I am really privileged to share this week in the marketplace, even though I’m probably the last guy qualified to talk about what it’s like to live in a secular environment. I live in a Christian hot house. I go from the church, to the college, to the seminary, to Grace to You, and never meet an unbeliever anywhere. My neighbors avoid me like the plague. If they see me coming, they run in the garage and shut the door because they’re sure they’re going to get a sermon on hell, or I’m going to ask them for money for some ministry. That’s not quite true, but it’s close. They do avoid me.
I have to work really hard at meeting unbelievers. I have to work really hard at making friends with non-Christian people, because they’re rare in my world; and I regret that. I wish it weren’t true. I have had opportunity to lead some people to Christ, people that really don’t know me in the Christian environment, but have just met me in another environment; and I consider that a privilege. I try not to reveal all the story about me when I meet somebody who is a non-believer, but try to make a friendship with them just as a human being and then see if I can have an impact for Christ.
You have a much more likely scenario, people who don’t surround themselves constantly with Christian people, and that’s a wonderful opportunity for you. Fortunately, the Lord has blessed me so that when I get up on Sunday and preach, I get to preach to unbelievers who are brought by people who are in the marketplace, and I get to present the gospel to them; and that’s a wonderful privilege.
I want to talk a little bit in the broad sense about the Christian’s responsibility in a pagan society. I want to just kind of give a big picture framework. Open your Bible to Titus chapter 3, I want to just look at this passage for the time that I have. There’s a lot here, and obviously we’re not going to be able to cover it all, but it really is a very important passage, Titus chapter 3.
Just a little bit of background. Titus was a young protégé of the apostle Paul. Titus had a responsibility given to him; he was sent to a place called Crete. Crete was an island, as you know, and the responsibility of Titus in Crete was to build churches and to develop leadership in those churches. As far as I can remember, there were about a hundred towns and villages on the island of Crete, so there was plenty of work to do and plenty of churches to plant. And in chapter 1, verse 5, Titus is told that he was left in Crete to continue to set in order what remains, continue to strengthen and develop churches, and appoint elders in every city. That would be a big job since, as I said, there were upwards to a hundred churches potentially in the towns and villages of that place.
Now Cretans were tough people to deal with – go down to chapter 1, verse 10. They were rebellious. They were empty talkers. There were deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who needed to be silenced. So you had to deal with a lot of false teaching that had already come into Crete. You just didn’t go in and offer yourself as the first purveyor of truth. You went into town and you would find that already there were isms and schisms and cults and whatever else, false teachers in all those places.
Furthermore, the Cretans themselves, verse 12 says, were liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons. I don’t think the local Chamber of Commerce would put that out in the brochure on Crete, but that’s the truth. They were liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons. And Paul says in verse 13, “This testimony is true.” “I’ve met them,” he’s saying, “and that’s an accurate assessment.”
So you had some problems, challenging problems when you went into Crete. You had a very pagan society – people given to lies, people given to a beastly kind of existence, people given to laziness. They were living in a very temperate Mediterranean climate and taking full advantage of it by doing nothing. You’re going to go in there and plant churches. This is a very, very pagan environment. What does exist there is false religion, empty talkers, deceivers; they’re everywhere. This is rather typical of New Testament churches, though. They were small islands in a sea of paganism, and they existed in absolute contrast to everything in their culture. And I just want you to kind of get a feel for this.
In the Gentile world, neither the Bible, biblical morality, or Christianity had any profile. There was no such thing as Christian morality. There was no such thing as Christians in high places. As far as we know, there weren’t any Christian politicians, there weren’t any Christian governors, there weren’t any Christian rulers. There weren’t even any amazing Christian athletics, as far as we know. There weren’t any Christians of any influence at all in the Greek society; it was all paganism, it was all idolatry, it was all wickedness to one degree or another in one definition or another.
And we also know that the early church never attempted to establish cultural morality. They never attempted to quote-unquote, in the vernacular of today, “impact” their society. They never attempted to “impact” their culture. They never worked to gain a biblical moral agenda. They never got involved in trying to elect certain people to political office. They never got involved in trying to push people up some social ladder or some ladder of influence under the idea that somehow they could have some pervasive, moral influence on their society. They never really tried to change the moral agenda of society. They never worked toward any political goals, or political ends. They only sought to do one thing, and that was to reach the unsaved with the gospel. That’s all they sought to do; they had no other agenda.
