“This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds.”
Sunday’s Bible reading is the book of Titus. In this short letter from Paul to Titus he continually ties sound doctrine to good deeds. The connection is seen over and over again in this letter.
“…holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”
He then connects those who teach false doctrine with their character:
“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”
This is in accordance with Jesus’ teaching that good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit. It’s important to notice that Paul makes this connection between doctrine and deeds. Last year in Thinking & Living, I wrote that when doctrine is pursued as mere knowledge, knowledge by itself has a damaging effect (1 Corinthians 8:1b, 13:2).
We must, however, also lay aside whatever prejudices we may have towards doctrine because of those who have misused knowledge or even bludgeoned us with it. This is God’s truth we’re talking about—not the thoughts of men. We are to know it and heed it. In the Bible sound doctrine (orthodoxy) and sound living (orthopraxy) are not seen as two stand alone entities.
Paul’s letter to Titus is an invaluable illustration. He opens chapter two by telling Titus to “speak the things fitting for sound doctrine.” He then proceeds to give instructions on conduct within the church.
In chapter three as Paul begins by instructing Titus on conduct towards those who are not believers. It’s obvious that humility undergirds our actions:
“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.”
Paul gives important teaching on faith and works in his distinction that our lives exemplify our faith in Christ by our good deeds, but deeds are not the basis of our salvation:
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”
Titus 3:4–8 (NKJV)
Jesus Christ saved us and made us who we are. Our deeds show who we are.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Ágios Pávlos im Süden von Kreta, Griechenland (Ágios Pávlos in the south of Crete, Greece). Dieter Mueller (dino1948): GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter