Category Archives: Christian Liberty

Perspectives In Titus: The Liberating Grace And Its Obligation To Serve

Titus 2 v 14

Ladies, God got me really excited as I prepared today’s Bible study on Titus that I want to dive right in! So let’s look at our passage and then enjoy working through verse 14.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)

Last Monday, after we talked about Christ’s appearing, we noticed Paul’s boldness in proclaiming His deity. Now we circle back to the theme of God’s grace. Specifically, Paul’s words to Titus reveal God’s grace as a means to accomplish His purpose in establishing the churches in Crete, as well as the Church as a whole.

Verse 14 continues a complex sentence that begins in verse 11, and centers on the purpose and result of God’s grace. It immediately follows the assertion that Christ is indeed God with a further assertion that our great God and Savior Jesus Christ gave Himself. At the risk of distracting you from the primary point of this passage, I want to say a bit about the idea that our great God and Savior Jesus Christ gave Himself.

In John 10:18, Jesus explicitly declared that He would lay down His life of His own accord. Neither the Sanhedrin nor the Romans ultimately caused His crucifixion. Even God the Father didn’t force Him to the cross. True, His human nature asked for another way (Mark 14:35-36), yet He went voluntarily, focusing on the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).

Furthermore, He gave Himself on our behalf. As Jamieson, Fausset and Brown put it, redemption means to deliver from bondage by paying the price of blood. He took pity on our enslavement to sin, and bought us back by shedding His precious blood. See 1 Peter 1:18-19 for an appreciation of the value God places on Christ’s blood. Acts 20:28 teaches that He bought us as a church, not merely as individuals, although we must keep in mind that individuals make up the church. In relation to the verse before us, the emphasis is on the precious blood that Christ shed as a payment for His church.

Jesus redeemed us from lawlessness itself, rather than merely the penalty of sin. As verse 12 has already said, God’s grace trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions — redemption gives us the ability to say “NO!” to our sin nature. Barnes emphasizes that the Lord’s principle objective in redeeming us is our purity (or holiness), citing Hebrews 9:14 as a cross-reference.

He also redeemed us to make us a people belonging to Him. This point reminds us that redemption signifies His ownership of us (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Although we most definitely benefit from our liberation from our own sin natures, that wonderful liberation obligates us to serve Him in gratitude for His mercy.

Paul once again emphasizes a distinction between Christians and the world, especially because of the well-known lawlessness of Cretans. But Christians in all places and eras must separate from the corrupt cultures that surround us. Therefore, He had to purify us, since no sin can exist in His presence.

The Lord also redeemed us to be zealous to do good works. Ephesians 2:10 echoes this thought by stating that we are created, at regeneration, to walk in good works that God has already prepared for us. Please notice that redemption gives us the zeal; the good works don’t cause us to be redeemed. God’s grace so fills us with gratitude that we no longer want to engage in the lawless behaviors that characterized the Cretans (and indeed characterize our postmodern culture). Instead, grace gives us the zealous eagerness to please Christ.

Titus 2:11-14 depicts God’s grace as a conduit for honoring Him, as we’ve seen over the past  few weeks. I pray that each of us might apply His grace when temptation calls us to indulge our selfish desires. How wonderful of the Lord to give us this liberating grace that frees us to serve Him!

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A Matter Of Personal Conviction

QuestionsThe Outspoken TULIP exists as a response to compromise within present-day evangelicalism. Many (if not most) evangelicals have capitulated to worldly philosophies and practices including yoga, homosexuality, contemplative prayer and psychology. Definitely, Scripture demands that we separate from such things.

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
    and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
    then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
    and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.” ~~2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (ESV)

So absolutely, Bible-believing Christians have an obligation, in obedience to God’s Word, to separate from anything that would contaminate their devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. As the apostle John says, loving the things of the world only goes to expose our lack of love for the Father (1 John 2:15-17). Our study of Paul’s epistle to Titus each Monday has been showing us the importance of living differently from our non-Christian counterparts.

Many areas in which we must distinguish ourselves should be obvious. God’s Word gives clear guidelines that we can apply to various situations. My regular readers know the issues that I will not compromise on, and why these matters mustn’t be compromised.

But there are some matters on which the Bible gives room for individual conscience. Some activities, while not sinful in and of themselves, can cause a Christian to stumble. I have, for example, a personal conviction that I ought to wear hats to church. But I have an equally strong (and maybe even stronger) conviction that I would be sinning if I told my sisters in Christ to cover their heads in church.

Scripture makes it abundantly clear that Christians have liberty in certain areas of life, and that those of us with more scruples must avoid imposing our convictions on brothers and sisters who don’t share those convictions.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  ~~Romans 14:1-4 (ESV)

Again, I’m not talking about things that clearly violate sound doctrine. Watching a TV program that overflows with explicit sexual content is obviously unacceptable for any Christian, for instance. But watching TV in general may not be sinful for people who choose their shows carefully. I shouldn’t judge a person who believes she shouldn’t own a TV (think of all the money she’s saving!), and she shouldn’t judge me for watching (my disability necessitates going to bed three hours before lights out, and I physically can’t hold books in bed).

Christian liberty varies from person to person in these gray areas, and I know we’d all be more comfortable with clearly delineated regulations. How long should hemlines be? Should a couple kiss before the wedding? What  about sending a child to public school? Is an overweight person guilty of gluttony? Can I have a glass of wine with dinner? Was it sinful not to vote for Trump? Was it sinful to vote for Trump? I have strong opinions on most of these questions, but I can’t pass those opinions off as Scriptural principles.

Yes, we must be cautious in enjoying the liberties the Lord gives us. I won’t tell you what I watch on television, because you may have convictions against watching those programs. But neither will I insist that you educate your children according to my (extremely strong) convictions about homeschooling. I will speak out quite loudly on things that go against God’s Word, certainly, but not on disputable matters.

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