Titus 3.3 – Seven Don’ts

After yesterday’s seven to-do’s, today Paul gives the other side of the coin and shows us where we have come from.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Titus 3.3

Paul begins with a reason why we ought to be the model citizens detailed in 3.1-2, and he says for we ourselves were once…Seeing how far we have come in our lives of faith should spur us on to keep moving in that direction.

Just as there were seven to-do’s yesterday, did you notice the seven don’ts today, the seven characteristics that we are to be actively moving away from in our life of faith? Paul, to Titus, to his people, and to us by extension says that we ourselves were once,

  1. Foolish.
  2. Disobedient.
  3. Led astray.
  4. Slaves to various passions and pleasures.
  5. Passing our days in malice and envy.
  6. Hated by others.
  7. Hating others.

Not a great list, is it? We need to admit this is where we are coming from if we are to be truly grateful and appreciative of the person we are becoming. Accepting the bad news about ourselves puts us in the place we need to be to accept the Good News, that the person detailed in 3.1-2 is developing more and more each day only due to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in you, only because of your active and living faith in Jesus, and only because of the grace of God the Father. 

As painful and awkward as it might be, today just pause and think how you were once all the things on this list.

If there are still areas you know you struggle with, commit them to the Lord today in prayer and ask Him to work His amazing grace through you to help you leave this kind of life behind.

Titus 3.1-2 – Seven To-Do’s

Today Paul has a list of Christian principles for Titus to keep on reminding his people in Crete about. As believers, we are all called to be model citizens, and the seven active tasks here go a long way to ensuring that.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Titus 3.1-2

Did you catch all seven?

  1. Be submissive to rulers and authorities.
  2. Be obedient.
  3. Be ready for every good work.
  4. Speak evil of no one.
  5. Avoid quarrelling. 
  6. Be gentle.
  7. Show perfect courtesy toward all people.

How the world needs this list now. It is possible to be outraged by injustice and still be the model citizen the Word calls us to (#4, #7, #6, #2, for example). 

Really, this is not a pie-in-the-sky dream of conduct that we should only expect from those in leadership. This is for all who have professed and confessed faith in Jesus (v.11.52.11). Let me put it this way; if you call yourself a Christian, Titus 3.1-2 is absolutely for you, and is absolutely how you need to be living.

It’s a tall task, yes. We will inevitably fail, yes. But the God who calls us to live like this has sent you all the provision you could possibly ever need to live like this (John 14.26, 1 Corinthians 3.16, 6.19, Ezekiel 36.27, 2 Timothy 1.14a, Romans 8.11).

Simply then, this is a list of character and conduct to-do’s that you are to do your human best to actively live!

Titus 2.7-8 – Walking the Walk

Earlier in his letter, Paul encouraged Titus to both talk and walk in a manner worthy of the name we bear, and in 2.7-8, this theme comes up again.

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Titus 2.7-8

Titus is called to be the example (show yourself) as well as to be the teacher (and in your teaching). Simply, he needs to both talk the talk, and walk the walk. Titus was not going to be taken seriously if he simply gave instruction in sound doctrine (1.9) but then lived a life that contradicted this.

It would be impossible for Titus to lead (1.5) if he was not sure, steady, and consistent in his understanding and teaching of Scripture (in your teaching show integrity, dignity…). Those called to lead and teach God’s people must have a firm grasp of a true and orthodox interpretation of God’s Word. 

Given that we are all to be working towards the character of Titus and the elders already detailed, we really all ought to be taking seriously the exhortation Paul gave to talk and walk in such a manner that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

How we all behave individually reflects on us all, the Christian collective. 

Today then – are we both talking the talk and walking the walk? What does my conduct and character say about my Christianity?

Titus 2.3 – To The Older Women

After speaking particularly to the older men (v.2), Paul now turns attention to the older women

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine…

Titus 2.3a

Each gender has its own unique set of challenges and temptations, and after writing that older men ought to be some things and do some things in v.2, Paul now says that older women are, essentially, to hold to the same high standards of behaviour (likewise are to be reverent in behavior…), and are not to be slanderers or slaves to much wine.

Particularly relevant to the Cretan environment of the day, gossiping and drinking too much are really not appropriate for any Christian, be they older women, be they men, and be they of any age.

D.Edmond Hiebert wrote,

The conduct of the older women must reveal that they regard life as sacred in all of its aspects.

Really, whilst this is addressed to older women, we would all do well to moderate what goes in to and what comes out of our mouths. Our Christian conduct must be matched by our consumption and our conversation. This is true whether we are an older woman from Crete or not. Today, watch what goes in and watch what comes out.

Titus 1.12-16 – Talking the Talk

Paul has established the need for Godly character in the leaders and we said that we all ought to be working towards this, and now he gives his younger charge the reason why such character is needed.

One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Titus 1.12-16

The problem all boils down to the truth of v.16; that the people Titus has been tasked with leading (with the help of his newly-appointed eldersprofess to know God, but they deny him by their works. Their character is severely lacking when compared to the elders appointed (vv.5-9, cf. vv.12-16), they are prone to myths and legalism (v.14), and have seriously misunderstood the liberty to live life to the full that comes with Christ (v.15). All the more need, then, for consistent Christian character to be displayed by Titus and his elders.

The crux of the problem is professing to know God, but denying Him with works. This comes up again and again in Scripture, doesn’t it? James 2.14-26, for example, makes a strong case that if you truly believe in what you claim and profess, there will be evidence, examples, and fruit borne from the root. 

Friends, it is one thing to talk like a Christian, but more important than all the terms, the lingo, the big theological words, the Christian-ese, is actually living the life. Talking the talk is one thing, but can we walk the walk?

Paul writes of those who simply talk a good game, they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

These are strong words, but Paul means it. These difficult people probably pretended to have a higher spirituality than Titus or other godly leaders.

David Guzik

So, today, stop and think: am I talking the talk but not walking the walk?

Were I to keep silent for a day, would anybody be able to tell I am a Christian by my conduct and character?