Titus 3:1-11 – Be Ready for Every Good Work

Christian Mölk Titus Leave a Comment

Titus 3:1

  1. We Christians need to constantly remind ourselves and each other to live the Christian life. Because of our sinful nature, it is very easy for us to forget to do what is good and fall away from the will of God.
    1. In my personal opinion, communion is a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the important things in life, ask God for forgiveness for the stupid things we have done and move on clean, free and forgiven. From time to time it can be good to have some kind of “fresh start” in the Christian life and the Eucharist is a good starting point.
    2. It is important not to get stuck in the past, but rather to confess our sins, receive God’s forgiveness and move on to a blessed life.
  2. In the similar letter to Timothy, Paul urges the church in Ephesus to pray for “kings and all in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-3), but in this letter Paul feels compelled to remind the Christians in Crete to “submit to and obey the authorities and rulers”. The church at Ephesus was probably far more pious than the Cretans, whom Paul describes as “ravenous beasts” (Titus 1:12), and Paul must therefore address some more basic instructions to them.
    1. Again we see how Paul addresses different instructions to different churches depending on the specific problems the local church had. This must always be kept in mind when reading Paul’s letters. It is not possible to simply read Paul’s instructions and thoughtlessly transpose this literally into our local situation. The important thing is to understand the underlying principles and try to transpose them into our time.
  3. Christians should not only passively follow the law and obey authorities, but should also be prepared to “do all that is good”. Christians should not just live quietly and keep to themselves, but should get involved in society and help where needed. For example, if there are many addicts in a community, Christians should get involved and help as best they can. If there are a lot of asylum seekers, they should help with that, etc, etc.

Titus 3:3

  1. Paul reminds the church in Crete that there was a time before they were saved when they lived in ungodliness. Even though we have been forgiven of all our sins, we all still struggle with continuing sin of various kinds. On the one hand, we need to be vigilant so that we do not fall back into the way we lived before we became Christians, but we also need to watch out for the day when we no longer consider that we have any sin. That is why it is so important to regularly confess our sin to the Lord and receive the forgiveness that Jesus gives.
  2. When we remind ourselves that we too were once sinners, then it is easier to show mercy to those who live in sin today. We too have been in that situation in the past and therefore we know that it is not so easy to stop sinning.
  3. When we remind ourselves that we have been sinners in the past, our gratitude to Jesus increases. Without him, we would still be living in sin, with no possibility of forgiveness or transformation.

Titus 3:4-5

  1. Again, Paul equates Jesus with God when he first describes God as our Savior and then Jesus Christ as our Savior, here also in the same sentence. See also Titus 1:3, Titus 1:4, Titus 2:10 and Titus 2:13.
    1. Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus has always existed but was born as a human being and is therefore 100% God and 100% human at the same time.
  2. God is not a cruel dictator who punishes us with eternal suffering for disobeying him; on the contrary, God loves us so much that when we sinned, he sent his own Son to die on the cross to save us from eternal death.
  3. Jesus’ name means “God saves” and is a clear indication of both who Jesus is, but also his mission.
  4. We humans are hopelessly lost unless God intervenes and saves us. Nothing we can do in ourselves can free us from our sins or our ungodliness. The only one who can save us is God himself, and he has done so when Jesus died on the cross, taking all our sins upon himself and offering us his own righteousness.
  5. God saves all those who believe in him, not because of any righteous deeds, but because of his mercy (Rom 3:21-24, Eph 2:8-9, 2 Tim 1:9).
    1. So there is nothing we humans can “do” to be saved. Salvation is a free gift from God to us humans and the only thing we can “do” is to gratefully accept salvation by starting to believe in Jesus.
  6. There is a clear contrast between what God has done and what we humans have not done.
    1. We humans were hateful and evil, and could do no “righteous deeds” to be saved.
    2. God is good and loving and saved us humans because of his mercy.
    3. Because of God’s grace, we humans can receive salvation from our sins and begin to live in God’s goodness.