They were concerned, as it says back in chapter 2, verse 5, that the Word of God would not be dishonored. They were concerned in verse 8 that the unbelievers would have nothing bad to say about them. They were concerned, according to chapter 2, verse 10, that the doctrine of God our Savior would be adorned in every respect. All they were concerned about was evangelism. All they were concerned about was bringing the Word of God into the public forum so that the people could hear the truth of God. They were concerned about living godly lives so there wouldn’t be anything bad to say about them. They were concerned about adorning the teaching about God as Savior by demonstrating saved lives. The German philosopher Heine once said, “Show me your redeemed life and I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer.”
Now they were concerned about demonstrating redemption through redeemed lives. And I think they had it right, and I think we need to recapture that. The early church sought only to reach the unsaved with the gospel of Christ. They had no political agenda for the culture; they had no moral agenda for the culture. They weren’t swept up, as Christians are today, in elections and in politics. They weren’t swept up in moralizing the society as so many Christian people and organizations are today. They had one thing in mind, and that was to bring lost people to the knowledge of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
And I just remind you that that’s why we exist today. We are an island in the middle of a sea of paganism; and our responsibility is not to moralize the culture. Our responsibility is not to get involved in politics so that we can get the people in power who can change the cultural morality. Our responsibility is redemptive. Our responsibility is evangelistic.
Now I realize that in America we have experienced a Christian culture, and that’s very different from anything Christians in the Gentile world of the New Testament ever experienced. It’s very different from what Christians in many places in the world today experience. There are Christians in Israel who, as some of you know, who have been to IBEX realize they’re not living in a Christian culture or anything that’s ever been a Christian culture. There are Christians in Arab parts of the world. I recently talked with some who are in the Middle East in Arab countries living out their Christian faith with absolutely no influence in the political world, no influence on the moral elements of their culture, only endeavoring to bring the gospel to Muslims who are lost.
There are Christians in pagan environments, such as you have in India, dominated by Hinduism, and other places like Pakistan and Bangladesh which in some ways are more severely anti-Christian. There are Christians living out their Christianity in elements of African society where the persecution is so severe that thousands of them are dying every year. And more Christians around the world today are dying for the gospel than ever in the history of the church. There is a vicious animosity toward the Christian faith. And in those Christians minds, there’s no real effort to change the culture. There’s no expectation from them that the culture should in any way adapt itself to Christian morality. They see themselves as an island of truth in the midst of a sea of paganism.
But we in America have enjoyed a certain influence of Christianity in our culture. And now as we watch it die, as we watch it fade away into what is distinctively now a non-Christian culture, we don’t like that, particularly the older generation, my generation and maybe a generation ahead of you, your parents; they don’t like that. They don’t like what’s happening in America, they get very uptight about that.
Pat Robertson had a meeting after the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., and the design of that meeting was to call for the formation of a Christian anti-defamation league, Christian anti-defamation league – there is a Jewish anti-defamation league which exists to try to stop people from persecuting Jews – and he wanted to start a Christian anti-defamation league. This is a quote, he said this: “You’ve called us fools, so we’ll call you bigots. Christians are tired of being stepped on, and the time has come to stand up for Christians’ rights.” End quote.
Well, some commentators coming out of that meeting said that Pat Robertson stood up and declared war on non-Christians. That’s a strange perspective, isn’t it? Are non-Christians the enemy or are they the mission field? They’re not the enemy. They’re not to be hated. They’re not to be fought. They’re not to be belittled. They’re not to be demeaned. They’re not to be assaulted. They’re not to be attacked. They are the very people that we have been called to reach.
I frequently watch TBN; it pulls me out of apathy. Whenever I become at all indifferent to error, I just turn on TBN for fifteen minutes and I’m ready to go to battle for the truth. And occasionally I hear Paul Crouch launch an abusive assault on non-Christians in the media. I’ve heard him curse them, pronounce divine judgment on them, damn them because they question the integrity of himself and his wife and their organization. He’s engendering bitter hatred and animosity toward non-Christians.
In the summer of 1991 there was something called The Joshua Project, and they announced they were going to have a conference. In fact, that announcement was in a lot of Christian periodicals, many of us saw it. And the project, the design of the project which was going to have this big national meeting called The Joshua Project, the design was quote, “taking back the culture, taking back the culture. We’re going to attack the people who are pro-abortion, we’re going to attack the pro-homosexual people, we’re going to attack these people who are for women’s rights, we’re going to attack these people who are breaking down the family, we’re going to attack these people who want all these moral freedoms,” and so forth. In fact, the conference described its purpose, quote, “to sound the alarm, to instill the vision, to the establish the leadership that will enable us to reclaim the heart of our culture.”
