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Excellent Submission - Titus 3:1-9

Hear what Jesus says to you today through Paul’s letter to Titus: saved people submit for Jesus’ sake. Within that simplified sentence are three parts: First, who. The people who need to be reminded to submit are described in Titus 2:14 as “a purified people for God’s own possession who are zealous for good works”, having been “redeemed from all lawlessness.” The important thing to see is that we are not merely identified as God’s chosen or called people; we are saved people, and we’ve been saved from lawless lives for good works. This is the transformation that Titus 2:14 declares, and that Titus 3:3-8 describes. This word is for saved people.

Second, in the summary sentence saved people submit for Jesus’ sake, we see the what: submission. The essence of submission is to place what we want and what we do under the authority of another, and Jesus says through Paul that we are to show this submission to rulers and authorities without complaining or arguing. It doesn’t mean agreeing with their commands; it does mean obeying with a good spirit. Saved people submit.

The third aspect deals with the why. Why do saved people submit? For Jesus’ sake. Why are we submitting cheerfully to mere men who may very well be overstepping their authority, acting foolishly, and imposing heavy burdens on us, when Jesus has declared us to be free? Titus 3:3 begins to explain why trusting in Jesus results in submission and obedience, and it goes something like this: before, when we were foolish, disobedient slaves, we couldn’t live the right way, and so we just passed our days in evil and hatred.

But when Jesus came and showed us the goodness and love of God, He savingly washed us into new life, so that instead of slaves of sin, we became heirs of hope. What was washed away was the lawless disobedience that used to characterize our unsaved lives. Now, we who have believed in God are ready for good works because this is who Jesus made us to be. Sin-slaves rebel and disobey; saved saints submit and obey!

At this point in the argument, Paul sees us coming: “Okay, fine,” we’re saying, “I get it. It’s usually a good idea to submit if we can. But do we have to?” And so Paul says in v. 8: “Titus, this saying is trustworthy! I want you to insist on these things!” Why? Because these things are excellent and profitable for people. Submission is a burden that we would rather avoid, but Jesus insists on it because it is profitable for us.

“But wait,” we say, as we get ready to launch into all sorts of qualifications and arguments about the limits of submission and the need to defend our freedom and the hardships that obedience causes. But before our unsubmissive heart opens its mouth, listen to v. 9: “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law.” Why? “For they are unprofitable and worthless.” Don’t even waste your breath. What more would Jesus have to say to us than: “Submit and don’t argue about it?”

As you think about the restrictions that have been placed on you during these past few weeks, you need to begin by understanding and believing what God says here in Titus, as well as in 1 Peter 2, and in Romans 13. While the proper application of Scripture is not always obvious, sometimes it is much more obvious than we want it be. So if you are tempted to refuse to submit to rulers and authorities, you need to realize that your first act of rebellion and disobedience is not against them, but against the Word of God. And that should stop you in your tracks.

Submission and obedience in our current circumstance is painful and costly. The decisions that are being made and the orders that are given may be flawed, foolish, and even unjust. But don’t imagine for a second that Jesus didn’t see that coming. Jesus knows that submissive obedience involves taking up a cross and dying! But He did it anyway, and He calls you to do it anyway, because it is excellent and profitable. His submission and obedience in the face of incompetence and injustice saved the world, and He wants to use yours to show forth and extend that salvation, all the while doing something excellent in your soul. Why would you reject such a blessing from God?

For us as a Church, this is why we are continuing to gather according to the restrictions placed upon us by our governing authorities. We don’t submit because all their orders are righteous, wise, good, or just. They might not be! We submit because Jesus reminds us to submit, and even insists upon it, because it is excellent and profitable for us.

Posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 by CJ Bowen