Remind Yourself Often
Topic: Sunday Sermons Scripture: Titus 3:1-8
Transcript of our Sermon Audio:
Well, let's take our Bibles and turn to Titus chapter 3. If you've been with us, we've been in a study of the book Titus. We have called it Doing Good, because one of the great themes of Titus is good works and living out your Christian faith beyond the walls of the church building, and we have been excited to learn. We're moving rapidly towards the close. I want to speak this morning on verses 1 through 8. Let's stand in honor of God's word and read together Titus Chapter 3, verses 1 through 8. My preferred translation is the New King James, and so we're reading from the New King James translation this morning. Follow along.
I want to speak this morning on the subject, remind yourself often, you got to put yourself in remembrance of important things, because that's what Titus is going to be taught. Look at the first two words. Titus 3:1. Remind them, remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
But when the kindness and love of God, our savior toward man, appeared, not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good, profitable to man. So reads God's word. You may be seated.
I like the story of the three sisters who lived together. One was 96, 94, 92. And the 96-year-old was upstairs, about to take a bath, and so she puts one leg into the bath, and then she stops, and she shouts down to her two other sisters, "Was I getting in the bath or getting out of the bath?" Don't know if you've ever had that kind of moment, but the 94-year-old, she excites up, "You know what? Wait. I'll come up and help you." So, she heads up the stairs, she gets about halfway up, and she stops, and she shouts down to her 92-year-old sister, "Was I going up the stairs or coming down the stairs?" The 92-year-old, she's sitting at the kitchen table, and she shouts to her sisters, "I sure hope I don't get as forgetful as you two," and then she kind of knocks on wood for good measure on the kitchen table, and then she shouts, "I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who's at the door."
It's a good story. You know what? Whether young or old, things can slip our mind. I suppose the older we get, the harder it gets to remember where we are, why we're there, and what we're supposed to do, while we're there. It's just a fact of life. We can be forgetful. We can be unmindful. So, what's interesting is that when you come to the Bible, a lot of preaching in the Bible is an act of reminding. It's an act of reminding people of things they already know, but are in danger of forgetting or have already forgotten.
Let me prove my point. In your mind, you can go to a verse like Philippians 3, verses 1 and 2. Here's what Paul says. "Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not trouble for me." He's writing on a subject he's written on before. How interesting. What about 1 John 2, verse 7? Listen to what John says. "Beloved, I'm writing to you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you may know from the beginning." So, here's John. He's not talking about something new. He's talking about something old. He's reminding them. He's going over lessons they have already learned.
What about 2 Peter 1, verses 13 to 16? Here's what Peter says. "I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder." He says, "I will make every effort to recall to your mind certain things." Preaching is an act of reminding. Preaching is an act of remembering. If you go to Jude verse 5, now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it. Think about this, by the way. It has a certain implication for your Christian life. The greatest problem in your life and my life is not what we don't know about God's will. It's what we do know and have forgotten to do.
I think this is true. Tell me if you don't agree with me from your own experience. Your greatest problem in your Christian life is not ignorance, but forgetfulness, and that's why the apostles of the Lord Jesus went back over old commandments. That's why the apostles of the Lord Jesus wrote the same thing several times. That's why the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ put the church of Jesus Christ in remembrance of things that either they were in danger of forgetting or were already forgetting.
So, with that in mind, we come to an example of this here, the idea of preaching as reminding, because as Paul writes to Titus, and he encourages Titus to help the churches in Crete become all that they ought to be for God's glory. Notice what he says. Verse 1, "Remind them." Look at verse 8. "I want you to affirm constantly." It's like, repeat yourself. Tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them what you told them you were going to tell them, and having told them, tell them it again. That's what preachers do. So, that's what's going on here. This is a present tense imperative. Cause them to remember often. That's why I've called my message Remind Yourself Often.
We're going to see three things in the text that you need to remind yourself. But before we get there, I want you to notice that the focus has kind of shifted, because in verses 1 through 8 of chapter 3, the focus is on how the Christian lives within society. How we interact with the Christless culture all around us. We're in among them, but we're not of them. How do we kind of flesh that out? Because in chapter 2, for the most part, he has dealt with internal relationships in the church, and he has spoken about discipleship and behavior of one believer to another believer. He has talked about how older women are to disciple younger women. He's talked about how young women are to love their children and love their husbands. He's talked about older men discipling younger men. He's talked about how Titus ought to be an example to those young men.
So, the focus within chapter 2, for the most part, is internal. The focus in chapter 3 is external. The focus in chapter 2 is inside the church. The focus in chapter 3 is outside the church, and that's good because it's Sunday, and Monday is a coming, and before long, we'll be back in the trenches. The weekend will be over. We'll be back on the university campus. We'll be on the factory floor. We'll be in our office space. We'll be at home with the kids. Wherever life takes us, this is a message for you, and wherever you go tomorrow, back into life, you've got to remind yourself of certain things.
