Living to Do
August 25, 2019
Society has reached no ideal perfection in government, nor has God
Himself laid down any outward form as an ideal. All nations are justified in
variety of choice. There has been government by judges, and governments
monarchical, republican, autocratic, and constitutional. All that we need to
notice is that society needs to be governed. Lawlessness always ends in
anarchy, misery, and desolation. Let us learn:
of licentiousness. (As
Compare a river that keeps its bounds to one that overflows its banks. Men
are justified in resisting tyrannies, whether of autocrats or mobs; but they must
not forget that all well-ordered societies exist only by subjection.
and showing that there is
Ø a magistracy of the heart as well as
Ø a magistracy of the state.
3 “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived,
serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and
hating one another.” Foolish (ἀνόητοι – anoaetoi); a Pauline word
(Galatians 3:1, 3), found also in Luke 24:25 (see I Timothy 6:9); of frequent use
in classical Greek. Disobedient (ἀπειθεῖς) – apeitheis – unpersuadable;
stubborn); as ch.1:16. In Luke 1:17 it stands, as here, absolutely, meaning
disobedient to God and His Law. Deceived (πλανώμενοι – planomenoi -
led astray, made to wander from the path of truth and right); either by
false systems of religion, or by our own evil affections and appetites (see II Timothy
2:13; I Peter 2:25; II Peter 2:15, etc.). Serving. (δουλεύοντες – douleuontes –
slaves to); II Peter 2:19 (see above, ch. 2:2). Lusts. (ἐπιθυμίαις – epithumiais);
not always in a bad sense, as here, though usually so (see Luke 22:15; Philippians 1:23;
I Thessalonians 2:17; Revelation 18:14). Pleasures. (ἡδοναῖς – haedonais –
gratifications – this word is the origin of the idea behind the modern philosophy of
Hedonism [the pursuit of pleasure; sensual self-indulgence] – CY - 2019); always in a
bad sense in the New Testament (Luke 8:14; James 4:1, 3; II Peter 2:13). Living.
(διάγοντες – diagontes); see I Timothy 2:2, where it is followed by βίον – bion – life
which is here understood. Διάγειν τὸν βίον αἰῶνα χρόνον σάββατον – Diagein ton
bion aiona chronon sabbaton etc., are common phrases both in the Septuagint and
in classical Greek for passing or spending one’s life, time, age, etc. But it is only
(Romans 6:21) found in the New Testament here and in I Timothy 2:2. Malice
(κακίᾳ - kakia ). This word is sometimes used of wickedness generally, as Acts 8:22;
James 1:21; I Corinthians 5:8; and probably Romans 1:29; and even of badness in
things, as Matthew 6:34. But it frequently in the New Testament denotes malice,
the desire to do harm to others, as Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8, etc.
Envy (φθόνῳ – phthono|); almost always found in Paul’s enumeration of sins
(Romans 1:29; Galatians 5:21; I Timothy 6:4, etc.). Hateful. (στυγητοί –
stugaetoi); only here in the New Testament, not found in the Septuagint
(though the verb στυγέω - stugeo – to hate - occurs once or twice in the
Maccabees), but used in good classical Greek. The above is a sad but too
true picture of human life WITHOUT the sweetening influences of
GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT!
Duty (vs. 1-3)
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers,” etc.
Paul’s warnings and exhortations, to men and women of different ages, on the subject
of their home life, written with a reference generally to Christian life among Christians.
But there was then a great life outside the little Christian world: how were the people
of Christ to regulate their behavior in their dealings with the vast pagan world
outside? Paul goes to the root of the matter at once when he says, ‘Put them in mind,’
etc.” We have here duty in a threefold relation — in relation to civil
government, in relation to general society, and in relation to moral self.
Here is duty:
· IN RELATION TO CIVIL GOVERNMENT. “Put them in mind to be
subject [in subjection] to principalities [rulers] and powers [authorities], to
obey magistrates [to be obedient].” It is here implied, and fully taught
elsewhere (Romans 13:1-13), that civil government is of DIVINE
APPOINTMENT! “There is no power but of God,” says Paul.
That the principle of civil government is Divine is not only revealed
but implied in the very constitution of society.
Ø Man’s social tendencies indicate it. Some men are royal in their instincts
and powers, and are evidently made to rule. Others are servile, cringing in
tendency, feeble in faculty, and made to obey. There is a vast gradation of
instinct and power in human society, and it is an eternal principle in God’s
government that the lesser shall serve the greater.
