Paul is not advocating that good works are required for salvation <Titus 3:1-11>, instead he is teaching that good works are the result of our salvation <see Jas.2:14-18; Eph.2:10>. All believers are citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom, but we must submit ourselves to our earthly governments so as to assist in the welfare of our communities <see Rom.13:1-7; 1 Peter.2:13-17>. So, he instructs Titus to “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities” <Titus 3:1-2 (NIV)>, and to be ready to carry out whatever suitable action that is deemed necessary. Titus is to remind the believers of what is not considered to be “good works”, “slander no one”; so often we are tempted to speak critically about others especially when we do not have all the facts, and this action must be sternly avoided in the Church. Believers should be “peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility” towards all members of the Church and to all others in the community <cf Jn.8:7; Gal.6:1; 1 Cor,15:9-10>.
Paul reminds us that “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” <Titus 3:3 (NIV)>, and this should be the thought that influences our behaviour and actions, considering the fact that God has forgiven us of our past sins so we now must be considerate in our response to those that are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to those that are not yet believers in Christ <see Matt.6:12>. He continues by referring to the “kindness and love of God” <Titus 3:4 (NIV); 2:11>, through which God saved us instead of condemning us to eternal punishment, and it is important to understand that our salvation is not the result of our righteous deeds; “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” <Titus 3:5 (NIV); 1 Pet.1:3>; and we must also understand that our salvation is secured “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”; indicating a reference to the “new birth” as seen in the teaching of Christ <see Jn.3:3, 5>, whereby we are not saved by baptism, only by rebirth through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Our salvation is therefore completely based upon the grace of God, “poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” <Titus 3:6-7 (NIV); 1:2; 2:13; Jn.10:10b>; and Paul says that this is a “trustworthy saying”, a reference to his doctrinal statement in verses 4-7.
Titus is to put emphasis on these teachings “so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” <Titus 3:8 (NIV)>; directing us back to the opening statement “to be ready to do whatever is good” <Titus 3:1>; and such should be characteristic of all true believers in Christ. But Paul warns us to “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.” <Titus 3:9 (NIV)>, these behaviours should not characterize believers in Christ since they contribute nothing to the good works that are expected of us. Paul then concludes with a stern warning: “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time.” <Titus 3:10 (NIV)>; how often do we encounter such an individual in the Church today? Doctrinal differences, worship music and songs, decisions made by our church leaders, and such, often cause divisiveness, and when this occurs within the Church it must be dealt with immediately, otherwise it will ferment like yeast. Paul further says that if the individual will not listen and cooperate then “have nothing to do”with that person because such a stubborn refusal to listen to correction reveals an inner perversion (NIV Study Bible).
Paul further determines that “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.” <Titus 3:14 (NIV)>. The primary characteristic of each and every believer is to be faithful in doing what is good, and Paul has addressed this previously; he has cautioned us as to what should be avoided <see Titus 3:9-11> as opposed to what we should be doing <Titus 3:1-2>. This behaviour will then lead to the secondary factor in that we will take care of the daily essentials, physical and spiritual, not only for ourselves but also for other members of the community of believers, and outsiders, as is deemed necessary. We should not be consumed with the idea of Christ’s imminent return to the extent that we sit back and do little or nothing as we wait for this event <see Titus 1:12; cf 2 Thess.3:6-13; cf Rom.15:1; Gal.6:2>. He also speaks to an attitude in the lives of some believers when he comments on “unproductive lives”; where often we attempt to sit back at various periods of our Christian life and think that there is nothing left to do, but we must always remember that we are to continually work for our Master until He returns, even if it involves only our praise and adoration for Him <see Psa.92:12-15>. So, let us live our lives always doing good so that others will benefit as we contribute to their physical and spiritual needs.