From a Christian point of view “good works” or simply “works”, are a person’s positive and moral actions or deeds expressing inner qualities such as grace or faith. In Judaism, a good work is known as a mitzvah, and refers to a moral deed performed within a religious duty.
Good works, for the Christian, is like seeds planted in fertile soil that produces beautiful flowers!
1. What did you do this week to help someone? (I helped another person do a person’s yard chores because the third party was out of town with an ill relative. Until now, the act was anonymous, and meant to be such.)
2. How did your actions impact the other person? (We don’t know how they responded.)
3. How might a believer’s good works point others to Jesus?
4. How can a believer communicate his or her motive for doing good works in a way that honors God? (Humility. An act of love. If acknowledged for the good work, give God the glory for allowing you to be able to accomplish it.)
5. How can doing a good work be an act of worship? (When we do it for God’s glory and out of a heart of gratitude for what He has done for us.)
Every good work should be an act of worship!
We are in the last chapter of Paul’s letter to Titus this week. In the first chapter, Paul focused on encouraging Titus to remain diligent to the ministry as a preacher and to lead the people to godliness. In chapter 2, the call to diligence required him to rebuke false teachers and encourage holiness in the church. He specifically addressed how each age group, gender and slaves were to act to honor God. Now in chapter 3, Paul discussed the Christian’s behavior when among outsiders, their lost condition before coming to Christ, and their blessed condition after coming to Christ.
Good Deeds! Read Titus 2:15-3:2
Paul directed Titus to remind the Cretan believers to be ready to do good works, placing others above themselves. This is true even in the secular society we live in. By the way, secular denotes attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis. Doesn’t that sound like the world we live in!
1. How are Christians to relate to and function in the secular society in which we live? (“Be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.”)
There are obviously times when we are to answer to God as a higher Authority and disobey those rulers over us. Peter and John were told by the ruling authorities not to proclaim the name of Jesus. Their response—“Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19
2. How is a believer’s good behavior connected to the gospel message? (If we do not live according to the message we proclaim we are hypocrites and have cancelled the effectiveness of the gospel we preach.)
Qualities like the ones listed in these verses are possible only for those in whose hearts Christ reigns supreme. The welfare of any community depends on the acceptance by the Christians within it of the duty of demonstrating to the world the nobility of Christian citizenship.—William Barclay.
3. Is there a difference in good citizenship and Christian citizenship? (Perhaps only in motive—Christians are to be motivated by our love for God and act in response to His love for us.)
4. How does being a responsible citizen impact how others view Christians? (We can’t allow Christians to be viewed as separate from the community around us. We must be in the world but not of the world. Our lifestyle must be different but we can’t pull out away from those around us and expect to have a positive impact on their lives for Christ.)
5. How can the church build bridges for the gospel and remain distinct? (Be as active in our community as possible without compromising our principles as dictated by God’s Word.)
Since we’re called to love others, we must remember what we were saved from so we can empathize with the lost around us.
Based On His Mercy! Read Titus 3:3-8a
Here Paul let the Cretans know that he was no “Superman”. He was once just like them. It is only by the power of God that he changed!
1. Occasionally we will hear someone say, “I am sorry; I can’t change. That is just who I am.” What does this passage teach about that? (That’s right YOU can’t change yourself BUT God can! It is an important point because the Bible teaches that faith is the victory.)
Paul contrasted the believer before and after conversion. He emphasized that salvation is not based on works but on God’s mercy received through faith in Jesus.
2. What are the characteristics of someone before coming to Christ, as listed in these verses?
3. To whom does this list apply? (All of us.)
4. What are the characteristics of a person after becoming a Christian? (Saved from eternal damnation. Regenerated and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Justified by God’s grace. Heirs of God. People with the blessed assurance of eternal life!)
Verse 5 is a key verse that explicitly states how salvation is not about works but the mercy of God.
5. How would you describe the difference between doing good works to gain salvation and doing good works because one has been granted salvation? (Good works are done as an act of worship and thanksgiving for what God has already done, not to earn it. They come out of a heart of gratitude not a sense of duty!)
Good works are the natural by-product of a life of faith!
6. Did we come seeking God or was He seeking us? (See verse 6)
It was God’s plan from before time began that He would seek us for His own, a chosen people for eternity!
Done On Purpose! Read Titus 3:8-11
Paul explained that good works, not debates and arguments, should characterize the believer’s behavior. The person who focuses on doing good works for God’s honor will not have time to get involved in wasteful debates and arguments.
1. Why should we be devoted to good works? (That is what God’s plan is for our lives. See Eph. 2:8-10.)
2. Can those without good works be saved? (See James 2:20, 26—“Faith without works is dead.”)
Paul and James are saying the same thing! We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus but we are saved “...unto good works…”
Martin Luther, I think, summed it up well when he said, “Man is saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”
Jesus said, “I know [your] works.” Rev. 2:2
3. Read Titus 3:10-11. What is Paul talking about here? (If you have a person in the church that is divisive and refuses to repent withdraw fellowship with such a person. He is self-condemned. This person is either lost or a backslidden Christian. Recall in 1 Timothy 1:20 Paul named two men that he had turned over to Satan because they were trouble makers that refused to repent.)
The sin we confront is: public, habitual, serious, and lacking repentance.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “Nothing can be more cruel than that leniency which abandons others to sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than that severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.”
Summarize and Challenge!
Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ (Rom. 3:23-25)
Read Titus 3:14. What difference has Christ made in your life?
How does your faith in Christ help you live a productive life?
Close in prayer. May our godly actions bring honor to our God and Savior!