The existence of a church in Crete was a testimony to God’s power. A poet from the 6th century BC had described them as liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons, and things hadn’t changed when Paul quoted him to Titus in this letter. We don’t read of Titus in Acts, but he features in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and the Galatians. The last we read of him, he’s in Dalmatia (map). Paul insists to Titus that the Cretan Christians devote themselves to good works, which in that society would have doubtless not gone unnoticed.
I find verses 1-3 to be overwhelming in a good way. Paul reaches into eternity past (“before the beginning of time” in verse 2), into future eternity (“eternal life” in verse 2) and brings them together in the present (the word entrusted to Paul). And if that’s not enough, he inserts God’s nature in the mix. I feel faint just thinking about it!
He gives Titus guidelines for appointing elders and overseers. Among other things, they were to be blameless (1:6,7). The believers in Crete had better chances of being godly if they had godly leaders, especially considering the alternatives (1:10-16).
Paul gives instructions on how the Cretans were to behave, and on everyone’s list was self-control (2:2, 5, 6). It should be noted that none of these characteristics are natural—all are the fruit of God’s Spirit working in us.
Paul wanted the Christians to adorn the gospel. It’s not that it’s unattractive and we have to dress it up: the gospel is already beautiful, and our task is to enhance that beauty in the eyes of the watching world.
But why? Because of the grace of God that appeared (2:11-12). Because we’re awaiting the appearing of Christ (2:13-14). Because Christ gave Himself to purify a people eager to do good works (2:13-14).
We aren’t saved by good works; we’re saved to good works. We Christians often get that order wrong.
God’s grace and kindness changes the Christian’s behaviour (3:1-3). God’s grace isn’t and cannot be earned (3:4-8). Bible teachers should be forceful in teaching grace (3:8-11). Thank God (who doesn’t lie—1:2) we can rely on His grace!
Source: Christopher Ash (Download sermons)