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“For the grace of God that brings Salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14
Salvation, Service and Sanctification
We leave the old life to live the new life. Looking forward to the glorious return of the King of kings and Lord of lords. God’s grace leads to godliness. We are saved to serve. Hope should lead to holiness. Salvation is by the grace of God alone. Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Salvation is by the sacrificial Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. He saved us, redeemed us and purified us to be His peculiar people, zealous for good works.
Wholehearted Zealous Enthusiasm
Our Lord deserves our very best. Nothing less than wholeheartedness is acceptable in the service of the Lord. In Revelation 3, we read that lukewarm Christians make God sick. The Lord requires us to be zealous, enthusiastic and wholehearted.
We Need to be More Zealous
It is better to be divided by truth than united in error. We need to be zealous for good works, for generous giving, for worship, zealous for the grace of God, for the truth and for holiness. We need to be zealous in our service for God.
More Zeal would Solve More Problems
Many of our problems would be solved with more zeal. Productivity, effectiveness, punctuality, consideration for others, attendance at prayer meetings, volunteers for missionary outreaches, all of these and many other problems, would be effectively resolved with more zeal.
Distraction and Distortion Leads to Defeat
However, there is a misguided zeal, a fanaticism and extremism that distorts the grace of God. If the devil cannot keep us from being converted, he works on having us diverted, distracted and even defeated by divisive, destructive and dangerous distortions. Food should be cooked, but not cremated. A hammer can be used to build up or to break down.
Beware of Deception and Divisiveness
Titus 3:2-3 warns us: “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” There is a need to warn church leaders and church members of foolishness, deception, malice, envy and hatred, even within the church.
Avoid the Argumentative
“But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions and strivings about the Law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.” Titus 3:9-11
Foolish, Fractious, Fruitless and Fatal
There are, sadly, many unreasonable and misguided people who generate foolish disputes and unprofitable and useless arguments. We need to beware of being drawn into foolish and fractious arguments which are fruitless and fatal. Bickering and back biting is often incited by self-centred and stubborn people.
Be a Blessing Not a Burden
Beware of bondage. Instead of being a blessing, many become a burden. Some freeze in formalism, others fry in fanaticism. Both legalism and extremism are destructive.
Seek to be Positive and Productive
We are commanded to “be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” We are to be careful to maintain good works. We are not to waste our time arguing about things that are not ultimately important. We need to focus on what is Biblical, relevant and edifying and what is actually going to extend the Kingdom of God.
Focus on Eternal Priorities
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Our highest priority is to love, worship and obey God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are to love our neighbour as ourselves. We are to seek first the Kingdom of God. We are to make disciples of all nations, teach obedience to things that God has commanded.
Separation from Sin – Not Isolation from Those Who We are Called to Minister To
To do this, we cannot isolate ourselves from the world. We are to separate ourselves from the defilement and deception of the world, but separation should not be isolation. Our Lord Jesus Christ was “a friend of sinners and tax collectors.”
Fanatics and False Teachers
We need to beware of those fanatics who lose their direction and double their speed. False teachers are almost always hypocrites. They tend to condemn in others what they excuse in themselves. The devious and divisive have double standards.
Distinguish Between Constructive and Destructive Criticism
It is good to receive constructive criticism from a friend who is trying to help you to be better and to succeed. Destructive criticism comes from an enemy who wants you to fail.
In the Book of Titus, the wicked are described as: defiled in mind and conscience, unbelieving, liars, lazy gluttons, giving heed to Jewish fables, they profess to know God but, in their works, they deny Him. They are abominable, disobedient, disqualified, pilfering, slanderers, greedy, living in sin and malice, envious, hateful, divisive and warped.
The Book of Titus describes those who are disqualified for church leadership, those who are self-willed, quick tempered, drunkards, violent, greedy, insubordinate, idle talkers, deceivers, subverters, lazy, liars and gluttons.
Be Zealous for Good Works
“And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.” Titus 3:14. We need to take initiative, work hard and be productive. The Lord commands us to be zealous and fruitful, not foolish, fractious and fruitless, which fanatics inevitably are. Fanaticism can be fatal.
An Extreme Reaction to Rejection
In Luke 9:51-56, we read of two of the Lord’s disciples who responded to rejection in a Samaritan village by asking: “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But the Lord turned and rebuked them and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Luke 9:54-56. In Acts, we read of Revival fire falling upon Samaria, not a destructive fire of condemnation, but a refining fire of spiritual empowerment for Evangelism.
In Luke 22:47-53, we read of the Apostle Peter’s misguided zeal as he used the wrong weapon with wrong energy and a wrong attitude, to cut the ear off the wrong enemy, the servant Malcus. Peter was certainly zealous, but this was misguided, unfruitful zeal. By God’s grace, our Lord healed the servant whose ear has been severed.
Failure to Watch and Pray Can Have Disastrous Consequences
On this occasion Peter had been asleep when he should have been praying, he was talking when he should have been listening and he directed his sword at the wrong person and at the wrong time. He was interfering in the Lord’s plan of Salvation. As Jesus said, “no one takes My life from Me, I lay it down of My own free will.” He had the power to call on ten legions of angels. With a single Word, the Lord could have destroyed all His enemies and Jerusalem as well. Peter was commanded to put his sword back in its sheath. This was not the time, nor the place.
Extremism Hurts the Very Cause it Seeks to Serve
Extremism can hurt the cause of Christ even more than the enemies of the Gospel can. We need to choose our battles wisely. We need to choose our weapons carefully. We need to examine our attitudes in the light of Scripture.
Fervent Zeal Builds Up – Fanaticism Breaks Down
Godly zeal advances the cause of the Gospel and works for the fulfilment of the Great Commission to the glory of God. Fanaticism is foolish, fractious, fruitless and often even fatal.
Biblical, Balanced and Bold
Self-denial can be taken to an extreme. The Lord gives us richly all things to enjoy. There is a time and a need for sacrifice, but we are to be joyful always, praying continually, giving thanks in all circumstances. There is a time for every season under Heaven. Let us be sure that we are Biblical, balanced and bold in our zeal and never allow ourselves to descend into fanaticism. “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:13-14