Motivations to Influence Culture

It's one thing to live godly lives in the church (chapter 1) and in the home (chapter 2). But it is quite another thing to live a consistent life in the world. This is the place that many a Christian has fallen flat on his face. They do fine when they are around other Christian people, but get them in a political convention, or at work, or on the golf course and you find them living like the world. You've probably all read the statistics that say that the American church is not much different than non-Christians on moral lifestyle. If that is the case, there is something seriously wrong with the state of the church because God's word says that there is a difference between a genuine Christian and the world. And it is precisely that difference that Titus has been addressing.

As Christians You Should be Especially Motivated to be Godly Citizens (vv. 3-7)

When You Consider What You Were Saved From (v. 3)

I found it interesting this past week to look at some of the contexts in which God discusses grace. Sometimes he discusses grace as a motivation to perseverance. Sometimes as a motive for service. Sometimes as call to love God because of all that He has done for us. Well, in this chapter Paul discusses grace in the context of citizenship; and this was citizenship in 64 A.D. when Nero was persecuting the church. According to Paul God's grace should make a radical difference in our public lives. Last week we looked at the difficult calling that God has given in verses 1-2. Today we are looking at point II — the motive. Let me just read that again. Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. Today I want you to notice that these verses did not just hold up a lofty but unattainable ideal; this is not just nice theory. The change had already begun in their lives. Verse 3 describes their past life as ungodly citizens, using seven vices that form a contrast to the seven virtues in the first two verses. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

First, I want you to notice that word "once." They were "once" ungodly citizens, but Christ's grace has come to change all of that. Once you become a Christian there should be, and there must be a difference that is manifested. Sure we will be continually growing in grace, and gradually overcoming sin. No Christian is perfect. But there is a definitive break with the past; a fleeing from iniquity and a fleeing to Christ. Churches that fit the description of George Gallup's poll, or Josh McDowell's poll have many professors who are not possessors. That word "once" does not describe their lives. One of the plagues that has hit the twentieth century church is the heresy that you can receive Christ as Savior but reject Him as Lord (as if Christ were two persons!); that you can be saved from sin's penalty and yet be comfortable in sin and wallow in sin. This doctrine teaches that holiness has no bearing on whether a person is a Christian or not. They say that holiness is an option. It's a nice option, but an option nonetheless. Well, there are hundreds of Scriptures that would contradict this. In the words of Paul I would say to such a person, "examine yourself to see if you are in the faith." While it is true that becoming a Christian does not make a person have a perfect life, becoming a Christian starts a person on the path of sanctification; on the road to maturity; on the road to overcoming sin. And if you're not on that road, you're not a Christian.

Now let's quickly take a look at Paul's description of the non-Christian citizen and why this should not only motivate us to pursue godliness but also to be gentle and understanding with the pagan. The non-Christian citizen is first of all called "foolish" here. Why? Is it because he is not as good as the Christian at geometry or statistical analysis? No. The reason he is foolish is because he judges life by a faulty standard. He doesn't have God or God's blueprints in his life. I found it interesting that in 1 Corinthians 2 God sees the pagan as foolish, and Paul says that the pagan sees us as foolish. And the reason is because we look at all of life by a different standard. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). We should never fall into the trap of looking at life from a pagan perspective. That will earn you God's label of "foolish." God says it is foolish to fail to live life in terms of eternity. On the other hand the world may think that you are foolish for throwing away good years of your life in Christian service. If there is no eternity, then let's live it up because tomorrow we die. I think Jim Elliot's statement is a classic statement as to the different ways we view life. He said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, [you can't keep the things of this life - every man will go to the grave empty. "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep] to gain what he cannot lose." If you are saved, you should now be living all of life with the perspective of what counts for eternity. What are those enduring things that God values? To know the difference to that question will make a difference in your citizenship.

The next word is disobedient. Non-Christian citizens are disobedient to God, and as a result are often disobedient to God-ordained authorities. This is a contrast to verse 1. I have been surprised by the number of Congressman and Senators even who have had violations of the law, some of them criminal violations even. That is merely a logical extension of their autonomous lives. But even the most upright pagan citizen who maybe kept all of the man-made laws is still a rebel against God and His government. And it is ultimately God who determines when obedience or disobedience to man is allowed. Last week we saw that the same Paul who said "to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey," was also the Paul who was in and out of jail over and over. He said he couldn't number the times he had been scourged by pagans, and certainly had had many skirmishes with both Jewih and Roman courts. So it is ultimately not man who determines what is true obedience. Paul recognized the authority of Christ standing over the government. And there were times when an attitude of obedience and submission to the king still means that you are disobeying the King of kings and Lord of lords. And so he was saying, "Don't be surprised when pagans persecute you. Before we were Christians our obedience had a time bounded perspective - it was only horizontal. Once we become Christians we should have the 20-20 vision of God's perspective, and see obedience and disobedience as God sees it. It's hard for a pagan to admit that he is a sinner.

