rebellious system is under the judgment of God, but at the same time God loves the human species which is victimized by this system. Therefore God, in love, sent His Son to the fallen world to redeem it (John 3:16). Furthermore, to this fallen world the Lord sends His disciples with the message of salvation and redemption (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-48; John 17:18).
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “2862. κόσμος,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Zeta-Kappa, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2862. Îºá½¹ÏƒÎ¼Î¿Ï‚”.
Whew! Lot of stuff. Let’s condense it:
- in the New Testament this word means “worldly” in the sense of being at enmity with God or morally reprehensible.
- kosmos consistently represents humanity in its fallen and rebellious state—the “world” in this evil age
- it is darkness in contrast to light;
- it is a lie as opposed to the truth.
- It is patently absurd for the believer to love the world since it is a hostile and rebellious power opposing God.
- It has chosen as its lord the “prince of this world”
So what does this mean? This is where the rationalizations start. Knowledge of the text is helpful is correcting these rationalizations. Let’s look at a verse (with bullet points) that helps clear some of this up:
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (CJB) 9 Don’t you know that unrighteous people will have no share in the Kingdom of God?
Don’t delude yourselves —
people who engage in sex before marriage,
who worship idols,
who engage in sex after marriage with someone other than their spouse,
who engage in active or passive homosexuality,
10 who steal,
who are greedy,
who get drunk,
who assail people with contemptuous language,
who rob —
none of them will share in the Kingdom of God.
Can you name some some areas that promote some or all of these things in one way or another? How about Hollywood or the NFL just to name a couple? Do I even need to bring up the songs from multiple artists about having sex or getting drunk? This is what the world is. Its leader is not God, its leader is the deceiver. Worldly people will call this blasphemy. Christians will call this blasphemy. How dare I challenge the traditions and love by Christians of the NFL, Hollywood and secular music?
God calls loving the world and its ungodly values and ungodly pleasures hating him.
James 4:4 (CJB) 4 You unfaithful wives! Don’t you know that loving the world is hating God?
Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy!
God says if you love the world or the things of the world, that you don’t love him.
1 John 2:15-16 (CJB) 15 Do not love the world or the things of the world.
If someone loves the world, then love for the Father is not in him; 16 because all the things of the world —
the desires of the old nature,
the desires of the eyes,
and the pretensions of life —
are not from the Father but from the world.
Don’t kill the messenger here folks! I didn’t write the text. So the next text is going to be hard because it divides everyone into 2 camps:
- those who identify with their old nature (worldly)
- Those who identify with the Spirit and set their minds on the Spirit
God says if you mind is controlled by worldliness – you are hostile to him – you cannot please him!
Romans 8:5-8 (CJB) 5 For those who identify with their old nature
set their minds on the things of the old nature,
but those who identify with the Spirit
set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
6 Having one’s mind controlled by the old nature is death,
but having one’s mind controlled by the Spirit is life and shalom.
7 For the mind controlled by the old nature is hostile to God,
because it does not submit itself to God’s Torah —
indeed, it cannot.
8 Thus, those who identify with their old nature
cannot please God.
The most ironic part about loving the world or “worldliness” is that worldliness is just a symptom of a bigger problem biblically. It is a refusal to bend a knee towards God. Sexual Immorality is a result of Spiritual Immorality! I’m going to let that sink in for a moment. Spiritual Immorality is the refusal to submit to the King of Creation and his Kingdom Rule.
So how do we re-write the verse adding what we now know about what kosmos (worldly) is?
It teaches us to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with, anything that is in active opposition to God or an behavior against God’s commands and __________ pleasures,
I believe the following best sums this up: morally reprehensible to God and humanity in its fallen and rebellious state. So let’s add that:
It teaches us to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with, anything that is in active opposition to God or a behavior against God’s commands and to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with things that are considered morally reprehensible to God by humanity in its fallen and rebellious state. pleasures,
This brings us to the last word in this sentence: epithumia or pleasure. Let’s get right to it and see what the biblical understanding for the word is.
