Lucia's Blog: LIVING RIGHTEOUSLY IN AN EVIL WORLD - TITUS 3
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, September 26, 2020

LIVING RIGHTEOUSLY IN AN EVIL WORLD - TITUS 3

 

"Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.  4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."   
Titus 3:1-11


The greater tragedy is not in failing to understand what God wants from us, but in failing to put into practice the wonderful life that God wants us to live. When we understand God's words we are so much closer to the Paradise of God. How tragic to be so close, to have the fruit in our hands, but not to taste it and enjoy its benefits, benefits that are ours only if we do what He wants!

The apostle Paul concludes this letter to Titus by reminding him to charge Christians to do their duty to God.  Don’t we all need to be reminded of our Christian duties, especially our reverent conduct before God, even if we already know?   Paul stresses the importance of repetition in the whole teaching process.  The purpose of this letter is to stress God’s Grace (Titus 3:1-7).  In verse 3, Paul contrasts how God views sinners, before and after they obey the Gospel and are saved, forgiven, and justified.  We can be “heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (verse 7) only through God’s kindness, love, and mercy, which we do not deserve.  Paul is also instructing Titus on how to deal with false teachers.  Those who would divide God’s children with their unprofitable, worthless, and useless man-made doctrines.  Titus, as a preacher, was urged by Paul to be prepared to defeat such challenges and threats to the faith,  which is the Gospel.  Paul closes this letter to his young preacher friend stressing salvation through Christ (Titus 3:1-7) and those things that need to be affirmed constantly (Titus 3:8-15).    

"The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.  12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.  15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith."


I.   HOW CHRISTIANS MUST CONDUCT THEMSELVES IN AN EVIL WORLD:

  • Christian Duties And Reminders:
    •  Titus 3:1-2:
"Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities,  to be obedient, to be ready for every good work."

Titus 3:1-2
describes how Christians must conduct themselves in an evil world. Paul reminds the brethren in Crete that they must be subject to the rulers and authorities among them. Remember how immoral the Cretans were. The leaders of that island were worse than their people. Moreover, this letter was written when Nero was emperor over the Roman Empire. It was a difficult time to yield to the authorities.  And though in our times, we also have immoral, and godless leaders, it is nothing compared to the godlessness and lawlessness, that existed on the island of Crete and within the Empire.  

Despite the lawlessness that surrounds us and extreme circumstances, God calls on Christians to yield to the government.  God does not want us to be zealots, like the Jews of that time, against our government.  It is so easy for many, even Christians, to get caught up in political issues and politicians.  But God calls us to reflect Christ by imitating Him, walking in righteousness. Notice that in verses 1 and 2 of this letter we are commanded to be obedient to our government, not rebel against the government. We must continue to be equipped to do good works regardless of political circumstances!

"To speak evil of no one, 'to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people“showing every courtesy to everyone.'"  (Titus 3:2)


      • "To speak evil of no one." 

Let us soak in these words!  No one is excluded in our context.  Have you ever heard the saying, “Speak evil of no one. Speak good of everyone?” It certainly is a good motto to live by.  It is not only a good motto to live by, but it is also a command for all Christians who desire to live godly and do the will of their Father in heaven.  Paul is urging Titus to remind Christians to speak no evil of anybody.  God will not tolerate His children judging others and speaking evil of them!  Why?  Because we were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving our lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another before we obeyed the Gospel.  

Christians are commanded not to speak evil of anyone. It means no malicious words. No exceptions. We are also urged to avoid quarreling, for it is not godly and righteous.  It is a reproach before God to be quarrelers, especially over nonsense. We must be cautious about arguing for the sake of argument and winning an argument. Instead of quarreling, we are commanded to be gentle and kind to all people. This world of darkness must see Christ living in us, His gentleness and kindness, instead of the spirit of fighting and evil speaking in us!   

God commands us not to speak evil of anyone, even nonbelievers.  We live in a world that is full of people that hate one another, love gossip, are contentions, and love strife. However, we must not be like them, for we are called to be different, to be set apart from this world of darkness.  We Christians must strive to never speak evil of anyone, even if they sin against us.  Period!  

Just look around you; evil speaking is everywhere. Speaking ill of someone is the norm in this world of darkness. It’s what the news thrives on, especially for ratings. It is all over social media. Many speak evil of others to let out their frustrations.  Yet, the Lord calls us to a higher standard. 

“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation”  (1 Peter 2:12). 


Our "good deed" is to not speak evil of anyone but to speak well of others.  I know very well how hard it is, but we must control our words before a watching God!

Sadly, our lips reflect what is inside our hearts.  We are carnal minded when we let our flesh come out in the words of our mouthsHow often do we put ourselves to shame, and it is God whom we put to shame,  because of the words of our mouth and the things we say about others?!  We must repent!  We must stop to reflect and examine our hearts and purge out the old leaven so that we may be a new lump. Thus let us repent and remove the sin of evil-speaking as we continue to strive to walk on the path of righteousness.


