CU Chapel Devotion
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
October 21, 2014
LEX ORANDI, LEX CREDENDI, LEX VIVENDI
TEXT: [Paul writes] 1 Tell believers to live the kind of life that goes along with accurate teachings. 2 Tell older men to be sober. Tell them to be men of good character, to use good judgment, and to be well-grounded in faith, love, and endurance. 3 Tell older women to live their lives in a way that shows they are dedicated to God. Tell them not to be gossips or addicted to alcohol, but to be examples of virtue. 4 In this way they will teach young women to show love to their husbands and children, 5 to use good judgment, and to be morally pure. Also, tell them to teach young women to be homemakers, to be kind, and to place themselves under their husbandsí authority. Then no one can speak evil of Godís word.
This morning, I am going to introduce you to a young family, consisting of the husband, the wife, and a very nice little girl I would estimate to be about four years old. I knew this couple because I had rented an apartment to them. The husband's aunt was another tenant of mine, so I had no reason to believe that there would be any problems with these tenants.
I was impressed with what I saw. They were active in their church, and it seemed to carry through to their home life. They had plaques with Bible verses and Christian art on their walls. I saw them teach their little girl how to pray, to fold her hands and say grace before eating or before she went to bed. From all appearances, this would seem to be a great family situation.
Things went along okay for almost a year; and then they began to get behind on their rent. I offered to work with them so they could get caught up, and they seemed to be working through their financial difficulties. Everything seemed legitimate and above board.
It didn't take long however, to see that they had been lying to me. And as time went on, this so-called "Christian" home was nothing more than a facade. Things were declining at a very rapid pace. And I began to see through it all, and it wasn't a pretty picture in the least.
For starters, the husband was a convicted child molester who had served some hard time in the penitentiary for this. The wife had serious mental health issues, and had experienced some rather dramatic episodes relating to that. And, as you might have guessed, there was also a variety of drugs involved and the associated activity of dealing.
The little girl was really an innocent victim in all of this. When they got behind on their rent, I didn't evict them right away because I was concerned about this little girl. But as the story further unfolds, I discovered to my horror that the husband had turned his daughter over to his drug suppliers as collateral for the drugs he had been advanced. This happened more than once too. When the suppliers got the money he owed them, then he got his little girl back. And don't forget that this man was a child molester as well, and that also figures into the picture. Sometimes he'd take his girl to the drug dealers and trade sexual favors for drugs. And he wasn't beyond doing inappropriate things with her when they were alone. The wife claimed she knew nothing about any of this.
Today, the text for our consideration are the opening verses of the second chapter of Paul's letter to Titus. Titus was a pastor under the tutelage of the Apostle Paul. Paul placed him on theislandofCreteto establish the church there.
Now Cretewas no walk in the park either. In verses 12-13 of chapter 1, Paul writes: "Even one of their own prophets said, 'Cretans are always liars, savage animals, and lazy gluttons.' That statement is true. For this reason, sharply correct believers so that they continue to have faith that is alive and well." Verse 16 continues, "They claim to know God, but they deny him by what they do. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit to do anything good." That pretty much describes the family I just talked about, wouldn't you say? In any case, this couldn't have been an easy ministry for Titus.
We also need to remember that Titus had his head screwed on straight when it came to theology. In verse 4 of chapter 1, Paul simply addresses the letter by saying, "To Titus, a genuine child in the faith we share."
It is important to understand this as we move into chapter 2. Paul begins by saying, "Tell believers to live the kind of life that goes along with accurate teachings (or sound doctrine)." And why? In the last part of verse 5, he continues: "Then no one can speak evil of Godís word." Titus had to give a very clear witness about God and his Word. People who ordered their lives after God's will would not pattern their lives after sinful society. God had a much better way to go, one that reflects the love he has for all humanity.
Knowing the amount of immorality and vice that was rampant amongst the Cretans, Paul has to get rather specific with his directives to the various people. A simple "behave yourselves" would have been far too general.
In verse 2, Paul writes: "Tell older men to be sober. Tell them to be men of good character, to use good judgment, and to be well-grounded in faith, love, and endurance."
This sounds like someone we'd love to have on the church council, or to be an elder, or maybe a Sunday School teacher. He directs this to the older men, who have the responsibility of teaching and otherwise being a good example for the younger men. This goes right along with what is written in Job chapter 12 verse 12: "Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days."
Being both an example and a mentor takes a certain amount of self-discipline. What kind of example would a man be if he was a drunken criminal who lied more than he told the truth, who wasted money and resources, who slept around, and was always angry? He would be about as good of an example as my former tenant.
And then there are the women. Again, what kind of example would a woman be who was always drunk and telling tales about other people, who neglected their husbands, their children, and their homes, and spent all their time in a bar trying to pick up strange men?
If men and women were like this and still professed to be dedicated Christians, what kind of impression would you have of the faith? Do you think such people are giving a witness so others would want to be followers of Christ?
When I was in seminary, I learned the following Latin phrase: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi. Now I don't pretend to be any sort of advanced Latin scholar, but a literal translation of these words would be in order. "Lex" means "law;" "orandi" means "prayer," "credendi" means "belief," and "vivendi" means "life." So when we hook these words all together, the phrase basically means, "That for which we pray is that which we believe, which results in the way we live." This phrase is a type of paradigm for the Christian.
Our prayers are our natural expressions of the faith that lives within us. We would never pray to a god in whom we refused to believe. It would be an exercise in futility, as far as an unbeliever is concerned.
But what about the way we live? As I look through that list of the various Christian virtues, I see dismal failure in my own life. I see where I have not lived up to the high standards God has placed before me, not only as a Christian but as a Pastor and teacher as well. My sins and failures and faults are way too many to even try to list. What am I doing here? How can I look at you without hanging my head in shame? How can I ever measure up to what is expected of me by God and those whom I serve? How can you look at me without some sense of disappointment?
The simple answer is that I can't measure up to God's standards or even your standards. There's no way I can do that on my own. And God knows that too.
That's me, now what about you? What does your life look like? When you look at Titus chapter 2 and the high standards set for you, how do you measure up? Do you think you could fare better than me?
Together, let's take a brief look at Romans chapter 3 and see how that applies to you and me. Verse 12 says, "All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." Yes, I'm afraid we're all in the same boat.
But now, let's jump ahead to verses 21-24: "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, ...the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." And let's add to that the words of Psalm 130, verses 3-4: "If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared."
We know Jesus our Saviour, and we know that all of our sins and iniquities are forgiven by God's grace through faith in Jesus. Through faith in him, God sees us as his dear children and members of his family.
The story about the family I talked about at the beginning does not have a real happy ending. The wife took the daughter and left the apartment, leaving him alone. He then proceeded to destroy virtually every possession the wife and daughter left behind, and he completely trashed the place. This man is in the federal penitentiary for trafficking weapons, as well as drugs. He was in cahoots with his brother who is also incarcerated at the state penitentiary. His Christian faith was no more than a sham; he has been diagnosed as a sociopath. Go figure.
We're sinners who have been redeemed and forgiven by the blood of Jesus. Maybe our lives aren't perfect, but we still live lives out of a thankful heart for what Jesus has done for us. In everything we do, we try to bring glory to God and give evidence of the faith that lives within us. As verse 5 says, "Then no one can speak evil of Godís word."