Titus 3:6

  1. Before God saved us humans, we were “dirty”, but through the Holy Spirit we are washed clean.
  2. Jesus says in the Gospel of John: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
    1. When you are saved, you get “new life” and are born into the kingdom of God. It is the Holy Spirit who performs this inner “rebirth”, which is symbolically demonstrated when we are baptized in water. In baptism, we “bury” our old man in the water and rise to the new eternal life when we come up out of the water.
    2. Baptism in water is an outward symbolic demonstration of what happens within when the Holy Spirit washes us clean from all sin.
    3. Does this mean that one must be baptized in order to participate in this new birth and thus be saved? No, baptism in water is an outward demonstration of something that has taken place on the inside in that one has confessed faith in Jesus and been saved. If, for some reason, you miss out on baptism because, for example, you died hastily and unhappily before you could be baptised, you are of course still saved because the Holy Spirit gives us eternal life when we believe in Jesus. But if you have the opportunity, which most people do, then you should be baptized at the time of salvation and rebirth to demonstrate outwardly what has happened inwardly. See also Acts 10:47, Mark 16:16, Luke 23:39-43.
  3. Even if we cannot physically see this new birth, we can hopefully see its consequences in our lives. The Holy Spirit “renews” us and allows us to grow in our faith.
    1. If we spend time in prayer and Bible study, it affects us by giving us knowledge and insight into all kinds of sins in our lives. When we realize our sin and confess it before the Lord, He forgives us and gives us strength and renewal so that we can put our sins behind us and instead fill our lives with the love and power that God wants to give us.
    2. Anyone struggling with sin or lacking “power” in their Christian life should turn to the Lord and pray for spiritual renewal. Notice that the text says “abundantly poured out”. So there is plenty of power and renewal to last and be given to all. The only thing that prevents us from being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit is that we are too lazy to ask God to pour out his power on us (Luke 11:13).

Titus 3:8

  1. There is a big difference between “salvation by works” and “works by salvation” (Jas 2:14-26).
    1. In verse 5, Paul writes that we were not saved by our own righteous deeds, but in verse 8, Paul writes that he wants us to strive to do good deeds.
      1. We are not saved because of all our possible good deeds. We are saved because of God’s grace and as a result of this, good works will eventually come.
    1. Since the church in Crete had problems with false teachers (Titus 1:10, 1:14), we can assume that they taught wrongly about this very thing, which we also see in verse 9. Perhaps they taught from a wrong understanding of the Pentateuch that one must be circumcised or obey all the commandments of the Law of Moses in order to be saved, a false doctrine that flourished in other contexts as well (Acts 15:1).
  2. It is very important, perhaps even vital for the salvation of many people, that today we also consider this false doctrine. We cannot and must not place greater demands on anyone who wants to be saved than Jesus himself explained to us.
    1. The “smallest” confession to be found in the Bible is the one uttered by the thief on the cross to Jesus just before he dies: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Amen I say to you: Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
      1. So it was enough for the robber on the cross to ask Jesus to “think” about him, for him to be saved. He did not have time to be baptized or welcomed as a member of a church, but he was saved anyway.
  3. Obviously, having eternal life and going to heaven is a big part of salvation, but we must not forget that God also wants us to do “good deeds” to one another. God wants us to be kind to each other and to help all our fellow human beings, and we should not wait until we get to heaven to do this, but start now.

Titus 3:9-11

  1. As a Christian, one should not avoid all disputes but foolish disputes“, a small but oh so important distinction. The history of the Christian Church is full of disputes left and right, and these “debates” are often important to have because they can lead to a greater and better understanding of the Word of God.
    1. But when you notice that the debate is degenerating and going nowhere, then you have to realise that it is harmful and completely pointless, and then you should stop giving the false teacher space and room in the assembly.
  2. Examples of contemporary “foolish disputes” are the blog debates that have revolved around the divinity of Jesus and the Christian relationship to the Law of Moses. If someone wants to talk about these topics, then of course they should have a conversation, but if you find that the person in question has hardened their heart and denies the deity of Jesus and insists that we Christians must keep the Law of Moses, then you should kindly but firmly end the debate.
    1. In this letter, Paul clearly shows that Jesus is our great God and Savior (Titus 2:13) and that we do not have to keep the Law of Moses because we are saved by God’s grace (Titus 3:4-5).
  3. In a congregation, there are always one or two people who exaggerate the theological discussion and forget that as a Christian one should also do “good deeds”. It might be a good idea to remind them to step away from the computer, at least for a second, and think about whether there isn’t something good they could do to actually help a fellow human being.
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