(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Titus is about hope. I would entitle Titus, “Where is Hope to be Found?” The foundation of this letter is a contrast; it’s a contrast between hope in human accomplishment and hope in God’s grace in Christ Jesus.
Now, the fact of the matter is every human being hopes. Everything that we do in our life is connected to some kind of hope. Everybody hooks his/her hope to something. Hope has an expectation placed in some kind of object; that’s what hope is. It’s an expectation placed in a person or a thing. And so, Paul is arguing there are only two pathways of hope; hope in human accomplishment or hope in God’s grace.
The church that he is addressing in Crete is plagued two problems. It's, on one hand, lawlessness, that’s rule-free living; or legalism, that’s rule-bound living. And the unique thing that Paul does is that he wants us to know those are connected by the same root. Lawlessness, which takes God’s grace for granted, and legalism, which seems to earn God’s grace, both have the same root. And that root is human pride, pride in self. What’s dangerous about lawlessness for all of us, what’s dangerous about legalism for all of us, is they play to the core of our struggle with sin; that’s pride.
That goes right back to the fall where what fueled the disobedience of Adam and Eve was pride, a desire to be like God, a desire for a self-sufficient, autonomous existence. I have everything in myself to be what I’m supposed to be and to do what I’m supposed to do. I can pull this off. And as long as sin still lives inside of us, there are still artifacts of that pride in us; we are still susceptible to writing our own rulebook; we’re still susceptible to believing that we’re way more righteous than we actually are.
In fact, it’s our temptation when we sin to minimize that sin and to tell ourselves that that sin really wasn’t sin-sin, that we’re really better than we actually are. And the solution to this pride is the devastating message of the gospel because the gospel is bad news that leads you to good news.
The bad news is your sin, that your greatest problem in life exists inside of you, not outside of you, and that you cannot escape it on your own. The greatest danger to Paul Tripp is Paul Tripp; and for that, I have the grace of Jesus.
Listen to these words:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
What Paul is saying is, “We were people in deep need of a rescue; without the rescue of Jesus, we would have no hope.” Pride in self is a lie! May your hope be in the person and work of the Lord Jesus who lived the life you could not live; who died the death you should have died; who rose again, conquering sin and death so that you would live a life of Christ-centered godliness. His grace is your hope!