Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Theology Should Not Divide – Titus 3:8-11

This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (NASB)

Speak Confidently

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak. (2 Cor 4:13 ESV)

After Paul explained the work of the Trinity in our salvation along with previous statements of good theology, he tells Titus that he wants him to speak confidently. What is written for Titus applies to all Christians who are growing in good works and in the knowledge of God (Col 1:10). If we are truly saved, then we have the Holy Spirit in us because we believe. Since we believe, we speak about that which we believe. If we can’t clearly voice our theology, then there are two possibilities. There is something wrong with our theology or we have become lazy babies requiring milk and not solid food (Heb 5:12). 

You may say that the theology is beyond your comprehension because you are not an intellectual type. My answer is that theology doesn’t have to be wrapped in lofty sounding words based on the Latin writings of the Church Fathers or philosopher. I spent two years getting my Masters of Arts in Theological Studies and that taught me a great deal. One of the things it taught me is that many theologians complicate things way beyond the simple faith that is required to clearly articulate why we believe, why we are saved, and the resulting good works. Anyone can speak confidently about what they believe, even a newborn Christian. That is good theology.

Engage in Good Deeds

Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. (Philem 11 NIV)

Works are a reoccurring theme in Titus. There is a contrast between the detestable works of those who deny God by their behavior (Titus 1:16) and the model of good works we are to demonstrate in our lives (Titus 2:7, 3:1). While bad works reveal a person’s ungodliness, good works do not save anyone (Titus 3:5). Rather a person must first be saved then be devoted to good works (Titus 3:8, 14). That is the pattern, bad works versus good works. Bad theology usually shows up in bad works. The slave Onesimus was a perfect example of bad works and good works. Before he became a Christian, he was useless to his master and even ran away. In the same way, as unbelievers, we are useless to our Master and are running in the wrong direction. After salvation, we become useful to God and to others. Our theology teaches us that our devotion to good deeds is the natural outcome of our salvation and this is profitable for others as well as ourselves. If we are not engaged in good deeds or are engaged in bad deeds, then there is legitimate reason to question our salvation. Jesus put it this way, “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad” (Matt 12:33, NLT). 

Shunning Foolishness is not Dividing

Should he [a wise man] argue with useless talk, Or with words which are not profitable? Indeed, you do away with reverence And hinder meditation before God. (Job 15:3-4 NASU)
Eliphaz accused Job of useless talk. Reading Job and understanding exactly who is right and wrong is a difficult job. It seems that much of it is useless talk because God eventually reprimands Eliphaz and exonerates Job. However, this is a gem among Eliphaz’s statements. Paul indentifies three categories of useless talk, controversies, genealogies, and arguments about the Law. According to Eliphaz, these things do great damage because they “hinder meditation before God.” Instead of drawing us closer to God, they do the opposite. 


In my previous blog, I mentioned my Calvinistic bent toward the way we are saved. This could easily become a controversy if it were my goal to argue with each person who has an Arminian bent. Instead of using our theology to help us draw closer to the Lord and meditate on His goodness in saving us, we would be stirring up strife and wasting time that could be put to better use. However, it is OK to discuss our theology without animosity and not make it a point of conflict or division.


If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:  circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. (Phil 3:4-5 NKJV)

Paul ran into some of his opponents who used their heritage to try to undermine his work. They looked to their genealogy to show how they were much superior to Paul. In this instance, Paul must have been fed up with their boasting and revealed his own genealogy. But he readily admits that it is of no gain (Phil 3:7). As he instructs us through Titus, Paul makes it clear that none of this helps our spiritual growth or salvation. Today, we often point to our religious upbringing instead of our personal relationship with Jesus. Our spiritual genealogy may explain how we came to Christ when witnessing to other, but it is Jesus who saves us, not our membership in a church or a long line of preachers in our family tree. If someone is insisting that membership in a particular group (a modern genealogy), that is a theology that divides and should be avoided.

Arguments about the Law

I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. (Gal 2:21 NLT)

Why do people argue about the Law? In the Bible, the biggest issue about the Law was how much of it had to be kept in order to be saved. Some taught that a person must be circumcised to be saved (Acts 15:1). They took this teaching to Gentiles in Antioch where Paul had taught and guided the church. Because Paul and Barnabas could not convince them about their error, the first all-church council was held in Jerusalem to address the issue. The council supported Paul and Barnabas spurred on by Peter’s contention that Christians have their hearts cleaned by faith, not by keeping rules and regulations (Acts 15:9). However, the letter they sent to Antioch included instruction to live godly lives (Acts 15:29). This wasn’t something to earn salvation. Rather it is what they should do because they were saved. 

