Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Holiness: Purifying A People Zealous Of Good Works

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Holiness: Purifying A People Zealous Of Good Works

“1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. 9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:1-15).

“1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life” (I Corinthians 6:1-3)?

As I have said, holiness does not happen by accident. Holiness is rare in God’s people these days. We have become so worldly and so tolerant of sin. Christ did not die just to save our souls (“redeem us from all iniquity,” Titus 2:14). He also died to “purify unto Himself a peculiar people.” The word “purify” is from the Greek word katharizo (kath-ar-id'-zo), which means to free a person from the defilement of sins and spiritual failures. The word is in the Subjunctive Mood. The Subjunctive Mood is the mood of possibility and potentiality. In other words, Jesus has done everything necessary to open the door for every believer to live with the hope of a life pure from sin. At least each believer should be zealously pursuing that goal.

According to I Corinthians 6:1-3, every local church is to be a model of what the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on Earth will be like. Christ is the “head of the Church.” He is our Prophet, High Priest and King. During the Kingdom Age, the Church Age Saints will rule with Christ. They will be His Judges throughout the nations of the world. They will make judgments according to God’s Word in all matters great and small. Therefore, it should be a small thing to judge in these matters within the church body.

“26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Revelations 2:26-27).

God’s means of communicating His absolute will to mankind is through a commodity called Truth. That Truth is inscripturalized in the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. These books are the encapsulation of the revealed will of God. It is important that Christians constantly remind themselves that Truth originates with God, not in the minds of men. Truth, like God, is immutable. It never changes. It commands with absolute, unbending and Divine authority. A fundamentalist Christian understands and owns this reality.

However, much of what calls itself Christianity does not think about Truth this way. For them, Truth is not an issue of black and white. For them Truth is known only in the ambiguity of a thousands shades of gray. Those who see Truth in black and white are labeled as narrow, legalistic and unbending.

For that kind of quasi-Christianity, the commands of God are accepted or rejected based upon the degree of the intrusiveness of those commands upon that person’s life style. For them, Christianity is not a faith relationship lived out in a love\obedience motivation to the absolute commands of God. Instead, Christianity is one of many multiple-choice issues determined by the differing everyday situations of a person’s life. In most cases, what is right or wrong is determined by what works for that person in that particular situation of life (situation ethics). This is not Christianity. This is a religion called Pragmatism.

God’s instruction in Titus 2:1-15 is directed to all Christians within a local body of believers. They are to act as antibodies in resisting the infection of the body with this type of thinking, beliefs or actions. Every mature believer within a local body of believers is expected to confront any thinking, beliefs or actions that are contrary to the absolutes of God’s revealed Truth (His Word). Failure to do so will result in the destruction of a local church when it becomes infected and corrupted by wrong thinking, false beliefs and sinful, worldly practices.

In being an antibody to this kind of infection, every believer fulfils Titus 2:7-8, “7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”

“Shewing” is from the Greek word parecho (par-ekh'-o), which means making the practice of one’s life the exhibition of the things listed: “uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity” and “sound speech.” Every Christian is to grow to the place where he becomes the living model of these virtues. That is exactly what the Greek word (tupos, too'-pos) translated “pattern” means in Titus 2:7. It refers to an example. In the technical sense, it refers to a pattern in conformity to which a thing must be made.

This modeling concept is not just an exhibition like a polished statue of virtuous piety put on a pedestal to be viewed by all who happen to pass by. The model Christ puts before us is a working model. This working model reaches out and confronts professing believers passing by with the absolutes of God‘s Word. Whenever it views an inconsistency with the absolute Truths of God’s Word in the life of a believer, it reaches out and lovingly works to remove that inconsistency from that believer’s life. This is the model of a local church as it confronts any hypocrisy in the practice of the faith of its constituency. Every member of every local church is to be encouraged through admonishment, reproof and rebuke to become a working model of Biblical Christianity.

“1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (II Timothy 4:1-5).

Any person who refuses to accept admonishment to change through confrontation or who is antagonistic (“contrary part,” Titus 2:8) towards the person trying to help him become the model he is supposed to be, that person is to be publicly shamed (Titus 2:8) for the purpose of repentance.