The next word is deceived. This too should help us have the attitudes of verses 1-2 when government officials harrass us and persecute us. Remember that verse 3 begins with a "For" or "Because." Each word in verse 3 is a reason as to why we should be the citizen described in verses 1-2. Paul says that they are deceived just like we once were. Though they may persecute us, they in reality are the ones to be pitied, and who are in need of the grace described in verses 5-7. When you have a right view of the state of a pagan, it will make your heart go out in compassion to him. They are deceived like we all once were.

The next phrase indicates that they are also enslaved. They may not be bound in prison like some of you are now, but their spirits are bound by sin. It says, serving various lusts and pleasures and the literal rendering is "slaves to" or "enslaved to various passions and pleasures." You might think that's a slight exaggeration because you know non-Christians who are very sensible, sober, upright people. But as William Hendriksen says, "Some serve one master, some another, but by nature all are slaves to those terrible 'drives' which they have never learned to control." (p. 388). Some are driven by a desire to be pleased, and others by a desire to please others and be recognized as good. Some are driven by lust, and others by pride. Some are driven by laziness and others by a desire for money and creature comforts. But for the unbeliever, the motivation springs from below rather than from God. They are slaves to the creature whereas we should be slaves to the Creator. It is only by God's Spirit that we can be set free to serve God. Anyone who does not believe that unbelievers have a bondage of the will needs to read this verse — "slaves to various lusts and pleasures."

It goes on to say, living in malice and envy. I think envy is one of the more misunderstood words. My guess is that at least some of you use envy and jealousy as synonyms. But if you do, you will misunderstand many verses in Scripture. They are not synonyms. No Christian may be envious. That is a sin. But a Christian may be jealous. God is never spoken of as being envious, but He is said to be jealous. In Scripture, envy flows out of malice, whereas jealousy can flow out of love. Jealousy can be very good. Jealousy does not want to lose what it has. Scripture says it is good to want to keep your honor, your reputation, your wife; jealous of your honor, jealous of your reputation when it is slandered, jealous of your wife if she is unfaithful. On the other hand, envy hates to see another person have something that you want. Thus a man may be jealous of his own honor (that's good), and envious of another person's skill (that's bad). Now it is true, it is bad to be jealous of your wife or husband if there is no good reason to be jealous. There can be a sinful jealously. But if your spouse were unfaithful, you were not jealous, then Scripture would indicate that you lacked love. The great love book of the Bible, the Song of Solomon speaks of jealousy as flowing out of strong love (S of S. 8:6-7)

Now with that as a definition, let me recommend a book to you that will show how pervasive envy is in our society, and even in the church. If you've never read Idols For Destruction, by Herbert Schlossberg, then I would highly recommend that you get it. He covers a lot of other territory masterfully, but one small part of his book deals with this problem of envy and shows how it is so cleverly disguised in various forms. Sometimes it poses in the garb of generosity or fairness. In other words, generosity with other people's money, and fairness being defined as my having what others have. Socialism is rife with envy. It is the belief that no one has the right to be wealthy when there are so many poor, and it is willing to destroy the wealthy in its pursuit of equality. Envy motivates them to believe it is better to destroy wealth and make everyone poor than to have the class differences. Let me give another example of envy. Some years ago I read in the paper about a woman who scarred another woman's face because she was envious of that woman's beauty. It is the thought, "If I can't have the beauty, I certainly don't want her to have it because it drives me crazy to realize that she is beautiful and I am ugly." That is not jealousy; that is envy. And both malice and envy are pervasive in our society. We want what the other person has got, and we intend to get that even if it means that they and society will be destroyed in the process. And it is so important to realize that God has come to save us from envy. If you are still plagued with envy (desiring what other people have and you don't have), then you need counseling to deal with it. If you envy the wealth, the beauty, the brains, the power, or whatever of other people, then there is a serious problem. Paul says to the Christian, "You were [once] envious." Wherever God's grace is present it changes that.

The last description is that they were hateful and hating one another. "Hateful" means that they were worthy of hate. One translation has it as "loathsome and hating one another." Some people question whether it is true that all non-Christians are hateful; whether they are worthy of hate, but sinners are detestable to God. Scripture is clear on that. Psalm 11:5 says, "The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates." Psalm 5:5 says to God, "You hate all workers of iniquity." The miracle is that God could love any of us. So unbelievers are hateful (or loathsome) by nature. What about the second part? Are all unbelievers haters of one another? Now some might say, "This verse just can't be true because I know Miss Jones and she does have a mean bone in her body. She could never hate anyone." Well, let me point out that if love and hate are defined in terms of the law, every unbeliever falls into this category. Let me just give you one example: Proverbs 13:24 says, "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly." Now most people wouldn't think of hate in those terms. They would say "Oh, I love the child too much to spank him." But when you view life from God's perspective, you will immediately see that the parents who fail to discipline don't love with true Biblical love because they are denying their children the peaceable fruits of the rod. One fruit is described in Proverbs 23:14 which sees the child as heading on a fast train bound for hell, and the rod is one of God's means to turn the train around and head it in the right direction. It says, You shall beat him with a rod and deliver his soul from hell. Can you see how those who allow their children to continue on their hell-ward journey are the actual child abusers? They hate their children by biblical definition.