Now, let me say this, by the way. This is for preachers, expositors and those who teach God's word. In fact, I just finished a book called Preaching As Reminding by Jeffery Arthurs, excellent book, and that's where this thought kind of came out, and it tied in with the text I'm looking at. Preaching is reminding, and if that's the case, it is a reminder that, as old Henry Ironside, if it's true, it's not new, and if it's new, it's not true. Preachers are not to discover a new gospel, but preachers can make new discoveries of the gospel. Originality in a biblical sense just means I come to what we already know, the faith once delivered to the saints, but I preach it with freshness, I preach it with a new appreciation of what it is.
Listen to John Stott, who said on Titus 3, verse 1. "So, all conscientious Christian teachers, once they have been delivered from the unhealthy lust of originality, take pains to make old truths new and stale truth fresh." It's a good phrase. Come on. Open your eyes. Some of you have come out of churches like this. There is a lusting after originality in the contemporary evangelical church. We don't need a new gospel. We don't need to hear from preachers who give the impression that they have discovered a new way of doing Christianity that has been missed for centuries. We don't need preachers telling us that today's church is not the same as Grandma's church.
There's this lusting after originality, and yet when I come to my Bible, it's one generation reminding the next generation not to forget what was first taught by Jesus and his apostles. That's why the great Protestant reformer, John Calvin, on his deathbed, with pastors and professors around his bed, said to them, "Change nothing. Avoid innovation." That's a good word, and that's what Paul is telling Titus. Change nothing, avoid innovation. Remind them of things they already know. So, here's what we want to see in our text. We need to remind ourselves often of our principles, verses 1 and 2, the principles that govern our behavior within society.
We need to remind ourselves often of our past, verses 3 to 7, that the people that God has called us to walk among and witness, we were once like them, and if that's the case, you'd better show some love and compassion and patience towards them. You need to remember your past. Not only remember your principles, verses 1 and 2, and your past, verses 3 to 7, your priority, verse 8. You need to devote yourself to good works and be a witness for Jesus Christ before all men. You got it? By the way, in our series on Titus, we've kind of been coming up with these kind of little summary statements, doing good is, because that's what Titus is about, doing good.
Here's the summary statement of our passage today. Doing good requires an active memory. You'll never do good, you'll never be as good as you can be if your mind isn't constantly reminding yourself of things regarding your principles, your past, and your priorities. So, let's look at the text. Remind yourself often of your principles. Remind them, verse 1, to be subject to rulers, authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
We are to remind ourselves, as citizens of heaven, as pilgrims and aliens on this earth, that we do have a certain obligation for the communities we are in, and the cities to whom God sends us. We ought to have a heart for those around us. That from what we can tell, verse 1 relates to our relationship with the government, and verse 2 with just the general population. So, these are principles, gospel ethics that ought to mold our behavior toward government and towards society. You know what? This was a good word to the believers on Crete. Crete was conquered by the Romans around 67 BC, and from what I've learned in my study, it was always close to boiling point in terms of agitation, tension, and rebellion.
The Cretans never really embraced the Romans at all. The sight of a Roman soldier or a Roman legionnaire on the island of Crete was a red rag to a bull. It agitated them, and often there was political revolt in the air, and there was sometimes violence that spilled over, and so Cretans were very nationalistic, patriotic, and now they're in Christ. They're being reminded to love their enemies. They're being reminded, "You know what? You've got to submit to the governments that God ordains good or bad within history," and that was a challenge for them. So, they are to be reminded to be subject, because they like to revolt.
So, let's kind of... Although two audiences are being addressed, the government and society at large, what we're really dealing with is, for want of a better way to put it, life outside the church, or better put, life as the church within society. I'm going to collapse those two together, and I've come up with a little list. Just follow me here, principles you mustn't forget. Number one, submit obediently. Submit obediently, and let us submit to the powers that be. That's Romans 13, 1 to 7, and it's 1 Peter 2, verse 13 to 17, and here it is in Titus 3, verse 1.
They are being reminded of teaching that has circulated among Apostolic churches. Paul had taught the Romans, Peter had taught those who were scattered abroad, and now Titus is to teach those on the island of Crete in the middle of the Mediterranean. You need to recognize the God-given authority of human government that restrains evil and orders good in society. In fact, this in the middle voice, which is a real challenge to them, because the middle voice in the Greek means that you were meant to do it.
The active voice is somebody does it for you. The middle voice is you do it for yourself, and this didn't come easily, remember. Crete was known to be often simmering on the edge of political upheaval, and now these Christians with a new master, governed by new ethic, they are to bring themselves to submit gladly and obediently to the Romans, and that's the same for you and me. God has called us to live within society as good citizens, to obey the government and the powers that be. That's what God has called us, as citizens of heaven, to be good citizens on earth.