It seems that there has been a struggle in the Church ever since its beginnings trying to determine what one should do to live godly lives. The arguments are not necessarily about obedience to the Law for salvation but obedience to please God and live lives that please Him. The early Church developed monastic orders where monks and other separated themselves from the world living ascetic lives. Some continue to this day. The instructions to the church in Antioch were quite simple. Today we have a great variety of people who believe that godliness comes only if you adhere to dietary restrictions, abstinence from movies, worship on Saturday, doing no work on Sunday, or other practices that afflict the body. In many cases, these fit into Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9 RSV)! What were the commandments Jesus gave and reiterated? Love God and love one another (Matt 22:37-40; John 13:34, 15:12-13).  All the other arguments over the law, controversies, and genealogies are worthless. Fighting over these things should be avoided.

Reject a Factious Man

Take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame. (2 Thess 3:14 NASB)

Several Bible translations render Titus 3:10 much harsher than others. Some say the factious person should be rejected, others tell us to have nothing to do with them. Paul expressed the same concept in 2 Thessalonians 3:14, but he used a very different word. In Titus, the word is paraiteomai, which in this case means “to beg off, i.e. deprecate, decline, shun.”[1] In 2 Thessalonians, the word is sunanamignumi, which means “to mix up together, i.e. (figurative) associate with.”[2] The action in Titus is much stronger than in 2 Thessalonians. It appears rather harsh, but it suggests that Paul is saying we should make an effort to remove him from the church. 

Why would Paul advocate such a harsh penalty? There are at least two reasons. The first is because his continued association with the church would be a deterrent to others coming to Christ. Paul says he is “warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:11 NIV). We must distinguish between those who were this way and have repented (1 Cor 6:11) and those who continue in their sinfulness and still claim to be Christians (1 Cor 5:11). The former glorify God and the latter disgrace His name. The second is the seriousness of the sin that causes division or leads people away from God instead of to Him. Jesus was really tough on those who would cause people to follow the wrong path (Matt 23:15). These people need to be identified, warned about their behavior, attitude, and teaching. Then, they must be quarantined so that they don’t infect the rest of the church. 

Good theology will not divide but bad theology almost always will cause divisions. It is better to take the steps to remove the one pushing the error than it is to let him drag many down with him.

[1] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary, s.v. “NT:3868”, (Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc. 2006).
[2] Ibid., s.v. “NT:4874.”

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Good Theology – How We Are Saved – Titus 3:4-7

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (NASB)

Good theology leads to good practice and without a good theology of our salvation, there is no telling what obtuse deviations will occur in our behavior. So Paul provides one of the clearest passages explaining how our salvation occurs. He shows that the Trinity is unified in saving us, each Person doing His own part in bringing us from what we were to what we are now in Jesus Christ.

The Father

While Paul does not identify God the Father in this passage, he did in Titus 1:4. When I see him referring to God our Savior, I see him pointing specifically to the Father since in the remaining verses of this passage Paul identifies both Jesus and the Holy Spirit and their work. We often use God and Father interchangeably in our prayers and when speaking about God. Technically, referring to God includes the full Trinity, so the Father is included in this verse.

Father’s Kindness

Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Rom 2:4 RSV)

Paul first introduces us to the kindness of God the Father (Titus 3:54). It reminds me that God’s kindness is there to lead us to repentance. Some only view the Father as a mean old man who is ready to thump us whenever we do something wrong. But considering the world that He has made and the fact that He shines the sun and sends rain on the just and the unjust alike (Matt 5:45), it is evident that these manifestations of His general grace are a result of His kindness. If He were the mean old man just waiting for us to screw up, He would not have to wait long. If He treated us as our sins deserve, none of us would make it to adult hood. 

Father’s Love

I just looked up Titus 3:4 in several different translations. They seem to be evenly divided in the way they translate filanthroopia. According to Thayer, it means, “love of mankind, benevolence.”[1] The NASB says, “His love for mankind,” while the NIV translates it as “love of God.”[2] Filanthroopia comes from the word filanthroopoos, which means humanely. It is a compound of philo and antropos, meaning fondness to man.[3]  Filanthroopia is only used in Acts 27:3 where Paul’s captor, Julius, kindly allows him leave the ship to meet with friends.

I’m afraid this is going to take on a bit of a rabbit trail as I try to understand this. The word is only used in one other place in the Bible; “The native people showed us unusual kindness” (Acts 28:2 ESV). All of the translations that I read used kindness in this verse. 

So why did some translators go one way and other go the other way in Titus 3:4? Does it make a difference? The more literal translation would be God’s love for mankind. But the use of filanthroopia and filanthroopoos in other verses would lean toward using it in the same way, as simply God’s love. This is where I think even committees of translators are affected by their predisposition to a certain theology when they depart from a more literal translation. They want to get the concept of the verse correct but in doing so, they may side toward their own theological bent. Perhaps, they are afraid to say “God’s love of mankind” because it might sound like universal salvation. They may fear that some may use this verse in conjunction with John 3:16 to encourage something that is clearly not supported elsewhere. 

Father’s Mercy, Not Our Efforts

It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. (Rom 9:16 NIV)

The problem is that both are true. God does love mankind and He does love us as individuals. Since Titus 3:4-7 is dealing with salvation, does saying that His love for mankind mean that everyone will be saved? Not at all. In Romans 9:1-10:4, Paul presents a lengthy argument against universal salvation. He clearly indicates that many Jews, his fellow countrymen, are not saved and will not be saved. The reason is that God chooses some for salvation and not others. His basis is His mercy and not the efforts of people who try to approach and win God’s favor by their own deeds of righteousness. His fellow Israelites were attempting to earn their salvation based on their zeal and not on knowing the way to salvation through Jesus. 

Father’s Decision

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will. (Eph 1:5 NASB)

God the Father saves us by His decision. He is the one who ordains who will be saved and who will not. This is the Calvinistic bent, but it is the best explanation for Romans 9 as well as many other passages. Romans 9 makes it abundantly clear, as does Titus 3:5. In Titus, there is only a glimpse of this but it is clearly spelled out in Ephesians 1:5. God the Father is identified in Titus 3:4 so the “He” in verse 5 is the Father. He made the choice (predestined), it was His intention, and His will. There can be no doubt that our salvation is totally in the Father’s hands. What the Father wills comes to pass. John 1:13 affirms our spiritual birth is by the will of the Father. Jesus affirms that those who come to Him are the ones that the Father gives (John 6:37). 

The Holy Spirit’s Work

Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5 ESV)

Which is a more accurate description of the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation? Does the Holy Spirit enlighten a person so that he can see the error of his ways, repent, and then become a new person or does the Holy Spirit regenerate a person making him a new creation and because he is a new creation, he repents? At first, they seem to be the same and only use different words. The difference between enlightened and regenerated is important. 

If a person is enlightened, he is still not saved. It is then up to him to be a cooperative agent with God in order to be saved. Salvation is a partnership because the person can still refuse to repent even though enlightened or worse, renege on his decision (Heb 6:4-5). Enlightenment or tasting of the Holy Spirit does not imply that a person is saved. 

If a person is regenerated, he is saved at that point. He repents in obedience to God, which he will do only because he has a new nature. The person is saved totally by the will of God and the response is natural obedience of this new creation (2 Cor 5:17). His salvation is secure because Jesus said so (John 10:27-30).  
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezek 36:26-27 NIV).

I will again take up the Calvinistic bent regarding the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit for salvation. Regeneration is only used in Titus 3:5 and Matthew 19:28. Matthew uses it concerning the resurrection. So what leads to the Calvinistic bent? The emphasis is on the many other verses in the Bible that refer to a new birth or a new heart. God made a promise in Ezekiel 36:26-27 that completely explains how this works. The cause is God. Notice that following the implantation of His Spirit and a new heart, God tells us He will move us to be obedient. J. I. Packer explains that in the New Testament, regeneration is individualized according to John 3:3, 7 and John’s nine uses in his first epistle of the terminology of being born of God.[4] My conclusion is that regeneration is a sovereign act of God, accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that brings salvation. Man does not work with God in this process.

Through Jesus Christ

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. (1 Cor 15:3 NASU)

Where do I start in describing what Jesus has done in our salvation? I could start in Genesis 3:15 predicting His ultimate victory over Satan. I could include Isaiah 53:5-6 describing hundreds of years before His sacrifice for our sins how He would take our sins. The Gospels vividly tell of His crucifixion and that He had to be “lifted up” so that we can believe in Him and be saved (John 3:14-16). The book of Romans, especially chapters five and six, explain the theology of Christ’s substitutionary death for our sins. John says, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2 NKJV). Perhaps a better question would be where do I stop? Some have written volumes about Jesus’ part in our salvation. Two things are for sure, if Jesus had not died, we would all be in our sins; if there had been another way for us to become righteous, then there would not have been a need for Jesus to die (Gal 2:21).

