I've been busy in the last week doing all manner of things, and we're still steeped in the first 5 verses of Paul's letter to Titus, but last week's post seems to have thrown a lot of people for a loop. I have tried to form up some private letters to answer some of the private questions asked, but I keep coming back to the same thing I started with last week -- at least internally.
I don't think the criterion of "blameless" is either hard to grasp, nor is it all that controversial. And in order to make my point, I found a dose of Spurgeon to help me say what I think Scripture itself is saying to us on this matter:
Where the Spirit of God comes he creates in the man a new nature, pure, bright, fresh, vigorous, like a fountain, and the fact that this new nature does exist in multitudes of men is a standing evidence that the gospel is true, for no other religion makes men new creatures, no other religion even pretends to do it; they may propose to improve the old nature, but none of them can say, "Behold, I make all things new." This is the sole prerogative of Jesus our Lord.And as I read that, I wonder: is that actually true today? Is this who we are?
The existence of the new life is matter of fact. We ourselves know many whose lives are pure and blameless; they have faults before God, but before the eyes of men they are perfect and upright, blameless and harmless. The godly lives of Christians are good evidence of the truth of the gospel. Did I hear some one object, "But many professors of Christianity are not holy"? I grant you it, but then everybody knows that they are inconsistent with the religion which they profess. If I heard of a lustful Mahomedan I should not consider him inconsistent with Mahomedanism; is he not allowed his harem? If I heard of a licentious Hindoo, I should not consider him to be dishonoring his religion, for some of its sacred rites are disgusting and unmentionable. The same may be said of all the idolatries. But everybody knows that if a man professes to be a Christian and he is guilty of a gross fault, the world rings with the scandal, because it recognizes the inconsistency of his conduct with his profession. Though some may at the first breath of a slander blazon it abroad and say, "This is your religion," the world knows it is not our religion, but the want of it. Why do they themselves make such a wonder of a fallen professor? Are adulterers so very scarce that such a noise should be made when a minister is, truly or falsely, charged with the crime? The world's conscience knows that the religion of Jesus is the religion of purity, and if professed Christians fall into uncleanness the world knows that such a course of action does not arise out of the religion of Christ, but is diametrically opposite to it. The gospel is perfect, and did we wholly yield to its sway sin would be abhorred by us, and slain in us, and we should live on earth the life of the perfect ones above. Oh, may God produce in his church more and more the witness of the new life, the testimony of holiness, love, meekness, temperance, godliness, and grace: these are the gospel's logic, its syllogisms and demonstrations, which none can refute.
Isn't that who we ought to be? And that's merely those of us who are Christians in the broad sense. How much more should this be true of our pastors, in order that they might say, as Paul did, "Insofar as I am an imitator of Christ, be imitators of me."