This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. (Titus 3:8)
“You Cretan!” In the 1st century, that was an ugly way to call someone a liar. Cretans at that time were rough. They were immoral, untrustworthy, leveraging their trade in agriculture to continue a riotous, raucous way of life.
Paul chose Titus to go to the Isle of Crete to lead the believers there to walk in faith and holiness with Jesus. He was also tasked with establishing order in the church – a church made up of people who believed in God but held on to their earned name of “you Cretan!”
I’m reminded that in a culture of this nature, a man needed to be tough physically, mentally, and spiritually. Titus was that type of young man. Here, on an island 135 miles long and 35 miles wide, Titus ventured into a dangerous way of life. Traditionally, he is credited with “taming” this island as its spiritual leader, at least during his lifetime. He was a young man with an energetic physique equal to his peers; a young man who could identify with the Cretan Greeks being equally Greek and uncircumcised as they were; a young man with the mindset to match the Cretan mentality and bend it to God’s purpose; a young man with enough spiritual armor to stand against any opposition.
And Paul did not leave him unequipped.
Titus, chapter 1 – setting the tone
- An overseer (or elder) must hold to the Truth as Biblically taught (verse 9).
- He must “get it” so that he can pass it on as well as rebuke those who deny the Truth (verse 13).
- As a matter of Biblical principle, this not only applies to overseers but to all Christians.
- Jewish fables and commandments of men (verse 14) include perverse, deviant behavior (verses 15-16).
- There was also the matter of the stubborn Jewish requirement for all Gentile believers to be circumcised, a commandment of men that Paul disproved.
- Verse 16 reads, “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” (NKJV)
Describe the kinds of works which show that a believer actually denies a true profession of faith in Christ.
Now, describe the kinds of works that a believer displays and engages as a true believer in Jesus.
What is the difference between faith and works?
Titus, chapters 2 & 3 – Paul’s faithful sayings to Titus
Paul urges young men to be self-controlled and disciplined in body, mind, and spirit. These are the faithful sayings Paul urged Titus to embrace in his living for Christ:
- Be sober. 2:2, 6, 12
- Have a good work ethic. 3:1, 8, 14
- Teach and learn with integrity and reverence. 2:1, 3, 7
- Speak with truth and sincerity. 2:8, 15; 3:2
- Guard yourself against ungodliness and lusts of this world. 2:5, 11-12; 3:3-7
- Be sober (drives the point home about not using alcohol). 2:12
- Live righteously and in a Godly way. 2:2-12
- Be alert to how God is working around you. 2:13; 3:1
- Speak, exhort, and rebuke with authority. 2:15
- Subject yourself to the rule of law. 3:1-2, 9
- Maintain and be obedient in good works. 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14
- Don’t speak evil of anyone. 2:1-3, 8-9; 3:2, 9
- Live in peace with others. 2:2; 3:2, 9
- Be a gentleman, humble in your relationships with other men.
- Constantly affirm your faithfulness to Christ. 2:3, 7; 3:8
- Maintain good works.
- Avoid stupid and pointless arguments. 3:9-11
- Don’t bear the courage of others’ worldly convictions. 3:1-11
- Defend Truth. 2:1, 7-8; 3:8
- Have nothing to do with those who cause division. 3:10, 14
Rank the above sayings in order of importance. Okay, that’s not fair. They are all equally important! Instead, choose three that get your attention and write out or discuss both your strengths and your weakness in that area.
Establish a 13 week schedule of focused attention on the following. Spend a week on each praying for strength to do well, weakness and fear to be overcome, and opportunity to be present. At the end of each week, write out how that faithful saying affected you as a young man living out your faith in Jesus.
- Week One: Do not drink alcohol this week or engage in illicit drug use.
- Week Two: At your job, go above and beyond the call of duty.
- Week Three: Read I Corinthians 15:1-4 each day. Learn the answer to “What is the Gospel?”: Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He was buried dead, and God raised Him to eternal life. Then share that definition with at least one person this week.
- Week Four: Answer everything with total honesty. Be truthful this week.
- Week Five: Do not look at porn or “undress” women with your eyes, nor watch anything that you suspect contains sexual content. Refrain from masturbating.
- Week Six: Be alert to how God is working around you each day. Meditate on those things and find Scripture that supports how God is working these things.
- Week Seven: This week, determine to not be intimidated by anything. Face any crisis with the authority given you as a man made in the image of glory of God.
- Week Eight: Each day this week, subject yourself to the rule of law: don’t speed, make complete stops, pray for government leaders, demonstrate patriotism.
- Week Nine: Treat others as you want to be treated. Speak calmly. Make peace. Each day, find a way to bring joy into someone’s life.
- Week Ten: Be a perfect gentleman this week in your relationships with women and other men. Chivalry is not dead.
- Week Eleven: Each day this week, several times each day, affirm your faith in Christ to yourself, out loud (maybe look in a mirror!). Declare that He is Lord of all (Acts 10:36). Memorize the definition of the Gospel (II Corinthians 15:1-4), that is, Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He was buried dead, and God raised Him to eternal life. Know for certain that you have confessed with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead – and that you are truly, without a doubt, living as a son of God, a prince and co-heir of eternal life with Jesus. If this week is hard, speak to your pastor or a Christian friend.
- Week Twelve: Avoid arguing with others over insignificant things. Don’t say something stupid or act toward others in a dumb way.
- Week Thirteen: Speak out when others speak badly about God, the Bible, or Christians. Don’t agree with unholy thoughts and ideas. Have courage and walk away from divisive people.
These 13 weeks of action – three months, a quarter of a year – put into practice Paul’s faithful sayings to Titus and likewise to all young men. Do this alone or with a friend or small group. Find an accountability partner and agree to check up regularly (beginning and the end of each week) on each other’s progress.
At the end of this period of time, write out how this has changed your life, challenged your living, and/or affirmed your faith:
Every young man should have an appreciation for art.
Matthias Stom (1600-1650) is believed to have been a pupil of Gerrit van Honthorst in Utrecht, before going to Rome in 1628. He mainly painted genre pieces and Biblical subjects. His works differ from Honthorst’s in that the faces of his subjects are more highly elaborated and have broader features and more furrows. His paintings make use of a warmer palette, dominated by reds and yellows. While in Rome Stom painted several genre pieces like the present work.