1 John 5:3 defines love this way: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. Christ said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Turn with me to Romans 13:8-10. This is an incredible description of what love is all about. Romans 13, beginning at verse 8. Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." With a definition of love and hate like that you can see how unbelievers are very literally "worthy of hate and hating one another." The world has nothing to offer us, and is really to be pitied as those who are in need of the grace which God has given to us. Again a good motivation to live lives like those listed in verses 1-2.

When You Consider Who Saved You (vv. 4-7)

The Love and Kindness of God (v. 4)

Now in stark contrast with man's inhumanity to man as shown in verse 3 (and every non-Christian citizen is involved in that inhumanity to man to some extent) is God's incredible love and kindness. There is a stark contrast. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared. Paul uses the same word for "appeared" here as in Titus 2:11. It means to shine forth and make things visible. It's to turn on the lights. Christ turned on the lights and made it clear what kindness and love really looked like. Inspite of the character of man in verse 3, God shed His love on us. Now that should make you rethink how you treat those who despitefully use you. Remember that we are still dealing with the reason why verses 1-2 advocate submission rather than revolution against Nero's government. Now obviously, a magistrate would be responsible to overthrow Nero, but we are dealing with citizens here. God is not asking us to do in verses 1-2 what He has not done Himself. We are simply imitating God's radical love by the power of the Holy Spirit. Last week we saw that we are not just to love the loveable, and those who are easy to get along with. Christ told us to love our enemies, and verses 1-2 was doing exactly that since the government at this stage was an enemy of the Gospel. Paul wanted God's love to be shown to their enemies in practical deeds of kindness, in self-control, in humility, in obedience where obedience was possible. In Romans 12 Paul says, "Repay no one evil for evil. . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good." Down through the centuries we have multitudes of stories of those who were won to Christ by the love that Christians showed during times of persecution.

So God is our model of this kind of radical love to enemies, and verse 5 shows how God's love did not wait for man to do something loveable.

The The Extent of God's Mercy (v. 5a)

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us. It was mercy, sheer mercy that saved any of us. None of us can point the finger at those who are still in the condition of verse 3 and be self-righteous. It's when we understand the total depravity of mankind in verse 3 that we realize the total mercy of Christ in verse 5. Paul elsewhere said, "There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable. There is none who does good, no, not one." (Rom. 3:9-12). This emphasises the sovereign character of God's salvation. Man contributes nothing but unworthiness. God contributes everything out of sheer mercy.

There are those who think that God is not fair in electing only certain people to salvation. But the moment you begin to think of fairness you have totally missed the concept of mercy. A lady approached Charles Spurgeon one time and confessed that she couldn't understand how God could hate Esau. It just didn't seem fair. Spurgeon told her that the text had puzzled him many a time as well. He had no problem understanding why God would hate Esau. A holy God had repeatedly said that He hates all workers of iniquity. But he never could understand how God could freely love a sinner such as Jacob. And what is true of Jacob is just as true of us. God's love to us is a mercy, Pure mercy. There is nothing we could ever do to earn salvation. This would not only give hope to these Christians who were praying for the salvation of their persecutors — God's grace is powerful. It would also give them motivation to love those who were unloveable.

I heard of a lady who went to Jay Adams one time for counseling hoping to get an excuse for a divorce. And one of Jay Adam's statements was that she had misunderstood love to be a feeling. You can't command feelings. Feelings may come later, but love is primarily an action and she was commanded by God to love her husband. She said that she could never love him as a husband, things had gone too far. Jay Adam's said, then what about the Scripture that commands you to love your neighbor as yourself? You couldn't have a closer neighbor. She said that she didn't want to be his neighbor. Jay Adams finally said, "Well, Christ also commanded us to love our enemies. If he is your enemy, you can at least start there." Do you get the gist of what Paul is saying here? In contrast to the hate of verse 3, Paul is saying that the love of Christians in verses 1-2 should be modeled after God's unconditional love in these verses. If you have been gripped by the love of God, it should compel you as a believer to a similar unconditional love. And if you have never given unconditional love there is a question as to whether you have really experienced it yet.

