Titus 3

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We are saved by works but not our works
We are saved by works but not our works

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 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. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 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, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 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. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

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. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all.

Observation

  • Titus was to remind the Christians at Crete to submit to the rulers and governing authorities.
  • The Christians in Crete were
    • to be ready for any good work
    • not to slander anyone.
    • to avoid quarrels
    • to be gentle
    • show everyone perfect courtesy
  • Christian were once:
    • foolish
    • disobedient
    • led astray
    • slaves to all kinds of passions and pleasures,
    • passing our days in jealous of others and wanted to harm them.
    • hated by others
    • hated each other
  • Christians were saved when God’s goodness and kindness appeared.
  • God did not save because of what we have done but because of His mercy.
  • Christians were saved by the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
  • God poured out the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ.
  • Since we were justified by God’s grace we became heirs of eternal life.
  • Paul wanted Titus to insist that Cretans knew how and why they were saved.
  • The Cretans were to devote themselves to good works.
  • The Cretans were to avoid
    • foolish controversies
    • genealogies
    • dissensions
    • quarrels about the law.
  • The things Paul listed for the Cretans to avoid had no value and that was why the Cretans should avoid them.
  • Anyone stirring up divisions in the church should be warned twice then excommunicated.
  • Those who stir up divisions are warped and sinful.
  • Those who stir up divisions are self-condemned.
  • Titus was to go see Paul after being relieved by Artemas or Tychicus.
  • Titus was to meet Paul in Nicopolis.
  • Paul was going to winter in Nicopolis
  • Titus was to send Zenas and Apollos on their way fully provisioned.
  • Christians are to devote themselves to good works.
  • Christians are to help in cases of urgent need.
  • Titus was to communicate Paul’s love to the Cretans.

Interpretation

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities”. It is evident that the Cretans had a problem in submitting to authority. We get this is not only from this section but also Titus 1:12. But rebellion against authority is not limited to Cretans. We all resent having someone or something tell us what to do. We want to do it our way. When in a washroom and the paper towel dispenser says, “use two hands,” I will often only use one hand. Don’t tell me to use two hands. I’ll use one hand if I want to use one hand. Yeah, my sinful nature raises it ugly head.

Paul immediately follows up with, “to be ready for every good work.” Then he says, “Speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Paul is not saying we are not to contend for the truth. He is not saying we are not to deliver the gospel even when told we cannot teach the gospel. Yes, we are to contend for the truth but we are to do it with respect. That is Paul’s point here. We are to be gentle. Too often people do not hear the gospel because we turn off their hearing aids. Our attitude and our tone turn off their ability to listen. We may speak the good news, but they never hear it.

If we are belligerent we show our own sinfulness. Paul reminds us of our past. We were once unregenerate. We did not know the truth. We were disobedient and slaves to our passions. We were guilty of malice, envy, and hate. If we are belligerent we are guilty of being everything we speak against.

Paul is saying there are two things we need to understand. First, we need to remember we were once unregenerate. We had not received enlightenment. We were not always redeemed. Second, our redemption is the result of the work of Christ. We are not saved because of anything found in us. God save us completely because of His mercy. We deserved condemnation. We deserved justice. But we received mercy.

The cleansing Holy Spirit’s work makes us new. Having received forgiveness because of mercy, we now have a new life because of grace. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting want we do not deserve. Both of these come to us from God. If we did something, anything to deserve or earn or aid redemption, it would not be mercy and grace.

Paul says God does not save us “because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.” We add nothing to the work of Christ. God does not save us because we accepted Jesus into our heart. What could be more righteous than accepting Jesus? God saves us for His pleasure according to His will not ours. It was according to His mercy. (v5, Ephesians 1:5,11; Hebrews 2:4,Romans9:16)

Paul tells Titus to insist on a monergistic view of salvation. That is a view of salvation that understands it is 100% God’s work. Why? So those who believe in God do not worry about doing the right religious things. They are not trying to earn and keep their salvation. Since they do not need to worry about their salvation, they can devote themselves to good works. Paul takes direct aim at the Judaizers. Arguing over birthrights and the keeping of the law has no value. We are saved by the grace of God, not the law. We are redeemed by grace, not by birthright. Titus and the Church are not to have anything to do with those who insist on such things. Their own arguments condemn them.

The good news is the gift of God is given without any prerequisites. We do not deserve it. It is pure grace.

 

 

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