Living in a Modern Crete

Today’s reading is Titus 3.

According to historical study, the Cretan populace was, in general, sinful and immoral in the extreme. And not just by the standards of the likes of Paul. The rest of the Roman world looked down on Crete and Cretans as vile, beastly, immoral liars. That means they were pretty bad. So we can imagine when Paul wrote to Titus about what to teach the Christians, he had a lot to say about how the Christians should wage the culture war among the sexually immoral, morally destitute, sinfully wicked Cretans. No doubt, he encouraged them to have public demonstrations, to take every opportunity to shout down the immorality, to argue constantly with everyone who disagreed with the revelation coming from the apostles, to belittle and shame the sinners. Or wait. Maybe he gave different instructions. Look again at today’s reading. 

  • Be submissive to rulers and authorities 
  • Be obedient
  • Be ready for every good work
  • Speak evil of no one
  • Avoid quarreling
  • Be gentle
  • Show perfect courtesy toward all people

Wow! Why? Because we are surrounded by people who need a Savior just as we do. The only difference between us and those who still pursue sin with reckless abandon is through Jesus Christ we have the empowering strength of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, this doesn’t mean we are to neglect teaching truth and correcting opponents (see Titus 1:9; 2:1, 7-8). However, let us think about Paul’s instructions to the Cretan Christians before we act, before we interact, before we react.

Monday’s reading is John 1

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Our Household in God’s Household

Today’s reading is Titus 2.

Yesterday, we learned there were insubordinate, empty talking, deceivers who were upsetting whole families teaching for shameful gain what ought not be taught. At the beginning of today’s reading, Paul turns that around on Titus. “No matter what anyone else is doing, Titus, you teach what accords with sound, healthy, faithful teaching. Those other guys are upsetting households, you settle them.” And then he talks about how everyone in a household should behave, whether male or female, whether old or young. But keep this in the context. Paul didn’t write this here so when we are preaching a series through Titus we could preach some lessons on the home. He is actually describing the battle in the vile culture of Crete. Please see, the battle isn’t won on Facebook. It isn’t won in a courthouse. It isn’t won on the floors of Congress. It is won in our households. Sure, it is great when laws get passed that support truth. But in the midst of Crete, Christians fight the good fight of faith not by conducting political battles but by living in their own households distinctly and differently, living soberly, steadfastly, lovingly, self-controlled, exemplary lives in a way that the ungodly are put to shame as they try to find some way to make an accusation against us. I think this may be a needed teaching for us today as well.

Tomorrow’s reading is Titus 3 .

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Confess & Conform

Today’s reading is Titus 1.

I almost hate to use the word “conform” because there are so many negative connotations to “conformity” in today’s thinking. However, whether we will admit it or not, we all conform to something. We all fill some mold, whether we conform to Christ or to sin, we conform to something. And Paul warns us. There are plenty who confess Jesus, but refuse to conform to Him. They know the right words to say, but they deny those words by their actions. These, Paul declares, are “detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” In other words, even what seemingly “good” things they do are not actually good. Their “good” works are defiled by their conformity to sin. We must not only talk the talk, we must walk our talk. Certainly, we will all fail. We will all stumble and fall as we walk. But our confession of Christ is supposed to change our lives to conform to Christ. If our confession doesn’t produce greater conformity, our confession is useless. Confess today, certainly. But let your confession lead to Christlike conformity.

Tomorrow’s reading is Titus 2

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Remember Where You Came From

Today’s reading is Titus 3.

“Always remember where you came from.” That’s a statement I’ve heard applied to successful people who came from humble beginnings. No matter how successful they get, they need to remember they were once the struggling up and comer who received help and patience from others as they grew. Paul tells Titus something similar. Disciples need to always remember where we came from. We came from a life dictated and dominated by sin. As disciples who have had some success and victory over sin through the grace of Jesus Christ, we might lose sight of that. When we see people still caught up in their sins, we might begin to feel superior and start wanting to isolate from those still trapped. Instead, we need to remember where we came from. We need to remember it wasn’t by our greatness, but by God’s grace we have come so far. And having remembered that, we need to reach out with the gospel of grace to those still trapped. That is disciple making. Aren’t you glad someone did that for you?

Monday’s reading is John 1.

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What is Sound Doctrine?

Today’s reading is Titus 2.

Sound doctrine. Healthy teaching. That means explaining all the ins and outs of the pattern for the worship and work of the local congregation, right? That means teaching on how the congregation is to be organized and how it spends its money, right? No doubt, any true teaching is sound doctrine. But did you notice what Paul emphasized when he encouraged Titus to pass on sound doctrine? Healthy teaching is teaching older men to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in the faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Healthy teaching is teaching older women to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not slaves to wine. To further teach the older women to teach the younger women what is good, to love their husbands and their children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, submissive to their own husbands. Healthy teaching is teaching the young men to be self-controlled, to be a model of good works, to show integrity, dignity, sound speech. Yes, congregational worship and work needs to be based on sound teaching, but more fundamentally, my daily life needs to be based on sound teaching. So does yours. That is the heart of discipleship and disciple-making. Let’s live based on sound teaching today.

Tomorrow’s reading is Titus 3.

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On Purpose

Today’s reading is Titus 1.

One of my biggest hindrances to disciple making is facing every day as if the goal is just making it through the day. One of Paul’s greatest strengths in disciple making was already knowing what his goal was before he faced each day. He knew his purpose. He knew what he was about. Jesus made him an apostle for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth in hope of eternal life. His question was never, “What should today be about?” It was never, “What should I accomplish today?” His question was simply, “What is the best thing I can do today to engender faith in God’s elect, providing them with knowledge of the truth, so they can have God’s promise of eternal life?” How are you facing today? Are you trying to figure out what it is about? Or are you staying on purpose?

Tomorrow’s reading is Titus 2.

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