Titus 3:10

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, Titus 3:10

The Greek word for “divisive” here is hairetikos. It is found only here in Scripture, and it is the basis for our word for “heretic.” However, the word doesn’t necessarily refer to what we would think of as a heretic in the modern sense. It signifies “a factious person, specializing in half-truths and misimpressions ‘to win others over’ to their personal opinion (misguided zeal) – while creating harmful divisions” (HELPS Word Studies).

In other words, this is the person on social media today who jumps into every post he sees, and argues his point without any true knowledge of what he is speaking about, or who purposefully misrepresents an issue or point in order to simply divide. One might use the word “contrarian” to describe him. Whatever you say, he will take an opposing view and beat it to death.

It is a truth that, unlike any other discipline or field on the planet, every Christian seems to be a specialist in theology, no matter how little of the Bible they know. The reason for this often comes down to trust. A pastor, preacher, scholar, or teacher is in a position of trust. Therefore, when someone hears or reads a comment by such a position, regardless as to whether their analysis is sound or not, that person will forever cling to what they were taught about that particular issue.

It does not matter one iota if the church has replaced Israel or not, if someone has been told by another who seems trustworthy that the church has replaced them, they will argue that point to death from that point on. The same is true with any biblical doctrine as well. If someone is told that Jesus was a created being by a person in a position of trust, they will argue that point until they are blue in the face, denying that He is God. Very few will willingly set aside all presuppositions and honestly evaluate a matter after they have been taught it.

This is why there are so many cults and aberrant doctrines found within churches. “I heard; I believed. I will hold fast to the end. I was told that the KJV is the only acceptable translation of the Bible and all others are of the devil and it must be true.” The list of such things is almost unlimited. The sad part of this type of thinking is that often people will spend more time trying to prove what is false than they would otherwise spend if they simply put forth the effort to learn the truth.

But not all people are divisive about such things. Some simply believe and refuse to consider other options. Some, however, believe and then push their incorrect ideas upon others again and again and again (and again!). This is the type of person Paul is speaking of in this verse.

His words here are not simply a suggestion. Rather, they are prescriptive words for the entire church age. Such a person is to be shown what is correct. If he refuses to heed, and continues to be divisive, he is to be admonished a second time concerning his wrong stand and belligerent attitude concerning it. After that, he is to be rejected. He should not be responded to or given any credence in the discussion any longer.

Why would Paul say this? The reason is obvious. If someone is so dull that they have believed such a lie, or is so treacherous that he would purposefully teach such a lie, then others are obviously susceptible to this doctrine. This is why people really drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid at Jonestown. It is why Heaven’s Gate members committed mass suicide believing that they would be transported to a spacecraft following the Hale-Bopp comet.

If one thinks that adherents to the Jehovah’s Witnesses are simply a bunch of people with screws loose, they have missed the greater point. People’s screws may be loose, but they may also be willing to go further than reaching for the nut in the coconut tree. Allowing crazy ideas to circulate can cause real harm. Allowing them within Christian doctrine can lead to the loss of souls.

Life application: James 3:1 says, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” James goes on to explain why this is. Little errors can turn into major problems. As Paul says elsewhere, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). Allowing a foot in the door by divisive, uneducated, or simply crazy people can lead to a world of harm.

Lord God, Your word tells us to reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition. You have told us this for a reason. It is not a suggestion, but a command. Help us to be fixed and firm in our doctrine to the point that we can stand up against such people. And surely, the only way to be sound in doctrine is to read, know, and apply Your word to our lives. And so help us in this, O God. Amen.

Titus 3:9

Friday, 29 June 2018

But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Titus 3:9

Paul now writes words similar to what he had written to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 1:4, he said –

“…nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.”

Other parts of his letters to Timothy also cover the other points of this verse to Titus. Here he begins with “foolish disputes.” This was specifically addressed to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:23 where he used the term, “foolish and ignorant disputes.” These are any disputes which have no importance in the overall scheme of things.

The Greek word for “foolish” gives the sense of being dull (insipid) or flat (without an edge). It is móros, the root of our modern “moron.” It is a person who is mentally inert – a dolt – who speaks that which is moronic or insensible. We might call him “brainless.”

