The Pursuit of God

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Titus 2: Cult Rules

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

This is a continuation of Titus 1: The Cult of Paul.

Before we get into the text of Titus 2, we need to ask some fundamental questions—questions that will help us better assess the principles Paul is teaching in this letter.  Our first question is this: whose choices are we responsible for in life?  As Christian teachers, are we responsible for the choices you are making in your own walk with God?  Are you responsible for the choices we’re making?  Should we be trying to control you?  Should you be trying to control us?  The answer to all of these questions is no. And yet in Titus what we find is Paul expressing an intense desire to control how people behave, how they think, and what kind of impression they’re making on others.  In the second chapter of this epistle, Paul is going to bombard Titus with instructions for how Titus should teach various groups of people to behave.  And while there is certainly value in encouraging people to act maturely, Paul’s motivations are all wrong.  He’s going to say that the reason he wants everyone to act a certain way and think a certain way is so no outside observers will have grounds for slandering the followers of Paul.  Paul wants his people to look good to others.  He wants his followers to work hard to make his teaching seem attractive.  But is that really what we’re supposed to be focusing on in life?  Are we supposed to get up in the morning and say, “How can I make Jesus look good to people today?” or “How can I give Christianity a good name?” Can’t Jesus take care of His own reputation?  Of course He can.  We’re not supposed to be going through life trying to promote a religion.  We’re supposed to be living to please God.

In Titus 1, we found Paul expressing rage over the fact that some people on the island of Crete were being very vocal in their disagreement with his views.  He was furious that those anti-Paul folks were talking to his followers, and trying to convince them that some of Paul’s doctrines were wrong.  Paul responded to this situation by ordering Titus to “silence them all.”  And yet is this really the God-honoring response?

A lot of the teaching we put out on our website is considered radical, offensive, and incendiary by others.  A lot of the things we say make both Christians and non-Christians really, really mad.  Some of these folks vent their total disagreement of us on the internet.  How should we respond to this?  Should we freak out and try to employ aggressive means of silencing everyone who disagrees with us?  Should we threaten our readers and warn them to stay away from those jerks who say nasty things about us online?  No, these are the wrong responses.  You see, it is God who gives people the right to disagree with us.  It is God who lets other humans get on the internet and write hateful things about us.  If God didn’t want this to happen, He could easily stop it.  But He does want it to happen.  He wants both messages to coexist on the internet: the things we say, and the things other people say to counter us.  As for you: you shouldn’t hide out from differing opinions in life.  You should take in whatever information God directs your attention to.  If you come across someone who is slamming our teaching, you shouldn’t just fluff it off as irrelevant.  Give them a chance.  See if their arguments have any merit.  Don’t be imitated by hearing differing viewpoints on a subject.  Maybe something one of our anti-fans has to say will really help you in your walk with God.  We certainly don’t have the corner market on truth.

On our site, we treat teaching about God like food on a buffet table.  We simply put it out there, and then we leave it up to you to decide what you want to sample, what you want to swallow, and what you want to spit out.  Our role in your spiritual education is supposed to be a passive one.  We’re not supposed to go up to you and start trying to ram certain concepts down your throat.  We’re not supposed to be forcing you to swallow what we say.

Now much of what we say about God we say with great confidence.  When you teach for God, you have a responsibility to present the information the way that He wants it to be presented—and God has strong opinions about the kind of words and tones He wants us to use in our material.  So in our world, we are going to do what God is telling us to do.  But in your world, you can’t hear what God is telling us to do, and our claims to be obeying Him might be no more than vain talk.  As for our discernment, how do you know it’s any better than yours?  How do you know if the things we say about Paul and Titus and God are true at all?  What if we’re just a bunch of dingdongs who make YouTube videos because we love to hear our words being said out loud?  What if we only post things online because we need attention or something?  You see, you don’t know anything until you ask God.  And no matter how confident we are, our confidence can’t be the basis for your confidence, because that kind of foundation will never last.