Let me qualify that, by the way. You and I are to obey the powers that be. We're to obey the rulers and the government officials until they ask us to disobey God. That's the one caveat. That's Acts 5, right, where the apostles who have taught Christians to obey authorities, they don't obey the authorities when the authorities tell them they can't preach the gospel, and that's when you get that wonderful phrase, we would rather obey God than man. So, we are to obey man, we are to obey the rules and the ordinances and the laws of society until they come into conflict with God's law, and then the law of God supersedes the law of man. Divine authority supersedes human authority.
If you read your Bible, you're going to see that that might involve we refuse to take innocent life, like the midwives in Egypt, we refuse to follow acts of idolatry like Daniel and his friends, or we refuse to any prohibition to the free exercise of our religion and prayer and public preaching of the gospel. You'll find examples of that with the midwives in Egypt, with Daniel and his friends in Babylon, and with the apostles in the Roman Empire. We are not to be as submissive as dogs. Okay? We're made in God's image. We're rational beings, and we think for ourselves, and we certainly want to obey, but we will not obey when being asked to obey makes us disobey.
But that's what Hitler said, actually, of some of the Lutheran pastors. I read Erwin Lutzer's book, Hitler's Cross, a few years ago. Excellent read. In it, he has a quote from Hitler, who speaks of Protestant ministers in Germany, who when they were in his presence, he said they used to sweat with embarrassment, and they used to be as submissive as dogs. That's not Apostolic Christianity. No, Apostolic Christianity is respectful, and does honor those in authority, but we don't sweat with embarrassment, because we're under the authority of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and we obey the Word of God, and when men tell us to disobey it, we disobey them. Submit obediently.
Number two, help gladly. Help gladly. Now, that's verse 1, and I think it's related to the government. So, if you read something like 1 Peter 2 or Romans 13, you're going to be reminded, as Jesus did also in the gospels, pay your taxes, submit to the authority. That would mean obeying the police and stuff like that. Give honor to those to whom honor is due. Speak with dignity and respect to those who are in the government. Be a model citizen. Be a good neighbor. I think you can extend it to this idea of good works in general. Look at the text. Be ready to do every good work. The word ready there means it was used of a soldier who was ready and alert to go into the battle.
I've talked to several firemen across my time here at our church, and they've reminded me that usually they have a bag somewhere in the bedroom. They're ready just to grab it and head out the door, should they get that call. That's readiness, ready to do. You may be doing something else, but you're always ready to do the thing that you must do when called upon to do it, and that would mean loving your neighbor. That would mean being a good Samaritan. That would mean promoting good civics. That would mean in Jesus' word, going the second mile.
I learned recently the image behind that. I didn't know this, but if you were a Roman citizen, and you 're walking along the street, and you feel the cold steel of a Roman sword on your shoulder or the tip of a Roman spear, that soldier can compel you at that moment to carry his gear. Okay? You're meant to carry that for a mile, and then you can set his gear down. So, think about that. That means that's the image in Jesus' mind. You go the second mile. I mean, can you imagine the Roman soldier's surprise when the Christian gets to the mile mark and goes, "You know what? I'll carry it another mile"? They kind of go, "Hey, what are you smoking? You're crazy." But you see, the Christian is committed to civic good.
Imagine that submitting to an oppressor, but submitting in a way that promotes the glory and the character of Jesus Christ. It's very compelling, isn't it? We are to submit obediently. We are to help gladly. We're to speak kindly. Did you notice that? To speak evil of no one. That is, don't slander, don't defame, don't revile. Again, the Cretans don't like the Romans. They have taken their freedom. They have occupied their island. It would be easy for them to become belligerent, but Paul says, "No. Speak with respect. Honor to whom honor is due. No defaming. No coloring your words when speaking about the Romans or your neighbors with malignant talk." So, it's kind of don't be cross, don't be vulgar, don't be rude, don't be demeaning. You get the point.
Fourthly, live peaceably. Live peaceably. Speak evil of no one, verse 2, be peaceable. The Greek there is without battle. It's a military term. Live peaceably. Don't be a rabble rouser. Don't be an agitator. When I was in the police in Northern Ireland, we got involved in some riot situations. We looked for the agitators to take them out, because somebody's stirring the pot. Somebody's genning the crowd up. We'll either go in and snatch them by quick a arrest or try and take them down with a plastic bullet. That's our point. We're not to be rabble rousers. We're not to stir the pot. We're not to agitate. In fact, this word kind of carries the idea of Christianity doesn't swing back. It doesn't swing back. It doesn't pour fuel on the fire. It isn't quarrelsome.
Fifthly, act gently. Act gently. You notice the phrase here? Be gentle. Now, there's a little bit of crossover going on here, this idea of kindness, peace, gentility. It's kind of all bleeding into each other, but the idea here would be kind of sweet reasonableness, being considerate, being forbearing, not insisting on the letter of the law, trying to meet someone in the middle, going the second mile, not standing on custom. You get it. In fact, I worked with a Christian back in my days in aerospace in Belfast, and we nicknamed him Gentle George. I mean, he was. I mean, this was a gentle soul. He was strong.
