“holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” (Titus 1:9, NKJV)
This instruction to elders of the local church gives us insight into the nature of sound doctrine, and how God views its importance. It is clear to see in today’s verse that “the faithful word” corresponds to “sound doctrine.” The word of God is the tool by which the elders are to encourage and warn those who oppose the truth. Those who are not “sound in the faith” need the rebuke from God’s word that convicts and corrects (see Titus 1:13). Just as elders must “hold fast the faithful word,” each Christian must “hold fast the pattern of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13). Christians are not sound in the faith by merely claiming it to be so. We must hold fast to God’s word, examining ourselves and correcting ourselves to be in harmony with the truth. Personal opinions and self-approving proclamations of “soundness” are meaningless without Scriptural approval. Obey sound doctrine, and then you will be sound in the faith.
31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31–32, NKJV)
Jesus was not teaching the Law of Moses in this passage. In contrast to the legal contingencies and stipulations of the law of Moses concerning divorce stated in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Jesus spoke to the moral accountability of the person who ends a marriage. When one sends away his spouse from the marriage “for any reason except sexual immorality” (“saving for the cause of fornication,” KJV), he bears responsibility for the adultery she commits through remarriage. And, the one who marries such a person also commits adultery. These immoral realities of divorce and remarriage are rarely discussed and honored. But, they are real, and binding upon all who enter marriage (Matt. 19:3-6; Heb. 13:4). So, choose your mate carefully, and nurture your marriage wisely. Marriage is for life, and God will not accept every frivolous and selfish reason for ending what He has joined together (Matt. 19:6).
But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 5, NKJV)
Christians need to be continually reminded of the truth we have known (2 Pet. 1:12). Being reminded of the truth we once knew” is a prevention against falling away. Yes indeed, God’s people can fall away. Among God’s people Israel, those who “did not believe” were “destroyed” in the wilderness (Heb. 3:7-11). Although God had saved them out of Egyptian bondage, when they “rebelled,” “sinned,” “did not obey,” they not enter the land of promise due to their “unbelief” (Heb. 3:16-19). Jude uses Israel’s apostasy to warn faithful brethren of false teachers (Jude 3-4, 8). You see, it matters to God what Christians believe and the teachings we accept. False teaching produces false faith. Although we have been saved from the bondage of sin, if we do not faithfully continue in “the faith,” then we become like the wilderness Israelites. And like them, we will be destroyed because of our unbelief.
9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11, NKJV)
It is mind-numbing to watch so many people speak so carelessly and irreverently of Jesus. His life was above reproach, His death was the epitome of love and sacrifice, His resurrection from the dead cannot be successfully refuted, and His word is the truth that illuminates the meaning of life and the hope of eternity. Still, people refuse Him. Still, people mock Him. Still, people do not believe. Every rationale offered for doing so becomes an excuse for faithlessness, for thoughtlessness, and for bad behavior. His present position at the right hand of God heralds His exaltation, and declares that now is the time to “kiss the Son” (Psa. 2:11-12). A great day is coming when every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord. That will be the day when each of us will give an account to God for our lives (Rom. 14:11-12). Then, all will answer the question, “Did you believe and obey the Son?”
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Romans 2:4–5, NKJV)
God is the Giver of good gifts (Jas. 1:17). But one’s heart must be open to seeing and appreciating His gifts. When sin hardens the heart its eyes are closed to seeing God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, much less allowing these good things to stimulate repentance. Instead of laying up treasures in heaven, this hard, unthankful and unholy heart lays up treasures that will be repaid with wrath in the day of God’s righteous judgment. There will be no satisfaction on the day of judgment that “I did it my way,” when “your way” results in your eternal death. Today is the day to soften your heart toward God and be thankful for the many good gifts He gives you. Let these lead you to repentance so you can live in His blessings instead of being under His brooding wrath. May we never look with disgust upon the rich blessings of God.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),… (Ephesians 2:4–5, NKJV)
The mercy of God distinguishes Him from all that are called gods. He is enormously wealthy in mercy, and His love is utterly remarkable – another defining trait of the true and living God. God’s abundant love for us sinners activated His rich mercy toward us, and He mercifully gives us life in His Son (1 Jno. 5:11). Notice it is God who made us alive; we did not save ourselves by any power or any righteousness of our own making (Titus 3:5). God took the initiative when we were dead in sin, “without strength” to save ourselves (Rom. 5:6). God sent His Son to save us and His gospel to call us to His salvation (1 Jno. 4:9-10; Mk. 16:15-16). Let us be clear: God’s grace does not save a sinner unless and until it is accessed by the sinner’s faith (“For by grace you have been saved through faith,” Eph. 2:8; Rom. 5:1-2). Such faith is produced by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Dear Christian, take time today to thank and praise God for His great love and boundless mercy. His grace has saved you from sin’s death and made you “alive together with Christ.”
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” 14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:11–14, NKJV)
Sin is viewed far too casually, far too flippantly, far too inconsequentially by far too many Christians. By doing so Christians expose themselves to sin’s deadly darkness instead of exposing sin to the brilliant light of God’s word. Sin is a shameful thing. It is not to be supported, much less practiced. It is dark and deadly. For this simple reason, Christians are commanded not to have fellowship with sin and with those who practice it. The light of truth makes public the sin that hides in the darkness. The call goes out to every Christian to wake up out of your spiritual stupor and welcome the clarity Christ’s light gives to our lives. Christians are “children of light” (Eph. 5:8). Dedicate yourself to walking in the light of truth and not in the darkness and shame of sin (Eph. 5:9-10; 1 Jno. 1:6-7).