In engaging the mouth without proper brain matter to support whatever comes out of the mouth, these people argue over things that they have no true comprehension of. And worse, they argue it ad nauseam. Some argue over political matters, some over whether the earth is flat, some whether we can know reality. Paul would leave his exhortation solely with spiritual matters. In this, foolish disputes are started and engaged in over when the rapture will occur, why the King James Version is the only “true” version of the Bible, or some will even freely choose to argue over why we don’t have free-will.

These people grab onto a subject that has absolutely no basis in reality, and they suddenly argue as if they have all of the knowledge available on the subject, without any proof at all. In fact, when proof is presented, it is immediately rejected, and their line of unreasonable argumentation simply continues on, in its same brainless manner.

Paul then mentions “genealogies.” The Bible, particularly Genesis and Chronicles, is full of genealogies. They are scattered throughout other books as well. These genealogies inevitably are twisted, and spiritually manipulated to supposedly reveal a Jewish line which is superior to all others. Being a rabbi himself, Paul knew that this was the intent of constantly referring to these genealogies. By allowing the Judaizers to teach these things, it would effectually end any idea of a church of both Jews and Gentiles who were unified as one. Instead, two distinct classes – one supposedly superior over the other – would develop and flourish. All things Jewish would be considered as the ideal. All things Gentile would be considered as base and contemptible.

He next cites “contentions.” The word indicates a quarrel. It can even be used to speak of those who bear arms in a battle. This is what some people live for; the argument for the argument’s sake. They have no desire to build anyone up, and they have no desire to be truly edified in the word of God. Instead, they perversely want to be proven right at all costs, and to the harm of any who would dare challenge them. If they can start a fight, it is a sure guarantee that they will do so.

Paul’s next category is “strivings about the law.” A hint concerning this: The law is annulled in Christ. There is no need to dwell on whether we can or cannot eat a pan full of bacon. The matter is settled. But some people will pick out points from Scripture, taking them completely out of the intended context, and they will strive about them. The Feasts of the Lord are a part of the law. The law is fulfilled in Christ. Thus, the feasts are fulfilled. There is no future application of them for those in the church. But people will strive about these things, charging ahead with something they have stuck in their mind, whether it is based on reality or not. The list could go on all day as to what people will strive about from the law.

Paul then says, “for they are unprofitable and useless.” There is no value in any of the things that such moral miniscules find delight in. If one understands the context of what is being presented in Scripture, then they are to make their point about it, but not get caught in an endless cycle of argumentation about it. It serves no purpose, and it only reduces the person to the same level as that of the one who wants to argue. There is no profit in such a waste of time, and in the end, nothing will get settled. The dolt-factor is simply too deeply ingrained in the person they are vainly trying to reason with.

Paul will give the cure for this in the next verse. O! If the Christian would pay heed to his words, maybe even citing them after having given their side of the matter, so much less grief would be found in the world today. There is enough of that outside of Christian circles. We need much less of it among those who are Christians, or who claim to be so.

Life application: Do you want to look like a fool? Then keep arguing with a fool. Eventually, you will have all the foolish appearance that he has. Solomon says as much in Proverbs 26:4. Don’t become one!

Lord God, give us wisdom to not argue with fools according to their folly, but to give a reasonable explanation for what we believe, and then leave them to either accept what is proper or to reject it. But arguing with fools will only make us look just like them. It is a pointless waste of time. Instead, give us the wisdom to seek that which is good, honorable, and right at all times. Amen.

Titus 3:8

Thursday, 28 June 2018

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. Titus 3:8

Paul begins this verse with, “This is a faithful saying.” It is referring to what he has just stated in verses 4-7 concerning what God has done through Jesus Christ for believers. Understanding this, Paul then takes that thought and shows what our obligation is because of God’s grace and mercy towards us.

With this understanding, he continues with, “and these things I want you to affirm constantly.” The question then arises, “What things?” Is it something he has already said, or is it what he will say? The answer is “both.” Paul desires that what he will say next is something that those in Christ will stand fast on continuously, and practice constantly. It is certain that his words are directed towards believers, because he then says, “that those who have believed in God should be careful.”