It's kind of that idea of biblical meekness. Meekness isn't weakness. He was a strong man, but there was a gentility about him. There was a sweet reasonableness about him. It was hard to rattle him. He never took the bait. He had this kind of perpetual smile that really, on a Monday morning, was a little hard to take. His heart must have been a big marshmallow. Just a sweet guy. In fact, I'll see him hopefully when I'm back in Northern Ireland in a week. I usually try and grab coffee with him because he's a Pentecostal minister in North Belfast, and he's a wonderful guy. Him and I used to have a lot of fun. I was in a Bible study with him. He was Pentecostal. I was Cessationist. We used to have interesting discussions.
One morning, he came in, he said, "Phillip, I was reading my Bible over the weekend." He said, "You know, the Baptists will go first in the rapture," and I said, "How did you work that out, George?" He said, "Well, the dead in Christ will rise first." I go, "George, stop it." Gentle George. Amazing thing you don't know about George, but I'm going to tell you, he was a terrorist before the Lord got hold of him. He was in the UVF, the Ulster Volunteer Force, which was a Protestant terrorist group that fought the Irish Republican Army, the IRA. He went down for a bank robbery. He was put in [inaudible 00:23:49] Prison, and he got saved. Gentle George, a gun-toting terrorist? A hard man? Yeah, until the gospel changed him. See, the gospel does that, and Paul wants that on Crete.
Then finally, display humility, put others first. That's what we're told here, showing all humility to all men. It's that sense of seeking to serve others who don't deserve it. It's that Philippians 2, right, where Jesus humbled himself, and He's our mind, and we're to put others before ourselves. So, that's serving others, and it's actually serving others that don't deserve to be served. That's humility. It's being overwhelmed by the gospel so that no matter how bad the person is, no matter how rotten they treat you, you're going to treat them peaceably, kindly, gently, humbly. Why? Because verse 3, we ourselves were once foolish.
See, the gospel produces humility. It produces compassion. It produces an understanding of people, even in their sin, when they may be sinning against you. So, bottom line, the citizen of heaven is to be a model citizen on earth. I love that verse in Jeremiah 29, verse 7, which spoke to Israel in anticipation of them being taken from their land in an act of judgment from God, and carried away as exiles into Babylon, and here's what we read in Jeremiah 29, verse 7. I want you to seek the welfare of the cities to which I send you.
Now, think about that. This wasn't like they picked a suburb, and they liked this street, the house had the floor plan they wanted. No, this is exile. This is forcibly carried away to a foreign city, but they're to seek its welfare. How much more should you actively, in your community, in Chino Hills, Corona, Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda, Placentia, the beach cities, Irvine, the city of Orange, are you seeking the welfare of that city? Do you pray for your local counselors? Do you serve on the school boards? Do you volunteer in the hospital? Are you found on the sports fields on a Saturday among the community, maybe as a coach of a Little League team, and you have a reputation as a Christian, being a good man or woman?
I mean, I could go on. Maybe your job even allows you to do that if you're EMT or in law enforcement, or you're in local government. Thank you. Seek the welfare of your city. Just because you're a citizen of heaven doesn't mean you disengage from life. This was the issue, wasn't it, for William Wilberforce, who ultimately will be used by God to bring an end to slavery in the British Empire? And when he gets saved, he wonders if he shouldn't get out of the British Parliament. He was 45 years, ultimately, in the British Parliament. He was a friend of Prime Minister Pitt. He had the ear of the British Prime Minister.
God had given him a platform, but when he got saved, he was kind of imbibing the thinking of the day. When you become a Christian, you break from your old friends, you kind of start a new life, and you kind of retreat into the church, and you serve the Lord by teaching the Word or going on a missions commitment or whatever, and he was thinking like that until John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, and it would help him bring about the end of slavery because John Newton himself was a slave trader. No wonder he describes himself as a wretch in his hymn, Amazing Grace, because he treated people wretchedly.
But here's what he says to Wilberforce. "Don't cut yourself off. Stay in the government." He says this, "I hope and believe that the Lord Jesus has raised you up for the good of His church, and for the good of this nation. So, Wilberforce stays, and he's got two big plans. Number one, the reformation of manners. Don't be thinking he means after dinner you say thank you, or you open the door for someone. It is that, but manners was morals. He was thinking about social behavior, obedience of children to parents, violence on the streets of London. He was trying to think, how do we reform morals?
