Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Titus 3:1-8 (1)

The last time I preached on a Wednesday night I mentioned how hard it was to break Titus up into smaller blocks for ten or fifteen minutes of preaching. It seemed that nearly every week we had to break Paul off halfway through a thought. Well this week the problem became insurmountable. The start of chapter three is so rich, so dense, so flowing that no one part of Paul’s argument really carries it’s full weight without the other two. So tonight we’re going to look at eight verses together. Something of a leap for a Wednesday night, and we won’t be dealing in such detail with every verse as a consequence, but I think it will help us to see, feel and appreciate Paul’s argument, and it’s solid application to our life all the more.

>Lets look at verses 1 though 3 together. Paul tells Titus what the membership of his church should look like, how they should behave in every day life. Church members then and now are to be subject, are to be obedient, and need to be ready for every good work. The words ‘principalities’ and ‘powers’ and ‘magistrates’ here refer to the human, secular authorities we all live under. The federal and state government, the local authorities in Washington. The elected officers whom God has provided for us. We are to obey them as far as we can without being moved to disobey a clear command of God. So we should pay taxes, drive legal cars, pay our bills, and a multitude of other laws. We are also called to obey the magistrates. The only exception to this comes when a command from the secular powers is clearly, and directly against a command of God. For example in Acts 4:18-20 Peter and John are told ‘not to speak of teach in the name of Jesus’. But obviously they do. And obviously they have to. So the Christian is to be a good citizen outwardly. Responsible and diligent in all that they do. The church is doing it’s job when people can say ‘we may not agree with their views on truth and homosexuality, but this place would be a lot worse if they all left’ we need to seek the peace and seek the good of where we live.

We also need to be good citizens inwardly. Paul tells Titus’ church to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers but gentle. Just as we need to be good citizens to people’s face, we need to be good citizens behind their backs as well. It is no good at all to obey someone but then to speak evil about them. Jesus is not interested in that sort of obedience. It means nothing. We are to obey them and speak no evil of them. Coupled with that we are not to be brawlers, but gentle, showing meekness unto all men. It’s easy to read that verse, see the word brawlers and reassure ourselves that since we’ve never been in a fist fight we’ve nothing to worry about here. Jesus is interested in inward obedience, not just outward though. So when we get angry with someone, we may as well have punched them. That’s why Paul mentions it next to meekness, because meekness is the opposite of quarrelsome.

Why should we be meek? Well, there seem to be three, related reasons here, and it’s obvious to Paul, and hopefully it’s just as obvious to us! Look at verse three ‘for we ourselves were once sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, and hating one another. Do you see Paul’s point? We can not but be meek when we are faced with things that make us angry, because all they do is serve as a mirror to your old self. Regardless of how long ago we were saved, there was a point in all of our lives when we were like this. There was a point in all of our lives when we were driving by our sinful desires, by our divers lusts, by our anger…just by our sin. Look at the list that Paul writes to Titus here, we’re all in there somewhere, whether it’s malice and envy, hatred or foolish disobedience, there is enough in all of our pasts to remind us that we need to be meek.

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