Today’s so called enlightened Christian wants to remove the shame of sin. Today’s enlightened Christian wants to ignore the reproach on the Name of Christ that comes from wrong thinking and false beliefs that result in sinful practices. They are willing to sacrifice God’s holy Name to protect the ego and self esteem of a backslidden, carnal, hardhearted person because they are afraid he might leave the church.

God says the mature believer is to model “good works,” uncorrupted doctrine, to be serious and sincere about his Christianity and to communicate God’s will through “sound speech” so that the one living contrary to Truth “may be ashamed” (Titus 2:8). Paul taught this responsibility on other occasions. For instance, at Thessalonica there were Christians who stopped working and earning a living because someone had forged a letter from Paul stating the rapture had already taken place (I Thessalonians 2:2). Paul instruction was to be enforced by the Church (individual members).

“6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. 10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (II Thessalonians 3:6-15).

The word “disorderly” in II Thessalonians 3:6 is from the Greek word ataktos (at-ak'-toce). It was often used of solders who marched out of step or who could not stay in their ranks. If you have ever marched in a band or in the military, you know that all it takes is one person to throw off the cadence of the whole group. Even if that person does not throw the rest of the group off, he still makes the whole look out of harmony. The intent here refers to a professing Christian who lives in such a way that he lowers the standard of righteousness for others (what is right). No member of a local church is to be allowed to think, believe or act in such a way that might lower God’s standard of righteousness and lead others to follow that pattern.

The first command of God to mature believers in a local church to correct inconsistencies in thinking, beliefs or practice was that mature believers were to “withdraw. . . from every brother that walketh disorderly” (II Thessalonians 3:6). The word “withdraw” is from the Greek word stello (stel'-lo), which means to abstain from familiarities with that person. It means to stop socializing with this person. It does not mean to break off communication with this person. However, any communication now must be directed to this person’s wrong thinking, false belief or sinful practices.

The second command of God regarding a professing Christian who continues to live “disorderly” is to “have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (II Thessalonians 3:14). This is almost a restatement of what is said in verse 6. The words “company with” are from the Greek word sunanamignumi (soon-an-am-ig'-noo-mee). It can refer to a business partnership or any personal relationship that involves people in close fellowship.

God says if you really want to help this person get back on track, your communication with him will be one of constant admonition (v 15). The word “admonish” is from the Greek word noutheteo (noo-thet-eh'-o). It means to confront a person with the corrections and warnings of God’s Word.

Notice that keeping company is to stop and then confrontation begins. Confrontation is not supposed to be something we do while we are keeping company with this person. Therefore, we should not go to a ballgame with someone living “disorderly” with the intent we will try to confront him about his inconsistencies. This is not something we do while we continue keeping company with this person. This is something we communicate to the person directly after breaking fellowship with him. The relationship changes.

In other words, we might say something like this, “I cannot continue to have fellowship with you until you begin to do what is right. I love you. We have been great friends and I continue to be your friend. However, I cannot continue to be an endorsement of your sinful practices before others by continuing to keep company with you. Because I love you as a brother in Christ, every time I see you I will remind you of what you are supposed to do and I will call you to repentance.” I believe that statement communicates what II Thessalonians 3:15 says, “Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

This truth is communicated consistently throughout the New Testament. Therefore, we must conclude that God wants mature believers to be proactive in dealing with believers who refuse to live the way God wants us all to live. In other words, we do not just wait for God to bring about circumstances to change this person’s life. We become a proactive partner with God in bringing about the needed change in this person’s life through constant and consistent admonition to repent. This is not a multiple-choice issue. It is black and white. God defines exactly what believers are to do regarding other believers that refuse to do what is right.

“17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

“9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (I Corinthians 5:9-13).

There are always some Christians who think they are wiser than God. They will think God’s instruction regarding separating from an unruly brother or sister is unkind or radical. They will continue to socialize with the carnal person thinking they will be an influence upon their lives. They will not be. In fact, the opposite is almost always true. We end up doing great harm to the person we are trying to help and we damage our testimony for Christ.

We need to trust God. When we trust Him, we believe that He knows what we need to do to produce the results He wants. This is God’s pattern for how a local church is supposed to work. We would be wise to learn to do things God’s way.