"This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone." - Titus 3:8
This last Sunday at Hannaford, Senior Pastor Dick Crosby spoke on Titus 3:8. He asked the question, "When I come face to face with God will He be likely to say 'Well done, good and faithful servant?'" (Matthew 25). Much of the message revolved around doing good to obtain personal holiness.
MY TAKE: I agree with Buddy Owens when he says that God doesn't want holiness from us, He wants His holiness in us. God is holy because He is unique - He is unlike any other and He is worthy of worship.
Personal holiness is significant in two different ways. First, as believers we are already holy simply because we belong to God - we are set apart for His purposes - and we need to start living that reality. Second, we are to develop a purity of heart that is undefiled and separate from sin as we grow in Christ.
It is the second way that we focused on this Sunday, so here are my thoughts. We cannot become holy without the Spirit of God having control of our lives. While believers are all indwelt with the Holy Spirit, we live in varying states of surrender to God. The more we devote ourselves to the purposes of God by surrendering our wants, desires, hopes, and dreams, the more we begin to allow the Spirit to control us. It's what I believe the Gospels refer to as being "filled with the Spirit."
Galatians 5:22 tells us that the characteristics of holiness are nine-fold: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." But notice these are referred to as fruit. Fruit are not grown by mere determination of the tree. The tree is tended to, fed, watered, trimmed, and cared for by the gardener. In addition, the kind of fruit that are produced are determined by the kind of tree. An orange tree does not produce apples or vice-versa. The fruit are a by-product of the type - or character - of the tree.
Like any tree, we only produce one type of fruit. It is only when our character is changed, that we can produce a different kind of fruit - and our goal is to be changed by God's Holy Spirit. Only when we surrender, or allow His Spirit to transform us, will we begin to produce the Spirit's fruit (see Galatians 5:22 again).
While I agree with Titus 3:8 when it says we must "devote ourselves to doing what is good," I believe the way we devote ourselves is by allowing God to infuse and control us, changing our character - and then our natural inclination will be to do what God desires.
We must devote ourselves to "being" rather than simply "doing." As He changes who we are, the "doing" will follow as an outpouring of our character.