We are all devoted to something
- This devotion is usually pretty easily discovered. 1. You might have made a resolution about it. Money, Weight, Job, Relationship, etc. You can easily discover it by responding to someone’s question with, “Yeah… but.”
- You might have some fear about losing it or pride about having it.
- The challenge comes when we realize that we might be devoted to the wrong things.
Titus letter intro
- Paul wrote this letter to Titus as a pastoral help.
- Titus was a pastor in Cyrene. As a Pastor in Cyrene he had unique challenges to his role.
- Titus would have to minister in the midst of the secular worldview of the Cyrenes and the religious legalism of the Circumcision party. License and Legalism both. Much of this mirrors our own culture.
- There is NO doctrinal debate in Titus. But there is pastoral wisdom, Ethical imperatives, Doctrinal emphasis, and Direction for a number of particular individuals (older women, younger women, older men, younger men, slaves, parents, citizens, etc.)
In this New Year, in our moment of information overload. We must have concrete focuses and Titus gives us 2. Be Devoted To God + Be Devoted to Good Works. We see these focuses in our theme verse for this series and today.
This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. … Titus 3:8 (NLT)
I can grow in my devotion to God by… (Titus 3:3-7)
- REMEMBERING my past (Titus 3:3. C/R: Deuteronomy 6:7; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 2:11-12)
- Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. Titus 3:3 (NLT)
- The language that Paul uses here is strong. “Foolish. Disobedient. Slaves to lust and pleasure. Full of evil and envy.” Does this language describe you before Christ? Is it too strong for you?
- It is important for us to remember our pre-Christ condition.
- God has been communicating to His people since the beginning that We too easily forget.
- Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:7-9 (NLT)
- Paul always seems to remind his readers that we were enemies of the gospel.
- Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens‚” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. Ephesians 2:11-12 (NLT)
- Before Christ we were outsiders. Separated from God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. No future after death, no family of God, no eternal inheritance.
- Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NLT)
- “Will not inherit the kingdom of God.” I think some of us have trouble remembering. I also think that some in this room do not really believe that because of God’s holiness and perfection and because of our sinfulness and the evil inside we are separated from Him.
- While we should also remember that we were an enemy of God. We must also remember that now we are changed. 2 Corinthians 5:17. Romans 5:6 says that we were “utterly helpless.”
- The situation seems bleak, but coming back to Titus you see this little conjunction.
- .. I’m so thankful that is not the end of the story. I love that in the NLT, there is a separation from But, to the next truth. It is so important to understand that But.
We are helpless, evil, without hope. But...
- Have you experienced this moving from death to life? Have you truly received new life from God?
- Just for a moment, thank God for this little word, “But.” Thank Him for reminding you of where He has brought you from.
I can grow in my devotion to God by…
- RECEIVING God’s love. (Titus 3:4-6. C/R: John 3:5; Ephesians 2:4-5; 1 John 5:11-12)
“When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of His grace He declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 (NLT)
- Now we are going to see the beauty of the gospel here. Paul doesn’t just describe what happens, he describes each member of the Trinity’s role in the salvation of His people.
- First he describes the Goodness and Kindness of God the Father.
“When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love,” Titus 3:4 (NLT)
- Revealed His kindness and love. If something is revealed that means that it used to be what?
- Lets us know that it can seem hidden. The Greek renders this word appears, but it is more like the phrase, “you can see their true colors.”
- This is God, showing, revealing to the world, who He truly is. He is kind and He is loving.
- Such a strong contrast to our condition in v.3
- “He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. …” Titus 3:5a (NLT)
- God saves us because of His mercy, not our goodness. We did not earn it. We couldn’t have according to verse 3. God’s mercy seems so crazy when you show mercy to someone described by the characteristics of verse 3. In fact, if you just scroll back up to verse 3 and read that and think of someone that is perfectly identified by those words, would you show mercy to that person?
- Secondly, Paul shows us Regeneration and Renewal by the Spirit
- “… giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5b (NLT)
- That phrase new birth, is a term that we learn called regeneration, which simply means to be “born again” Regeneration must occur for us to be a follower of Christ. Only God can regenerate us. We cannot live a good life unless our status in verse 3 has been changed. Regeneration is that change.
