Titus - Chapter 1

Will Huddleston
Colossians 2:6-7 tell us, "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." Pastor began a series this past Sunday entitled Titus, and this passage in Colossians gives us a great foundation for what Paul is writing to Titus and about why Titus was the individual chosen for ministry on the island of Crete.  
Crete was a mixing pot of people, cultures, lifestyles, and beliefs as it is situated in the center of the Mediterranean Sea and was a mid-way point for many travelers in the ancient world. As a result, even in this small area, there was a vast array of thoughts, beliefs, and seeming truths that were held...from carefree to moralizers. For any of us that grew up in church, this could sound somewhat familiar.  
In Acts 15, we read of a group of Pharisees who had placed their faith in Christ, continuing to put the shackles of law on those whom would believe in Jesus. A specific issue they were dealing with was the act of circumcision. According to their chosen belief, unless you are circumcised, you cannot be saved. Paul took up issue with this and disputed the matter sharply. After being sent to Jerusalem to further discuss the matter with other church leaders, some of the believers from the party of Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses." Peter, who was there with Paul and Barnabas, stands up and asks why they would put a yoke on the gentiles that their Jewish forefathers nor they themselves have been able to bear. Then in verse 11, he says, "But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are."
When we move back into the book of Titus, Chapter 1, we see Paul reminding us of his specific calling. Paul was appointed by God specifically as the apostle to the Gentiles and entrusted with the mystery revealed to Paul at the proper time. He also held Titus as an intimate confidante in that same calling. So, Titus was the man called to appoint elders in the cities and organize the churches for ministry. Just like in Jerusalem, there were those in Crete that were mandating the works of the law in order to be saved as well as a directive to those that would believe. This is where it begins to sound very much like my experience growing up in church, and it may be the same for many of you. Going back to Colossians 2:6-7, you would be hard-pressed to find a church that wouldn't give a hardy amen to the proclamation of that verse. However, hot on the heels of that, you will hear many a big but...you other brothers (and sisters) can't deny. Sorry, as a child of the 80s, I couldn't resist. But it's true...so many times, scriptures would be championed for their truth yet, held in check to their true power and freedom in Christ. Often, I think it is because we are putting faith in ourselves rather than the Holy Spirit that God has placed in us through Christ...we are fearful of what we or others might do rather than trusting the Holy Spirit and His power in our lives. But too often, I'm afraid it is also a measuring stick for those that are worried about appearing righteous, believing that righteous is something it isn't. In fact, Jesus himself, speaking to the Pharisees that knew and worked diligently to keep the law, called them self-righteous and a brood of vipers. The Bible says that the law in and of itself isn't evil...however, it was only delivered to show us of our inability to be righteous, not that if we keep a good portion of it that we would appear to be and therefore so. Jesus abolished the law and took away the need for it. Righteousness for us isn't found through keeping anything but rather accepting the completed work of Jesus Christ. At that moment, we are the very righteousness of God in Christ Jesus...perfected and complete. Our minds may have to be convinced of that, as Paul tells us in Romans 12. Our living, our true and proper worship is to be transformed by the renewing of our mind...in other words, becoming to believe what is already true.
Now, in today's society, many may even say that we no longer have to keep the law; however, there certainly are still rules, regulations, and more so convictions that are placed out there primarily to make sure others are acting as they "should." This is the proverbial measuring stick. And, too often, this measuring stick, due to its self-creation or misappropriation of scripture, tears down friendships, families, churches, and even cities and nations.  
We will likely encounter this, and the question we ask shouldn't have anything to do with these people or what is driving them to act in this manner. But rather, it should be, "what should our response be?" How do we stand strong against false teaching, manipulation, and self-righteousness? First, we grow in the grace in knowledge of Jesus Christ through the reading of His word. We must know the truth to be able to discern truth and live in the freedom that is found in Christ. Second, allow that truth to live out in our lives. At the moment of salvation, we were given the completed and ripened fruits of the spirit. They are complete in us. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control are noted in Galatians 5:22. They are fruits from Him given completely to bear in our lives. The beautiful thing about Galatians 5:22 is the end of the verse after the fruits are listed...against such things, there is no law. God has equipped us to be different, set apart, unique, and as we allow these fruits to manifest in our lives against them, there is no law. As we respond in love, the world's ways and the trickery of legalism will be silenced. It may not happen immediately, but over time the love of Christ and it expressed and freely given to others will triumph. Do not live in the yoke of slavery...do not allow others to place this yoke on you...do allow the Holy Spirit's way in your life and know the grace, freedom, and love that lives in you through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is our calling, and this is how, together, we will transform Texarkana.

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