      • “To be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” 

This phrase literally means showing all gentleness (courtesy) to all people. There is a double “all.” Everyone must see our kind conduct at all times. 


    •  Titus 3:3:

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” 

      1. Why should we do this? 
      2. Why should we be in subjection to the authorities? 
      3. Why should we speak evil of no one, avoid quarrels, be gentle, and show all gentleness and courtesy to everyone? 


Because we were the same as they were before we obeyed the Gospel and were forgiven of our sins. We behaved in the same evil way as the unbelievers and did the same evil things that they are doing to us. 

      1. We made the same mistakes when we disobeyed God.   We were a mess also, for we were foolish and disobedient!  
      2. We were like sheep led astray before we obeyed the Gospel.  
      3. We were slaves to sin. 
      4. We behaved with malice and evil toward others. 
      5. We hated those who hated us because that’s the norm for a world without God in the picture. 

So let us not be so self-righteous, for we did the same thing! 

When we Christians forget how far we have come in Jesus, our Lord, and where we came from before we were forgiven of our sins in the waters of baptism, we are behaving worse than unbelievers, the world.  We forget that we must be set apart, be different, and refuse to behave like the world.  So if the world is kinder than we are, then we are certainly failing and falling short of what God commands.  


    • Titus 3: 4-7:

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” 


What makes us different from the world (unbelievers) as faithful followers of Christ is that we understand that the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared to us, bringing us salvation (Titus 2:11). The goodness and loving kindness of God has appeared to us. A concept cannot appear, but a person can. Hence, “He saved us.”  At the appearing of Jesus, God saved us. Paul in verse 3 of our text is reminding us of where we came from and what we were.  But God in His goodness and loving-kindness intervened on our behalf when He appeared. 

The Greek word for “loving-kindness” is a compound word - philanthropia. The English word  “philanthropy” derives from this. The first part of the compound word is phileo, which is love. The second part of the compound word is anthropia, which is humans. But when the goodness and love for us (humankind) appeared, God saved us, but not because we had already lived a sinless life. We were sinners! There is nothing that we can offer God but our own sinfulness, a history of lawlessnessIs there anything that we can contribute to God? Nothing, but our sin-stained lives!  

God did not save us because of our goodness or what we did.  We were enemies to God who deserve God’s wrath, punishment, and judgment because of our rebellion and lawlessness.   God was not compelled to act on our behalf because of our goodness but because of His Grace and Mercy and His love for all men appeared through Jesus.  Indeed, there is nothing that we sinners could have offered to a holy and righteous God, for we were too evil and undeserving for God to send His Son to die for us!  

God saved us because of His love and mercy.  He chose to be merciful rather than pouring His wrath on us.  We received His mercy “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” The Greek word for “regeneration” is also a compound work- palingenesia, meaning new birth, re-creation, new beginning. We receive God’s mercy by the washing of a new birth. 

Therefore,

"We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4)

"In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses."  (Colossians 2:11-13)


In John 3:5, Jesus gave Nicodemus the answer to the new birth.  

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."  


In baptism, we put our trust in God when we ask Him to take our sins away. God’s mercy is applied to us in baptism.  We continue to receive God’s mercy through the renewal of the Holy Spirit. This concept is key to the book of TitusThus we must live in a distinct way by the renewal of the Holy Spirit as God’s purified possession for good works.  The renewal of the Holy Spirit is not waiting for Him to whisper words in our ears. The renewal of the Holy Spirit changes our hearts to righteousness when we hear the words revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit, the revealed words, can change, transform, and renew our hearts when we obey them.  The revealed words by the Holy Spirit can change our hearts of stone like it did the Cretans.  The Holy Spirit cannot work in us when we have stone hearts that refuse to obey His revealed words found in the Scriptures.  

Further, the Holy Spirit blesses us when it is abundantly poured out on us. Just as Peter tied together baptism for the forgiveness of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, so the apostle Paul does the same. The blessings of the Holy Spirit include the restoration of the kingdom of God, the restoration of God’s blessings on His people, and the restoration of God’s covenant with His people. Jesus’ sacrifice made all these blessings possible.  

Thus, we are justified, for we have been declared righteous and pronounced innocent. And though we were miserable and evil wretches like the rest, God saved us because of His goodness and lovingkindness.  

      1. He saved us not because of our own righteousness but because of His mercy, goodness, and love. 
      2. We receive His mercy when He washes away our sins.  
      3. In the new birth, we are baptized in water, putting our trust in God and asking Him to forgive our sins.  
      4. We allow the Holy Spirit to change and renew our stony hearts through obeying His revealed Word.  
      5. Through Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross, we receive God’s abundant blessings.  

Undoubtedly, Ezekiel was prophesying of a time when God would give new life to people.  

