|Vol. 15 No. 3 March 2013||
Living a life that brings every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ is not a natural tendency. Being filled with and controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit is not a natural tendency. Dying to self is not a natural tendency. Having a total incompatibility with sin is not a natural tendency.
We are naughty by nature. What does it mean to be naughty? In our carnal, worldly state of thinking, talking and acting, we are disobedient, mischievous, improper, indecent, wicked, impish, wayward, badly behaved and poorly self-disciplined.
This carnal, naughty nature is fully acknowledged in God’s Word. How long has the human race been naughty by nature? God’s word tells us in Genesis 6:5. “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
This most deplorable state of immorality, shamelessness and vice is further described in Genesis 6:11-12. “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” Does this description hold an all too familiar ring to the world we live in today?
R.C. Bell wrote Studies in Ephesians. He stated, “No portion of the Bible draws the contradiction between fleshly and spiritual men more fully, or portrays the depraved, wretched, natural man in more colorful terms than Ephesians does.” He addresses the ‘havoc wrought by Satan in man’s personality.’ He wrote, “Human nature is so distorted and thrown off balance that man cannot right himself… Men ‘separate from Christ… having no hope and without God in the world’ are not sick but dead… Salvation by character is an impossibility… When Paul mixed with the throngs of Christless men in Ephesus or Corinth, he saw them as dead men!”
Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
Jesus saw this vulnerable weakness of the flesh in His own apostles shortly before His crucifixion. He had asked Peter, James, and John to stay and watch with Him for one hour while He prayed. Matthew 26:40-41 states, “Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’”
Paul wrote about this fight between the spirit and the flesh in Romans 7:13-23. Specifically, Romans 7:14-15, 18-19 reads, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (ESV). What an apt description of us in our natural state!
However, let’s not get too comfortable thinking all is well, since God knows that within each of us there is a war that is raging between right and wrong. We must understand that in God’s view, this worldly nature is totally unacceptable. His utterly holy nature demands change.
After describing this unacceptable behavior in Romans 7:13-23, Paul asked one of the most pointed questions in Scripture in verse 24. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Verse 25 gives the answer in words that cannot be misunderstood by anyone who is honestly seeking the redemption so earnestly desired. “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” We must surrender our will to God’s will so we can be freed from sin’s slavery!
Ephesians 2:4-7 tells us, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ; by grace you have been saved, and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 1:21-23b declares, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard.”
Naughty by nature – yes we are, but we are not doomed to that fatality. The remedy is in obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and living faithfully to God’s Word until He calls us home.
Titus 2:5 clearly teaches that the older women are to teach the younger women. In this context, older women are to admonish the young women to “love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands.” The Greek word sophronizo translated “admonish” in the NKJV and “teach” in the KJV means, “to make of sound mind, i.e. (figuratively) to discipline or correct.”
Many times when we think of the older women teaching the younger, we think of a formal Bible class where an elder’s wife or one of the older ladies prepares lessons and teaches the younger ladies. This is a useful tool in teaching, and I encourage this type of setting. Younger ladies, if your congregation has a Ladies’ Bible Class, you are expected, even commanded, to be there according to Titus 2:5 and Hebrews 11:25. A side benefit of a formal Ladies’ Bible Class is the fellowship of women gathered together to encourage and uplift one another.
A formal classroom setting is not the only venue for older women teaching younger women. We teach by our example, our manner of speech, our behavior, our dress, our attitude, etc. We can teach one to one with an open Bible. We can also teach in casual conversations. Our opportunities to teach are everywhere – we just need to seize them.
The formal classroom setting is straight forward. We study Bible passages possibly with the aid of a class book with a teacher lecturing the students or having class discussions and hopefully making a modern day application for each one present.
The one on one study is a little different. It is less formal and more intimate. The topics discussed may be of a more personal nature – something not discussed in a large group – something with which the younger woman is struggling or perhaps a sin she needs to correct. The younger women in this situation are more likely to listen to older women if there is a relationship already in place. A young woman is not going to go to an older woman about a problem in her life if her only association with the older woman is a greeting before or after worship. Unfortunately within most congregations, the older women spend time with those in their age group and the younger with those of their age. Thus, the young women are gathering advice from their peers instead of from those who have experienced similar trials.
If we want to be useful servants of God and fulfill the command in Titus 2:5 – older women teach the younger women – we need to continually prepare ourselves for the task. One way to better prepare is to develop a relationship with all the women of the congregation – young and old. A young mother struggling with her children will more likely listen to the advice from someone with whom she has a relationship, rather than from someone she only casually knows.
We cannot ignore God’s command that the older women teach the younger women. As we look about, we can always find someone younger than ourselves to teach. I admonish young and older women to reach out to those in your congregation to encourage and uplift one another. Younger women, you can teach the older ladies how to use the modern technical gadgets as tools in God’s kingdom and help keep the older ladies feeling young!