It’s not our job to make you think a certain way—in fact, God says we’d be wrong to try and do this.  It’s not our job to silence every person who disagrees with us or hates us—and if these people actually bother us, then God would say that we have some maturing to do.  As an individual human, you need to be getting truth from God.  You shouldn’t just be handing your brain over to people who you’ve never even met and saying “Tell me how to think.”  God is the One who you answer to in life, not us, not the people who hate us, and not the people who think we’re brilliant (if there are any).

When religious leaders start trying to ram their beliefs down your throat and threatening you with dire consequences if you dare to disagree with them or even take the time to really consider what they’re saying, those are people you need to get away from as fast as possible.  God gives every human the option of rejecting Him and His truths.  So no matter how right any individual teacher thinks he or she is, there’s no grounds for them demanding that others conform to their beliefs.  Maybe we are convinced that God will throw people into Hell if they don’t meet certain conditions.  But when we say this to you, you need to turn right around and ask God what He thinks about it.  Everything must be verified with God before you believe it.

In his letter to Titus, we find Paul emphasizing that Titus and the elders that Titus appoints on Crete need to promote the right kind of doctrine—sound doctrine, as opposed to lies.  Correct teaching.  And while this sounds good at first glance, there’s a glaring problem with Paul’s philosophy.  The problem is that Paul is elevating himself—not God—as the source of all that sound doctrine that everyone is supposed to be teaching.  Now of course Paul claims that he is just passing on teaching that he received directly from Christ.

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:11-12)

But while he makes this claim, he won’t allow anyone to verify it for themselves.  Instead, he demands that they just accept his claim to be speaking pure truth, and then he threatens, condemns, and curses anyone who dares to question him.  This kind of obnoxious behavior is common among cult leaders, but it’s totally wrong for Christian leaders to behave this way.

Let’s think about this logically.  Suppose we are certain that we’re teaching you truth which we got directly from God.  Well, isn’t God just as capable of teaching you the same way that He taught us?  Of course He is.  It’s not like we’re the only people who God talks to—He talks to everyone.  So if we really care about the welfare of your soul, what’s the best way for us to help you: to tell you to blindly accept everything we say or to urge you to go straight to God? We should be urging you to go to God, because He’s the Source of all truth.  He’s the real Teacher—He’s the One who taught us everything that we know.  After having God illuminate us, why would we try to block you from experiencing that same kind of illumination?  Why would we thrust ourselves between you and God and say, “You don’t need to talk to Him—we’ll tell you when He says something that’s relevant to you”?  The only reason we’d act this way is if we were on a power trip.

Cult leaders like Paul are always on power trips.  They get their satisfaction out of seeing other people depending on them for answers in life.  They feel very threatened by people establishing strong communication with God themselves.  This mentality is no different than the fellow who discovers a natural spring in the hills.  Instead of telling his neighbors about it so everyone can enjoy the fresh water, the man keeps the location of the spring a secret.  Then he starts bottling the water and selling it.  He doesn’t want people to figure out that they can access the spring for themselves, because then he’ll no longer have any opportunity to profit off of people’s thirst.

There are many ways to profit off of people.  A guy like Paul wasn’t looking to become materially rich.  Instead, he craved people’s admiration.  Preferring a bunch of ego stroking over hard cash isn’t new at all—a lot of people go this route.  There are many ways to feel rich.  Being poor really isn’t so bad when you’re surrounded by fans who would do anything for you.  And if you’re a good manipulator—which Paul was—then you will use your poverty and problems to get people to admire you even more.  This is what Paul does.  He likes to talk about all of the ways he’s suffering and sacrificing for God, and in doing so he acts like people who write whole books to boast about how they were tortured for Christ.  What happens when Christians read such testimonials?  They feel very impressed.  They assume that anyone who gets beat up for Christ must be hardcore devoted and pursuing all of the right spiritual goals.  And yet is this a reasonable assumption?  No, it’s not.  If a fellow was really as mature as people think he is when they read his self-exalting book, he wouldn’t have written the book in the first place.

