The fourth quality that should characterize us as women of God, which older women are to teach younger women, is chastity. When I first really studied this word, it was in preparation to teach high school girls about purity. At that time I had generally equated chastity with virginity. But as I looked at the context more closely, I realized that couldn't be the definition of chastity because this paragraph in Titus 2 is obviously talking to married women if they are to be taught to love their husbands and to love their children. That study opened my eyes to the much broader scope of the meaning of this word translated "chaste." So over the next four weeks, I want to more fully explore what it means to be chaste.
The Greek word used for chaste comes from the root word that means holy or sacred. When God laid out the blueprint for the tabernacle in the wilderness and for the priesthood, the things used in ministry for God were sacred. They were to be set aside for that special purpose, whether it was clothing or the special incense mix or the furnishings. Those things were not for common usage; they were special, consecrated unto God.
From that same Greek word is derived the word saints. Those who come to faith in Jesus Christ are called saints. We are set apart for God and have a holy calling. We have been washed; we have been sanctified (another word derived from the Greek word for holy). We have been made holy (I Corinthians 6:11). We are not who we once were.
As women of God, we must recognize our holy calling. We have been set apart for God through the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:10). I Peter 4:2 says "we should no longer live the rest of our time in the flesh (i.e., our time here on earth, in our earthly bodies) for the lusts of men, but for the will of God." Peter goes on to say, "For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they (your former friends) think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you." In other words, if God has brought you out of that lifestyle, expect your former friends to misunderstand you and make fun of you and say bad, hurtful things about you.
We are different now that we are in Christ. The whole of us is sacred—our body, our mind, our will, our emotions—we belong to Christ. We are not to have one foot in the world and one foot in Christ. Faith in Christ can't work that way. In fact, Jesus Himself said that we cannot love God and love money (the things of this world) at the same time. We will either love the one and hate the other, or hate the one and love the other (Matthew 6:24). I John 2:15 reiterates this truth by saying, "Do not love the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Those are pretty strong words. We can't have it both ways.
This is what Paul was so burdened about with the Corinthians. In II Corinthians Paul yearns for the believers to realize their call to holiness. In II Corinthians 11:2 he says, "I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." Paul is not talking here about physical virginity (as in becoming a nun), but about spiritual virginity: not trying to love both the world (and its sin opportunities) and Christ. Becoming a Christian means becoming betrothed to Christ; it is an exclusive spiritual relationship. Anything less is idolatry.
In II Corinthians 6:16-7:1 Paul says, "And what agreement has the temple of God (which we are when we come to Christ—we have become the residence of the Holy Spirit) with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
I could not have said it better than Paul did. I urge you during this month of December to read and reread those verses from II Corinthians 6, 7, and 11. Take time to consider how great those promises are that God would make us His temple, His place of residence; that He would come to dwell within us and walk with us through every day and every life experience; that He would be our God and call us His people; that He would be our Father and adopt us as His own sons and daughters. Those are astounding promises. They should take our breath away. So let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord, and consecrate ourselves anew to Christ, the Savior of our souls.
"As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written: 'Be holy for I am holy.'" (I Peter 1:15-16) We carry this treasure of Christ in our "earthen vessels"—within our very bodies. (II Corinthians 4:7) May we live in the awe of that truth.