Ø Man’s social needs indicate it. Every community, to be kept in
order, must have a recognized head — one who shall be allowed to rule,
either by his own will or the organized will of the whole. Hence man, in his
most savage state, has some recognized chief. The principle of civil
government is, therefore, manifestly of Divine appointment. We may rest
assured that, civil government being of Divine appointment, it is for good
and good only. Indeed, we learn that Paul’s idea of a civil ruler is that he is
a “minister of God to thee for good.” But what is good? The answer in
which all will agree is this — obedience to the Divine will. What is the
standard of virtue? Not the decree of an autocrat, not public sentiment,
even when organized into constitutional law; but the will of God. “Whether
it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God,
judge ye.” (Acts 4:19) The civil government, therefore, that does not
harmonize with His will, as revealed by Christ the infallible Logos, is not
the government of which Paul speaks. Taking Christ as the Revealer of God’s
will, we may infer that the infringement of human rights is not in
accordance with the will of God, and therefore not good. Also that
the promotion of injustice, impurity, and error is not according to
the will of God, and therefore not good. The Bible never teaches, nor
does moral philosophy, that we are bound to obey laws that are not righteous,
to honor persons that are not honor-worthy. If we are commanded to honor
the king, the precept implies that the king’s character is worthy of his office;
Some kings it is religious to despise and loathe. If we are commanded to
honor our parents, the language implies that our parents are honor-worthy.
Some parents display attributes of character suited to awaken the
utmost hatred and contempt. In like manner we are commanded to be
subject to the higher powers, and the injunction implies that what these
higher powers enact is right. The obligation of obedience is ever dependent
upon the righteousness of the command.
· IN RELATION TO GENERAL SOCIETY. There are three duties here
indicated which every man owes to his fellows.
Ø Usefulness. “Be ready to every good work.” The law of universal
benevolence which we see in nature, our own instincts and faculties, as
well as the written Word, teach us that man was made to serve his brother;
the grand end of each is to promote the happiness of others. No man fulfills
his mission or realizes his destiny who is not an altruist, who is not ever
actuated by regard for the happiness of others. Altruism is God’s social law
and is binding on every one; disregard to it is the source of all social
disorders and miseries. “The soul of the truly benevolent man does not
seem to reside much in its own body. Its life, to a great extent, is a mere
reflex of the lives of others. It migrates into their bodies, and, identifying its
existence with their existence, finds its own happiness in increasing and
prolonging their pleasures, in extinguishing or solacing their pains.”
Ø Charitableness. “To speak evil of no man.” “This,” says a modern
author, “imports more than to speak evil in the ordinary sense: it is to act
the part of a reviler or slanderer; and when used of conduct from one man
towards another, always betokens the exercise of a very bitter and
malignant spirit. Titus was to charge the Christians of Crete to give no
exhibition towards any one of such a spirit, nor to show a quarrelsome
disposition, but, on the contrary, to cultivate a mild, placable, and gentle
temper.” There are evils of some sort or other attaching to all men, and in
some men they are of the most hideous and heinous character. To ignore
them, if possible, would be wrong; to feel them is natural to the pure, and
to denounce them is right. But to speak of them before others, to parade
them before the eyes of others, argues a base and malignant nature. Should
occasion require us to speak of them, it should be in the saddest tones of
tenderness, and even with compassionate indignation.
Ø Courteousness. “To be no brawlers [not to be contentious], but gentle,
showing all meekness unto all men.” How much there is in society, how
much in every department of life — mercantile, mechanical, and mental —
one meets with to annoy and irritate, especially those fated with an irascible
nature. Still, amidst the strongest provocations, courtesy is our duty, yes,
and our dignity too.
· IN RELATION TO OUR MORAL SELF. The apostle urges the duty
of forbearance to what was wrong in government and society, by
reminding them of the wrong in their own past lives. “We ourselves also
were sometimes foolish “ — we had no proper understanding of the true.
“Disobedient” — indisposed to do what is right. “Deceived” — swerving
from the true mode of life. “Serving divers lusts and pleasures “ — slaves
of impure passions, reveling in the sensual and the gross. “Living in malice
and envy, hateful, and hating one another “ — we once spent our days in
the atmosphere of hate and malign passions. It is a duty which every man
owes to himself to remember all the wrong of his past life — remember it:
Ø That he may be charitable towards others.
Ø That he may be stimulated to efforts of self-improvement.
Ø That he may adore the forbearance of God in His past dealings.
Ø That he may devoutly appreciate the morally redemptive agency of
Ø That he may realize the necessity of seeking the moral restoration of
others. Two things may be inferred from Paul’s language concerning the
past moral condition of himself and others.
o The possibility of the moral improvement of souls. The
rough stone can be polished, the unfertile soil can be made
fertile, the wilderness can blossom as the rose.
o The obligation of the moral improvement of souls.
· CONCLUSION. Let us find out our duty and follow it, through storm as
well as sunshine, even unto death. “After all,” says Canon Kingsley, “what
is speculation to practice? What does God require of us but to do justly, to
love mercy, and to walk humbly with him? (Micah 6:8) The longer I live
this seems to me more important, and all other questions less so. If we can but
live the simple, right life, do the work that’s nearest, though it’s dull at whiles,
helping, when we meet them, lame dogs over stiles.” In the realization of
our duty is our strength, our nobleness, our heaven.
“Yet do thy work: it shall succeed.
In thine or in another’s day;
And if denied the victor’s meed,
Thou shalt not lack the toiler’s pay.
“Then faint not, falter not, nor plead
Thy weakness: truth itself is strong;
The lion’s strength, the eagle’s speed,
Are not alone vouchsafed to wrong.”
Salvation, Not of Works, But of Grace (vs, 4-7)
“But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man
appeared,” etc. The great subject here is salvation. This includes the
restoration of the soul to the knowledge, the image, the fellowship, and the
service of the great God. The passage leads us to offer two remarks on the
· THAT WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WE CANNOT PERFORM,
AND THEREFORE THEY CANNOT SAVE US. “Not by works of [done
in] righteousness which we have done [which we did ourselves].” What are
righteous works? Condensely defined, works inspired ever by supreme
sympathy with THE SUPREMELY GOOD! No other works, whatever
their sacred semblance, whatever their popular appreciation, are righteous.
Now, such righteous works we cannot render IN OUR UNRENEWED
STATE because we have lost this affection, and the loss of this is THE
DEATH AND DAMNATION OF THE SOUL!
Ø Could we render such works they would save us. They secure the
blessedness of the unfallen angels.
Ø Without rendering such works we cannot be saved. Moral salvation
consists in holiness of character. Character is made up of habits,
habits made up of acts, and the acts, to be of any worth, must be righteous.
· THAT REDEMPTIVE MERCY HAS BEEN VOUCHSAFED TO
US, AND THEREFORE WE MAY BE SAVED. “According to His mercy
He saved us.” Observe:
Ø The special work of this redemptive mercy. What is the work?
o Cleansing. “The washing of regeneration,” or the “laver of
regeneration,” as some render it. Sin is represented as a moral
defiler, and deliverance from sin, therefore, is a cleansing.
o Renewal. “Renewing.” Sin is represented as death, and
deliverance from it is, therefore, a quickening, a renewal.
Ø The Divine Administrator of this redemptive mercy. “The Holy Ghost.”
No agency BUT THAT OF GOD can either morally cleanse or renew.
That Divine Agent which of old brooded over the face of the deep
CAN ALONE morally recreate.
Ø The glorious Medium of this redemptive mercy. “Through Jesus Christ
our Savior.” Christ our Savior is the Medium.
o Through Him the Spirit came,
o by Him the Spirit works,
o in Him the Spirit is abundant.
Ø The sublime result of this redemptive mercy. “That being justified by his
grace, we should [might] be made heirs according to the hope of eternal
life.” The word “justified” means to be made right:
o right in heart,
o right in life,
o right in relation to:
§ the universe, and
What is it to be made right? To be put in possession of that spirit of love
to God which is the spring of all “works of righteousness.” This
o Inspires with the highest hope. “Hope of eternal life.” What a
blessing is hope! But the “hope of eternal life,” WHAT HOPE
o Inaugurates the highest relationship. “Heirs.” We are
“heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”
The Worthless, the Pernicious, and the Desirable in Social Life (vs. 9-15)
“But avoid foolish questions,” etc. The text brings under our attention
· THE AVOIDANCE OF THE WORTHLESS IN SOCIAL LIFE.