Maturity results in humility.  Humility is a soul attitude which causes you to not want to talk on and on about yourself, because you want people to stay focused on God instead.  Now certainly getting beaten for any reason is a traumatic experience.  But Paul had plenty of friends who he could debrief with after he was attacked by Jews and Romans.  He didn’t have to boast about his trials in letters which he knew would be circulated among large groups of strangers. But not only does he boast, he totally exaggerates the importance of his personal sufferings—even going so far as to claim that he’s finishing what Christ left undone.

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church. (Col. 1:24)

See?  Paul is finishing what sloppy Christ left undone.  And by making this claim, he’s setting himself up as Christ’s judge by giving Christ a grade of “incomplete” and then magnanimously declaring that he’ll finish Christ’s work for Him.  Talk about ego run amuck, but cult leaders are so impressed with themselves that they feel quite justified in talking about how awesome they are.

Cult leaders use religion as an excuse to promote themselves.  They talk a lot about spiritual issues, and they wax on and on about how great God is.  All of that talk can sound pretty good on the surface.  But if you’re going to practice good discernment, you need to look closer and pay attention to how the leader is trying to influence your personal dynamic with God.  Good leaders are always trying to push you into God’s arms—urging you to engage with God, to focus on God and to stop looking around at other beings.  But bad leaders are always trying to wedge someone or something between you and God so that you will feel like you can’t or shouldn’t go to Him directly.

In modern day Christendom, we find many examples of this kind of wedging going on.  In the Catholic denomination, the Catholic pope functions as a wedge.  He lays down the rules for how Catholic priests should function—even going so far as to define which sins they can forgive and which sins they can’t.  A lot of well-meaning priests have been completely sucked into this kind of cult mentality, and they’re so brainwashed into letting the pope be their God “interpreter” that they won’t dare to question anything the pope says.  In real life, no priest should be letting another man tell him how to interact with God’s people—instead, he should be getting such instruction directly from God.  But when we park our brains and allow other humans to shove themselves between us and God, we always end up in a terrible mess of confusion and fear.  Many priests today feel like they’d be committing a grave sin by questioning what the pope says, because they believe the pope’s outrageous claim to be incapable of error when he is speaking on spiritual matters.  And yet in real life, God never gets mad at souls who question things when He sees that their reason for questioning is an honest desire to please Him.  It is very pleasing to God when a Catholic priest prays, “Lord, I really care about pleasing You, so please confirm to me that what I’m being told is really what You want.”  When the priest prays this way, he is honoring God by treating God as the only Supreme Authority.  He’s refusing to treat a mere human as God’s equal, and instead he’s going straight to the Source and depending on God directly instead of depending on other humans.  God wants us to trust in Him, and to depend on Him.  We’re supposed to be interacting with other humans based on the instructions we’re receiving from God.  But cult leaders reverse this system—they teach you to interact with God based on the instructions you receive from other humans.  They make the humans first and God second.

If Paul was teaching people correctly, he’d be telling Titus not to just blindly believe the things Paul teaches him.  Instead, he’d be reminding Titus and everyone else of the importance of talking to God for themselves and viewing Him as their true Shepherd in life.  But this is not what Paul does.  In Chapter 1, Paul told Titus that every elder Titus appoints must be the sort of man who will simply parrot Paul.

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Tit. 1:9)

Notice how Paul refers to his own teaching as “the trustworthy message.”  It’s not Paul’s place to declare himself as being trustworthy or not.  That’s God’s job.  God is the Judge.  When we seek God’s wisdom in life, He causes certain teachings to sound right and others to sound wrong.  He guides us—all of us, and that includes you. Whenever a Christian leader starts telling you what’s right and what’s wrong, you need to be saying, “What do You say, God?  Do You agree with what this person is telling me?”  Until you’ve invited God’s feedback and given Him time to respond to you, you certainly shouldn’t be passing that teaching on to others or rebuking anyone who questions it.  Until God weighs in on a subject, you have no basis on which you can say that it is or isn’t true.

