Subject to rulers, to authorities, obedient
Titus 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 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, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them. 14 Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
15 All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith.
Grace be with you all.
In today’s text Paul says: Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. In Romans 13:1 it says: Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 1 Peter 2:13-15 says: Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. As believers, followers of Christ we are going to increasingly need wisdom and discernment concerning these things and their application in our lives. As our culture, our society and our government continue to move farther from the values we hold, it becomes increasingly more difficult to willingly be subject to them.
We need to remember that these words were written by men who lived under a harsh government rule. Paul wrote this exhortation from prison, even as he knew the chances he would die for his faith in Christ were very high. Peter also had been imprisoned for his faith and he too would eventually die at the hands of authorities, for that faith. When Jesus Himself was arrested, He said: “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” (Matthew 26:53-54) Jesus could have resisted and avoided the cross, but instead to the glory of God and for our sake, He submitted to the human authority established by God.
I don’t write this as one who has the answers as to how our faith and our government’s laws will change how we live in the coming days. I personally appreciate and value the freedoms we have enjoyed in our nation during my lifetime and I don’t think that as citizens of this nation we should stand by and watch as those freedoms are taken from us. On the other hand, as believers, as followers of Christ, we need to recognize that our ultimate citizenship is in God’s kingdom, not man’s. There may come a time when we need to stand for what God says over and above what man says. In Acts 4:18-20, we read of a time when Peter and John were brought before the authorities: they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” In Acts 5:28-32, we read: “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Indeed it will be increasingly difficult to know where the line between submission to authority and obedience to God will determine what we should do. One thing I am convinced of, while we should cherish and do what we reasonably can to preserve our rights and our freedoms in this nation, in the end it is not for our rights that we should take our stand against authority. It is for our testimony of Christ, it is our faith in Him, our belief that He died on the cross for the sins of all mankind, that we should not compromise and make our unwavering stand. Jesus Himself never promised a life free from persecution at the hands of authorities. In fact in Matthew 24:6-14 Jesus says: “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come”. In Matthew 10:21-22 Jesus says: “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” In John 16:2 Jesus says: “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” One thing I take comfort in is that no one, of my family, my friends or my co-workers will need to think that they do God a favor. No one will need to betray me. My faith in Christ will be proudly and boldly displayed here through my writing until the time that someone takes down and removes this site.
As I said, I don’t write this as one who has the answers, but I defer to the one who does. In Matthew 10:19-20 and in Luke 12:11-12 Jesus says: “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” It will take great wisdom and discernment for us as believers to walk in the coming days. Each person’s situation and circumstances will be unique. No man can adequately prepare and instruct us, but the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say and how you should respond. Jesus says: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) “The one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, I thank You that although I don’t know what the future holds, how my faith might be challenged, tested and tried by the governing authorities. I have confidence knowing that as I submit to You, as I yield to the teaching and guidance of the Holy Spirit, You will teach me how to submit to the human authority in my life. Regardless of what may come, through the power of the Holy Spirit in me, may my testimony of the cross of Christ never fail. May You be glorified in my life and if necessary in my death. Amen