Once we've been walking with the Lord for a while it is easy to forget that we were once walking in darkness and enslaved to sin, and our forgetfulness breeds disrespect for those who are living as we once did. We should, however, guard ourselves against such pride and show "every consideration for all men" (3:2). The reason we aren't caught in the same trap of sin as they are is because of the grace of God. And we certainly aren't going to attract sinners if they detect that we think we're superior. So Paul reminds us, "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" (3:3). Remember those days?
This same verse indicates, like so many others, that true believers are no longer characterized by sin. We are no longer "enslaved to various lust and pleasures, spending our lives in malice and envy, hating one another." If we are, we have not been truly born again or we've backslidden.
The salvation that God is offering everyone includes so much more than just forgiveness of sins or entering heaven one day. It includes "washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (3:5-6). We've been divinely transformed! This is not something we deserved, but something that was granted to us because of God's mercy and grace (3:5, 7). What a deal!
But notice that Paul wrote, "...so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (3:7). Eternal life is our "hope," which means eternal life is not our guarantee, which is why Paul writes directly after that, "This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds" (3:8). Paul believed what Jesus plainly taught, namely that God's unprofitable servants will ultimately be cast into hell (Matt. 24:42-51; 25:14-30). So we all should be "careful to engage in good deeds" (3:8).
This is so important that Paul mentions the importance of good deeds three times in today's chapter (3:1, 8, 14). What kind of good deeds? Going to church? Voting for pro-life candidates? Refraining from smoking cigarettes?
As important (or unimportant) as those things might be, Paul had none of those things in mind. His words in 3:14 provide the clue we need: "Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful." Paul knew that everyone would one day hear Jesus say one of two things, either, "I was hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, sick and incarcerated, and you sacrificed to meet those pressing needs" or, "I was hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, sick and incarcerated, and you didn't do anything to meet those pressing needs." Those in the latter category will be cast into hell no matter how many times they attended church, no matter how many pro-life candidates they helped elect, and no matter how many cigarettes they didn't smoke.
Again, Paul knew well the danger of being unfruitful. Jesus clearly warned in His Parable of the Vine and Branches that any unfruitful branches that are "in Him" will be taken away (John 15:2). Only those who "abide in Him" bear fruit, and the branch that does not abide in Him "is thrown away...and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned" (John 15:6). If all professing Christians took these very scriptural truths to heart, it would result in worldwide revival.
Our "scripture a day to keep Calvinism away" is---you guessed it---Titus 3:4: "When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared..." God our Savior loves all of mankind, and this is revealed in the gospel, which offers salvation to all through Christ who died for all. Glory be to God!
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