Working out with Grace

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-15)

Titus was given a difficult assignment in Crete (an island in the Mediterrain Sea). He was to set into order the church of Crete; a church that had issues of deceit, dissention, unreverent behaviour, slandering, and lack of self-control. Some of them were drunkards. Rather than turning to the truth of God, they were continuing in the ways of their fellow Cretans, who were “always liars, evil beats, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). However, Paul had faith in Titus, his “true child in a common faith” (Titus 1:4), who he had left responsible for the raw church.

In the letter to Titus, Paul called the Cretans to adorn the doctrine of grace. In other words, they were to beautify it, making it attractive by their works. Paul makes it very clear that salvation is by grace, not works, but that godly works should be the natural response to the message of grace. It should lead to soundness of faith, purity, self-control, holy speech, integrity and respect for others.

Titus’ job would have been made a whole lot easier if it hadn’t been for the Circumcision Party who were confusing the church with wrong teaching. The Circumcision Party was a group that followed Paul around, trying to disrupt his teaching. They did not mind whether Jesus was proclaimed as Lord, but they were adamant that the Jewish practise of male circumcision be maintained as this was what they saw as the central element of the Jewish faith, which set them apart from other peoples.

Paul commanded Titus to SILENCE the Circumcision Party; to SILENCE wrong teachings. Paul knew that unsound doctrine was a sure way to lead a church astray. Grace and sound doctrine are vital to godly living.

And what of the message for today?

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. (Titus 3:3)

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. (Titus 3:4-7)

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. (Titus 3:8)

We have been given salvation through God’s mercy and now the same grace that saved us is training us to godly works in the Lord. We need to cling to sound doctrine, which we find in the Word of God.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Application:

  • Acknowledge that it is the Holy Spirit in you that transforms, renews and resurrects and ask Him to continue this work.
  • Consider some of the commands in Titus and ask the Spirit to train you up to these good works. For example:
    • . . . to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (Titus 3:2)
    • Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. (Titus 2:2)
    • Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good . . . (Titus 2:3)

 

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