It’s important to understand that our variety loving God teaches souls in very different orders.  This means that it is both inappropriate and unrealistic to expect everyone to instantly align with all of your personal beliefs.  In the first place, you’re not God, so getting people to align with you shouldn’t even be one of your goals.  In the second place, even if your theology was perfect (which no one’s is), you didn’t learn it all overnight.  So when you preach a sermon which summarizes things you’ve learned over many years, and you then expect your audience to instantly absorb all of that new material without questioning any of it, you’re acting like a real dingdong.  And yet this is exactly what Paul is doing.  He’s going around blasting people with some very radical sounding ideas and then expecting them to immediately get onboard.

To tell Old Covenant Jews that Yahweh no longer cares about circumcision is like telling a modern day Christian that Jesus’ crucifixion is meaningless.  Under the Old Covenant, Yahweh said that physical circumcision was a deal breaker: if males refused to get circumcised, then Yahweh would refuse to accept them.  This what Yahweh said—what Yahweh actually did was a different story.  But when you’re a sincere Yahweh follower who really cares about pleasing God, then circumcision is very important to you because Yahweh made it sound so important to Him.  So when you hear Paul telling Gentiles that they can please Yahweh while totally disregarding something that Yahweh made a big deal out of in the Old Testament, are you going to feel comfortable with that? No, you’ll get all fired up and accuse Paul of being a liar.  You’re going to zealously defend Yahweh’s principles and you’ll be doing it with good motivations, because you sincerely care about pleasing Him.  What does God judge us by?   Our soul’s response to Him.  So when Yahweh sees you adamantly defending the circumcision issue and He sees that you mean well, is He going to be mad at you?  No, He’s going to be pleased with your intentions, and then He’s going to gently course correct you.

In our material, we say a lot of things that sound pretty offensive to Christians who really care about pleasing God.  We say that the Bible is full of errors.  We say that God lies and that He is the Origin of both good and evil.  This kind of teaching really angers a lot of Christians, and some of them respond by sending us nasty messages.  Some of them don’t really care about pleasing God, they’re just mad that we’re challenging their authority.  But some of them really do care about pleasing God, and they think they’re pleasing God by cursing us and prophesying Divine punishment in our future.  What’s the right way for us to respond to this kind of aggression?  Should we write all of these people off as spiritual rebels?  No, because they’re not all rebels.  Some of them honestly perceive us as being a threat to God and they’re trying to protect Him by attacking us.  God judges people by the way they are responding to Him.  When He sees that people are attacking us out of a misguided attempt to honor Him, He’s going to be pleased with their good intentions.  God doesn’t expect people to know things that He hasn’t taught them, and it’s not our place to tell God the order in which He should be teaching people.  Our responsibility is to say what God is telling us to say.  If God is going to make what we say sound wrong to other Christians, then we’re going to get flack, and that’s just the way it is.  This is how it works in real life: just because ten Christians all care about pleasing God does not mean that those Christians will all get along with each other.  In the Church today, well-meaning Christians are constantly warring with each other and mistaking ignorance for rebellion.  Because God insists on teaching us all in a different order, this kind of conflict is impossible to avoid.  It’s guaranteed that someone else’s beliefs are going to differ from yours, and the correct goal is to learn to stop being threatened by those differences instead of trying to make them go away.  But when we hear Paul talk to Titus, what we find is him wanting the Cretans to instantly accept all of his radical ideas, and then he wants Titus and Titus’ elders to aggressively shutdown anyone who dares to question what they say.

For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. (Tit. 1:10-11)

“Dishonest gain” is not the only motivation people would have had for disagreeing with Paul.  The man’s teaching sounded very wrong to a lot of people for very good reasons.  And if they are “disrupting whole households” by countering Paul’s teaching, then obviously the people living in those households weren’t convinced by Paul in the first place.  They have their doubts, which is why they are being persuaded by other teachers.  Of course Paul hates this, but there’s not anything he can do to stop it, nor should he be trying.  God gives people the option to form different opinions in life.

TITUS 2

Now as we get into Titus 2, Paul is once again going to order Titus to stick to the script—to only teach what Paul considers “sound teaching.”

