Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 26 2013 - Titus 1:1-16 – Truth that leads to godliness

Paul writes to Titus to encourage him in his ministry in Crete. He is not very complimentary either about the character of the Cretans (Titus 1:12-13), or about the Jews who are living in Crete (1:10, 14). But Paul believes that the message of the Gospel can transform lives from the inside out; it is "truth that leads to godliness" (1:1). Titus is to proclaim the word of truth and to appoint others to assist him in the work and who will carry it on when Titus has gone; others who "hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught " (1:9). Here is truth that can transform, truth that leads to godliness, truth that can change the character and culture of a society.

And this is the reason that Paul is so clear in his warnings about those who would seek to teach other doctrines. The ‘Cretans’ Paul mentions would seem to be those who encouraged others to accept the pattern of life that was common to others on the island: make sure that you look after yourself; don’t do more than you need to get by; cover up your mistakes and failings with a good story; don’t take anything too seriously. Their teaching may appear enticing but it will damage the lives of those who pay attention to it and disrupt relationships. On the other hand there seem to have been Jews who were suggesting that those who claim to believe in the God of Abraham should be different from those around them: they should abstain from certain foods and observe special days; men should be circumcised... In short, they should embrace Jewish laws and lifestyle. Such folk, says Paul, are tying people up in a web of human regulations rather than setting them free to serve God. “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him” (1:12).

The gospel, on the other hand, has power to transform because it exposes the truth about the human condition – our selfish hearts and our powerlessness to change. The gospel has power to transform because it declares that Christ died for our sin but has been raised to the supreme place of power as Lord over all. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. The power of God which raised Christ from the dead is at work wherever the message about Jesus is proclaimed. Lives are changed as the old pattern of living is crucified with Christ and as the power of Christ's resurrection is displayed in lives made new. Relationships are transformed through the power of forgiveness and servant-hearted love. Here is transforming truth; truth that leads to godliness – to a Christ-like life that anticipates the life of the age to come.

Why then is our declaration of the gospel so often without power? Why are many churches characterised by people whose lives seem little different from the society in which they live. Why are we content to live lives that scarcely stand out from those around us who know nothing of Christ? Why has godliness gone out of fashion? Have we forgotten the heart of the message entrusted to us – the message about the transforming power of God that has been poured out upon our world through Christ’s death and resurrection and the gift of the Spirit? Could others ever say of us, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him”?

Living God, we pray that your Spirit would touch us afresh with the transforming power of the crucified, risen and living Lord Jesus. Make us a transformed and transforming people; a people gripped by the truth that leads to godliness. We need it. Our world needs it.

Peter Misselbrook