We saw in the first chapter that God wants the church to be an orderly organization. Then we saw in the next chapter that the church is to be sound in doctrine. Now, to be all that God wants for the church, the church is to perform good works.
verse 1. Church members should be law-abiding. All believers should obey the laws of the land in which they live unless those laws conflict or contradict their duty and relationship to God. We are to be subject to the principalities and powers over us. A church should teach this; part of the message that should be given to church members is that they should be obedient to the powers that be. That obedience is not to the man but to the office that he represents. We might resent the manner in which a police officer gives us a ticket for a traffic violation, but we should respect the uniform he wears. He represents the segment of our society that protects our persons and our property. Without them we would be in a bad way today. This verse also raises the question. Should a Christian go into politics or not? Mmmm. Should the church be involved in politics????
An good example was the Wesleyan movement in England. Wesley never tried to straighten out the king of England or even the Church of England. He just went out and preached the Word of God. Men were converted, among whom were men like William Wilberforce, the great philanthropist and abolitionist. They were men who had been gamblers and drunkards, with no concern for the poor, until they came to know Christ. These men started the great labor movement associated with the Wesleyan revival in England, which was the beginning of the movement against child labor and the protection of workmen on the job.
“To be ready to every good work.” The church is to instruct individuals to be eager, to be anxious, and to learn to perform good works.
verse 2. “Speak evil of no man” means we are to bad mouth no one, none. Do not repeat gossip. “You can’t believe everything you hear today, but you can repeat it!” That is what Paul is talking about here—we are not to repeat what we hear. Many bad reports are passed from person to person without a shred of evidence that the report is true. Another old saying is that some people will believe anything if it is whispered to them! This is the way we should treat EVERYONE. Especially unbelievers and those who cross our path.
verse 3. This is a picture of the unsaved today, and a picture of us before we knew Christ. We were foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to lusts and pleasures, living selfishly, and hating others. Maybe we’re not all guilty of all the sins listed, but you know who you were. That is a picture of the lost world. You can visit a non–Christian home, and you will find these things. This is a picture of the unsaved given to us here. It ought never to be a picture of us as believers.
verse 4-5. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.” Verse 3 gave us a picture of how we were before we came to know Christ. It is important to understand that becoming a Christian doesn’t mean just turning over a new leaf—you will find yourself writing on the new leaf the same things that you wrote on the old leaf. Making New Year’s resolutions and promising to do better doesn’t make you a Christian. Nor are you saved on the basis of works of righteousness, good deeds, which you have done.
“But according to his mercy he saved us.” Because Christ died for us and paid the penalty for our sins, God is prepared to extend mercy to us; it is according to His mercy that He saved us. And He is rich in mercy, which means He has plenty of it.
“By the washing of regeneration.” “Washing” means laver—it is the laver of regeneration. In the Old Testament the laver, which stood in the court of the tabernacle and later the temple, represented this. This washing of regeneration is what the Lord was speaking about in the third chapter of John: “… Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). The water represents the Word of God—the Bible will wash you. It has a sanctifying power, a cleansing power. We are cleansed by the Word of God. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God—“born of water and of the Spirit.” That is the way we are born again.
“And renewing of the Holy Ghost”—He regenerates us.
verse 6. “Abundantly.” When believers are saved, Jesus gives way more, a surplus, beyond measure, His blessings!
verse 7. “Justified.” By faith alone, the central truth of the Gospel. We are “heirs” by way of adoption through our faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.
verse 8. “This is a faithful saying.” A common expression from the early church that Paul uses 5 times in his pastoral epistles. The believer is saved by the grace of God, but that does not excuse him from performing good works. The fact of the matter is, he is to “be careful to maintain good works.” Paul says that Titus should just keep affirming this constantly. After we have been saved, God talks to us about good works. Until that time, God is not even interested in our “good works” because what we call a good work, God calls filthy rags. The righteousness of man is filthy rags in His sight (see Isa. 64:6). He doesn’t want any of it. When we are saved, He wants us to do good works. About getting involved on how to get the Word of God out to a lost and going to hell world.
“Be careful to maintain good works.” These are things that you should think about and consider; ponder, be anxious to be producing works.
Verse 9. We are to defend the faith, Paul says, but we are not to do it by argument or debate. That does no good; that never led anyone to the Lord. You may whip a man down intellectually by your arguments, but that does not touch his heart and win him for Christ. Stay away from foolish questions and genealogies and contentions.
Verse 10. Anyone in the church who is unsubmissive, self-willed, and divisive should be expelled. Two warnings are to be given, this follows the basic pattern for church discilpline presented by Jesus in Matt. 18:15-17, Rom. 16:17,18, 2 Thess. 3:14,15.
Verse 11. The heretic is one who has turned aside from the truth.
Verse 12-14. Paul gives a final admonition about good works. We must “learn” to maintain good works. It’s something that must be worked at. A great many people think it is easy; we need to know what God considers good works, and we need to learn how to do them. Notice the emphasis is on good works as the platform for witnessing effectively. Are we willing to be obedient? Are we ready always to do good works?
Paul concludes this practical letter to Titus with a benediction. Verse 15 is Paul’s benediction.