Lord, let Your Word chasten us and cause us to examine ourselves. Amen.
Text: Titus 3:1-7
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justifled by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
It is remarkable how often the Apostles exhort the believers to submit to secular authority. This must be a very important matter, of vital importance to our salvation, and there must be strong temptations for us human beings to disobey those placed over us. We ought to take note of this, for it is not written without good cause. If ambition and disobedience find a place, then we are not fit for anything good, but fall into the misdeeds of the heathen. Take note of our text: believers will “be subject to rulers and authorities, will obey, will be ready for every good work.” These two things: “submission to authority” and “being ready for every good work” thus belong together. Yes, they are one and the same thing. In the past, when we lived in heathendom, it was different for us, the Apostle says. The heathen spirit is irrational, disobedient, greedy, and full of hate, completely contrary to Christian submission and obedience. Such we were, but now that we are born again and made partakers of God’s mercy, we have received a loving and gentle spirit. Therefore we should now show ourselves, to the glory of God, to be reasonable, submissive, and obedient people.
In the same way, Peter says: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake … For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – as free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as servants of God” (1Pe 2:13-16). So, whoever is submissive and obedient to authority demonstrates understanding and freedom and does good, discerns God’s will and follows it. But whoever does not want to be submissive is foolish, ignorant, and wicked, not understanding what freedom means, and is a slave of the prince of darkness.
Christians, don’t follow the stream, but show that there is a new spirit in you. Show that you really are Jesus’ disciples. Show that God’s Word is true, that submissive obedience follows from the new life from God’s Spirit.
Lord, show us the royal way of meekness, and give us power to walk in it. Let us know more and more that whomever the Son frees is free indeed. Lord God, help us against the wicked spirit of selfishness, that would take the whole world with it. Have mercy, and save our people and our homeland for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The whole wide world, O Spirit!
Upon Thy hands doth rest;
Our wayward hearts Thou turnest
As it may seem Thee best;
Once more Thy pow’r make known,
As Thou hast done so often,
Convert the wicked, soften
Thou all the hearts of stone.
Our path in all things order
According to Thy mind,
And when this life is over
And all must be resigned,
O grant us then to die
With calm and fearless spirit
And after death inherit
Eternal life on high.
Gerhardt: O enter, Lord, Thy temple L 564:1.4 ELHB 252:8 and TLH 228:7 tr. C. Winkworth;
tune: Zeuch ein (TLH 228); alternate hymn: Blessed is the man ELH 457:1-2