Hope of Eternal Life

It should be clear that all three persons of the Trinity are vitally involved in our salvation. It isn’t anything that we have done or even a decision of our own that guarantees us eternal life. It is completely dependent on God and His work. The Father choose us before the earth even existed (Eph 1:4) and gave us to Jesus (John 6:37). Jesus paid the price for our sins to rescue us by His blood from the wrath of God (Rom 5:9). The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts (John 16:8) and regenerates (Titus 3:5) us so that we are new creatures (2 Cor 5:17) who willingly obey not because we choose but because His Spirit causes us to walk in His ways (Eze 36:26-37). Because it is His work, we have this guarantee of eternal life whereby no one can separate us from His love (Rom 8:38-39) or remove us from His care (John 10:27-30).

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13 NKJV)

I don’t know when the Holy Spirit regenerates a person (John 3:8). If you have not turned to Jesus for your salvation before and God uses this to draw you to Jesus, then this is the time. Confess your sins, ask for forgiveness, repent, and you will be saved, not because of anything you have done but because He is calling and renewing you. I am called to extend the invitation as Hebrews 3:7 says, “Today when you hear his voice, don't harden your hearts” (NLT). Jesus is calling, “If any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20 RSV).

[1] S. Grimm and S. Wilke, New Testament Lexicon, Joseph Henry Thayer, ed., (Seattle: Biblesoft 2006), s.v. “NT: 5363.”
[2] Generalizing, NASB, NKJV, KJV, ASV translate it as love toward man; ESV, NIV, NLT, RSV  translate it as God’s love.
[3] Strong’s, s.v. “NT:5364.”
[4] J. I. Packer, “Regeneration,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 1000.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Good Theology – The Way We Were – Titus 3:3

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. (NKJV)

After Paul reminds us to do good works, he throws this reminder out so that we will be able to see the contrast between what we were and what we have become. I don’t think he is reminding us about our past to cause us to feel guilty and mourn over what we used to be like. Rather, this is to set the stage for our gratitude for our salvation. It is also a great statement of theology that many hate to talk about, the depravity of man.

Universal Problem

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. (Gen 6:5 NLT)

I could go back to Adam and Eve or Cain and Able to point out the same thing, but God succinctly describes our problem in Genesis 6:5. At the core, people are evil. Did anything change substantially after the Flood? Well it may seem to be better but we still have a heart problem. In explaining our universal problem of sin, Paul quoted from several Old Testament sources to demonstrate that we are still basically evil (Rom 3:9-18). His comments are bracketed by, “No one seeks God” and “there is no fear of God” (Rom 3:9, 18). Without God, without Jesus, without the Holy Spirit, people do not seek God or fear Him. Should anyone object to this conclusion, Paul says that all have sinned (Rom 3:23). 

Many do not understand what a theologian means when he says that man is totally depraved. They think that this a very demeaning description of mankind because they can point to millions of kind act done by people who have no religious affiliation or spiritual association. C. C. Ryrie defines total depravity by saying that no one can do even good things to gain merit for salvation in God’s eyes. He concisely defines total depravity, “The unmeritoriousness of man before God because of the corruption of original sin.”[1]  This doesn’t mean God doesn’t recognize good done by depraved people or that depraved people don’t have consciences. It does mean that our consciences are not always reliable. And it doesn’t mean that we engage in sin to the greatest degree possible.[2]

A Calvinistic leaning of theology will completely agree with the concept of total depravity because it means that there is nothing a person can do to get out of the pit of sin until God pulls him out, i.e. regenerates him. The Arminian bent denies total depravity and believes that when a person begins to seek God, God will regenerate him. [3] I understand the Arminian view and realize that great Jesus-loving Christians have argued these differences for centuries. The following is a brief look at Scripture that explains why I lean toward the Calvinistic teaching. 

We Were Dead

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (Eph 2:1-2 NASB )

The key word in these verses is dead. It establishes the parameters of the ability of a person or persons described; in this case it was me. Sure, he originally sent the letter to the Ephesians but I must apply this personally. It is talking about my condition at some time in the past. I can’t take this as being physically dead because my condition is also described as walking or following a course of action. It also applies to people who are still in the same condition, the sons of disobedience. Therefore, being dead is descriptive of a spiritual condition.

If it were literal, then the meaning of the Greek word, nekros, describes a lifeless person, someone who has breathed his last and died.[4] A person in this state cannot respond to any outward stimuli. He can’t think, reason, or do anything that can make himself alive. He is dead.

