Titus 3:1-8: Doing What Is Good
August 22, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
We have seen that Titus has been left in Crete by Paul. Titus’ task is to set in order the church in Crete. To do that, he must commission a team of elders. And then he must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine – he must teach how the gospel must lead to changed lives. What does this changed life look like? And why should the Christians in Crete pursue it?
First, what the changed life is like is described in verses 1 to 2. It includes being subject to the governing rulers and authorities. Christian are not radical revolutionaries. We have a prophetic word that points to the atoning work of Christ on the cross. And we are called to stand up for the marginalized and the victimized. But we are to be subject to rulers and authorities – even pagan rulers and authorities. There can come a time when what is being asked of us is beyond the pale and not compatible with Christian conscience. In such times, we can can say – as the apostles did – that we must choose to obey God rather than man. But such an extreme situation, possible as it is to occur again as it has in the past, is not to be used to excuse a lack of political engagement with the democratic process in Western countries, a cynicism and disdain for well-meaning politicians, or for blatant disobedience to righteous moral commands from the state. We are to pay our taxes and to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.
This attitude also impacts our relationships with other people, as well as the authorities. We are to be ready to do whatever is good. Slander is to be far from us. We are to be peaceable and considerate. Always considerate to everyone.
It seems as if these peaceable characteristics did not come naturally to the Christians in Crete. But they must learn! They must learn from Christ to be more proactively and genuinely Christian in how they behave, as well as what they think.
Why, though, should Christians seek to be eager to do whatever is good? It is because of the transformative work of the gospel, which Paul outlines from verses 3 to 8. He summarizes it as one of his “trustworthy sayings,” a phrase that Paul uses to underline the importance of the following statement:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
In other words, Paul is saying that the grace of God which saved us not by our works has though saved us for good works. He wants “those who have trusted in God” to be “careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.”
Much confusion about the doctrine of salvation by faith could be avoided if Paul’s careful teaching here were memorized and repeated. We are saved by faith alone, but not by the faith that remains alone. Salvation by grace through faith creates a new person who must then live in a new and changed way. And that means doing what is good.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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