Titus 3:3 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.
This is a pretty bleak picture of mankind, but it doesn’t take much of a look around to confirm its accuracy. The problem is, most people don’t want to admit it applies to them. This is always “the other guy.” However, Paul starts this verse with, “We too.” Until we recognize this character in ourselves, we won’t really repent and be cleansed of it. This word picture makes the story of the Incarnation all the more shocking and miraculous. That the Son of God would sacrifice Himself for the sake of such people as are described here is shocking to the point of being scandalous. Recently Lee Grady put out a column on the importance of the virgin birth of Jesus, and this actually ties into that. Jesus was conceived in absolute purity, with no trace of lust or using someone. That’s precisely why one of the slanders about Mary was that she was raped by a Roman soldier: rape fits perfectly into the description in this verse. However, that was not the case. Jesus was conceived, lived, died, and rose again precisely to lift us out of our sinfulness. Until we acknowledge that, Christmas is no more than a pretty story, even if we believe it really happened. The thing is, saving faith isn’t just an acceptance of facts as true, it is knowing they apply to me, that my sins were what necessitated the cross. As we look at the badly broken world around us we need to recognize that by nature we are part of it, and only in Christ can we say we are in it but not of it. (John 17:15-16) The only way to be in Christ is by faith that God loved even such a despicable one as I am enough to send His Son to die for me, to purchase me back to Himself out of my slavery to sin. It is when we have that conviction that the Incarnation takes on it’s full beauty and majesty.
I am preaching to myself here. Despite my message on Joy at the prayer meeting this past Wednesday, or my message on God’s Plan last Sunday, I am rather burned out on Christmas. That is taking my eyes off of my Lord and fixing them on myself and my circumstances, just as I said to the prayer meeting. I need to listen to what comes out of my mouth! This year has been like none in memory, and Advent seems to be flying by. I need to be careful of my focus, rejoicing in the grace of my Lord toward me. I need to reject the climate of fear and despair that the devil is doing all he can to project, and instead rest, relax, and rejoice in the grace of my Lord. Tomorrow I’m speaking on God’s Motive, emphasizing that all the events of the Incarnation were because God is love, to a degree and with an intensity that we can hardly grasp. I need to let that truth operate first in me, even before I try to share it with others. I am indeed the sort of person Paul described to Titus, but God has redeemed me by His Son, and that reality is so magnificent that it eclipses every possible negative. The more I dwell on that, the more I will indeed rejoice, for the blessing of those around me and for God’s glory.
Father, thank You for this very necessary Word. Help me indeed let Your joy, Your Spirit, carry me through this coming week. Thank You for what You enabled me to take care of yesterday, and for what You are going to do today. May I indeed be anxious for nothing, but look forward with real anticipation to whatever You are going to do next, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!