You know, when they say that it sounds so noble. But is it? Is that what we’re supposed to do? I’m not saying God doesn’t expect us to be salt and light in the world; He does. And we don’t have any mandate to take back the culture. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you go to hell as a policeman or a prostitute. It doesn’t matter if you go to hell as a republican or a democrat. It doesn’t matter whether you go to hell as a capitalist or a socialist. It doesn’t matter if you to hell as a pro-abortionist or a pro-life person. It doesn’t matter. What it does matter is that you go to hell, right?
It doesn’t matter whether you go to hell as somebody who believes that homosexuality is wrong, or somebody who believes it’s right. It doesn’t matter whether you go to hell as pro-family or anti-family. It doesn’t matter whether you go to hell as a supporter of the most conservative guy on the agenda. It doesn’t matter what your politics are. It doesn’t even matter what your moral perspective is. What matters is whether you go to hell, right? We can’t moralize the culture. What happens in this environment is all of a sudden the mission field becomes the enemy, and you start to engender hostility toward people who are not Christians.
Now you have to understand, I don’t have any respect for people without integrity, I don’t have any respect for people who don’t tell the truth. I can’t respect those people. But at the same time, I don’t hate those people. I understand that that’s how people behave who aren’t saved. They are not the enemy, they are the mission field, and everybody like them.
You see, a politicized kind of Christianity blurs the priorities. It confuses all the issues. It weakens our loyalties and defuses the tightness of our vision. We are not even citizens of earth, are we? Where’s our citizenship? It’s in heaven. You know, this language of spiritual citizenship that gets wrapped in the red, white and blue all the time really confuses the issue.
We’re called to reach lost people. We cannot afford to weaken our mission by making the unregenerate people in our society the enemy. We can hate the sins. We can even have a holy rejection of the sinner in the sense that we feel about the sinner the way God does; and He’s angry with the wicked every day. But we cannot ever become the enemy of the sinner, because we are his only lifeline. So that all has to be handled with an evangelistic perspective.
Now with that in mind, let’s look at Titus chapter 3. Now the whole objective of the little epistle of Titus is to help the Christians reach the pagans; that’s the whole point. In chapter 1, verse 3, says, “God our Savior.” Chapter 1, verse 4, “Christ Jesus our Savior.” Chapter 2, verse 10, “God our Savior.” Chapter 2, verse 13, “Our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Chapter 3, verse 4, “God our Savior.” Chapter 3, verse 6, “Jesus Christ our Savior.” This whole epistle is about the salvation of God. God is a Savior, Christ is a Savior, and that’s the emphasis.
Now how are we going to win these cretins? How we going to win these lazy gluttons, these evil beasts, these liars? How we going to win these people who have no morality, these base people who are no better than a wild animal, no better than a lazy good-for-nothing, no better than a deceiver and a liar who are caught up in false doctrine, cults, isms, schisms, spasms, yogis, whatever other things are going on there? How we going to reach these people? How we going to bring them the truth of God a Savior, Christ a Savior? How are we going to live our lives so that the Word of God is not dishonored? How we going to live our lives so that they have no evil to say about us? How are we going to adorn the doctrine of God as Savior by demonstrating what a saving life looks like? How we going to do that? What are we called to do? Are we called to attack them in the political arena? No.
Here’s what we’re called to do; let’s look at verse 1. Paul says to Titus, “Now you tell the believers this: remind them to be subject to rulers, authorities, and be obedient, and be ready for every good deal, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who believe God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.”
Did you get that last line? You want to reach people? Here’s the things that are good and profitable. That’s a statement referring to your influence, your evangelistic influence. What is good and beneficial to the people around you is just given to you in verses 1 through 8.
Now let’s kind of break that down. Paul tells Titus, “You tell the people, you remind the people” – present imperative, this is a regular duty – “you remind the people that they must do these four things. First of all, they have to remember their responsibility in the society. Remember their responsibility in the society.” And he gives seven virtues, seven virtues: “Be subject to rulers, to authorities. Be obedient. Be ready for every good deed. Malign no one. Be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.” Seven virtues.
