Do these people have the faith of Jesus Christ, that is, do they believe in and practice the same things He did? Are they truly walking in His steps? Even to casual observance, it is obvious they are unwilling to make sacrifices to practice many of the things He did. Jesus kept the weekly Sabbath and annual holy days of Leviticus; they do not. Jesus kept Passover; they keep Easter, which Jesus never did. He never observed a single Halloween or Christmas, which are never commanded in the Bible and, in fact, are clearly pagan to the core.
This barely scratches the surface, involving only the more obvious pattern of works. However, it points to the fact that the verification that one loves God is moral. God determines the standards of morality, not men who say they love God yet often ignorantly go their own way in many areas of life. Without the keeping of the commandments, there is no other means acceptable to God to identify that we are in union with Him (John 14:15; I John 2:3-5).
This does not mean that love ends with these works—in fact, just the opposite. Keeping His commands, which express godly love, only begins the process. It is by this means that we make our witness to the world. The apostle John writes, "But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" (I John 2:5). Thus, this process also produces the boldness and confidence that enable us to overcome our anxious fears and conform our life to His.
We were created, called, and granted forgiveness upon confession of faith for this very purpose. In Romans 8:28-30, the apostle Paul confidently declares:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, and that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Romans 5:2 reminds us that we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Our goal is set, but now we learn it is conformity to Christ that leads to glorification. Justification by itself is wonderful, but it only begins the process.
Can we honestly say that our walk is every bit as pure as His walk? If we are honest, we freely admit that, in comparison, our walk is irregular, inconsistent, and sometimes thoroughly misguided. Our actions, reactions, words, and attitudes are all too often not in accordance with Christ. We take Him into situations He never would have gotten into Himself. It should be evident why we need Passover each year. It is comforting and encouraging to remember God's mercy—that because He sees us as Christ, He gives us time to recognize what we are, repent of it, yield, and progressively conform to His Son's image.
The days of sacrificing are most assuredly not over—only what is sacrificed has changed. No longer are blood or grain offerings given but things of immeasurably greater value. Our life given in total devotion to walking as our Creator and Elder Brother Jesus walked is the sacrifice that brings conformity to Him. Before our calling, our lives may have been filled to the brim with status, activities, and things we felt were important to our well being. However, in many cases, such things must be jettisoned to accomplish this.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Nine): Conclusion (Part Two)
He begins by accusing the Cretans, but then he mentions Jewish fables, and the Jews, too, become part of those he is accusing. It may be that the Cretans of whom Paul speaks may have actually been ethnic Jews who had had contact with persecuting Jews from outside Crete.
What is he accusing these people of? Of a practice that follows the Israelitish people in every age: believing that God indeed exists but showing by their conduct that they do not truly believe Him. He charges them with exposing in their behavior that they do not believe that they are truly, personally answerable to the sovereign God. In other words, they do not fear Him. The reality of what God truly is and requires has not affected them enough to make a difference in how they live their lives in actual day-to-day practice.
Since we live within this environment, it brings up a question for us to resolve: How can we live by faith if we do not have sufficient knowledge of the greatness, the closeness, and the awesome grace of God shown in the mercy He has already given? It is this mercy that allows us to begin even the barest of a relationship with Him, build on it, and come to know Him and fear Him.
A recent Barna poll revealed that over 80% of Americans believe God exists, but that belief has little influence on their conduct. Just about anything goes in this nation anymore. The great immorality of the American people reveals that they are not very concerned about being answerable to Him. Considering what has happened in Israel's history, should we not be concerned about what this might lead to in the near future?
John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part One)
God does care how we worship Him; He gives specific commands about how He wants to be glorified according to His standards and not our own. It does matter whether or not we share in the celebration of this world's pagan religious holidays. Though the Bible—the Word of God—makes no direct references to New Year's Eve, Lent, Easter, Halloween, or Christmas, the origins of these pagan holidays are mentioned as being abominations to God.
Martin G. Collins
The New King James titles this section "The Elder's Task." It covers instructions to the ministry in their job to protect the church from false teachers. In this section is the famous verse 12, "Cretans are always liars," and then he talks about those who are preaching Jewish fables and teaching the commandments of men.
Paul is giving general guidelines to Titus, the pastor on Crete, to help him to read the motives of the people who were affecting the congregation. One might say he was helping Titus to read their fruit. Does not scripture say, "You will know them by their fruits?" This is one of Christ's prime teachings in the Sermon on the Mount so that we would know the wolves that come among the flock. Paul is doing this same with Titus except putting it into different words.
He is telling the ministry that they have to get inside the heads of the people to sense the type of people that they are. Ministers have to be able to "read their minds" by observing what they say and do. This is not a Gestapo action, but an exercise to protect the flock. Among a minister's primary jobs is to ensure that no one has entered the flock who does not belong there, and to usher him out, if need be, to protect the rest of flock.
Oftentimes, goats come in among the sheep, and the goats need to be chased off due to their contrary influence on the sheep. Matthew 25 is clear about where the sheep end up, and where the goats end up.
Paul is instructing Titus in how to do his job—how to protect the flock of which he was made leader.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Is God in All Our Thoughts?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Titus 1:15: