Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work – Titus 3:1-7

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Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work – Titus 3:1-7 – 02/11/2016

This bible study is part of a series on the book of Titus, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of Titus for other studies in this book.

Titus 3:1 (ESV) Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 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. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 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, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Paul continues his thought in the middle of this letter in verse one of chapter three; let’s look at it in a verse by verse basis…

V1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Paul exhorts Titus to “Remind them” as if they required constant remembrance to do what is being asked of them. Paul is asking them to be submissive to rulers and authorities that do not share their vision and values and often times worked against the mission of the church where Titus was located. We today are called to the same, regardless of our thoughts of those who are in charge of us whether that be workplace managers, politicians, kings, queens or whomever we are called to be submissive to them and deal with them in a humble manner.

Paul lists characteristics that categorize this…

• Be obedient – Whether we like it or not God had a plan in placing those people in authority, it is not our role to be disobedient to the ones ruling us. You don’t have to imagine a Government who is passing laws that do not reflect the values that you hold as it happens even today, just as it did in Paul’s time; we are called to be obedient. Be law abiding, work hard, pay taxes, be an example to other so that they question what is different in our lives and desire a relationship with Jesus for themselves.
• Be ready for every good work – In addition to keeping our civil obligations we are also to be active Christians and be ready to do the work of the Father! We have to be beacons of light, tell others about the good news and be that example to others. It should keep us up at night that people are dying in their sins; we should be primed and ready to give an account of what we believe in and evangelize whenever we have that opportunity.
• Speak evil of no-one – “be careful little tongue what you speak…” We have to be careful in what we say in regards to others, a good rule of thumb is to only speak of people in an edifying manner, judge it under the following criteria “would you say it to them if they were standing here?”
• Avoid quarreling – This is something that Paul writes elsewhere in the epistles and people are all different and some folks look for arguments, ask yourself in the midst of an argument “will this matter in 5 years?” and then you can assess whether it is worth bickering about!
• Be gentle – Paul does not write “be a doormat” but love folks enough to be gentle with them, not just in good manners or to be “people pleasing” but be willing to serve others prior to serving yourself.
• Show perfect courtesy towards all people – Some translations say “showing humility” and these are distinctly Christian traits and will come to some easier than others. If you are struggling in this area then my advice is to pray about the areas you find hard.

V3 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.

Paul refers to where we were before Christ, if you have been following our studies in the book of Romans, you will see a similar vein here as what is spoken in Paul’s epistle to the Roman church. We have to remember who we were in order that we do not slide back and copy those behaviors. Please do not get me wrong, there is no sin we could commit that Christ has not atoned for, but speaking personally I have knowledge of what life what like before Christ and I really have no desire to return to that life.

Paul lists that we were the following

• Foolish and disobedient – This is the epitome of the man living for himself, he is so insular and self-focused that he cannot see beyond himself and is caught up in his own folly and disobedience to the will of God.
• Led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures – Once the slow fade of being led astray and lines begin to be blurred then you embrace the sin and go back to your former lives away from God.
• Passing away our days in malice and envy – Because of our sin and self-focus, we look to bettering our situations and we do our best to better our situations by tearing at others and attempting to get ahead by tearing others down.
• Hated by others and hating one another – Of course of the last one was the seed, this is the root plant, the malice and envy blooms into hatred and strife, does this seem attractive to anyone?

Does this sound like the life you are living? If so I urge you to come home to Jesus and rededicate your life to Him. Paul continues in verse four…

V4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 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, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

That place in verse 3 is a dark place huh? We can’t rescue ourselves from that and it is very God that we do not have to! We were rescued by the grace (goodness and loving kindness of God) Paul talks about this also in Romans 5…

Romans 5:6 (ESV) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

What I am saying is that God reached out to us and did all the work long before our hearts gravitated towards him. Paul reiterates by saying “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” and this is the essence of the good news of the Gospel, I mean talk about finishing your letter with a left hook or your sermon with a bang.

Let us get a few things clear, going to church or bible study a Christian does not make, responding to an altar call 25 years ago at a Billy Graham crusade a Christian does not make, being baptized 11 years ago a Christian does not make, these are great works but we are saved by the mercy of God and our hearts being sold out and changed by the work of the Holy Spirit. Can I hear an AMEN? God is always the one who makes the first move and we will always receive back much more than we give out.

Verse 7 tells us that we are “justified by his grace” and this is the roof the house is built upon and our reward is to be “joint heirs in the Kingdom” and what a pearl of great price that should be! When we become saved and full “all in believers” then we have that blessed assurance of that eternal reward.

Lord willing, in our next article in Titus we look at the end of the chapter and see how Paul concludes this letter to Titus in chapter three verses eight through fifteen. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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The Law, The Legalists and The Ungodly

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse eight of the first chapter of First Timothy.

The Law is good but use it lawfully

Leaders have to be careful about who they allow to do the ministry of God in our assemblies. But more on that should the LORD tarry long enough for me to do Chapter 2. Paul continues his thought in verse 8.

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

Paul is keen to advise that the law that God gave is still a good law, it was created by a perfect God and was and is and is to come God’s perfect standard. There is nothing wrong with the law itself, the law is purposed with exposing the wrongdoing of the heart and shining a light on the personal sin of the sinner.

Paul writes to the Galatian church in chapter 3…

Galatians 3:11 (ESV) Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

And also…

Galatians 3:24 (ESV) So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,

Legalism or loving conviction?

The law was designed to convict the heart of the wrongdoing person, it was never meant as a club to beat someone with in a legalistic fashion. We are commanded to use the law lawfully. Yes, by all means hold your brother accountable in a loving way if he has fallen into error and correct doctrine and apostasy, but don’t use it as a substitute for walking by faith or use it to keep showing us righteousness.

Personally, if I was on the receiving end of such legalism and law clubbing, I would lose confidence in my faith very quickly and begin to question if the salvation that was done by Jesus on the cross was in fact enough for me to be saved. I know that it is but the standards set by God in the law were there to point to the one who would live a life according to what the Father said the law was.

I said this was a continuation in thought as when we looked at “sound doctrine” I touched on “sinful actions” and here again we see that the two are conjoined. If we do not have our doctrine straight it is far easier to fall into actions that will be problematic.

Really we have to have balance; I am not stating that we should not have standards, or that Gods standards are not correct, we have to live a good life according to biblical standards but this does not make us justified before God, save us from our sin or get us to heaven.

Who are the ungodly?

Paul then gives quite a list of types of people that would fall into this category. I will be contrary to many commentators and not spend much time on the list. The lost is somewhat self-explanatory. Many folks have used this passage for their own ends to prove a point against whatever sin they were preaching against that week.

Paul’s list is as follows…

1) Those who strike their fathers and mothers
2) For murderers
3) The sexually immoral
4) Men who practice homosexuality, 
5) Enslavers
6) Liars
7) Perjurers
8) Whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine

Paul lists the top 7 sins that folks were practicing in that area and in that time. He also leaves the last category for folks who do things that are contrary to a life lived in sound doctrine.

Paul is wise in doing so as people will try to use guidelines like this as a means to justify their wicked actions. (Well, what I am doing is not on Paul’s bad list) and this would be a mistake as we are approaching this with the wrong heart and trying to avoid repercussions as opposed to willingly serving and keeping ourselves clear of these things to glorify God.

Loving legalism

We have to be careful to not be in love with our own legalism as if the actions we do will justify us as much as the grace of God. It is important to not do these things and not be tainted by the world, but we can turn our actions into a semi-false doctrine of its own by claiming that it in some way will give us holiness.

Stay where you are planted

Paul lists what was going on in Ephesus and lists common behaviors and lists why it is important that Timothy remains where God has planted him regardless of the difficulty in his current mission. It does remind me of when Jesus spoke on the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13…

Matthew 13:1 (ESV) That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

You can judge for yourself what type of ground Ephesus was, it certainly was not fertile soil, there was some growth but there was also a lot of the culture influencing the church and even today that is an area of concern in many churches. (I would be interested if you would state what seed you think the Ephesian church is in the comments and why)

It is easy when things get difficult to try to seek an easier place to serve the LORD. I write this as a man who is currently in a foreign country. I was born in Scotland and live in California in the USA. The only “service” I do for the LORD is a small bible study where I open up my house to allow folks to discuss the bible on a Sunday evening. (Obviously I write this blog and I am a father and husband)

I have found it harder than I would back home to have opportunities to serve as people simply don’t know me and coming from a missions church background where it was all hands on deck, I miss being in the thick of serving regularly. It would be easy to go somewhere else, but the truth is I haven’t been called elsewhere yet. (If it ever happens at all) Leaving would be contrary to God’s plan for this part of my life and I may miss out or delay valuable lessons God has for me.

Legalism versus the gospel of glory

We spoke on legalism and the replacement of real righteousness, legalism or works based faith cannot bring you one centimeter closer to God, but the “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” can. Paul saw himself as a keeper of the flame, a guardian if you will of that true gospel that it be preserved, not perverted and kept the true word of God. He wanted the truth to remain the truth, untainted by error, what a mission!.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE