“They Profess That They Know God; but in Works They Deny Him” (Titus 1:16)

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The Savior, in his great intercessory prayer, declared, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).  One of the first steps in getting to know the Savior, and thus obtaining eternal life, is to learn all we can about him.  President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. taught, “I am quite a believer in studying the life of the Savior as an actual personality.  That is not often done. . . . Try to go along with the Savior, live with him, let him be an actual man, half divine, of course, but nevertheless moving as a man moved in those days” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 379).

As a person studies and learns about Jesus Christ, they come to learn of his personality.  They learn of his attributes and characteristics which the Prophet Joseph Smith taught were essential to develop faith in him.  As we learn more about him, we desire to be like him and begin to incorporate his attributes and characteristics in our own life.  We come to know him in a personal and meaningful relationship.  As we face life’s issues, we look to the Savior and ask, what would Jesus do?  By basing our decisions in this way, our actions and works become righteous by way of natural selection. 

Paul, in his letter to Titus, pointed out that when we choose the path of following Christ, we must do more than just avoid sin.  We must replace sin with righteousness.  Paul wrote, “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:12).  

Paul then gives us the motivation to live a righteous and godly life when he wrote, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:13-14).

“Spirituality will never be attained merely by avoiding the negative pitfalls to its development, however important that may be.  The full strength of the Spirit will come only as you make positive spiritual activity an integral part of your daily life” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 379).

As Saints, then, who are striving to come to know the Savior, it is important we resolve to live a life patterned after the Savior’s example.  Our lives then become a living testimony of the Savior.  President Gordon B. Hinckley many times used verses out of 2 Timothy chapter one to teach us that we should never be “ashamed” of our testimony of Christ, but that we should move forward in power and with love.  

We know there is a great spiritual power that comes from reading the scriptures on a daily basis.  President Benson, and others, have expressly mentioned the Book of Mormon as a source of strength.  Did not Joseph Smith declare that a man could get closer to God by abiding by its precepts than any other book?  

We know we need to have daily communication with our Father in Heaven through prayer.  The Savior, knowing the importance of prayer, taught us how to pray in the sermon on the mount.  However, his example is a greater teacher.  

King Benjamin taught us that service to our fellow man is important if we desire to serve God.  Jesus himself declared, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).  And did he not teach us, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15)?

In striving to live our lives filled with good works, it is good, however, to be reminded that works do not save.  Paul wrote, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration (baptism), and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).  

Elder Bruce R. McConkie adds that “there is no salvation in good works as such.  That is: There are no good works which men may do which--standing alone--will cause them to be resurrected or to gain eternal life.  Immortality and eternal life come through the atonement of Christ, the one being a free gift, the other being offered freely to all who will be baptized and who then keep the commandments” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:126-127).

As we strive to live righteous and godly lives patterned after the life of Jesus, the Spirit will whisper that he is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.  Through the Spirit we will, as did Peter, come to truly know Jesus, and He who sent him.

“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him” (Titus 1:16)

Barton M. Golding