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Remembering From Where You Have Come - Titus 3:1-11

I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.

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Introduction: The Importance of Memories to the Christian

I found this humorous illustration from Sermon Central submitted by a pastor named Billy Ricks. He said this:

"Two middle-aged couples were enjoying friendly conversation when one of the men asked the other, "Fred, how was the memory clinic you went to last month?" "Outstanding," Fred replied. "They taught us all the latest psychological techniques, such as visualization, association and so on. It was great!"

I haven't had a problem since."

"Sounds like something I could use. What was the name of the clinic?"

Fred went blank. He thought and thought but couldn't remember.

Then a smile broke across his face, and he asked, "What do you call that flower with the long stem and thorns?"

"You mean a rose?"

"Yes, that's it!"

He turned to his wife, "Hey Rose, what was the name of that memory clinic?"

This may be a funny illustration, but the truth is that memories are extremely important. There are some brain diseases like dementia that rob a person of memories and it is a tragic thing when someone you love forgets important events in both of your lives, or even that they know you at all. Our memories make us who and what we are. They are why we make the decisions that we do and they give us a foundation for the present and the future.

Someone has said that memories are essential in our lives because they can allow us to grow and become a better person. Not only do they teach us important life lessons, but they demonstrate skills and abilities that are essential to live a better life in the present. And good memories can be wonderful things to look back on to entertain us and make us feel good about the life that the Lord has given us. They are reasons for thankfulness and praise.

One way in which memories can help us in our spiritual existence is to point out what we once were before Christ came into our lives and saved us from the sinful path we were on. A path which was leading us to destruction and hell. They can remind us of how He has now given to us a new path and a new life of hope for an eternal future in heaven.

The book of Titus, which we have been studying, was written to Titus by the Apostle Paul after Paul left his young spiritual son in Crete so he could set in order the new church on that island after they were converted earlier under the ministry of both these men.

He told Titus to set up the leadership at Crete, both elders and deacons. He went on to warn him of the rebellious men that had arisen who were mixing law and grace rather than the pure teaching of grace alone.

In chapter 2 he tells Titus that he should continue to teach sound doctrine. Further, that sound doctrine must be lived out in the life of Titus and those converts to Christianity that he was instructing.

He writes about what that sound doctrine would look like in the various groups that are in Crete. He then goes on to the heart of the letter in showing that the whole Divine purpose for the calling of elders and deacons and in commanding the people to live righteously was to provide a witness that brings the plan of salvation to its fulfillment. The church in Crete was to be a living witness to God's grace by their lives so that people would be drawn to Christ who is Himself, the embodiment of the Lord's grace to mankind.

Last time we talked about the results of that grace, to those who believe. Paul gave us the results in the past, the present and the future. In the past we received a salvation from the penalty of sin. In the present that grace gives us a growing victory over the power of sin in our lives. And in the future, when Christ returns, we will be freed, by that same grace or unmerited favor, from the very presence of sin as we enjoy the blessings of heaven with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-15).

Chapter 3 begins by reminding Titus again to tell the people of God in Crete that their lives should be different as a result of their relationship with Jesus Christ especially in dealing with the people of the world. Christians are to exemplify godly virtues in their relationships with everyone, including the unsaved because we too once were where they are. And if we remember that we are no better than they are except for the grace of God, then we will have compassion on those who have yet to allow themselves to be rescued by God's amazing grace.

Our memories of God's past dealings with us, who don't deserve anything that we have, should make us better and more caring people, for we can all truly say that:

"There but for the grace of God, go I."

Let us now turn to Titus 3:1-11 and see how the Apostle Paul relates these truths to Titus and and his converts at Crete, as well as to us. According to Paul, our memories should affect at least 2 major areas. They should affect how we live as citizens of our communities, and they should cause us to avoid foolish divisions.

I. Remembering Our Past Affects Our Citizenship (3:1-8)

To begin with, the believer in Jesus Christ should be a model of doing that which is right in society. Titus 3:1–3 applies the teachings Paul gave Titus in chapters 1 and 2. Crete was famous for its immoral culture, but this letter encourages Christians to live according to better principles. He tells his young friend to:

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men." (1-2).

By being subject to authorities we demonstrate to the world that God is a God of order, and He has set up those in charge in society. Romans 13:1-4a tells us:

"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good."

Submission to the authority of Scripture demands that we be subject to human authority, unless they ask us to do something contrary to God's commands.

