Because of His Mercy

Saturday, February 11, 2017, 5:34 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 3:1-11 (NIV).

Whatever is Good (vv. 1-2)

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be subject to rulers and those in authority over us, yet we are to never succumb to following after false gods, to compromising our faith and convictions, and to disobeying our Lord. If human authority requires us to disobey God and his Word, then God’s authority always trumps human authority (See examples of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Daniel, Jesus and his NT apostles).

We should always live in obedience to our Lord, though. This is not saying we will never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but it is saying that our lifestyle, i.e. how we conduct our lives day in and day out should be reflective of those who are committed to obedience to Christ and to his Word. Our goal in life should not be to see how much bad we can get away with and not get caught, but our mission in life should be to do whatever is good by God’s standards, i.e. whatever is wholesome, moral, upright, godly and has the best interest of others in mind. We should not be in the practice of gossiping about others, especially if we tell lies about them in order to cause them harm. And, we should also be patient, fair and reasonable in our dealings with others.

Justified by Grace (vv. 3-8)

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. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 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, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 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.

If we ever get to feeling morally superior to others, thinking to ourselves about how righteous we are, and being proud of it, then we need to read this passage of scripture, for it puts things in the proper perspective for us.

We were all born into this world as sinners. We all came up short of attaining God’s divine approval. Not one of us can earn or deserve our own salvation. We are not saved because of our own righteousness. Only by God’s grace, through Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for our sins, can we be forgiven of our sins and have the hope of eternal life with God. We can’t even come to Christ unless the Father draws us, and even the faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God, i.e. it is his divine persuasion to us of his will for our lives. We don’t believe in Jesus with human belief, but with spiritual faith. Because this faith is of the Spirit, it is in accord with (is persuaded of) God’s perfect will.

Even the ability to repent of our sins and to walk in obedience to our Lord is a gift from God, empowered by his Spirit at work within us. When we exercise this God-given faith, the Spirit of God transforms our lives away from sin and to God, to live to his righteousness. Our spiritually blinded eyes are opened, and we are turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified, made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18). And, all this is possible because of God’s mercy toward us in delivering us out of slavery to sin so that we can now become bondservants of Christ and of his righteousness. All glory to God. Amen!

A Divisive Person (vv. 9-11)

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

A divisive person is “disposed to form sects, sectarian, heretical, factious.” Literally, a factious person is one who is “specializing in half-truths and misimpressions ‘to win others over’ to their personal opinion (misguided zeal) – while creating harmful divisions (used only in Tit 3:10)” (Source: biblehub.com). If someone is heretical, he is deviating, dissenting, and/or profane (irreverent, abusive and full of contempt regarding what is sacred). And, to deviate means to stray, depart, turn from, or wander, in this case, from the biblical standard for how we should live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ, i.e. it is to be immoral.

We should separate ourselves from those who willfully tell half-truths and who purposefully give misimpressions to win people over to their misguided beliefs and practices, if they have been warned appropriately, and if they have not repented of their sins. We should not be party to what is heretical, i.e. we should not in any way give such people our support. And, what they teach and practice should not be the foundation for our faith in Jesus Christ, either. If they are preaching a half-truth gospel which eliminates the necessity of repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as part of our God-given faith, i.e. God’s divine persuasion, i.e. the persuasion of his will, then we should reject such teaching. Such teaching gives free license to immorality and to living sinful lifestyles while still promising its adherents the hope of eternal life in heaven with God, and this is deviant from God’s will.

The Word of God teaches us that faith in Jesus Christ involves dying with Christ to sin and being resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). Scripture teaches us that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us; and he died “to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” His grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14).

Jesus said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life with God. Paul reiterated this message when he said that Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. He said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh (sin, wickedness) we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity) (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness) that we don’t live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6). So, we need to seek the Lord and his righteousness and not follow after liars.

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

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