Titus 3:1-8 Heirs Of Grace.
Paul reminded Titus that being subject to rulers and authorities was also a reminder for the church, because Paul and the other apostles had stressed this point before (Cf. Rom. 13:1-7; I Pet. 2:13-17). Christians are not anarchists. We are called to obey those in authority, because they have been established by God. Laws and rulers may not be ideal, but we still believe in the rule of law, and like our fellow citizens we are to varying degrees free to effect change in the societies in which we live, by lawful means. To be engaged in the betterment of our societies, including the political and judicial branches, is part of “being ready for every good work” (v. 1). So we are reminded to be subject, and to obey, but more than this, we ought to be “ready for every good work,” which includes fulfilling the cultural and dominion mandate of Genesis 1:26-28. With the fall, the great commission is a means of seeing this original mandate fully and completely fulfilled.
Words matter, and what we speak about concerning others matters. We also need to be reminded “to speak evil of no one” (v. 2a). Again, as good citizens, it must be our desire to live at peace with our fellow citizens. Even at those times when we may be forced to obey God rather than men, we are still called to do so as peaceably as we are able, being “gentle, showing all humility to all men” (v. 2c). Our position must be one of humility, because we know that without God’s mercy and grace, we would be still numbered among His enemies. When we were His enemies, we also made enemies, strictly because of our own sin and that of others. Without God man is “foolish, disobedient, and deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (v. 3 Cf. I Cor. 6:9-11). We are humbled because we know that this change happened “when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared” (v. 4c).
It is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (v. 5a Cf. Rom. 3:20; Eph. 2:4-9). Works of righteousness is the end in view of this salvation, but it was only possible because of His mercy and love. It is only “through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (v. 5b), that we can move in a different direction with a new life (Cf. Ezek. 36:26-27; Jn. 3:3). This salvation is a Trinitarian work, since it springs from the Father’s love and mercy, is effected through the ministry of the Spirit, who is poured out on us abundantly, “through Jesus Christ our Savior” (v. 6). For the Christian our justification is past tense-effected through His grace. However, the scope of our salvation does not end there. “Having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (v. 7). Our salvation involves an inheritance-the resurrection and eternal life (Cf. 1:2; Rom. 8:17, 23-25).
However, our inheritance involves much more than a hope after death. This inheritance involves a witness of the Spirit with our spirit, that we are children of God. The Spirit witnesses to our adoption, and as God’s true children the Spirit enables us to put to death the sinful deeds of the body (Rom. 8:12-17). We also share in the other “firstfruits of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:23). This inspires Paul to share another “faithful saying,” and something which he wanted Titus, and us with him, “to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works” (v. 8ab). This is the work of the Spirit in and through us, and also part and parcel of our inheritance. “Good works” includes everything “good and profitable to men” (v. 8c). If we are true children of God, the Spirit will both bear witness to this reality and work in and through us to perfect the image of Christ in us, including bringing forth the fruit and works of the new birth (Cf. Jn. 3:3-7).