And then there was the suppression of the slave trade. It took him 45 years to bring about the end of slavery in the British Empire. Aren't you so glad he stayed in rather than jumped out, and was good for the nation? Are you good for America? Are you doing something to enhance this nation? A lot of people today are talking about tearing this nation down. Be a force for good. Be a force for civil discussion. Be a force that helps us become a better people, a more integrated people, a kinder people, where our streets are safer, where our policemen are respected. Get involved in politics. Find out what the presidential election's going to be about, what policies are being proposed by the candidates, and do they square with the Word of God, and are they good for your community. That's what Christians do, but they're not only for the good of the church, they're for the good of the nation. That's what we have got here. Let's move on.
Remind yourself often of your principles, the principles that govern your relationship to the government and society, but number two, remind yourself often of your past. Did you notice that verse 3 begins with a conjunction or a preposition, for, which means that we're building on what has been discussed in verse 2? So, verse 2 was this, on verse 1. Hey, I want you to be kind and peaceable. I want you to love your enemies. I want you to submit to the Roman authorities. I want you to be humble before all men, but they're proud, and they're hateful, and they're unloving, yeah, but you're to be humble, loving and kind.
Paul says, "You're probably going, 'How do you do that?' Here's how we do it. We remember our past. We remember that we were once like them." The things that we now see in them, because of our Christian conscience and the illumination of the Holy Spirit and knowledge of God's word, those things that offend us now in them, let's be honest. Didn't we do some of that stuff? Don't come across this morning like some goody two shoes. I'm not buying it, because there was a life before Christ, and it was marked by all kinds of wickedness and lawlessness, respectable sins and unrespectable, but they were there, and you need to remember that. You need to keep that in mind, because that will humble you, and when the gospel humbles you, you'll be able to be humble before all men.
You'll see everybody as a candidate for salvation. You won't rule people out. You won't stop talking to someone who is opposed to our gospel or our sexual ethics, or our world view, because you were once foolish, disobedient, deceived yourself. Come on, stop it. Stop putting on errors in graces. You got to kill that rising Pharisee, like you're better, like you're something. That's what's going on here. Our past points to their future when they come to Christ, because when people saw us without Christ, they probably concluded too that we had no future.
See, this is the second outburst of the gospel. We looked at the first one, verses 11 through 14, last week. This is the second one where the gospel is talked about, but you were foolish and disobedient, but God, in his kindness and love through Jesus Christ, saved you. Amen? Aren't you glad you're saved this morning? You didn't save yourself, did you? God saved you. Did he say, "Oh, he's worthy of it, so I'm going to choose him"? No. He did that himself in sovereign grace and eternity past. No reason but His love. No reason buy His mercy. God's not willing that any should perish, and God so loves the world, and what He's done for you, He will do for others, and you need to remember that, because let's be honest. Come on. As with them, so with us.
You can become horrified by the surrounding culture, can't you? There's nothing wrong with that. You should have a conscience, that that's ugly. That's sinful. That's against the law of God. That's against His glory. You can be horrified by the surrounding culture. It's easy to become frustrated by the behavior of your neighbors. When you're trying to get down to sleep, man, their music's blaring, and they're getting blasted in their backyard, and then they'res rowdiness spills over out onto the street. It's easy to become bittered by your fellow workers who mock you and pick you out in class or in school, or in the office, because you're the Christian, and you become the pinata, the old beat-on. That's not easy to handle, and the only way you're going to handle it, if you say to yourself, "But I was once foolish." I could be sitting on the other side of the desk this morning, but for the grace of God, there go I.
That's what it's about. Now, I'll come back to that before we're done. In fact, in his book, Zealous for Good Works, which we recommended, Todd Wilson, he says when it comes to reaching people for Christ, when it comes to taking gospel opportunity, there's usually two or more things that work against it. Number one, it can be ignorance. We're not aware of the opportunity. We take no time to learn of people's needs and how we can connect with them. Number two, fear. Even though we know the need, and there's an opportunity to meet that need, we don't because we're frightened of the response.
But he says there's a third reaction, and it's disdain, we just don't care about them, because we have allowed somehow the grace of God, we've misunderstood, actually, the grace of God, better way to put it. It's made us proud and smug and pharisaical, and therefore we now look down on people. We look down on them, and we forget we used to be down there, and it's terrible. When you get there, you'll not worship the way you should. You'll not be evangelistic the way you should, and you'll become proud and arrogant and pharisaical.
So, what Paul does is he preaches the gospel to the church. We'll come back to this thought. I'm going to throw it your way. Hold it. When you preach the gospel to yourself often, you'll better preach the gospel to others often, because it'll be there, but for the grace of God, go I. You'll be far more patient. You'll be far more understanding. You'll be far more loving. So, what Paul does here, and we're going to go through it quickly, he preaches the gospel, and he talks about their past and what they once were until God saved them, and what they've now become, and he wants them never to forget it.
Let's go through the text quickly. I'll kind of put it under several headings. Notice verse 3, what I call the need of salvation. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice, even hateful and hating one another, foolish, that is lacking moral sense. While we might have been intellectually smart, when we came to life, we lacked sense, and you know what? Our sinful behavior led us to do some insane things. We've all got stories where you go, "Did I do that?" When you wake up from a drunken stupor when you were without Christ and looked back at your behavior, it was insane. It was embarrassing. You were foolish.
Sin does that. It makes people stupid, disobedient. We don't submit to God's authority, man's authority, deceived. We're blind to the truth of the gospel through satanic lies, false religion, empty philosophy, godless world views, enslaved. That's in the bondage of a sinful will. You don't understand that, read Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will. You don't have a freewill. Your will is in bondage to sin. You're free to follow your nature. If you have a free will at all, it's a will that encourages you to freely sin, and you become enslaved to your pleasures and your lusts apart from Christ.
Malice and envy? Let me say that this is a list of sins. It's not that they all committed these sins equally, it's just that they committed sins like this when they were without Christ, just that point. Envy, that makes us resent people, doesn't it, envious malice, where you see people have certain things that you don't have, maybe you realize you'll never have, and so instead of letting them enjoy it, you become envious, and so that turns into, "You know what? If I can't have it, I don't want them having it," and you start thinking evil, or you even do evil to take it off them.
Can I just get a little political? Be careful about the idea of socialism. Well, the rich have money. Therefore, I want to take their money. Well, if they earn their money, isn't it their money? Who said it's yours? Who said you can just take it? Oh, I get it. The more a person has, the more responsibility. I get it, and the rich should be generous, but envy and malice is now becoming part of our politics. We'll never talk about envy and malice. It'll be cast in the garb of social justice, but it's envy, and it's malice. What you have, I want, and if you don't give me it, I'm going to become angry. It's kind of scary stuff.
Hating and hating one another? That was my experience in Northern Ireland, in a divided community where Protestants and Catholics hated each other, where me and my pals went about in packs, guarding our territory, making sure the enemy never came in, and if they did, we would make them sorry for ever coming into our territory. That's the world. That's you and me without Christ. That's the stuff that lies behind the Christian having come to Christ. This is the stuff that's part of our old lives, the past. But we're changed, aren't we? Because look at verse 4. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward men appeared, God saved us.
So, you've got the need of salvation, followed by the source of salvation. What's the source of salvation? It's God. Isn't that what Paul says? Here's what changed us. Here's what made the difference in us. It's not like we self-reformed. It's not like this came through us following some moral code, pulling up our socks and going through some process of self-improvement or interior renovation. No. God saved us. God delivered us from the enslavement of our sin, from our foolishness, and He did it through a display of His love, and the Bible tells us the love of God appeared. What's that referring to? That's referring to the grace of God that appeared, which is referring to Jesus Christ, and the fact that He came as the Son of God, sinless, to die on the cross, the just for the unjust, and if we'll put our faith where God put our sin. God will save us.
See, Christianity is a religion of salvation. You're not a Christian if you don't have a salvation story. I don't need to hear you've gone to church your whole life. I don't need to hear you read your Bible. I don't need to hear you keep God's commandments. That's all good and well to some degree, but it's bad in another degree. At some point, I need to hear a story like this. "Pastor, there was a time in my life when I lived for myself, I lived in lawlessness and lostness, and then Jesus Christ got ahold of me, and He saved me, and He changed me. I was born again. I got new life, and I've never been the same since," because Christianity's not the turning of an old leaf. It's the receiving of a new life.
It's not new behavior that you generate. It's new birth that God generates, and you've nothing to do with your physical birth, and you've nothing to do with your spiritual birth. This is a gift from God. That's why I love this phrase, by the way. Did you notice that but? I've quoted this before. It's a wonderful little book, What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. Here's what he says. "But. I think that must be the most powerful word a human being can speak. It's small, but it has the power to sweep away everything that's gone before it." The plane went down, but no one was hurt. You have cancer, but it's easily treatable. Your son was in a car wreck, but he's fine. I love that thought. But is a small word, but it is a powerful word because it erases everything before it.
So, listen. Here's you and me. For a portion of our life, we're foolish, disobedient, we're lustful, we're enslaved to our sin, we're hateful, we're malice towards God and our neighbors. What we're talking about, we're lost. The wrath of God hangs over our head, and the jaws of hell wait to swallow us up. But that all gets swept away. That's not the end of the story. There's a new chapter that's written by the grace of God, and God saves us through faith in His son. So, you've got the need of salvation, the source of salvation, and the basis of salvation, mercy and grace.
Did you notice that, verse 5? Not by works of righteousness which we have done. Now, come on. That's just a full-frontal attack on most of the world religions, that in some form, despite this idea that if you'll do this, if you'll believe this, if you'll follow this, you can win your way into heaven, you can have God accept you on the basis of your effort, loving your neighbor, doing unto others what you would have them do on you, and the Bible says, "No, it's not by works of righteousness that we have done, but by His mercy, He saves us." If you hope to get into heaven, it'll be upon the grace of God and the mercy of God alone.