You want to know how to live in society, here’s how. First virtue: “Be subject to rulers.” Now your ruler might be Caesar. Your ruler might be Pilate. Your ruler might be Felix, might be Festus, might be Agrippa, might be Herod. It might be Stalin, might be Hitler. It might be Saddam Hussein. Be subject to rulers and authorities. It’s basic principle. That’s what we’re asked to do. That’s citizenship. That’s the kind of good behavior in society that gives a testimony to an unbelieving and watching world.
We don’t always agree with the leaders, but we’re always called, according to 1 Timothy 2, we’re to pray for kings and all who are in authority, and we’re to live a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. So we submit. We don’t rebel. We don’t revolt. We don’t storm the city hall and damn the leaders. We submit.
Obviously our submission is limited by the Word of God. If they ask us to do what God forbids us to do, we can’t do it. We have to take the position of the apostles in the book of Acts. They said, “Don’t preach.” They said, “Sorry, we can’t obey that. You judge whether we should obey God or men.” There comes a point in time you have to do what you have to do, and you take the consequences.
It was 1980, a young man in our church was a student at UCLA, bright student, played on the UCLA baseball team. And he was a pre-law student at UCLA, graduated from UCLA and was in law school for a while. He came to our church. He was saved. His father was an Irish Catholic, his mother was a Japanese war bride. Came from a mixed family with a tremendous amount of conflict in the home, I mean, serious conflict like one spouse chasing the other with a butcher knife kind of conflict – a very, very, very difficult home.
Well, he came to Christ. He was involved in our church, and he was trying to sort out the problems of his home that had influenced his life, and so he came in to be counseled by us. I took him into my own home. He lived with us a while as I tried to disciple him in that environment. Many others of us tried to work with him. We took him to the Word of God. We prayed with him. We taught him Scripture. We taught him how to deal with the sins in his life, and so forth and so on, and we did everything we could to nurture him in the Lord.
And it was a tragic situation; he tried to kill himself. He survived the first time – the attempt at suicide. And he came to stay in our home again as we tried to help him recover from that; and we really bathed him in the truth of God. But he left the home after a while and he entered into another conflict with his father. It was so volatile that he desired really, in effect, to hurt his father in a way from which his father could never recover; so he put a shotgun in his mouth and blew the back of his head off in a closet at his house where his father would find him.
And immediately, of course, we were horrified by all of this, and had to deal with just the remorse and sadness of it all. But it wasn’t long until the father filed a lawsuit against the church; and that lawsuit went into the courts for ten years. I had to defend myself against what was called clergy malpractice, the first case of clergy malpractice in the nation, in the world as far as we know.
Well, to make a long story short, that case was in litigation for ten years, ten years. And the case was based on this: “These people are inept, inadequate, unqualified, and they exacerbated his precondition toward suicide by counseling him from the Bible. They should be held culpable for that. They should have to pay a huge amount of money” – obviously all lawsuits are about money – “to compensate the family for the loss of the son, because they exacerbated his condition by taking about sin and making him feel more guilty, and more guilty, and more guilty.”
Well, we knew that had nothing to do with it, it was all about this animosity with his father. But they drew us into the court. They brought psychological experts in, they brought all kinds of people in to try to destroy the credibility of the church, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I got on the stand, and all I said was, basically summing it up, was simply this: “Hey, we’re a church and we believe in the Word of God and that’s what we do. We stay true to the Word of God. But this is a society that has psychological professionals, psychological counseling, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah, and you should have referred him to psychologists and psychiatrists, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” And our response was, “We don’t do that, because we believe that God created man, and God has given us His Word, and it is in the Word of God that man finds a solution to all of the issues of life.”
And we really were facing the reality there that we were at cross-grains with the culture, because the culture was saying, “The Bible is antiquated, the Bible is an old book; the Bible is a narrow-minded, legalistic book. It doesn’t speak to this contemporary age. These people ought to be shut down, put out of business; they’re causing people to kill themselves,” et cetera, et cetera. So there comes a point in time where you just can’t do what the culture wants you to do.
Well, ten years of litigation, the case – we won the case. First of all, it was overturned in appellate court. It was thrown back again to the California State Supreme Court. I had to give testimony before the Supreme Court of the State of California. Ruled in our favor, we won the case at the Supreme Court level. They appealed it to the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court read the case and said that we uphold the state court; and after ten years, we triumphed. And the triumph – and this is a wonderful thing about our country – was based upon the First Amendment that we have religious freedom, and they were practicing their religious freedom.
