Thursday Theology

Works? Why works? by Virgil Stripes

Titus 3:1-11 (ESV)

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Twice in this passage and five times in the Epistle of Titus — the entirety of which can be read in a few minutes — we are told to devote ourselves to good works. I know, we have heard many times about how we are saved by grace, not works. But we were saved to glorify God, and He has left us here on earth, that we may do good works. If He did not have things for us to do on this earth, He would have taken us away once we were redeemed. So since we are still here let us be about the Master’s business. Let us do good works to set an example for others. No, our works do not save us, but they show that we are saved.

Titus was in Crete when Paul wrote to him. And we must consider the fact that the society in Crete was corrupt. It probably resembled today’s America as far as how people behaved. They were gluttons, drunkards, liars, lazy, etc. It was therefore even more important for those in Christ to be different, and that is partly why Paul was so focused on the good works. As we read in Isaiah yesterday, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Isaiah 6:5.

As we go about our lives, may we glorify our God and Savior Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Ghost. Let us live pleasing and holy lives, being conscious of how what we do affects others.

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