For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
But when the goodness of God and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us – not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.
This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone. – Titus 3:3-8
This testimony is so important that when Spurgeon preached on this passage, he informed his congregation, “Do not let me talk about these things this morning while you listen me without feeling. I want you to be turning over the pages of your old life and joining with Paul and the rest of us in our sad confession of former pleasure of evil.”
Every Christian has at least three things in common: (1) a life they lived before putting their faith in Jesus; (2) being saved of the penalty of sin by grace through faith; and (3) living a new life with a desire to make God’s glory known.
John Sailhamer wrote in NIV Compact Commentary, “God saved sinners, not because of their righteousness, but in order to produce good works in their lives” (p. 565). This can sometimes be a hard concept for someone living today. In a “what have you done for me lately” society, it is hard for us to not try to factor our works into how God relates to us.
Who We Were Before Christ
Without Christ, each person is held by the trappings of sin with no hope for relief from the pain of this world. It is important that a Christian remember their life before Christ for two reasons: (1) We were once lost; and (2) To know how not to live.
The reminder to a Christian that they were once lost should have a missional impact on their lives. Understanding the depth of sin and life apart from God should spur compassion for those who are currently lost. This compassion should lead to action.
In addition, the Christian also benefits from remembering how not to live. The Christian will be able to better determine which areas of life they should leave behind as they continue to grow as a Christian.
The Love of Jesus
Christians can celebrate a change in their life, that they are no longer bound to their old way of living because of the work done by Jesus. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:4-7).
This should be our motivator for good works. Millard Erickson in his systematic theology Christian Theology defines regeneration as “the other [divine] side of conversion. It is completely God’s doing. It is God’s transformation of individual believers, his giving a new spiritual vitality and direction to their lives when they accept Christ…it involves something new, a whole reversal of the person’s natural tendencies” (p. 955-57).
Who We Are Now In Christ
This text provides a reminder of the importance of God’s love for mankind, the sacrifice given by Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit dwelling within the Christian for the sake of good works. This text was seen as some sort of a creedal statement, a hymn, catechetical guidance, or liturgical material to the early Christians. David Platt considers the importance of the text as he states, “Because of the importance of the words, they should be repeated, memorized, or even sung. They should also have daily and personal application in our lives, and that is exactly what we see in the closing verse [verse 8] of this section” (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary, p. 293).
This text proclaims that we have been saved by God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit through His goodness, love, mercy, and grace. Christian, do not waste your time with unfruitful activities.
Tim Chester writes, “Christians must live in the world in a way that commends Jesus. The bedrock of mission is doing good in everyday life. We stress the gospel to each other so that we will live the gospel in front of others” (Titus for You, 112-3).
Several important takeaways from Titus 3:3-8:
- The Gospel has transforming power and is our motivator to live a Christian life.
- Our life is our testimony to the transformative power of the Gospel.
- We should show God’s mercy to those that do not yet know Him.
- We once lived like those that do not know Jesus.
- God’s love and mercy saved us.
- This should serve as a motivator for us to commit our lives to the one who saved us, just as a slave should submit to his master.
- Christians should devote themselves to good works.
- Christianity must be done in community with both believers and unbelievers