“Avoid foolish questions and genealogies.” The “questions” and
“genealogies” are referred to in I Timothy 1:4. The apostle
characterizes them as foolish because they were of an utterly impractical
nature, and consumed time and powers which were needed for other and
better things. “Genealogies as found in the Books of the Pentateuch, and to
which wild allegorical interpretations had been assigned. Such purely
fanciful meanings had been already developed by Philo, whose religious
writings were becoming at this time known and popular in many of the
schools. Such teaching, if allowed in
saw, would effectually put a stop to the growth of Gentile Christendom. It
would inculcate an undue and exaggerated and, for the ordinary Gentile
convert, an impossible reverence for Jewish forms and ceremonies.” Old
was the habit and strong was the tendency of the Hebrews to concern
themselves about their ancestry or genealogy. A truly contemptible state of
mind, this! What matters it whether we were born of kings or of paupers?
“And contentions, and strivings about the Law.” The ceremonial law is
here meant, evidently — the law concerning meats and drinks and holy
days. “For they are unprofitable and vain.” How rife in Christendom have
been in past ages, and still are, these miserable discussions, which are
generated for the most part by the most ignorant and narrow-minded of the
human race — mere “unfeathered bipeds” that Christianity has not
converted into true manhood. The grand end of every member of the social
realm should be “charity, that of a pure heart and of a good conscience.”
(ibid. v. 5)The only true Christianity in social life is altruism.
· THE EXCOMMUNICATION OF THE PERNICIOUS (the subtly
harmful) FROM SOCIAL LIFE. The former class — the irritating
disputants about genealogies and ceremonies — are described as
“unprofitable and vain.” They are a worthless class, doing no good
whatever, but otherwise. The class we have here, however, is represented
as pernicious, and to be rejected. “A man that is an heretic after the first
and second admonition reject.” The word “heretic” (αἱρετικόν - hairetikon –
Ø The theoretical unbeliever. They do not believe what others believe to
be true and orthodox. Though bigots denounce this as the worst of sins,
true wisdom justifies it. It says that uniformity of opinion is an
impossibility — an impossibility arising from a variety in the faculties,
education, and external circumstances of men. And not only an
impossibility, but an inexpediency. Did all men think alike, all minds
would sink into a dead monotony. “Every man should be fully
persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5) That, therefore, which
the Church most fiercely denounces it should encourage and develop.
There is more good in honest doubt than in half the creeds.
Ø The professional believer. A heretic more execrable know I not than he
who every Sunday in the great congregation declares his faith in creeds,
and every day, not only ignores them, but denies them in his life. These
heretics make our laws, rule our commerce, fill our temples, create wars,
and swindle the millions.
Ø The practical disbeliever. These are insincere. They do not act
according to their innate convictions, their intuitive beliefs. They
believe — and they cannot help it — that the greatest Being should
have the most reverence, the best Being the most love, the kindest
Being the most gratitude; and yet, forsooth, they live lives of
irreverence, unlovingness, and ingratitude. These are the worst
kind of heretics. And how are they to be treated? They are to be
excommunicated. “After the first and second admonition reject.”
They should be morally ostracized. “Knowing that he that is such
is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” They are
insincere men, and not to be accepted or continued in the circle of
brotherhood. Whilst you have no authority to persecute them or crush
them by force, you are bound to treat them as insincere men. Their
own conscience condemns; they are self-condemned.
· THE SUPREMACY OF PURPOSE IN SOCIAL LIFE. In all the
changes in social companionship and scene of residence to which the
apostle here points, he urges the aiming at one thing, viz. to “maintain
good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.” What the
“good works” are I have intimated in my remarks on the preceding verses.
They are works that have:
o a right motive,
o a right standard, and
o a right influence.
The grand end in the life of all rational and moral beings should
be THE MAINTENANCE OF GOOD WORKS! The apostle intimates
that this should be the aim:
Ø IN ALL THE EVENTS OF LIFE. He was now dispatching to Titus
from his society two dear friends and fellow-workers, Artemas and
Tychicus, inviting him to come at once to Nicopolis, where he had,
in the use of his discretionary power, determined to remain through
the winter. Moreover, he had requested Titus to bring with him Zenas
the lawyer and Apollos. Apollos was a man, not only of distinguished
learning and influence, but Paul’s intimate friend and fellow-laborer.
In all this Paul keeps the one end in view, viz. that they should
maintain good works. “Good works,” the culmination of all good
ideas, good impressions, good emotions, and good resolves.
“Show me your faith by your works.” (James 2:18) In a good
character man can alone find his heaven and from good works
alone can man produce a good character.
Ø In the presiding spirit of life. “All that are with me salute thee,” etc.
Brotherly love was to animate, direct, and rule all their social
movements and activities.
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