      1. A time where God would wash them clean and give them a new heart and a new spirit. 
      2. This new birth would be the transformation into a pure and clean heart that would make it possible for them to enter the kingdom of God. 
      3. This complete transformation (new birth, new creation) would bring life to them from the dead.  
      4. A cleansing of the heart would occur so that they might be holy and follow God.  
      5. Their stony hearts no longer stony but of flesh easily pricked by the admonition of God because they hunger and thirst after His righteousness.  

This is beautiful beyond words!!  

Thus, God declares us innocent of our sins and heirs of eternal life by the washing and renewing of our hearts and lives.


    • Titus 3:8:

“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” 


This saying is trustworthy. This is how we will obtain mercy.  We can have a new life in Jesus. We must insist on these things. We must devote ourselves to God’s righteous ways and good works. God insists that we be born anew and begin a new life.


    • Titus 3:9-11:
"But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."


Christians must not get tangled in worldly things. We must not tolerate those who cause divisions. They must be avoided after two warnings.  We must be spiritual-minded, not worldlyHow can we become embroiled in senseless, useless disputes, when we have received the mercy, goodness, and love of God?  Winning arguments is foolish and must not be our goal.  We must focus on the Word of God, nothing else. Our focus must be on the renewing and transformation of our hearts and lives.  Thus we must focus on devoting ourselves to good works and being faithful servants of Christ, not Cretans.


CONCLUSION:

The apostle Paul urged Titus in this letter to remind the brethren about their Christian responsibilities.  Remind them, Christians:

  1. To obey those in authority.
  2. To be considerate toward all.
  3. To slander no one.
  4. To be peaceable and considerate.
  5. To show humility toward all men.  
Why all these reminders?  

  1. Because they as well as us, Christians, were at one time also very foolish, disobedient, deceived, and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasure.  
  2. We lived in malice and envy, hated and hating one another.  
  3. Mostly, they, as well as us, were to be reminded of God’s love, kindness, and mercy.  
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."  (Romans 12:17-18)

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."  (Hebrews 12:14)


We must strive for peace with all people.  We cannot shine our Light for the Lord if we don’t live in peace and show peace to others.   

Titus was urged by Paul to remind the Christians in Crete to remember God’s love (Titus 3:4-7).  Jesus came to earth from heaven to seek and save the lost! 

For God so love that He gave His one and...”  (John 3:16)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."  (John 3:36)

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)


What do all these verses mean? They remind us of the promise of eternal life that we have by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  God’s gift to mankind of eternal life is the greatest act of unselfishness there is.  It’s the greatest sacrifice ever made in order to give us God’s greatest gift. No human person has sacrificed more nor offered more than what God has done for us and offered to us.  It’s the greatest promise ever given but that promise isn’t always received. Sadly, not everyone believes in this gift or will accept this gift on God’s terms.   

Jesus saved us not because of our own righteousness but because of His mercy, goodness, and love.  We receive His mercy when He washed away our sins, the new birth, and put our trust in God, asking Him to forgive our sins and by allowing the Holy Spirit to change and renew our stone hearts through His revealed Word.  Through Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross, we can receive God’s abundant blessings. We are pronounced innocent from our sins and declared heirs of eternal life by the washing and renewing our hearts and lives.

When we remember and are grateful for God’s love and what He has done to redeem us through His beloved Son, it will be easier, and not a burden to obey Him on a daily basis and be quick to do what is right in our lives.  His love must motivate us to work righteousness!  We can have a new life in Jesus. We must insist on these things. We must devote ourselves to God’s righteous ways and good works. God insists that we have a new birth and a new life.

The church in Crete, and us also, was urged to avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels (Titus 3: 9-11).  Christians are urged not to get tangled in worldly things, pursuits. We are also commanded not to tolerate those who cause divisions. They must be avoided after two warnings.  We must be spiritual-minded, not worldly, for we must seek the heavenly things of God.  Christians must not get embroiled in senseless, useless disputes since we have received the mercy, goodness, and love of God.  Winning arguments is foolish and must not be our goal.  It is the work of the devil.  But instead, we must focus on the Word of God, nothing else. Our focus must be the renewing and transformation of our hearts and lives daily.  Thus we must focus on devoting ourselves to good works and being faithful servants of Christ, not Cretans.

May we be reminded of our Christian duties, especially our reverent conduct before God.  May we always focus on devoting ourselves to good works and being faithful servants of Christ.   May we never get tangled in worldly things or pursuits.  May we always be spiritually minded, not worldly, for we must seek the heavenly things of God.  May our focus be on the renewing and transforming of our hearts and lives daily. May we Christians never forget how far we have come in Jesus, our Lord, and where we came from before we were forgiven of our sins in the waters of baptism.  May we never forget that through Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross, we can receive God’s abundant blessings. 


Luci

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