As the USA celebrates Independence Day, the Savior’s statement in today’s passage rings especially true. Our history tells us that independence from tyranny’s oppression did not remove our responsibility to live under law as free men and women. It is a self-defeating premise and pursuit that declares liberty is freedom from the restraint of law. Free men and women understand and want the protection and constraints that law provides against evil (Rom 13:3-5). Those who seek good know that law serves good purposes (1 Tim. 1:8-11). Freedom from sin’s bondage, tyranny, and death is available through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Obeying the gospel from the heart ends our slavery to sin, not so we can declare ourselves free from every restraint, but so we may become “slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18). The truth, the word of Jesus, marks the boundary of our liberty in Christ (2 Jno. 9; Gal. 1:6-10). We are “under the law of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21, ESV). The gospel of Christ declares our freedom from sin and defines our life of freedom in Christ to serve righteousness according to His word of truth.
Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, (Titus 1:1, NKJV)
A cohesion existed between Paul and the Christians (God’s elect) to whom he wrote – a cohesion that continues to exist between the apostles and Christians. Paul was a slave of God; his will was entirely given over to the will of his Owner. Likewise, Christians are slaves of God and of righteousness (1 Pet. 2:16; Rom. 6:16-17). Our will is to conform to the will of our Owner (Gal. 2:20). Paul was also an apostle, chosen by Christ and sent as a chosen vessel to bear witness of Christ to the nations (Acts 22:14-15; 26:16-18). “The faith of God’s elect” is produced by the apostolic preaching of God’s word (Rom. 10:14-17). Without the gospel they preached, we cannot be saved (Acts 4:12; Rom. 1:15-17). The gospel truth can be known (“acknowledgement” is from epignosis, meaning “recognition, discernment, knowledge”), which produces godliness in those who will receive it. Our faith cannot exist independent of the apostolic teaching. It is that very teaching that informs us of our owners will and therefore, of our duty to Him as his bondservants. Let us listen to God’s word, discern His truth and live godly.