Spiritually, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon describes it this way:
a.                   (spiritually dead, i. e.) destitute of a life that recognizes and is devoted to God, because given up to trespasses and sins; inactive as respects doing right: John 5:25
b.                  universally, destitute of force or power, inactive, inoperative: Rom 6:11[5]

 Notice, both of these descriptions contains the word, inactive. Dead is a very good description of a person’s spiritual abilities before coming to Christ for salvation. An inactive (dead) person doesn’t come to Christ on his own, because he is not doing anything. The literal description of a physically dead person makes it clear that he has no ability to do anything. The spiritual description agrees because the person has no power to do so. He is inoperative, like a robot without a source of power. The Holy Spirit is the source of power for Christians and He is not in spiritually dead people.

A primary reason to consider total depravity is that the Bible describes us as dead. It isn’t until we read further in Ephesians that we discover that while we were in this dead condition, God made us alive (Eph 2:5). We will see this repeated when we move on in Titus.


And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works … (Col 1:21 NKJV)

When we are alienated from God, we don’t want to have anything to do with Him. Paul says that in our fallen state we believe God is our enemy. Seldom in human experience does anyone want to become like his enemy. Rather there are reasons for the alienation. Teens don’t like the restriction, rules, habits, tastes, fashion, or many other characteristics of their parents when they are alienated. In the same way, a person who has not been regenerated doesn’t like God’s restrictions and rules because they don’t understand the freedom they would have if they were saved. They don’t like God’s concepts of holiness or His desire for a person to be modest; there is the fashion problem. Most of all, they don’t like the idea that they can’t save themselves. They want to be independent just like a teenager. Pride hinders them because they can’t get over the idea that they can’t do something to be considered worthy in God’s eyes. Paul calls all of these attitude problems wicked works. Later, Paul also lists some of the outward wicked deeds that correspond to what goes on in the heart (Col 3:5). 

Alienated people don’t want to be around their perceived enemies. Because they are separated, there isn’t any possibility of being influenced by them. When it comes to spiritual alienation, it seems impossible for anyone to bridge the gap. That is the point of the depravity of man. Man can’t do it, but with God all things are possible (Matt 19:25-26), so He has already made reconciliation possible through Jesus’ death on the cross (Rom 5:10, 2 Cor 5:18). 

Foolish – Unable to Understand

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Cor 2:14 NASB)

Foolishness is a good description of someone who is unable to understand. When we see someone do or say something foolish, we often wonder about his inability to understand the hurt it causes, the consequences to himself and other, the lack of social skill or grace, and other things. When it comes to spiritual foolishness, the Bible doesn’t let us wonder if he doesn’t understand. It states plainly that he cannot understand because he does not accept what the Spirit would impart to him if he were willing. The depravity of man comes from the fact that a person doesn’t have the Spirit of God in him and therefore can’t understand, accept, or change. They can only accept and change with the Spirit of God. It is a vicious circle for nonchristians. There is no understanding because they do not have the Spirit and without the Spirit, there is no way to understand. 

The Result

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.” (John 8:34 NLT)

In Titus 3:3, Paul provides a short list of the result of being depraved. The first is serving lusts and pleasures. If we are not serving the Lord, then we are ultimately serving what makes us feel good. Seldom does a person do things for any other reason. Even a person who cuts himself finds some temporary relieve from some other pain that he believes is worse than the cutting. People who are philanthropic do so because it makes them feel better about themselves. They find pleasure in helping others. This is not bad, but if this is the motivation, it is not serving the Lord. In this sense, the person may be doing good, but is still a slave to sin. 

The longer list in Titus 3:3 is when the sin has developed into what anyone would call evil. Malice, envy, and hate are universally classified in the negative categories of behavior. Paul and Peter both say the same thing about malice. Put it away; get rid of it (Col 3:8, Eph 4:1, 1 Peter 2:1). 

This is the way we were before we became Christians. No matter how good we thought we were all this was either blatantly obvious or lying just beneath the surface. Without salvation, there is no way we would be able to just put away our sins and make ourselves righteous in God’s sight. We may be very good at appearing righteous to others, but that is only because we are comparing ourselves to each other. We can always find someone worse than ourselves. We seldom look around to compare ourselves with someone better than we are. If we did, then we would ultimately have to compare ourselves with God and that would bring us to the realization that we are indeed sinners and totally depraved. 

That’s the bad news. The good news comes in the next few verses of Titus 3.

[1] C. C. Ryrie, “Depravity, Total,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 337.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database, s.v. “NT: 3498”, (Biblesoft, 2006).
[5] Ibid.