We didn’t want to be the enemy of the culture. We didn’t want to make the culture the bad guy. I didn’t want to have to give testimony contrary to psychologists and psychiatrists, et cetera, in a courtroom. I didn’t want to have to say that they are wrong, and this is true, and this is right. But there are going to be times when you’re forced into a situation because the culture will not accept the truth of God where there can be conflict. And that was sort of what happened in the book of Acts when they said, “Don’t preach.” They said, “Sorry, we have a mandate from God.”
So we are to submit to authority until that authority tells us that we have to do something contrary to what God has told us to do, then we stand our ground. And you know what? It’s America, so we have a First Amendment. If it had been Russia, I‘d have gone to Siberia. But that doesn’t change what you do, does it? So we do submit until we come to a point where we can’t submit because we have a mandate from God: God tells us to do something they forbid us to do, or God tells us not to do something they command us to do. Other than that, we submit to rulers and to authorities.
It was kind of amazing to me. It was about two years ago, I think, where I was invited to go to City Hall in Los Angeles. City Council meeting was basically devoted to the honor of Grace Community Church, and to give me a big plaque, you know, with all this script on it, all this stuff, and thank me for thirty years of ministry. It was a very interesting thing because I got to speak before the whole City Council and the chambers which were packed, literally standing room people everywhere, all these city council people; and many of them are homosexuals. In fact, the man who recommended that the church be given this honor is a homosexual; it’s interesting. And he knows my position, and he knows what I teach and what the Bible teaches.
And yet, it was so fascinating to me that they invited us there, they gave us this reward, they honored us before the whole city. They thanked us for the impact Grace Community Church has had on the city of Los Angeles. We never changed our message, never altered anything, always preached the gospel. And they said, “We would like Dr. MacArthur to say something.”
And I said, “Thank you very much. I just want to let you know that God forgives sinners, and that any of you can come to Him for forgiveness through Jesus Christ. That’s the message we’ve preached for thirty years, and that’s what I’d like you all to know.” And I went on for another few minutes. So, you know, and that’s – hey, that’s a great place. I love to be in a place like that just full of pagan people and have a shot at them, tell them God will forgive their sins.
But isn’t it interesting that you can preach the truth, you can preach the truth, you can preach the truth, you can preach the truth, and here people who are living in opposition to the truth can recognize that there’s something about the way you handle that truth that indicates you care? Whenever a policeman dies in the city of Los Angeles, I would say eight out of ten times the service will be held at Grace Church. When a fireman dies, usually the service will be held at Grace Church, because they see us as a church that cares about people. You can do that and never have to mitigate or compromise your message; and you do that by showing yourself as good citizens, submitting yourself to the authorities; and, of course, Romans chapter 13 says the same thing.
Follow down verse a little further: “Be obedient.” What does that mean? Just obey the laws, obey the laws. “Be ready for every good deed.” Just cooperate in every way with the authorities; don’t be their enemy. Be known in society for your goodness.
Verse 2, “Don’t malign anybody, not even one person,” in the Greek. Don’t blasphēmeō, don’t treat somebody with contempt, don’t slander somebody. You confront sin, you call sinners to repentance, but you don’t curse people, you don’t slander people, you don’t damn people who are unbelievers.
And don’t be contentious. Don’t quarrel with the government. Don’t fight your leaders. It’s amachos; it means don’t fight, be peaceful, be friendly. And then he adds, “Be gentle.” That’s kind of – one translator said, “sweet reasonableness,” a certain sweetness, a kind of bearing that’s considerate and patient with sinners.
And he sums it up, end of verse 2, “showing every consideration for all men.” This is actually the word prautēs, meekness, don’t assert your rights; that’s what it means. Don’t fight for your rights. Don’t start an anti-Christian defamation league. Don’t launch an assault to damn the unconverted.
And he says, “show all this” – the end of verse 2 – “for all men.” See, here we are living in this pagan society, and what are we told to do; fight the thing, damn the thing, curse the thing? No. Submit to it, obey it. Do every good thing you can do. Never malign anybody or slander anybody. Don’t ever be known for being contentious, fighting things, protesting things. Be gentle, show every consideration. That is be meek. Don’t ever assert your own rights or fight for your own rights, just let God take care of that.
The Cretans, of course, were known for rebellion, they were known for murder. They had all the vices of a pagan society. And I’m sure there were things that were going on in the social structure that were very, very difficult for Christians to deal with. He says, “Just live like this.” So you have to remember you responsibility in the society.
Secondly, remember your former condition. Okay, I’ll give you this one quick. Remember your former condition – this is really good. My watched stopped at a quarter of, and I thought this was glorious until I saw that it wasn’t running.
