At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. (Titus 3:3)
The relationship of “then” and “now” is a common one in the writings of the apostle Paul. “Then” meaing the time before Christ transformed us by the washing away of our sins. “Now” as the state of our souls when we walk in grace.
We will talk about the relationship of these two “times” in our lives over the next couple of days. But for now, we need to look back. “At one time, we were different.”
The chief difference in our two lives has to do with our master. We used to be mastered by “all kinds of passions and pleasures.” Perhaps you remember this passage by James who was trying to bring his believing readers to their senses: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive,because you ask with wrong motives,that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:1-3)
The teaching in the New Testament is that believers are no longer ruled by these things. However, the battle rages within us. It is as if we forget who we are and erroneously listen to the old master, when in fact, we are ruled by Christ.
This is why there were people in the churches of Crete who practiced deception and made a habit of bullying others with Old Testament legalism. It isn’t that they were not followers of Jesus, as least for the most part. Rather, it is an indication they were still having a hard time with their final goodbyes to the old master.
There are a lot of reasons we find ourselves being unfaithful to our new Master, who is Jesus, our Lord. Sometimes His way is difficult. On occasion we fail and fall in our efforts to please Him. And to be honest, there are times when the old way, Satan’s way, just feels more exciting.
Have you ever experienced the rush that comes from dabbling in some of the sins outlined in this morning’s verse? Malice and hate are empowering! When we say hurtful things about others, whether our words come out in the form of gossip or slander, we feel better about ourselves. When we hate, we feel justified. We will do anything to get what we want: prestige, attention, positions.
But when the hateful words and actions are over, and we are left alone with our selfish selves, we realize our old master was just using us. If you will allow me to borrow from a modern metaphor, we were his “human traffic.” We thought he was a lover, but we were just being used…used, abused, and tossed to the curb.
“Foolish!” That’s what Paul calls it. Why would we be unfaithful to the One who died for us in favor of the one who could care less if we lived or died.
Don’t be deceived or enslaved again. Worship Jesus as Lord. There can be no other.
Dear God, I don’t want to go back. In Jesus’ name, Amen.