1924. ἐπιθυμία epithumia noun
Desire, longing, craving.
Epithumia in classical Greek was originally an ethically neutral term. It depicted the desires and wishes within everyone which determine both good or evil actions. Gradually, however, it acquired the more familiar sense of an improper (morally or ethically) desire.
Epithumeō (1922) and the noun epithumia occur in the Septuagint about 50 times each. Usually they replace the Hebrew ’āwâh and chāmadh which can denote a good or even commendable desire (Genesis 31:30; cf. Isaiah 58:2). They may be ethically neutral in definition (Deuteronomy 12:20f.), or they may convey evil desire (Numbers 11:4,34; Deuteronomy 9:22).
New Testament Usage
In the New Testament the verb epithumeō appears 16 times and the noun epithumia 38 times. The verb ordinarily has a positive sense (but cf. Matthew 5:28 and Paul’s usage). The noun is understood positively in connection with Jesus’ desire to eat the Passover meal with His disciples (Luke 22:15), in reference to Paul’s desire to be with the Lord (Philippians 1:23), and concerning his longing to see the believers in Thessalonica again (1 Thessalonians 2:17). Perhaps the term is neutral in Revelation 18:14, but aside from the locations mentioned above, it always signifies an evil or sinful “desire.” The places which reflect this negative sense have the greatest theological import.
Humanity’s natural desires belong to its original physical and spiritual makeup. However, as a result of the Fall these desires were distorted until they exerted an unnatural control over humanity’s shattered image of God (Ephesians 4:17-19).
Thus humanity in its present sinful state is— apart from the saving grace of God—serving “divers lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:3; cf. Romans 1:24-32; Ephesians 4:22). Given over to its evil desires and passions humanity is destroying not only itself but creation as well (Romans 1:24-32).
Humanity’s “sinful lusts” are particularly revealed in its sinful nature, manifest expressly insexual, moral, and ethical rebellion against God (Romans 6:12; 7:23,24; 8:13). This includes not only physical desires; epithumia attacks the very fabric of humanity’s spiritual existence. Evil desires of whatever kind are seated in the heart,in the center of the personality: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).
Epithumia plays an important part in Paul’s theology. Except for Philippians 1:23 and 1 Thessalonians 2:17, the term always carries a pejorative sense. When he speaks of “desire” and “longing” in a positive sense he chooses another group of words (epipotheō ; cf. also epipothēsis , epipothētos , epipothia ).
To Paul, epithumia motivates the actions of the fallen human being. The “old man” is corrupt “according to the deceitful lusts” and contrasts with the “new man” of the believer which God “created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). But even within the believer the old nature, the sinful nature (often translated “the flesh”), challenges the believer’s new man. The believer cannot permit these sinful inclinations to rule his or her life. If they remain unchecked they may jeopardize the faith of the believer: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live” (Romans 8:13, RSV). “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other” (Galatians 5:16f.). The battle of the Christian is waged not only with patent sinful acts (Galatians 5:19) but against the desires of the sinful nature. Nevertheless, those belonging to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24).
In the General Epistles epithumia resembles Paul’s attitude. James considered epithumia as something which lures and entices man to sin (James 1:14). Peter wrote of the “former lusts” (1 Peter 1:14); i.e., desires which belonged to the old life. A believer is to avoid these since they wage war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11). The corruption in the world comes through epithumia (2 Peter 1:4), and Jude exposed spiritual deceivers as typically those who live according to their own desires (Jude 16-18).
With John the triad of “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” are considered characteristic of the world (see kosmos ) and worldly life-style (1 John 2:16). A believer cannot love these things because to do so would be a denial of his love for God. Therefore, the desires of the “flesh” are not only a compelling force within each individual, but they are the larger force of the world itself. Jesus traced this evil tendency to its progenitor—the devil: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). The “flesh,” the evil desires and schemes of the fallen world, and the devil have enlisted each other to fight against believers.
The writers of the New Testament speak of evil passions in harsh terms and depict them as having infiltrated virtually every aspect of life (2 Peter 3:3; cf. Romans 1:24; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:9; 2 Timothy 2:22; Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 4:2,3; 2 Peter 2:10; 1 John 2:16; Jude 18).
The believer is to walk no longer “after the flesh” (i.e., controlled by the old nature). Instead, he is to walk “after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). By the Spirit the “inner man” is renewed (Ephesians 4:23; Romans 12:2). The one living in or by the Spirit does not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). A new drive and purpose replaces the desires of the sinful nature; this enables a Christian to “put to death” epithumia (Colossians 3:5, RSV) in progressing toward holiness.
The New Testament speaks with great sobriety of the detriment of living according to the desires of the “flesh.” But it is important not to misunderstand or misinterpret what is meant. Fulfilling the epithumia of the sinful nature, “the flesh” (murder, envy, theft, adultery, etc.), is a distortion, corruption, and perversion of the God-given, God-sanctioned desires of humankind. God condemns the evil epithumia not the natural impulses themselves or the fulfilling of these desires under God-condoned conditions.To mistakenly conclude that “the lust of the flesh” corresponds only to sexual desire—so that the claim of putting to death the desires of the flesh results in sexual abstention or a renunciation of marriage—is explicitly rejected (Colossians 2:21-23; 1 Timothy 4:1-6). The Christian’s ethic is fundamentally not ascetic. Suppression of the natural desires in a sanctioned context (e.g., marriage) should only take place by mutual consent, only for a short time, and only for the purpose of prayer (1 Corinthians 7:5). Sexual abstention can be practiced by those who have a gift of grace for it (1 Corinthians 7:7). Some special ministries in the kingdom of God can even demand it (Matthew 19:12). The pleasure received from marital relationships is “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:3,4, RSV). Prolonged voluntary sexual abstention in the marriage relationship is not only abnormal, but it is potentially destructive (1 Corinthians 7:5).
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “1924. ἐπιθυμία,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Delta-Epsilon, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1924. á¼Ï€Î¹Î¸Ï…Î¼á½·Î±”.
You know when I read this, I think about all the rationalizations I have made in my life while calling myself a Christian – more succinctly, while calling myself a follower of Messiah. You can choose the wide road and go down it calling yourself a Christian – it doesn’t mean you really are. To be a Christian is to follow Messiah. To follow his commands. To reject worldliness. To set their minds on the things of the Spirit and not the things of the world.
It teaches us to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with, anything that is in active opposition to God or a behavior against God’s commands and to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with things that are considered morally reprehensible to God by humanity in its fallen and rebellious state._________,
This leaves us to fill in the last blank where epithumia goes. To do that we need to condense it so we can use it. It is the following”
- evil or sinful “desire
- serving “divers lusts and pleasures
- permit these sinful inclinations to rule his or her life
- the flesh lusteth against the Spirit
- desires of the sinful nature
- something which lures and entices man to sin
- worldly life-style
- a distortion, corruption, and perversion of the God-given, God-sanctioned desires of humankind
- sexual, moral, and ethical rebellion against God
There is is in a nutshell. These are what lead to things like:
- people who engage in sex before marriage,
- who worship idols,
- who engage in sex after marriage with someone other than their spouse,
- who engage in active or passive homosexuality,
- 10 who steal,
- who are greedy,
- who get drunk,
- who assail people with contemptuous language,
- who rob —
because as I stated earlier, they are a symptom or result of the root problem: Spiritual Immorality.
Let’s rewrite the verses with what we know now:
Titus 2:12 (Expounded 1st part)
12 It teaches us to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with, anything that is in active opposition to God or a behavior against God’s commands and to refuse to be part of, or have anything to do with things that are considered morally reprehensible to God by humanity in its fallen and rebellious state – things which are a distortion, corruption, and perversion of the God-given, God-sanctioned desires of humankind which result in sexual, moral, and ethical rebellion against God, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives now, in this age;
We will finish the 2nd part of this verse tomorrow.