Ain’t Gonna Happen

Paul wrote his epistle to Titus with the purpose of addressing the issue of false teachers in the church at Crete. That being the case, we can learn from this letter, as we see, throughout the New Testament, warnings of false teaching trying to gain greater headway into the church as this age comes to a close (2 Tim 2, 11-26 and 4:2-5, for example). Another related purpose of this brief epistle is to exhort Titus to in turn exhort the believers in Crete that they should be living holy lives, busy about the work of the Kingdom. That doctrine, busy laboring for the Kingdom work, is surely being assaulted and challenged by the “let’s have fun in Jesus” club. There’s an end-of-age assault on truth for you.

Paul writes the following to Titus:
Titus 2:11-15
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

Verse 14 reveals Paul’s clear understanding that the price paid by our Lord was to redeem us from lawless deeds and to purify us, claiming us as His “own special people, zealous for good works”.

Redeemed – that means BOUGHT back and paid for, and then BROUGHT to a state of thankfulness that would inspire good works – zealous good works, in fact.

Citing “zealous for good works” contrasts with the apparent natural state of the residents of Crete, about whom Paul refuses to mince words. Gee, Paul was a prophet, and what he says here doesn’t seem all that “positive” re the culture of the Cretans. Might there be a lesson to be learned regarding New Testament prophecy – that it can be a two-edged sword and not merely Candyland compliments? Paul was quoting a 6th century BC writer name Epimenides:

Titus 1:12-13
12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,

Wow. What a lousy reputation for an entire culture to possess – lazy, lying scoundrels. Things had changed though – Jesus was moving in the lives of the people. Salvation was in Crete!

Although I’m a fan of the NKJV translation, the original King James states it this way:
Titus 2:14-15
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

I do love that.
“Peculiar people, zealous of good works”.
Peculiar. A little strange. Not fitting in, by divine design.
That has always been the plan of God – that His people would stand out to a lost and dying world.

Somehow the Lord must have been absent the day his mom home-schooled Him about being “relevant” and fitting in to make friends. Instead, He was more about the public spectacle of obedience to the will of His Father (Col 2:15).

God in fact has always felt so strongly about the specialness of His people, that He puts it this way via the prophet Ezekiel:

Ezek 20:32-33
32 “What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, ‘We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.’
33 “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.

Israel was in captivity, and God was making a perpetual declaration to them – “Don’t you ever think you will be like Gentiles, serving false gods. It ain’t gonna happen. I didn’t redeem you so you could fit in”.

We would do well to understand this is not about wearing strange religious clothes or adapting weird customs that God fancies (although there are some strange things about our faith!).

Most importantly, He wants our lives to stand out – holy lives gung-ho for good works. We would also do well to understand it is not one Testament or the other. This is about the eternal God and His eternal attitude towards His eternal people. We will never be allowed to live like the Gentiles. We’re not supposed to and we won’t be allowed to. To the contrary, our efforts to live like the world will in fact invoke His anger.

33 “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you.

Peter confirms the New Testament pertinence of this truth:
1 Pet 1:17-19
17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;
18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

The beginning of that chapter cites Peter speaking to the “pilgrims of the Dispersion”. That would be scattered Jews.

And Paul puts it this way to the Gentile converts to Christ:
1 Cor 12:2
2 You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.

The bottom line to all this is that our great God has redeemed Jew and Gentile alike out of vain and worthless religion, religiosity, idol worship, worldliness, and even demonism. And in His jealousy for us He has declared we’re not to spend our lives here trying to fit in.

In speaking to the Jews (Ezek 20) God continues to speak to the saints of our age:
“Don’t for a moment think you are saved and redeemed so you can ‘fit in’ to society. You are called to stand out, not fit in. You are called to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works”.
Spirit-led sons of God (Romans 8).

Ezekiel 20, again:
32 “What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, ‘We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.’

It simply ain’t gonna happen.
We are His – the people and the property of Jesus.
It sort of puts a new spin on our Lord telling us that our daily prayer has to include a binding of our living and rebellious wills to the altar, and instead surrendering to the will of God.

The Disneyland gospel of America would tell you it is all about you, finding your life in Him.
Paul says it this way – it’s not about finding out who he (Paul) is by His relationship with Jesus, but rather being found in Him (dwelling in the fullness of His divine will):

Phil 3:8-14
8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 AND BE FOUND IN HIM, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

“I Surrender All” – what a great old song.

Except as noted – all scripture NKJV

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About ez3728

I am a believer in Jesus - that He is the One and Only Messiah of the world. I believe the Bible is the perfect and complete Word of God, and that God is absolutely competent and capable of keeping His Word perfect, undefiled, and uncorrupted. Jesus was born Jewish. So was I. He lived a perfect life, and is worshiped. I live an imperfect life, and I worship Him.
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