Wednesday, June 8, 2016

SIN IS IN OUR DNA

SOUND DOCTRINE

It seems that Paul’s primary concern for Titus, at least with the beginnings of his letter, is that of soundness—or health—of teaching.


He has given us the qualifications for candidates for leadership in the church and said that their blameless behavior is necessary for maintaining a healthy church.

He has pointed to numerous negative characteristics of those who oppose the doctrine of Christ in various ways. And, as he opens this next section of the letter (chapter 2), we are once again reminded of what sound doctrine looks like.

Sound doctrine consists in teaching believers what their lives should look like in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” (Phil. 2:15)

It is the ethical teaching to which the early church fathers gave themselves in all their literature of letters and treatises.

And that is what Paul gives us here in Titus 2:1-10—sound doctrine and what it looks like—ie, the ethics of living as a Christian. (If I were to go into detail with each of these items and what the Bible teaches concerning each one, I think I would bore you and run out of computer space. Paul writes of five different groups and the many things that they should be cognizant of.)

Then, picking up in verse 11, Paul tells us why he is emphasizing this issue of sound doctrine—the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared for this very purpose.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Tit 2:11-12)
I find it interesting that when folks become aware of the teachings of grace, the first place many seem to go is exactly contrary to this verse. They interpret God’s grace to mean that they are free to do anything they want, so they begin to give in to the desires of the flesh.

This verse says plainly that if one has truly seen the grace of God, then they are removing themselves from such experiences.

It should be obvious that even though the grace of God has appeared to all men, not all men have availed themselves of that grace.

Paul bears this out with his use of the word “us” when he writes that the grace, which “has appeared to all men” teaches us to deny ungodliness. He did not say it teaches ‘them’ or ‘all men.’ It only teaches those with whom it is effective.

Then he goes on to say that while we “live godly in this present world,” we are to be looking for the “blessed hope, which is the glorious appearing of the great God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

The King James rendering of this verse has led many to find support for their fallacy of the Rapture, thinking the word ‘and’ shows two different events. 

However, most modern translations bring out the reality of the conjunction as being more explanatory than cumulative.

In other words, the blessed hope is the appearing.

The word translated ‘appearing’ is πιφνεια (epiphaneia), which is used only six times in the NT. (2 Th. 2:8; 1 Tim.6:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 4:1, 8; Tit. 2:13)

Three of those verses are ambiguous with relation to any details surrounding His appearing—1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:8; Tit. 2:13. In that place, without any further searching of the Word, they could be made to support the theory of a secret rapture.

However, the use of the word in the other three verses, show that is not possible, because each of them refer to something specific in relation to His appearing; and those specifics are not part of His secret coming for the saints.

Then Paul returns to his original intent of this passage and then ends with his intention for Titus.
“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Tit 2:14)
Notice that “…Jesus Christ…gave himself for us (to) redeem us from all iniquity…” ‘Redeem’ means to ‘buy back.’

When you redeem a coupon at the grocery store, the store ‘buys back’ that coupon, and you no longer have it. They now own it.

When you are redeemed from all iniquity, you no longer belong to lawlessness, but to Jesus Christ. You are no longer under any obligation to sin. You were before; but you are not now.

It is now your choice to go down the road of lawlessness, transgression, sin, iniquity.

When you choose that path, however momentarily or incidentally, you are, in effect, despising the gift you have been given by the Lord.

But, it is as if the propensity to sin is written into our DNA, for we cannot seem to stop. We continue to follow the same patterns of life we have always known. 

We seem to be in a rut.

That is why Paul spends so much time in many of his letters writing about what it looks like to live the Christian life in this plane so that we “may be sound in the faith.” (Tit. 1:13)

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