I love the fact he mentions mercy in verse 5, and he mentions grace in verse 7. What is mercy? Mercy is not getting what you do deserve, leniency, some things removed that should've been coming your way. What is grace? That's unmerited favor. That means you get what you don't deserve. That's what salvation is. I'll tell you what salvation is. Upon the basis of what Jesus did on the cross for us, and upon the fact that you have put all your hope in Him, God doesn't give you what you do deserve, wrath, punishment and hell, and He does give you what you don't deserve, which is forgiveness, mercy, justification, and acceptance before Him.
Old John Bunyan put it well in his hymn, didn't he? Years I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified, knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary. Mercy there was great, and grace was free. Pardon multiplied to me, there my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary. That's what we're talking about here. Then you've got the means of salvation, right? The means of salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit. See, you and I won't see our need because we're blind. We're deceived. You and I won't put our faith in Jesus Christ and obey the call of God because we're disobedient. We're enslaved. So, then how do you and I see our need, see the glory of Christ, and put our faith in Jesus? The Holy Spirit produces that.
This is what's called regeneration. It's a big theological word, but it means made alive. Look at our verse, verse 5 and 6. Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us through the washing of regeneration, the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. The means of salvation is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, where the Holy Spirit illuminates you so that you see your sin, you see its just dessert and judgment before God, but you see that God has remedied that in the judgment He placed on His son on the cross, and the Holy Spirit makes you willing to trust, and as He makes you willing, my friend, you've got to trust, you've got to put your faith in Jesus, you've got to run to the cross-
... because His spirit will not always strive with you, but He strives often, and He strives long, and He strives patiently. Aren't you glad that God didn't abandon you the first time you said no? I said no hundreds of times. In the evening services at Rothko Baptist, I said no, walked out, still breaking my mother's heart, and God still not having answered their prayer. But God is patient and long suffering, not willing that any should perish, and the spirit of God turned that no into a yes. That's what brings about salvation. The means of salvation is the Holy Spirit. The end of salvation? The end of salvation, look at it. It's to inherit eternal life.
Look at Titus 3, verse 7, so that we could become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Using the language of inheritance, Paul points to the fact that the goal of salvation is to have us spend eternity with God in heaven. This is the beauty of the gospel. God comes from heaven in Jesus Christ and brings heaven to us in salvation, and when it's all said and done, salvation will land us in heaven itself. Now, I'm back to the point. Paul has just given us a summary of evangelical theology. Paul has just preached the gospel to the church. You were once lost, now you're found. You were once blind, but now you see.
But I want to remind you why he's preaching the gospel, so that you preach the gospel to people who are still blind and still lost, the people addressed in verses 1 and 2, the people you need to show humility before, be a good witness before. The gospel shouldn't make us harsh. It shouldn't make us haughty. We need to remember that we were in the miry clay and in the horrible pit, but God saved us, put our feet on a rock, put a song in our mouth, and many will see it. Remember Isaiah said, "Remember the rock from which you were hewn and the hole from which you were digged?"
You and I, for the good of our neighbors, we need to preach the gospel to ourselves. In our mind, we need to go back to those times when we were lost. We need to remember how God saved us and why He saved us, and it's all grace, and it's all mercy. We need to make ourselves tender before God so that we can better preach the gospel to others. You know, I'll be home in a week, God willing. One of the things I will do is I'll go out for several walks, and I'll take several trips, and I'll go back to my old haunts. I'll go by old soccer stadiums I used to get into trouble in. I'll go find the area where I went to school, and I was no exemplary pupil. I'll go to certain streets where we got involved in stuff I don't need to tell you about, but it was against the law of God and the law of man.
I'm going back there, not because I want to revisit my old sins. I want to revisit the thought that God, in His matchless grace, has saved me. I want to pray for my friends that are still not saved. I'll try and connect with some of them, and I'm not going to sit across from them, haughty. Oh, they'll hear the story of how well we're doing in America, that I'm a pastor, but I want to remind them, I was once foolish and disobedient and deceived and enslaved to my sin, but today, in all humility, before you, I want to remind you that what God has done for others, He can do for you, and what He's done for me, He can do for you.
You need to do that. I need to do that. Isn't that why John Newton, the slave trader who wrote Amazing Grace and helped William Wilberforce bring it to an end in the British Empire, that's why he took the text, Deuteronomy 15:15, he had it carved and put on his mantle in his home, and every day he looked at it. What does Deuteronomy 15:15 say? Thou shalt remember that thou was the bond man in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed the. I think often, he went back to the storm off the coast of Ireland, and how he called out to God to save in him in mercy on March the 9th, and God saved him on March the 10th. If you read The Life of John Newton, he said he never allowed March the 10th ever to pass without him reviewing God's goodness and mercy all the days of his life.
