Especially when things seem to be going badly, it’s important to remember where we once were. That’s the reason that Paul tells Titus to remind the ministers, elders and members of the churches to remember what they once were, so they can be grateful for the difference that Jesus Christ has made in their lives. “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3)
- We were once foolish about the things of God: Until we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we don’t have the ability to understand the things of God. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14) But we have now the knowledge given by the Lord: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Pet 1:2-3).
- We were once disobedient: The Lord promises He will bring His wrath upon those who continue in disobedience. He wouldn’t allow the Israelites to see Canaan until all those died who worshiped idols instead of the Lord, their God (Josh 5:6). So that we don’t suffer the same, we need to be certain we are listening to His Word and not someone’s viewpoint on God’s Word. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Eph 5:6)
- We were deceived: Satan works overtime to keep unbeliever’s minds veiled from the truth of the Lord. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Cor 4:3-4)
- We served various lusts and pleasures: As we were slaves to our former sinful nature (Rom 6:20), we served that nature. That nature is all that is worldliness, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 Jn 2:16). Those who express saving faith in Christ, on the other hand, are “slaves to righteousness”, meaning we are so closely connected to Christ that it is becoming our nature to serve righteousness.
- We were living in malice: Malice is total depravity, with a desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another. As Christ followers we are told to remove the sin from among us that Christ had died for. “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor 5:8)
- We were living in envy: When we are envious, we are insatiable, unable to be satisfied. Those who succumb to envy may see it manifest in addiction that can never satisfy. A more thorough description of envy is “a resentful, dissatisfied longing for another’s possessions, position, fortune, achievements, or success”. The Bible says envy is an act of the flesh, the result of human sin. Envy is an issue of the heart and if left to grow in one’s heart, the Bible says envy will lead to spiritual, emotional, and physical death. “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” (Prov 14:30)
- We were hateful and hated one another: When we were in our sinful nature, we hated those who did not agree with us or who came against us. As Christ followers, we are called to love one another sacrificially as Jesus loved us. Jesus said, “those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man” (Matt 15:18-20a). To rid ourselves of hatred, we must ask the Lord to “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Ps 51:10)
If we have come by faith to Jesus for salvation by His grace, we now have received His wisdom, learned to humble ourselves in obedience to His Word, we are enlightened and no longer deceived, we serve our Lord and not ourselves, we live in His truth, and are satisfied in Him and His love, and we have learned to love one another because He first loved us. It’s good to recall our past, so that we don’t want to return to our misery in sin. Thank You, Jesus!