Our apostle having in the foregoing verses spoken of justification by grace without works of righteousness, doth here immediately give a strict and solemn charge to Titus, to press the necessity of good works upon those who did believe and embrace the gospel, on purpose to prevent all mistake and abuse of the doctrine of justification by faith, and free grace and mercy of God in Jesus Christ; intimating, that they who are justified by the faith of the gospel, should be so far from thinking themselves hereby excused from good works, that they ought upon that account to be the more careful to maintain and practise them, because, by the very profession of the Christian faith and religion, they have solemnly engaged themselves so to do.
Observe here, 1. That the great design of Christianity, and the end of God in the revelation of the gospel, was to reform the lives and manners of men, and to oblige all persons both to be good and to do good.
Learn, 2. From the apostle's vehement asseveration, This is a faithful saying, and his solemn charge, These things I will that thou affirm constantly, that there have been persons in all ages, who have exalted the virtue of faith, if not intentionally, yet indiscreetly, to the prejudice and neglect of a good life.
As if by a mere speculative belief and profession of Christianity, men were discharged from the practice of moral duties. God grant that the decried morality of some persons may be an integral part of my religion.
Learn, 3. That though good works are not necessary before justification to bring us into a justified state, yet they are necessary after justification, in order to our continuance in that state; Not by works of righteousness which we have done, that is, before faith; but he doth not exclude the works of righteousness in the least, that they should hereafter do by virtue of the new nature given to them, from being conditions of their future happiness. As morality doth not make faith useless, so neither doth faith bring any excuse for immorality.
Learn, 4. That it is not sufficient that believers do good works, but they must maintain good works: the words signify they must be patterns and precedents, they must be eminent and excelling in good works: and let their faith be never so excellent, if they do not add to their faith virtue, it is but fancy, a strong faith built upon a weak foundation.