Titus 3:7…”So that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Justification, in the gospel sense, is the free forgiveness of a sinner; accepting him as righteous through the righteousness of Christ received by faith. God, in justifying a sinner in the way of the gospel, is gracious to him, yet is still perfectly just and holy because of Christ’s sacrifice. As forgiveness is through a perfect righteousness, and satisfaction is made to justice by Christ, it cannot be merited by the sinner himself. Eternal life is set before us in the promise; the Spirit works faith in us, and hope of that life; faith and hope bring it near, and we are filled with joy in expectation of it.
Titus 3:1…”Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.” Spiritual privileges do not make void or weaken, but confirm our civil duties. Being subject to rulers and authorities includes our speech, therefore our words need to demonstrate respect, even to those rulers with whom we disagree. Good words are not enough without good works. So, we are to show meekness on all occasions, not toward friends only, but to all men, though with wisdom, James 3:13. Also, to be ready to do whatever is good, we must be constantly praying, because if left to our own interests and desires, we’ll be ready to do what is selfish.
Titus 2:13-14…”While we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” At, and in, the glorious appearing of Christ, the blessed hope of Christians will be complete: To bring us to holiness and happiness was the end of Christ’s death. Jesus Christ, that great God and our Savior, who saves not only as God, much less as Man alone; but as God-man, two natures in one person. He loved us, and gave himself for us; and what can we do less than love and give up ourselves to him! Redemption from sin and sanctification go together, and make a peculiar people unto God, free from guilt and condemnation, and purified by the Holy Spirit.
Titus 2:6…”In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.” Continuing on the theme of being careful of which teachers we follow, this verse lays out some additional considerations. Any pastor/elder must be careful how they live, or their message will not be credible. 1 Corinthians 8 is a great reminder, particularly that knowledge alone isn’t sufficient if it’s not used to build others up spiritually.
Seriousness is also important because when we teach others that its appropriate to approach God as your “bro” or “buddy” it opposes what the bible teaches. Anytime anyone in the bible has an encounter with God, it brings about tremendous awe and people fall face down. In Ezekiel 1, this is exactly what we see after his vision ‘of the likeness of the glory of the Lord’ in verse 28. Further, when angels of the Lord appear in scripture, they almost always say “do not be afraid,” which means they elicit reverence. We can certainly approach the throne boldly in Christ, but it also needs to be done with reverence and awe, and never casually. A casual teacher, with casual views of God, will have casual views of scripture, and therefore produce casual Christians. Jesus would call casual followers of Him goats (Matthew 25:31-33), and therefore we need to flee from teachers who present God and His word in a casual way.
Soundness of speech includes consistent, clear teaching, which allows the bible to speak for itself. Carefulness in not taking verses out of the context of the passage, book, testament, and bible as a whole is extremely important. Check any teaching which uses single verses as theological swords, and be sure to understand everything you read and hear in context.
Titus 1:11…”They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach – and that for the sake of dishonest gain.” The false teachers Paul is referencing were a big problem in the early church. Nothing has changed though, and thankfully faithful saints like Martin Luther have been used by the Lord to correct false doctrines throughout the history of the church. Today, any teaching that includes a bible verse is often considered true by church goers, and biblical illiteracy is prevalent. This environment has been a fertile ground for false teachers. Unfortunately, most pastors are afraid to point out which teachers to avoid, or even worse, they don’t recognize false doctrine. In this verse, one clear mark of a false teacher is dishonest gain, which should tip us off to a number of popular teachers today who have clearly sought riches through ministry. We need to carefully examine what we are being taught, lest we follow the kinds of teachers Paul is referencing here. Since we can’t “silence” these teachers (see the verse above) because of their popularity, we should at least know who to avoid specifically.
Here is a very helpful video by Shai Linne, explaining why identifying false teachers is not only biblical, but loving:
Titus 1:3…”And which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.” What has been brought to light? Based on verses 1-2, he’s speaking specifically about faith, truth, and hope. The accuracy of these three is extremely important, and depending on who’s preaching to you, it can vary quite a bit. But, according to this verse, preaching is one of the primary ways we learn about what God is like. This is scary given how many times (23 to be exact) the bible warns about false teachers. With that said, here are 7 traits of false teachers:
1. Different Source—Where does the message come from?
Peter says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:16). And then he says the false teachers exploit you “with stories they have made up” (2:3). So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message.
2. Different Message—What is the substance of the message?
For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. “We have everything we need for life and godliness in Him” (1:3). For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: “They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” (2:1).
Notice the word secretly. It’s rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.
3. Different Position—In what position will the message leave you?
The true Christian “escapes the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (1:4). Listen to how Peter describes the counterfeit Christian: “They promise . . . freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity, for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2:19). The true believer is escaping corruption, while the counterfeit believer is mastered by it.
4. Different Character—What kind of people does the message produce?
The true believer pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brother kindness, and love (1:5). The counterfeit Christian is marked by arrogance and slander (2:10). They are “experts in greed” and “their eyes are full of adultery” (2:14). They also “despise authority” (2:10). This is a general characteristic of a counterfeit believer.
5. Different Appeal—Why should you listen to the message?
The true teacher appeals to Scripture. “We have the word of the prophets made more certain and you will do well to pay attention to it” (1:19). God has spoken, and the true teacher appeals to his Word.
The false teacher makes a rather different appeal: “By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error” (2:18). So the true teacher asks, “What has God said in his Word?” The false teacher asks, “What do people want to hear? What will appeal to their flesh?”
6. Different Fruit—What result does the message have in people’s lives?
The true believer is effective and productive in his or her knowledge of Jesus Christ (1:8). The counterfeit is “like a spring without water” (2:17). This is an extraordinary picture! They promise much but produce little.
7. Different End—Where does the message ultimately lead you?
Here we find the most disturbing contrast of all. The true believer will receive “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:11). The false believer will experience “swift destruction” (2:1). “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2:3).
Jesus tells us that there will be many who have been involved in ministry in his name, to whom he will say, “Depart from me; I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21).
Titus 1:2…”In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” God promised us eternal life in eternity past. Election (or predestination) is implied in this verse, and is throughout the bible in addition to all the clear, explicit teachings on this doctrine (Titus 1:1 for example). For the elect, He has always known us, set His affection on us in eternity past, changed our hearts in rescuing us in Christ, and will sanctify us until we’re glorified. We should rejoice in this, knowing that although we have to battle every day, the war has already been won, and the fruit we see is assurance of our salvation! However, this can be a hard teaching if we try to limit God’s attributes and power according to our own finite knowledge, understanding, and abilities. Interestingly, we’ll get in a car or on a plane not fully understanding how everything works and believe that we’ll get to our destination. Our trust in these simple actions demonstrates that we’ll put our hope in something we don’t fully understand. We show our intellectual inconsistency with spiritual things when we treat God and His word differently. The doctrine of election is true because the bible says it is. And, according to this verse, God does not lie.
Titus 1:1…”Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” Sharpening other believers with the truth should be our goal as well. What is the truth that leads to godliness? That we have been rescued by the Father, through the Son’s atoning sacrifice, by the Holy Spirit being placed in us supernaturally. We were spiritually dead, and needed rescued. It’s not that we were floating helplessly, and God threw out a rope, and faith is the hand that grabbed the rope and we were rescued. No, that analogy implies that we had some capacity to save ourselves, which is false. We were dead at the bottom of the ocean, and Jesus dove down and brought us back up and breathed life into us without our doing anything to save ourselves. If we’ve responded with faith and repentance to the gospel, it had nothing to do with our choosing God, and everything to do with God choosing to elect us, out of His abundant grace and mercy. This is the truth that leads to godliness, and any other version of the “truth” does not come from scripture.
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
Malachi 4:5…”See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” John the Baptist preached repentance and faith, as Elijah had done. The turning of souls to God is the only preparation for the great and dreadful day of the Lord. On this day, the only way we can stand is with Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. The gospel we believe needs to include an understanding of the massive chasm between us (because of our sin) and God (because of His holiness), otherwise it’s not the gospel. The more clearly we understand this, the greater our faith, because we’ll esteem Jesus for the right reason. A weak, lukewarm, casual faith often comes from believing that we’re generally OK outside of Christ, or that following Christ will bring perfect health and abundant wealth.
God knows authentic faith and recognizes the fruit, particularly evidenced by concern for the spiritual well-being of others (John 13:35). Two practical litmus tests are discipling and evangelism. If we really believe the gospel, and if we think God’s word is authoritative, then those two things will mark our lives because of love for others. If we are unfruitful, and don’t do those things, we may not really believe, and the day of the Lord will be dreadful for us. Let us not be like the seed Jesus referenced in Matthew 13:22:
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Malachi 4:2…”But for you who revere My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.” By the Sun of Righteousness we understand this to be Jesus Christ. Through Him believers are justified and sanctified, and are brought to see light. His influences render us holy, joyful, and fruitful. It is also a reference to the graces and comforts of the Holy Spirit, brought into our souls. Christ gave the Spirit to those who are His, to shine in their hearts, and to be a Comforter to them, a Sun and a Shield.
In terms of perfect, physical healing (which is not the main point of the passage, but is often used out of context in association with this verse), this will be carried out in heaven, but not in this life. Otherwise, there would be no sickness and death for Christians. Can God heal the sick, and does He do so miraculously? Absolutely, and it happens every day all over the world, but every one of those people will eventually die. Should we pray for physical healing? Yes, we should, with the expectation that God is big and powerful and sovereign enough to heal miraculously. What if I prayed for healing, but the person wasn’t healed; does that mean I didn’t have enough faith? No, there is not a guarantee of physical healing in this life, and all humans are still affected by the curse of sin, which includes sickness and death. Does He heal non-Christians? Yes, which shows that He is not a cosmic genie, dependent upon our prayers and/or faith for healing to occur.