But the difference in our actions as citizens doesn't stop there. Christians are to exemplify godly virtues by being ready for every good deed and showing consideration for all men. That consideration should also extend to the non-believer. Paul says something similar in Galatians 6:10 when he tells the church in Galatia:

"So then, while we have opportunity, let’s do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."

However, in Titus, his focus seems to be on doing good to the non-believing world as a testimony to them. We see this in his use of 'all men' in verse 2. In using this phrase here, he refers to mankind in general, particularly those who cross our paths on a daily basis.

It was British writer William J. Thoms who wrote:

"Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads."

And author Madeleine L'Engle took this even farther by saying:

"We draw people to Christ, not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it."

And we aren't to do this condescendingly, because, once again, we must remember that we are no better than they are. Paul goes into this in verses 3-8 when he says:

"For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another, But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed in God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men."

These memories of God's mercy and grace upon us should make us humble and cause us to have concern for those whom God loves and whom Jesus died for on the cross. And our experience in finding God's amazing grace is profitable for all men in that it is a way we can evangelize them by telling people what the Lord has done for us.

I love this quote by pastor and evangelist D.T. Niles who said:

"Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread."

And the more we can remember the hopeless spiritual poverty that the Lord brought us from, the more we can relate to the spiritual destitution that our fellow men and women are in at this very moment in time. This gives us a greater ability to lead them to the Bread of life and source of eternal salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ.

II. Remembering Our Past Causes us to Avoid Foolish Divisions (9-11)

Paul ends this section of his letter by turning to things that are unprofitable for our testimony in the world and telling us to avoid them. If we remember our past, it should make us to not want to do those things which bring shame on the message of God's grace and which causes those who are not saved to turn away from our Savior. The apostle tells Titus this:

"But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. " (9-11).

By referring to foolish controversies, Paul is continuing his warning against becoming embroiled in senseless discussions with all of those false teachers that were at Crete. He is especially thinking of the Judaizers who mixed obedience to the Mosaic Law with the grace of God. As we have said, they were assaulting the doctrine of grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone for salvation. Though these people should be denounced, getting into arguments and fighting about error should not be something that the believer spends their time doing. The Christian should rather spend his or her time proclaiming the truth of the gospel. For it is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16).

Also, not only must a Christian not engage in worthless arguments but anyone who is upsetting the church by being 'factious' should be expelled. That is a person who is self-willed and causes division. The apostle talks in these verses about giving the person two warnings here just like the pattern set forth by Jesus originally in Matthew 18:15-17.

Paul also talks about turning away from brothers who cause dissensions in Romans 16:16,17. And in II Thessalonians 3:14,15 Paul warns the Thessalonians to 'take special note of the person calling himself a believer who does not obey the apostle's instructions. He says not to associate with them in order for him to be put to shame. In this case the person is a believer, so the church is not to treat him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother.

However, in the end, he is 'self-condemned.' In other words, by his own ungodly behavior, a factious believer brings judgment upon himself.

The bottom line is that it is a poor testimony to spend one's time arguing back and forth about error, and it takes away from the preaching of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

As we sum up this section of Titus, it is clear that Paul wants us to know that if we are to be effective witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ and lead others to Him, we must first remember our own story of God's grace in our lives. We were hopeless and without God in the world. And we were on our way to an eternal hell, forever separated from all that is good.

And yet God, through Jesus Christ, has taken us hopeless creatures who were objects of His wrath and has saved us. Not by our own righteous deeds which we've done but according to his magnificent grace and mercy.

He died to make us into the image of Jesus Christ and to live righteous lives in this world that so needs to hear the good news that they too can be reconciled to God by faith in Jesus' death, burial and resurrection.

Remembering the amazing things that God has done for us gives us the desire to please Him by being the best citizens that we can be in this world and should cause us to avoid all of the foolish things that bring shame on the name of Christ.

It is my hope that none of us will ever forget the Lord's amazing grace on our behalf and how far we have all come by faith, trusting in the Lord. Further, remembering His faithfulness, let us give our life to Him, thanking Him every step of the way for what He has done by telling as many people as possible about the God who has given to us everything, though we deserve nothing. And, by this, showing them what God can do with a life that is totally dedicated to Him.

For there is no better way to live your life than for the glory of Him who alone deserves the credit for it all.

© 2021 Jeff Shirley

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