Summary: In these statements, Paul gave to Timothy, Titus, and us principles which are true and dependable, truths upon which we can build our faith and our lives in Christ.
Saved By Love, Mercy, and Grace
A trustworthy statement
Text: Titus 3:3-8
This morning is the first of a few lessons drawn from the letters of Paul that we often refer to as the “Pastoral Epistles”, those letters written to Timothy and Titus. These letters have a different flavor than those Paul wrote to the various churches; these were more personal in nature. They were written to encourage and help these young leaders in the work that God had given to them and for which Paul had trained and prepared them.
These lessons will focus on key thoughts which Paul identifies in these letters using a phrase that sets the specific principle or truth apart from the rest. “This is a trustworthy statement...” By using this phrase, Paul declared to the reader: "what I have just said, or am about to say is an important truth; it is a principle you can count on."
In these statements, Paul gave to Timothy, Titus, and us principles which are true and dependable, truths upon which we can build our faith and our lives in Christ.
In this lesson we are going to look at the occurrence of this phrase in Titus 3 where the trustworthy statement is made that we are saved by the love, mercy and grace of God.
Read Titus 3:3-8
Progression in our spiritual walk as Christians requires a proper understanding of God’s Grace. In order for this to happen, we must understand the way we once were.
I.For We Also Once Were…(v3)
A.Understanding The Way We Once Were
1.In Titus 3:3, Paul left no room for misunderstanding in regards to our condition before receiving God’s grace:
a.Foolish: Without understanding; ignorant of God, his nature, his providence, and his grace.
b.Disobedient: Unpersuaded, unbelieving, obstinate, and refusing to obey.
c.Deceived: Erring - wandering from the right way due to ignorance, not knowing the right way; and not choosing to know it.
d.Serving divers lusts and pleasures: Being in a state of continual moral and mental servitude; not served or gratified by our lusts and pleasures, but living, as their slaves, distressed in mind and body.
1)Divers lusts: Strong and irregular appetites of every kind.
2)Pleasures: Sensual pleasures. Intent only on the gratification of our senses.
2.So we all stood opposed to God, spending our lives in malice, envy, and hatred.
a.Spending our life in wickedness and envy; not bearing to see the prosperity of others, because we feel ourselves mean and contemptible.
1)Hateful: Abominable; hateful as hell. The word comes from, Styx, the infernal river of Greek mythology. The verb signifies to shiver with horror.
2)The word maybe taken actively, as it is read, hateful; or else passively, and so may be read hated, that is, justly detestable and odious to others, both God and man.
3)Hating one another: This word is less expressive than the preceding: there was no brotherly love, they hated each other, and self-interest alone could induce them to keep up civil society. This is the true state of all unregenerate men.
B.This Is How We All Once Were
1.Paul included us all in this description of how we were.
a.It is human nature to deny or diminish our own sinfulness, by comparing it to others around us.
b.We look at the sinners of the world and we think like the Pharisee of parable “praying this to himself: ’God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” Luke 18:11 (NASB)
c.That leads to the next thought: "How can God see me the same as those people? I’m basically a good person, aren’t I?"
d.Such prideful thought denies the gravity of our sinful condition and lessens the magnificence of God’s grace, our need for His mercies.
2.With the word, “we”, Paul shatters those attitudes and assumptions, saying that “such were we before Christ, if not in action, then in attitude, inner nature.”
a.Paul was echoing the same sentiment he wrote in Ephesians 2:1-3 (NASB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
b.And be sure Paul did not exclude himself from this characterization. He described himself in 1 Timothy 1:15 as “the chief of sinners”. Paul knew he had once been a blasphemer, persecutor, and a violent man. He knew and understood the gravity of his sinful condition before he received God’s grace.
3.If we want to be certain of God’s grace, we must begin by really understanding who we were before Christ. That leads us to the next step.