Now look at verse 3; verse 3 is so good. Look what he says: “Hey, did you forget? We also once were” – what? “What do you expect? You expect an unbeliever to act like an unbeliever. Before you get slanderous, and before you get cantankerous, and before you get contentious and angry and inconsiderate, and before you start asserting yourself and fighting against the culture and attacking the unsaved as if they were the enemy, would you please remember that we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived,” – and there’s seven here, seven characteristics of the ungodly, like there were seven virtues in verses 1 and 2; there are seven characteristics of the sinner – “foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasure, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. What do you expect? What do you expect? You used to be that way.” Seven virtues in verses 1 and 2, seven vices in verse 3.
“We were foolish, ignorant. We were disobedient. We were deceived, wandering around trying to sort out the issues of truth. We were enslaved to various epithumia and hēdonē, various passions, various kinds of pleasures. We spent our lives in malice,” that’s a word for evil, wickedness. “We were envious. We were hateful, hating one another, ego-centric, self-consumed. I mean, what do you expect?” That, folks, describes unconverted people. And we used to be like that. Did you forget that? What do you expect out of them?
I don’t expect the President of the United States to act any differently than he acts. Why should he be virtuous? Why should he not have a string of women here, there, and everywhere? What do you expect? People who aren’t converted live enslaved to various lusts and pleasures. Well, why would we expect him to obey the Bible? Why would we expect him to uphold a biblical morality? Because unconverted people are disobedient and they’re deceived. What do you expect, that they’re going to come up with a biblical agenda when they live in a continual state of deception? No.
It’s a picture of the unconverted. They are blind to God. They’re blind to spiritual reality. They’re rebellious to God’s law. They’re resistant to His truth. They’re utterly deceived about what is true. They’re deceived about what is right. They’re in bondage to mindless passion. They feed on perverse treatment of other people. They’re full of hate and hostility and selfishness. Well, that’s what it means to be unconverted. So before you damn them, remember we also once were just like that.
So remember your responsibilities, remember your formal life; thirdly, remember your salvation. “The only reason you’re different” – verse 4 – “is because the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,” – and that’s an indication of the incarnation literally appeared bodily in Jesus Christ – “and He saved us,” – I love that – “He saved us. And it wasn’t on the basis of deeds which we have done,” – because the fact is what we were doing was all in verse 3 – “but it was according to His mercy.” Now let me stop you right here.
The only reason you’re any different from those people is because of God’s – what? – mercy. You can’t forget that. You can’t forget that. It was because He saved us. He washed us in regeneration. He renewed us through the Holy Spirit. He poured out richly on us that same Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Savior. The only reason you’re any different is because God saved you; “and that” – he says in verse 8 – “is a trustworthy statement, that you have been justified by His grace. And so you’ve become an heir according to the hope of eternal life.”
By the way, in verses – just as a note – verses 4, 5 and 6 and 7 actually, four verses there, there are seven aspects of salvation: seven virtues in 1 and 2, seven vices in verse 3, and seven features of salvation in verses 4 to 7. So this is a well-organized section of Scripture by Paul.
He says, “Look at your salvation. It comes by the kindness of God. It comes by the love of God, His love of mankind. It comes by the mercy of God, not on the basis of deeds which we have done, but according to His mercy. It comes by the regeneration of God, by the washing of regeneration. It comes by the renewing of God through the Holy Spirit. It comes by the Son of God through Jesus Christ our Savior. It comes by the grace of God,” – verse 7 – “which has made us heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
So how do we live in this world? We live remembering our responsibility to submit to the authority, and to do all the things verses 1 and 2 indicate. We remember that these people who are acting in such a bad way, so immorally, are acting according to their nature, because they’re unconverted. And we understand that, because we were once that way ourselves.
Thirdly, we remember our salvation. And the fact is the only reason we’re any different than them at all isn’t because of anything we’ve done, it’s only because of what He’s done, right? Now he says in verse 8, “Titus, I want you to speak confidently. I want you to tell these people these things, because I want the people who believe in God to do good deeds.” Why? End of verse 8, “These things are good and profitable for men.” If you live like this, you’re going to lead people to Christ. It’s going to be good and profitable spiritually for the unconverted.
Father, thank You for our time again in Your Word. We thank You that it’s clear and it gives us a perspective. May we so live in the world to bring glory to Your name. We thank You for Christ’s sake. Everyone said, “Amen.”
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