The Source of Good Citizenship, Part 5
Topic: Citizenship Scripture: Titus 3:4-7
How is it possible to model good citizenship like Paul exhorts in Titus 3:1-2 while living in an ungodly, uncivil society? Paul gives the answer in Titus 3:3-7. The Apostle exhorts believers to remember their post-conversion state of salvation. Paul reminds us not only what we have been saved from (v. 3) but what we are saved to (vv. 4-7).
Paul reveals how the gospel (3:4-7) gives what the law demands (3:1-2). The gospel produces what guilt, sheer duty or mere command could never produce. Today, we will see lastly from this Trinitarian creed how Paul reminds us of the goal of our salvation. We are justified so that we might become heirs of eternal life.
Paul’s concern here is not simply on justification but on what justification entails for the believer’s behavior toward the unconverted. Justification is not divorced from a life of godliness. For, the faith that receives and rests in Christ for justification also receives and rests in Christ for sanctification. Modeling good citizenship for the sake of the mission of the church is dependent upon justification. Justification is the legal basis for our sanctification. The whole value of our works comes from God’s grace.
Thus, John Calvin writes, "We ourselves, when we have been engrafted in Christ, are righteous in God’s sight because our iniquities are covered by Christ’s sinlessness, so our works are righteous and are thus regarded because whatever fault is otherwise in them is buried in Christ’s purity, and is not charged to our account. Accordingly, we can deservedly say that by faith alone that not only we ourselves but our works as well are justified" (Institutes, 3.17.10).
The knowledge of such a wonderful truth, writes Calvin, "fills the heart with such thanksgiving that it produces in the life of the believer a rich harvest of good works. Hence, justification and sanctification, though ever distinct, are never separate but stand in the closest possible relation to each other (Rom. 6:2; 8:1, 2)."