Now Paul goes even further in the second part of verse 5 to show that absolutely nothing came from man. Even faith comes into existence by grace. Notice the order in verses 5-7 is regeneration (v. 5), giving of Spirit (v. 6), and justification (v. 7). Before you can believe you have to be born again.

The Change Wrought by the Spirit (v. 5b-6)

The first work of grace in the human heart is regeneration. through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Some have thought that this is referring to Baptism. Actually, it is more accurate to say that this is referring to what Baptism pictures. This is not speaking of the outward baptism, but of the inward baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is the washing and renewal of the heart. Our bodies are not regenerated until the resurrection according to Romans 8, but our hearts are regenerated now. Other synonyms for regeneration are the new birth, being born again and being given a new heart. Now this doctrine of regeneration or new birth is a doctrine that shows how utterly gracious God was in salvation because we don't contribute anything to regeneration. We are totally passive in regeneration, and I want to dwell on that a bit since it is so little understood. In your worship notes you will notice a handout that shows on one side the free offer of the Gospel. It shows the many different forms of the free offer, followed by a phrase that shows that no one can respond, and then the remedy: God's regeneration. The flip side of the sheet shows the order of regeneration being first and producing faith and repentance second.

The heart is the central core of man from which flow the mind, the emotions and the will. And this need for regeneration; this need for our mind, emotions and will to be changed is where we get the doctrine of total depravity from. It is total in the sense that every part of man is affected by sin, and therefore every part of man needs to be renewed. The mind is affected because Romans 3:11 says, "There is none who understands." The will too is bound by sin because God says, "No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent Me draw Him" (John 6:44), and "Ye will not come to me, that you might have eternal life" (John 5:40). And our emotions are affected. The Bible says, "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light" (John 3:19). So in regeneration God has to change the mind, emotions and will so that the person suddenly desires to come to God whereas before he did not. Does a person get born again because he believed? No the reverse is true; the heart is changed, and then the person who before was incapable of faith and repentance now believes.. Acts 16:14 says of Lydia, "the Lord opened her heart so that she responded to the things spoken by Paul." That's Acts 16:14. Her heart had to be opened before she could respond in faith. Jeremiah 24:7 says, "And I will give them a heart to know Me . . . and they will return to Me with their whole heart." God has to give them a new heart (that's regeneration) before they can return with their whole heart. This is why Scripture over and over says that faith and repentance are a gift of the Spirit. We can't even do that on our own.

And so this doctrine of regeneration is a doctrine that takes every vestige of pride away from man. Regeneration is spoken of in the Bible as a new creation, and a creation is a making of something out of nothing. There was nothing in there that God could make something out of. He replaces the old heart with a heart transplant. We don't contribute a thing to regeneration. God doesn't just patch us up. It is called a new birth, and a baby is as passive as could be when it is being born. It is spoken of as a resurrection from the dead. Can you see Lazarus saying that he cooperated with Jesus by believing when Jesus raised him from the dead? He couldn't hear, get up or walk until Christ breathed new life into him. Regeneration is spoken of as replacing of a stony heart with a soft heart. A heart transplant patient is passive or he wont' be a patient very long. It is spoken of as the opening of blind eyes. God, and God alone can get the glory in how we came to Christ. We contributed nothing.

Now the Spirit that gave us new life does not leave us because we need Him throughout our life to give us of the things of Christ. And so it says in verse 6 of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior Moment by moment we need the Spirit and we can only have the Spirit as we have Christ. This is why Christ said, "Without Me you can do nothing." But the Spirit is the means for us partaking of all that Christ purchased for us in His life and death. He said that He would send the Holy Spirit to us in His place. So moment by moment in our daily walk, we have Christ living His life through us by means of the Holy Spirit. And notice that it says the Spirit was poured out on us abundantly. If you have an abundance of troubles living the Christian life, you need the Spirit in abundance. And so one of the things that I recommend Christians do every morning is to pray for a filling of the Holy Spirit.

The Riches of God's Spiritual Blessings (v. 7)

And finally, having received fully of God's love, and having our redemption purchased by Christ, and having the Holy Spirit to apply that in our lives, God along with that salvation gives us every spiritual blessing that we could possibly think of. Verse 7 says, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. We have an inheritance in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Chirst." Can you see how this was such a tremendous motivation to live godly lives? If God has done so much for us, it is a little thing to serve Him in the world. If God loved us with such an infinte love when we were hateful, it is a small thing for us to love the hateful by His grace. If God did not give up on us, we ought not to give up on men and women who are like us. The rest of the chapter deals with some of the implications of reaching out to the community, defending the church against attack, and loving as Christ loved us. But social action must be based upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ if it is to have a lasting effect. Godliness in the world is made possible by God's grace. Amen.

Motivations to Influence Culture is part of the Titus series published on November 28, 2004

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