That's why when he was an old man and losing his mind, he was famous for saying, "But I can still remember two things. I'm a great sinner, and Jesus is a great savior." Remember your principles. Remember your past. Finally, remember your priority. This verse 8 we'll close. This is a faithful saying. That's a phrase you'll find five times in the Pastoral Epistles. It's called a trustworthy statement. It usually speaks of some doctrinal summary, a piece of theology to be underscored, or a truth that ought to be written in bold letters in our mind.
So, this is a faithful saying, that is verses 3 to 7, the gospel. I've just explained the gospel. I've just summarized the evangelical faith. "And these things," he says to Titus, "I want you to affirm constantly. This is what I want you to remind people. Remind them of their principles, and remind them of their past, and now remind them of their priority, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works." It's not by works of righteousness which we have done that God saves us, but once the Holy Spirit has done the good work of redemption, and He now indwells us and gives us a new nature and new affections, we begin to change, and we begin to be marked by good works. We take on the character of God and the compassion of Jesus and the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and people begin to see it, and we begin to make an impression on our friends. That's the priority.
What's the priority as you leave this morning? It's being humble before all men, and it's showing good works before your neighbor. It's seeking the welfare of your city through a demonstration of God's love. Let me try and squeeze this in as the team prepares to come up. I just finished the book by Tim Challies, who I got to meet just a week ago in Ohio, a wonderful chap, lives up in Canada. Hopefully we'll bring him to Kindred at some time in the future. Well, in this little book, Do More Better, he deals with productivity. I think we all read books like that once in a while, right? How can I do more better? How can I be more effective?
You know, the hourglass is going in the wrong direction. I want to make sure that I'm not twiddling my thumbs and just kind of wasting my time, and so I read this book, and what I loved was he defined productivity in the sense of good works. We tend to think productivity, okay, time management, doing more, more efficiently. That's not how he thinks. Let me go through something very quickly. He asks a series of questions, and he answers them. Question one, ultimately, why did God create us? Answer, God created me to bring glory to himself. Okay? Number one. Whatever we do, we do to the glory of God, whether we eat or drink.
Number two, how can you glorify God in your everyday life? Glorify God through good works. That's what Jesus taugh in the Sermon on the Mount. Do your good works before men, and they will glorify your Father in heaven. Do you get the connection? Why were you created? Why were you saved? To glorify God. How do you glorify God? Through good works. Number three, what are good works? Deeds that glorify God and benefit others. Do your good works before men. That means do good works among men for men. Bless your neighbor. Raise the standard of living and quality of life in your neighborhood, on your street. Bring productivity to your workplace, all of that.
Number four, in what area of life should we do good works? He answers, at all times, and in all areas of life. Here's his last question. What is productivity? Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time and energy and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. That's what productivity is. Productivity is doing the good works that were ordained for you, and doing them efficiently and timely for the glory of God, to the benefit of others. Read that little book, it's good, Do More Better.
As you leave today, that's your priority. That's why you're going back to your street. That's why God has you in that house. That's why God has you in that school. That's why you sit in that desk in that office, to devote yourself to good works for the benefit of others, and the glory of God. John Wesley exemplified that. I quoted John Calvin earlier. I'll quote John Wesley later. Blessed are the balanced. He founded Methodism, preached 42,000 sermons in a lifetime, 15 a week. He traveled over a quarter of a million miles. You say, "Pastor, I'm a million-miler." Yeah, that's on a 600-mile-an-hour airplane from LA to Sydney and back. He did it on horse, on sail ships, and walking muddy lanes across England and Europe.
He founded orphanages. He helped William Wilberforce. He wrote hundreds of hymns with his brother Charles. I mean, I could go on. Founded the Methodist Church. Here's what he said. "Do all the good you can by all the means you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can." That just about summarizes Titus 3, verses 1 to 8. Devote yourself to good works, because that's good and profitable for all men.
Father, we thank you for our time in the Word this morning. We thank you that Titus meets us at the beginning of a new week and sets our priorities, tells us our principles, and reminds us that as we go back into our work day world, and we meet up with some unsavory characters and enemies of the gospel, help us to remember we were once disobedient and foolish. Help us to preach the gospel to ourselves. Help us to remove any vestige of smugness, looking down on people, because there go I, but for the grace of God. Help us to preach the gospel to ourselves so we'll be humble, not haughty.
We'll be passionate about seeing people saved, not just spending our lives in some holy huddle, waiting for eternal life. Lord, help us to remember our past and our future so we can better serve you in our present. If there's anybody listening today that hasn't yet received your offer of salvation, may they listen to the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit. May they, Lord, move as you move on them. May they not fall foul of the idea that it's by works of righteousness which we do that we're saved. No, it's not by works of righteousness that we do, but by His mercy God saves us. And we pray these things in Jesus' name, amen.