Believing in God is something that people all over the world do, whether it is the true God or not. Paul, however, is referring to “God our Savior” noted in verse 4. He isn’t simply referring to “God” in a general sense, but to the One true God. The words of verses 4-7 apply to “God” as Paul intends, and thus it is the God revealed in Christianity that he is speaking of. With that understanding, he continues by saying “that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works.”

People speak of “good works” all the time. Ten thousand commentaries speak of “works” as proof of salvation – “No works; not saved.” That is rather shallow concerning a gift which is “not of works.” If works are required to prove salvation, then the salvation was not actually “by grace through faith.” So the question then becomes, “What works?” If we are instructed to pursue good works by Paul here, then what is he speaking of?

The answer is that any work accomplished in faith is a “good work.” Any work not done in faith is not a good work. Something as simple as speaking to God is an action which is in faith, and it is a good work. Giving money to the church, if not done in faith, is not a good work. There is no such thing as works proving salvation. Rather, works done in faith demonstrate salvation, but they are not something that either “proves” or “guarantees” it. And so that leads to completing Paul’s thoughts in this verse.

He is referring to maintaining good works because, “These things are good and profitable to men.” Q: What things though? A: It is the things he said in verses 1 & 2 –

“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”

A person of faith will hopefully live in faith, demonstrating his faith in his conduct. This is not the default position though, and it is the reason why we read the Bible, study what Paul exhorts for us to do, and then apply it to our lives. To not do these things in no way indicates a person is not saved. Man is not the arbiter of who is and who is not saved. God is. However, we can say, “That person is not living out his life in accord with Scripture.” From there, it is our job to call the person to account for his inappropriate behavior, and to be willing to correct him in what is proper.

In the coming verses, Paul will show what inappropriate behavior is, contrasting it with what he said in verses 1 & 2. He will also then give a corrective action which faithful believers are to carry out when improper conduct continues to be exhibited.

Life application: As noted here, it is as common as sunny days in Florida for people to write commentaries about how works prove salvation. But they stop there, failing to explain what this means. Probably one reason for this is because they haven’t thought the issue through to a logical conclusion. But a second reason is surely that by saying, “Works prove salvation,” the commentator can then judge others for failing to do whatever good works he decides are necessary to meet his own agenda – giving money for a certain cause, cleaning the church bathrooms, or whatever. When a person doesn’t do as he wishes, he can then hold their salvation up like a carrot that must be grabbed for by fulfilling his own wishes. Let us not get caught in this trap. When someone says, “Works prove salvation,” then ask him, “What works?.” If he says anything other than “Works done in faith and as outlined in Scripture,” then tell him to take a hike.

Lord God, being obedient to Your word is not that difficult if we just keep what we are supposed to do in context. We live in the dispensation of Grace, and so we can simply turn to the letters of Paul, and there we can find our doctrine for this age. It is neither complicated, nor is it burdensome. Help us to rightly apply Scripture to our lives, and help us to live in faith, and to demonstrate that life of faith in works of faith which are pleasing to You. Amen.

Titus 3:7

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

…that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:7

The words, “that having been justified by His grace,” are given to confirm the words of verse 5 which said, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy.”

God granted mercy upon us while we were still in a position of enmity with Him. As there are no works of righteousness on our part which are included in the process, then we are wholly “justified by His grace.” This is a truth which is clearly and precisely stated in Ephesians 2:8, 9 –

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

The process of salvation is given by God, it is an act of grace, and it comes through our faith (belief) in what God has done in Christ. There is no merit on our part in the process. We are simply asked to believe and receive. In doing so, Paul says that “we should become heirs.” The concept of being heirs is dealt with by Paul on several occasions. His words in Romans 8 help explain what he means –

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16, 17

In the book of Galatians, Paul then says that by faith in Christ we are “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (3:26). He says again in Galatians that we are no longer slaves, but sons, and if sons we are heirs of God through Christ (4:7).

