To Be and Do

Tuesday, November 04, 2014, 7:20 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “As the Deer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 3 (NIV84).

To Be Obedient

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

There are at least two things which stand out to me here with regard to being subject to rulers and authorities. First of all, we don’t have to agree with them, and their rules do not have to be fair or just in order for us to submit to their authority. For instance, if the government decides to come and to take our homes from us and/or to put us in concentration (or FEMA) camps, I believe scripture teaches us to be subject to the rulers and authorities and to not resist them, though certainly we can try to reason with them and to ask for our case to be heard, but it may not. Jesus did not resist his persecutors when they came to arrest him, but he willingly went with them. As well, he told Peter to put his sword away. He said that whoever lives by or takes up the sword will die by the sword.

The second thing that stands out to me here with regard to being subject to rulers and authorities is that there are Biblical exceptions to this rule. Several examples immediately come to mind. The first one is the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They did not bow to another god, which was the law, and so they were thrown into a fiery furnace. In their case, Jesus rescued them, and they came out unharmed (See: Dan. 3). The second one is the story of Daniel and how the king was tricked into making a law stating that anyone who prayed to any god or human being, except to the king, should be thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel continued to pray to his God, and he was thrown into the lions’ den, but God rescued him (See: Dan. 6). He, as well, came out unharmed. And, then there is the story of the apostles speaking in the name of Jesus even though they had been ordered not to. So, I see here that we can disobey authority if they command us to disobey our God.

On the subject of obedience, some people equate obedience with legalism and/or with works-based salvation. That is not the case, though, for Jesus taught obedience, and so did the writers of the New Testament. In fact, in 1 John we read that if we say we love God but we do not do what his word says, then we are liars: we don’t love God and we don’t know God. Both repentance and obedience are essential components of genuine believing faith, which is required for salvation. We don’t obey to earn or to deserve salvation. We are saved by grace through faith, and yet true faith understands that trusting Christ as Savior of our lives means that we forsake our former lives of sin, and that now, in the power and working of the Spirit within us, we walk in the light of his truth and we obey what his word teaches us. Obedience is doing what Jesus says, so it can’t be legalism, which he was against.

We should slander no one, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. To slander is to insult, malign, and defame someone, and it is to make malicious, false and damaging statements about someone, i.e. it is to attack the person’s character and reputation. We don’t know what goes on in other people’s hearts, especially people with whom we are not personally acquainted and have not observed their lifestyle, but we only read what they write and post on the internet. We don’t know their motivation and heart for why they do what they do. We can judge their words as to whether they are false or true, according to the measurement of God’s word, and we can judge their behavior by the same measure, yet such judgment should never be to condemn, but should be for the purpose to restore, to help, to heal, and to bring others to the knowledge of the truth and to God’s saving grace.

To Do Good

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Paul not only instructed Titus to remind the people of the type of behavior fitting those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but he also reminded him of the spiritual state they all were in (and we, too) prior to us having been saved by God’s grace, through faith.

Although God saves us by his grace, through our faith in Jesus Christ, and he forgives our sins, and he chooses to no longer remember them against us, i.e. they are no longer charged to our account, for Jesus paid the price, there were and are times when we need to be reminded of where we were before we were delivered from our sin. Perhaps the reason is that, over time, we become complacent and we take God’s grace for granted, and we begin to forget that we have been cleansed from our sins, and what it means to be delivered from sin. Or, perhaps we get prideful and/or we are unsympathetic towards those trapped in sin, and we lack compassion for the lost sinner or for the wayward child of God. Or, perhaps we have slipped back into some of our old sinful patterns of behavior, and so we need to be reminded that Jesus Christ died to set us free from all of that, and we also need to be called to repentance and renewed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives.

Titus was to stress these things to the believers in Christ, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. So, what is good? Good is what is noble, of honorable character, worthy, and what is right, honest, useful and suitable to its purpose (Source: It is also “having the appropriate qualities to be something or to fit a purpose” (Encarta). When we say something is good, what do we mean? I believe we mean that it meets our standard of what we expected it to be or of what we felt it ought to be. So, when God says he wants us to be devoted to doing what is good, what does he mean? I believe he means that he wants us to be devoted to following him in obedience, in surrender of our wills to his will, and in following his standard for how we are to conduct our lives, in his holiness and righteousness - in the power of the Spirit within us.

To Avoid Arguments

9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. 11 You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

I believe we are to avoid such things as these with regard to much more than just the law. There are other scriptures which also warn us about quarreling about words and over things which really don’t matter in the scheme of things (See: 2 Tim. 2:14). I have witnessed believers in Christ getting heated over subjects such as when Jesus is going to return, as though we have any control over that, and over modes of baptism, which are externals, and even over the color of carpet to be placed in the church “sanctuary,” etc.

The scriptures teach that we fight and quarrel because we don’t get what we want. We do not have because we do not ask God, and when we do ask, we do not receive, because we ask with wrong motives, that we may spend what we get on our pleasures (See: Jas. 4:1-3). As well, when we quarrel with one another it is a sign that we are still worldly (See: 1 Co. 3:3) and immature.

Quarrels rarely solve anything, but they usually hurt others unnecessarily. I have seen so many who call themselves Christians bickering and fighting, name-calling, slandering one another, and accusing one another falsely, and all because they do not agree with one another. How does that help? How can we be the light of the world and the salt of the earth if we are so busy taking jabs at one another? We need to treat one another with respect, honor one another above ourselves, be considerate of others, and be sympathetic and compassionate towards those who have a difference of opinion or belief from us. We need to speak the truth in love, but in kindness and with gentleness and respect.

Those who are divisive should be warned. The problem with this is that, in today’s modern church here in America, those who are tagged as “divisive” are often those who are following the truths of God’s word, and who are not conformed to the ways of this world. The church leadership considers them to be “divisive” because they are not in agreement with the teachings of humans (above scripture), and with humanistic philosophy, diluting the gospel, and making it more palatable and acceptable to the world, and with conforming the church to fit the pattern of the world. But, that is not what this is talking about here.

A divisive person, in this context, is one who incites quarrels via nasty jabs, insults, slander, and false accusations, or else he or she is one who picks a fight by bringing up controversial subjects which are bound to incite heated discussion, for the purpose to cause such a heated debate, as well as for the purpose to divide people through disagreement. Some controversial subjects are unavoidable, though, because we must address the spiritual issues of concern which the scriptures address, and we cannot always anticipate how people will react. Yet, as much as is within our power to do so, without compromising the truths of scripture, or our faith, and without shying away from difficult subjects which need to be addressed, we must strive toward peace with all people.

We must live our lives in the Spirit with the goal to live godly, self-controlled and holy lives, pleasing to God, and to be a light to the world for Jesus Christ and for his gospel of salvation. Our desire should be for Jesus, and no longer to live for sin and our own selfish wills and desires. And, our goal should be to please him in all that we do and say.

As the Deer / Martin J. Nystrom
Based off Psalm 42:1

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after You
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You