- Because we are regenerated, we get new life! The Spirit moves us from hopeless citizens of earth, (v.3) to a fully alive citizen of heaven. (v.7)
- But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4-5 (NLT)
- God, through the Spirit births us anew to be fit for heaven. This comes through faith, given as a gift of God made real by the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:5 (NLT)
- As one author puts it, “We don’t need renovation or reformation or reorganization; we need rebirth.”
- For more in-depth study on regeneration, you can check out FINALLY ALIVE by John Piper or MAKING SENSE OF SALVATION by Wayne Grudem. Both excellent introductions on the doctrine of salvation.
- The Spirit makes all of these things a reality. The Spirit as we just learned about in our Christmas series is the initiator of the life of Christ in Mary and He is the initiator of our new life in Christ.
- John 6:63, “The Spirit … gives … life.”
- Third, Paul shows us the Righteousness of Christ
- He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:6 (NLT)
- The Spirit is able to do His work, because Jesus did His. Jesus through living His life acceptably before God as a human died on the cross for our sins in our place.
- He took the punishment, the penalty, the weight, the burden, the guilt, and the shame. It died with Him.
- It, the work of payment for sin, is finished.
- “Because of His grace He declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” Titus 3:7 (NLT)
- When we place our faith in Christ, the Spirit births us anew.
- He made us right and gave us confidence. We can live in full assurance that we are right in God’s sight because of Christ.
- How can I be sure? Assurance, like salvation comes from God. God has given us everything we need for salvation through Himself. He has likewise given us everything needed for assurance through His Word.
- And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.1 John 5:11-13 (NLT)
- John wrote his letter so that we might know that we have eternal life. (1 John 5:13 NLT)
- Our devotion to God grows our understanding of our standing before Him.
- Jesus’ righteousness is enough for us and more importantly is enough for God. AMEN.
- This Triune act of salvation drives us to fellowship and worship of God.
- When we pray, we can thank God for His love and mercy towards us. Even though He created us to image Him, we have marred that image beyond recognition and He expresses kindness and love toward us.
- When we pray, we can thank the Spirit not only for the new life He created in us, but the sustaining power and deposit of heavenly blessing that He makes a reality in our life.
- When we pray, we can thank Jesus for His life, His obedience, His example, His perseverance even to death, and His resurrection showing us that His sacrifice was acceptable to God.
- That is worship and communion with God.
- Each day you can praise and worship each member of the Trinity for the unique role that they play in your standing before God and how they work together seamlessly for your good.
I can grow in my devotion to God by…
- REJOICING in my standing with God (Titus 3:7. C/R: Psalm 40:16; Luke 10:20)
- The fact that we were enemies and God loves us, Jesus came and died and the Spirit makes us alive and like Christ is reason for celebration.
- But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven. Luke 10:20 (NLT)
- But may all who search for You be filled with joy and gladness in You. May those who love Your salvation repeatedly shout, “The LORD is great!” Psalm 40:16 (NLT)
- How can we practice growing in our devotion to God?
- What are some practices that you can incorporate this year to help spur your devotion to Christ? Let’s not make goals, but instead create practices that are repeatable.
- Bible Reading
- Write the Bible down
- Just a few minutes of silence
- Scripture memorization
- Church attendance
- Worship as a family at dinner
- Nature Walk to experience the glory of God in creation
- Day without your device
- Small Group
- Day alone with God
- Reflection on the past month with God
- Planning the month ahead with the Spirit as guide
- Take a moment to write down some of these practices that you would like to explore this year. Write down some ideas this week that you can begin to implement in your routine to being encountering God on a more regular basis.
- One of the ways that we celebrate is through participation in the Lord’s Supper.
- The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of what Christ did for us and a celebration of what we receive as believers as a result of Jesus‚’ sacrifice.
- If anyone did not receive elements, please lift your hand.
- This is a practice for those who have been born again into the family of God.
- It is a symbol of what is true for believers
- That Christ’s body was sacrificed and broken for us.
- That Christ’s blood was shed for our sins. Our sins are forgiven because His shed blood.
- Let’s take a moment to reflect on Jesus’ broken body and shed blood. Spend a moment to connect with God and ask Him where you stand with Him today before you partake of the elements.
- Now take out your bread.
- For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord Himself. On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then He broke it in pieces and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this to remember Me.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 (NLT)
- *eat the bread*
- Take out your cup.
- In the same way, He took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and His people—an agreement confirmed with My blood. Do this to remember Me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until He comes again. 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 (NLT)
- *drink the cup*
- End in prayer.