And again in Ephesians, he says that the “Gentiles are fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospe…l” (Ephesians 3:6).

As Paul says “we” in this verse to Titus, it means that Jews were under the same station as the Gentiles. Whether Jew or Gentile, all need Christ, and without Christ we are not heirs. But if we are in Christ, we become “heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

This takes us right back to Titus 1:2 where Paul noted the “hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” From there he showed that this hope comes through preaching; specifically the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are shown here in chapter 3 that being heirs means the realization of that eternal life. It isn’t something that we may possess, but rather it is something that we do possess. Because of faith in Christ, we move from one state to another. If we are heirs; we possess eternal life. The deal is done.

Life application: This verse again implicitly speaks of eternal salvation. By an act of faith, we are made heirs. In that state, we are granted eternal life. Nobody ever questions Abraham’s salvation. The Bible speaks of him as the father of faith, and the pattern for those who will follow after him. If we are “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,” then we possess the same salvation as Abraham. If God’s promise to Abraham is true, then His promise to us is as well. Think these things through, and stand fast in your salvation.

Lord God, You set the pattern for righteousness in Abraham. The law, which came much later, cannot override what You revealed in that pattern. It simply showed us how desperately we need Jesus, and how sinful our sin is to You. But Christ, having fulfilled the law, now offers us the same promise of righteousness that was seen in Abraham. We become heirs and partakers in eternal life. What a marvelous gift You have given us. Thank You for Your grace which is found in Christ Jesus our Lord! Amen.

Titus 3:6

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

…whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, Titus 3:6

Paul’s words of this verse refer to the mercy of God which led to our salvation “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Thus, specifically, he is referring to the Holy Spirit. As he says, “whom He poured out on us.”

The “pouring out” of the Spirit is is something that is referred to in both testaments of the Bible. For example, several prophets in the Old Testament mention this. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, and Zechariah each speak of it. The example from Joel is then repeated in Acts 2. Paul refers to the pouring out of the Spirit in Romans 5:5 as well (more specifically the love of God by the Holy Spirit) –

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

It is this pouring out which was done so “abundantly.” The word gives the sense of “richly.” The precious Spirit is poured into an earthly jar of clay. Thus the contents are what is of value, and they are what make the vessel holy and suitable to God. The thought of this abundance is referred to by Jesus when He said, “…God does not give the Spirit by measure.”

Instead of doling out the Spirit in small doses, He pours it out on His people in abundance. We are filled to capacity. When a person calls on Christ, they receive the Spirit in His fullness. Just as when a person gets married, they will never get more married, so when a person receives the Spirit, there is a completeness to the reception of the Spirit. Any filling after receiving Jesus is passive, not active. The Spirit will get more of us as we submit to God. And this process is accomplished “through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

It is the reception of Christ that allows the Spirit to be poured out. It is living rightly before God because of Christ that fills us with the Spirit (passively) after that point. In Paul’s words, we now have a better understanding of the words of verse 4. There he said, “God our Savior.” Now He refers to Jesus Christ our Savior. God’s work of salvation is accomplished through the work of Christ Jesus. From there, God pours out His Spirit in the believer. All three members of the Trinity are clearly presented in this passage, each fulfilling His own role in the process. Though the word “Trinity” is never used in Scripture, the doctrine is clearly taught nonetheless.

Life application: Biblical doctrines do not have to be stated by name for them to be valid doctrines. “Original sin” and “rapture” are words not used in Scripture, but both are clearly taught. “Trinity” is not used in Scripture, but the concept is. Don’t be led astray by people who knock on your door and tell you that the things you have been taught are not true just because they are not explicitly named in the Bible. Instead, open the book up, show them where they are wrong, and tell them to come back when they have received the true gospel; not a false one.

Glorious God; exalted heavenly Father! It is so wonderful to walk in Your presence, knowing You are always there with us. No matter where we go, and no matter what point in history we find ourselves, You are already there. What a comfort it is to know that we are never separated from You, even for a moment. Thank You for this wonderful knowledge. Great are You, O God, and greatly are You to be praised. Amen.