But you must say the things that are consistent with sound teaching. (Tit. 2:1)

Paul now orders Titus to start grooming their cult followers—to teach them to be on their best behavior all the time.  But why is everyone supposed to be acting so nice?  To please God by obeying His command to treat others the way we’d want to be treated?  No, that’s not the goal.  Paul wants more followers—he wants his cult to keep growing bigger and bigger.  So he wants people to be on their best behavior all the time so that other people will be enticed to join the group.

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Tit. 2:2-8)

Shaming those who don’t like us—how is that a worthy goal?  And this business of trying to act sweet “so that no one will malign the word of God” is more foolishness.  For starters, it’s really “the word of Paul” which Paul is referring to when he says “the word of God.”  Remember that Paul is ramming his teaching down everyone’s throats and demanding instant acceptance. He justifies his behavior by saying that he’s passing on pure teaching from Christ.  But we only have Paul’s word for that—and given how much the man rips on Christ in his letters, we really aren’t buying that Christ was the Source of his doctrines.  But even if Paul was passing on gems from Christ—which he obviously isn’t—so what if people are “maligning” his teaching?  God wants people to have the option of defying Him, so Paul has no grounds for trying to take this option away from people.  You see, Paul’s motivations reek of carnality.  He’s not really interested in God, he just wants his followers to make Paul look good by finding subtle and not-so-subtle ways of punishing those who oppose Paul.  Paul instructs Titus and the elders to publicly rebuke anyone who disagrees with their teaching.  He tells Titus to teach people to act so perfect that they’ll make anyone who dislikes them feel like jerks.  And amid all of this focus on trying to control public opinion and Paul’s reputation, we don’t find any mention of the importance of pleasing God.

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. (Tit. 2:9-10)

Why are the slaves supposed to be on their best behavior? To honor God in their personal lives?  No, Paul says their motivation should be to make Paul’s teaching about God attractive to other people.  This is just more management of public opinion.  Paul is so threatened by having other people thinking negatively about him.

TWO SAVIORS

Now in this letter, Paul refers to one God and two Saviors.  Because the Church has you all confused with her ridiculous Trinity doctrine, it’s easy to miss the important distinctions Paul is making between Yahweh and Jesus. And yet if we’re going to interpret Paul correctly, we need to understand how he defines the concepts of God and Christ.  So let’s get into it.

Paul believes in one God: Yahweh.  He views Jesus as a mere human being who functions as a mediator between Yahweh and the rest of humanity.  Paul gives us a nice succinct summary of how he views Yahweh and Christ in his first letter to Timothy.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men: the man Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 2:5)

The “one God” Paul refers to is Yahweh.  It’s not a Triune God with three personalities—it’s just Yahweh.  To an Old Covenant Jew, it was a grave sin to suggest than any being could be equal to the magnificent Yahweh, so there’s no way that Paul is going to suggest that Jesus is on Yahweh’s level.  Instead, Paul emphasizes that Jesus is lower than Yahweh—a mere Subordinate who has received a temporary promotion from Yahweh.  If we read through the rest of Paul’s letters, we learn that he believes that Yahweh chose Christ to be Yahweh’s special Messiah, because Yahweh needed help to fix the world.  You see, way back when Adam sinned by eating the fruit, his act enabled two evil entities named Death and Sin to come enslave all human beings.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Rom. 5:12)

Even though it is Yahweh who dishes out the curses in Genesis, Paul credits human Adam for wrecking the place.  Adam let sin into the world, and death scooted in right after sin.  Soon we were all dropping over, and Yahweh couldn’t do a thing to help us.

But from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, everyone had to die, even those who had not sinned by breaking a command, as Adam had. (Rom. 5:14)

Why did we “have” to die?  Because death had taken over the place.  So things were a mess, and Yahweh didn’t know how to clean it up because, well, He’s only God.  Paul imagines Yahweh as standing around fretting for thousands of years as He watches Death and Sin ruling over the humans He created.  But then Yahweh finally has an aha moment.  Since it was a man who started the problem—Adam and his darn fruit sampling—then perhaps it will take a man to fix it.  Here’s where Christ comes into it.  Christ is the human who Yahweh created to reverse the manmade disaster that Adam had started.  It was Adam who let Sin and Death come into the world—now it was up to Christ to drive those evil entities back out.

