puzzle piece December 18 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Titus, 1Peter 1:1- 2:12

Christianity That Fits

Most of us have worked jigsaw puzzles, and some of us may get one for Christmas. We may have hundreds or even thousands of pieces to work with, but we know we need just the right size and shape of one piece to fit into others. When we are done the puzzle becomes a picture. This is sort of like Christianity; Christians should have standards and live lives that are in keeping with God's Holy Word, the Bible. When we live that way we become part of a picture of God's glory and grace.

Here is the problem–we live in an age of moral relativism, so there is an increasing lack of moral absolutes, even among many Christians. Morality is often expressed as, “what is right for you is right for you, and what is right for me is right for me.” This teaching is unfitting for believers in Jesus Christ. Here then is the importance of teaching godliness and morality from the Bible, God’s Holy Word–God wants our lives to fit in ways which will glorify Him– not to try to adjust our standards to fit in our ungodly culture.

In today's Bible reading we read that Titus is the Apostle Paul’s son in the faith (i.e., he led him to the LORD and discipled him). Paul set him up as a missionary pastor on the island of Crete. He left Titus in Crete to straighten out some unfinished business and to set up qualified leaders (elders) to preach and to teach the Bible (Titus 1:5). The qualifications of Titus 1:6-9 are similar to 1Timothy 3:1-7 and were probably written about the same time. They call for the very highest standards of character and conduct for church leadership, which is appropriate and fitting for the glory of God and for the benefit of the church.

The people of the Island of Crete were not paying attention to the truth, so Paul gives special instructions to Titus regarding the duties of an elder or pastor of the church.

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group [Jewish disciples]. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach-- and that for the sake of dishonest gain. Even one of their own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth, (Titus 1:9-14, NIV).

Every pastoral situation is unique, and so Paul tells Titus he must learn to teach and apply the Word of God to those situations. Furthermore, he instructs him that the motivation for good Christian living and good works is the grace of God in their lives (Titus 2:11-3:8). This is why Christ died. “…[He] gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good,” (Titus 2:14, NIV). Paul further instructs Titus, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives” (Titus 3:14, NIV).

Are we living lazy, unproductive lives? Let’s remember the grace of God and do good deeds. It is fitting for those who have received the grace of God to exhibit the grace of God.

The first letter of Peter to Jewish Christians scattered in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) is written for their encouragement. It gives practical help and instruction on how to live, especially during difficult times of persecution. Because of their persecution, the believers were alienating themselves from their culture. Although this might be a natural reaction (and some think even a spiritual reaction), it is not something God wanted them (or us) to do. It is not fitting behavior for a child of God. Jesus prayed for his disciples in his high priestly prayer,

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, (John 17:14-18, NIV).

Jesus said believers were to be sanctified (set apart unto God) by reading and obeying God's Word, but that the world would hate them for it. He wanted them to be ministers to the world, but not participate in her ungodly practices.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I [God] am holy [Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7]. ” (1Peter 1:14-16, NIV)

Like Titus, Peter reminds Jewish Christians that the motivation for godly productive living is the grace of God. He challenges them to remember,

…You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people [they had been rejected for disobedience, John 1:12], but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us, (1 Peter 2:9-12, NIV).

Therefore, when Christians encounter an ungodly culture they should alienate themselves from their sinful lifestyles and not compromise to fit into their culture. They should not, however, alienate themselves from people. We are to share with people the grace of God in our lives and live such good lives that they will see our good deeds and give glory to God. Furthermore, we should love our brothers and sisters in Christ (1Peter 1:22). This is Christianity that fits the glory of God.

Lessons to Live By

  • The church must have capable godly leadership–that is fitting for the glory of God and is beneficial for the church.
  • Church leaders must teach sound Bible doctrine to counter false teaching.
  • The motivation for living what is taught in the Bible is the grace of God in our lives, which brought us salvation (more...). It is fitting for those who have received the grace of God to exhibit the grace of God.
  • We should live exemplary lives as Christians for a good testimony to our world and not compromise God's moral standards. Furthermore, we should love our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is Christianity which glorifies God and fits our relationship to his Son, Jesus Christ.

Today’s Memory Verses

Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

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A Look Ahead: No one likes the thought of persecution or even to talk about it, but it is as real today as it was in the days of the early church. It may happen at home, work, school, on the job, or out in society. Our Next Lesson from 1Peter is Persecution–How to Respond to It.

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