By Dennis C. Abernathy
We are all familiar with the slogan “Just Say No To Drugs,” and a good slogan it is. Drug abuse is a blight on our society and the Lord’s church has not been spared its ugly encroachment. This “Just Say No” concept is found throughout the Scriptures, and I want to use the passage found in Titus 2:11-12 as a “springboard” for our thoughts in this short article.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (NIV).
Today we are hearing a great deal about “positive” preaching. We need positive preaching. There is nothing wrong with positive preaching. But there is something wrong when all you hear is positive preaching. Life is not all positive. The gospel of Christ is not all positive. This verse makes this clear. We are to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives – that is positive! But it also teaches us to say
No” to ungodliness and worldly passions – that is negative! With these thoughts in mind, consider the following:
1. Just say “No” to fornication. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled” (Heb. 13:4). Sexual fulfillment is for the marriage relationship. Fornication was a very common sin in the first century and it is a very common sin today. This term is defined as “any form of sexual immorality, unlawful sexual relations; thus may be used of any specific sexual sin such as intercourse between two unmarried people.” Young people need to say “No” to premarital sex and married people need to say “No” to extramarital sex. The church of the Lord needs to say “No” to fornication in its fellowship.
In our society one is bombarded with the temptation to involve himself in sexual immorality. This is true of the unmarried as well as the married. We see the consequences all around us. Virginity before marriage is considered “old hat,” and remaining true to one’s mate for life is considered “not the norm.” Our country is decaying from sexually transmitted diseases.
The Bible says, “Flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18). The Hebrew writer says, “but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). This ought to be plain enough. But I’m afraid that some are harboring fornicators rather than instructing them to “flee” from the sin. When Paul found that sexual immorality existed among the church at Corinth he told them not to keep company with such a brother (1 Cor. 5: 1,11). But some brethren today not only keep company but install such into positions of leadership. They say “they will just let God judge the matter” on the day of judgment. Yes, brethren, we need to say “No” to fornication.
2. Just say “No” to immodesty. “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works” (1 Tim. 2:9-10). See also 1 Peter 3:1-6.
Immodesty is prevalent today. The apparel people wear is indicative of their attitude and heart. One’s dress ought to be proper or appropriate for one professing godliness. What the world deems proper and appropriate may not bet appropriate for the Christian. I can understand why people of the world dress the way they do. The standard they use is not the standard of the Christian. If a person does not’ consult God concerning his conduct, he is not going to reach the same conclusion with respect to morals, dress, etc. as the person who does consult God’s law.
The Christian is to set his mind or affections on things above, not on the things of this earth (Col. 3:1-2). The Christian does not “mind earthly things” because his “citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:19-20). It is such a shame the way many dress today. The church has not been spared the shame in, this regard. Brethren, is it proper and appropriate for Christians to expose their bodies before the world in the immodest apparel so prevalent today? Does nothing embarrass and shame us anymore? We need more preaching and teaching on what is modest and immodest. Elders need to instruct the local church over which they watch on this matter. We need to say “No” to immodesty both in our teaching and in. our example.
3. We need to say “No ” to apathy and indifference. One of the greatest problems facing the church is apathy. William Schlamm wrote, what he said should be the epitaph of our, society: “This civilization died because it didn’t want to be bothered.” I wonder if we couldn’t rephrase it a bit and correctly describe many Christians today: “The Lord’s work was left undone and the church died because the members. didn’t want to be bothered.” Titus 2:13-14 says:,” while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
Apathy abounds in the church today. Lost souls are not taught (Mk. 16:15-16). Erring brethren are not restored (Gal. 6: 1; Jas. 5:19-20). The rebellious, disobedient and unfit are not disciplined (Tit. 1:11,16). The unfortunate, downtrodden and sick are not attended to (Matt. 25:31-46). Brethren are not encouraged and the teachers of error are not refuted by the trustworthy message (Tit. 1:9). The list could go on and on. the underlying cause is apathy – we don’t want to be bothered!
Brethren, we need to say “No” to apathy, indifference and mediocrity and “always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 4, p. 107
February 16, 1989