So then, as through one sin there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone. For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Rom. 5:18-19)

Paul says that it was Adam’s sin that caused us all to become enslaved by Death and Sin.  But then he says that human Christ set us free from these two tyrants by dying for us on a cross.  It was Adam’s disobedience that got us in trouble, but it’s Christ’s obedience that gives us all hope.  Now, thanks to Christ, we’re no longer “slaves to sin”—and that means we have no excuse to keep on sinning.  Like the apostle John, Paul teaches that true Christians must be sinless.

We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Rom. 6:2)

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Rom. 6:11-12)

So here’s the great news about Christ: He died and set us free from slavery to sin.  Now we can all be perfect.  And we’d better be perfect, or we’ll go to Hell.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Rom. 8:13)

So, are you sinless?  No, and according to Paul’s teaching, you’re going to Hell.  You see, a true Christian can’t live in sin…and since you sin every day, clearly you’re living in it.  If you really look at what Paul teaches about sin and salvation, you realize that he doesn’t come anywhere close to teaching a “gospel of grace.”  Instead, he’s teaching brutal legalism.  Such teaching was common for Pharisees, and they were quite comfortable demanding sinless living because they personally claimed to be sin free. When Paul started the cult of Paul, he simply brought many of his old Pharisaical teachings with him.  Now, instead of teaching people that they have to be sinless from birth, he teaches them that they must ask human Christ to clear their debt of past sins, and from that point on, they must be sinless.  In both systems, salvation is obtained through good behavior, not right soul attitudes.

So if this is what Paul believes, then who does he credit for saving us?  He credits both Yahweh and Christ, because They both played a role.  Yahweh gets more credit, because He is the God, and He is the One who commissioned Christ to die for us in the first place.  But Christ gets credit for doing the actual dying, and for currently operating as our Mediator.  As Paul said to Timothy:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men: the man Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 2:5)

What makes this statement significant is that we know Paul wrote this letter towards the end of his life, and that means this statement is reflecting how far Paul’s view of Christ advanced.  As you can see, it didn’t advance far at all, because at the end of his life, Paul is teaching that Christ is just a man, not a God.  And since Christ is not a God, He clearly couldn’t raise Himself back to life (as He said He did), so Paul credits Yahweh for raising Christ.

Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Rom. 8:34)

See how it works?  Christ is not God—He just sits next to God.  In Paul’s time, the highest privilege a citizen could have was to get invited to sit on the right side of the king’s throne.  But no one ever confused the actual king with the guy sitting next to him.  By always placing Christ next to the throne of God and never on the throne of God, Paul is emphasizing that Christ is not God, and that He is lower ranking than Yahweh.  See why cultural context matters?  When you don’t live in a monarchical society, it’s easy to imagine that Paul is saying Christ is Yahweh’s Equal, when he’s really saying something quite different.

So then, according to Paul, Yahweh is our Savior in that He sent Christ to free us from sin.  Christ is our Savior because He actually did the dying so that we could be reconciled to Yahweh. And now that we understand how Paul views Christ and Yahweh, let’s check out his uses of the terms God and Savior in Titus.

Once you know that Yahweh is the only God Paul recognizes (because Yahweh sits on the Divine throne—while Christ sits next to it), you should mentally substitute the Name of Yahweh every time Paul uses the term God.  Let’s check out some examples from Titus 1.

This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. (Tit. 1:1)

What does Paul mean here? He’s calling himself a slave of Yahweh and an apostle of Jesus.  He’s referring to two separate Beings: one God, and one man.

It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for Him. (Tit. 1:3)

Who is God our Savior?  Yahweh is.  Who commanded Paul to go around preaching?  Yahweh did—at least that’s what Paul claims.

May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace. (Tit. 1:4) 

Look at that clear distinction of two separate Beings: God the Father (which is Yahweh) and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Such people claim they know God, but they deny Him by the way they live. (Tit. 1:16)

Who are these people claiming to know?  Yahweh.  Here Paul is probably thinking about those Jews who are pushing circumcision—such Jews would be teaching that Yahweh is the only true God.

Paul is claiming to be passing on words from Jesus, who of course is going to be teaching Yahweh’s truths.  So when Paul says that he wants people to be on their best behavior because “Then they will not bring shame on the word of God,” he means the teaching of Yahweh.  Paul is claiming to be God’s mouthpiece—specifically Yahweh’s mouthpiece, and that’s why no one should dare to question him.

As we continue forward in Titus 2, Paul is now going to review some of his basic salvation doctrines.  He’s teaching that now that Christ has come, salvation is possible…the implication being that before Christ came, there was no way to get saved.  This is ridiculous, of course, because salvation has always been readily available since the beginning of this Creation, and it’s never been acquired through sinless living.  But Paul is now going to remind Titus that true believers are supposed to be sin free.

For the grace of Yahweh has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearance of the glory of the great Yahweh and of our Savior Jesus Christ. Christ gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us His very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. (Tit. 1:11-14)

What are we committed to doing—pleasing God?  No.  We’re committed to doing good deeds, because Paul teaches that salvation is acquired by works, not through submission to our Creators.

Now after telling Titus to tell everyone else to stop sinning and be on their best behavior 24/7 so that the cult will look good, Paul concludes Chapter 2 with these words:

These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with full authority. Do not let anyone despise you. (Tit. 2:15)

Here we go again with Titus being instructed to harshly scold anyone who steps out of line.  Titus is supposed to lord his authority over others—but what authority?  The authority Paul is giving him.  Paul is the cult leader, so he is the one who puts men in power.

Notice how Paul orders Titus not to let anyone despise him.  And how exactly is Titus supposed to do this?  Titus can’t control how people think.  He can’t make people like him.  Once again we see Paul’s paranoia of being disagreed with resurfacing. A rejection of Paul’s teaching is a rejection of Paul’s authority, and that is what Paul can’t abide.  Cult leaders want to be viewed as gods—to be worshiped, obeyed, and never questioned.  Unlike the real Gods who are totally unthreatened by humans lipping off to Them, Paul’s whole identity is riding on other people approving of him.

So here’s a question: how does a pervert fit into Paul’s group? How about an alcoholic, or a gossiper, or an adulterer?  Does Paul leave room in his cult for imperfect, dysfunctional people to succeed with God?  No, he doesn’t.  True believers must be self-controlled, smiling icons of righteousness.  If you’ve got a disagreeable personality or if you’re the sort of person who keeps doing sordid things over and over again, then Paul would damn you to Hell.  There’s no room for child molesters, gay couples, porn addicts, grudge holders and doubters in Paul’s cult.  He says that if you were the real deal, you’d be cured of all those issues, and you’d be keeping your flesh in check 24/7.  As he tells his followers in Rome:

Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Rom. 13:14)

See how easy it is to be righteous?  Just don’t think about how to gratify the desires of your flesh.  Just block those sordid thoughts from even forming in your mind.  It’s a cinch, right?  No, it’s actually impossible (see Brain-Soul Mechanics: Why God Doesn’t Expect You to Have Pure Thoughts).  As a human, you sin every day, and if God is only going to save pretty, perfect people, then none of us have any hope at all.  But the fabulous news is that Paul is totally delusional about how things really work between us and our three glorious Creators, just as he is delusional in referring to Christ as a mere mortal instead of recognizing that He is God Almighty.  If you want to avoid being led astray in life, you mustn’t let anyone wedge themselves between you and your Creators.  Always ask Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit what They think  about a teaching before you accept it as true.  Depend on Them to guide you in life, and They will lead you to wonderful places.

FURTHER READING:
The Right Focus in Life According to Christ
Aligning with a God of Extremes: How should we respond to spiritual rebellion?
How the NT Epistles Define Christ: Not God, Just Another Flawed Human
Salvation According to Paul: If You Sin, You’re Damned (Romans 7-8)
Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy
Jesus in Context Charts: Be Perfect
Shady Shepherd Tactics: Gaining Rank

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