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The First Step to Finding Happiness: Misery H/C Q2

31/12/2016

The First Step to Finding Happiness: Misery

Reading: Titus 3:1-8

John Newton (writer of the hymn Amazing Grace), when he reached his old age, said, ‘Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.’ In order to be content in life and to have a happy and peaceful death there are three things we need to know, and we find these three things outlined in our Bible text:

1) The Greatness of My Sin and Misery. V3.
So the very first step to happiness and contentment in life is to be miserable! 2 Cor 7:9-10. It used to be called ‘The Conviction of Sin’ – and preachers and pastors used to preach about it! See the description of the sinner in this verse in Titus. The list of sinful traits here is all encompassing, shows how all of our being has been warped and stained by sin, and mirrors exactly the two tables of the law:

  1. Sins against God. Commandments 1-4, We are described here as ‘Foolish, Disobedient and Deceived.’ – how accurately does that describe the state of rebellion of the unregenerate soul! Paul explains to us in Romans 1: 20 We depend on our own foolish philosophies and beliefs, we disobey our Creator, and we listen to and follow the lies of deceivers. Truly it can be said that we are slaves to sinful lusts and pleasures.
  2. Sins against our neighbours. Commandments 5-10. See how we relate to others, how sin distorts and warps our human society…. We are ‘Slaves to sinful lusts and pleasures. Envious. Hateful.’

What a description. You are probably crying out within you – THAT’S NOT ME! I’m a good person. But confronted with the holiness of God, none of us are good. 1John 1:8-10. Now – in order for us to be forgiven and cleansed from our sins, it is necessary to be brutally honest with ourselves. We MUST agree with God that we are sinners and repent of our sin.

2. How I am Redeemed from all my sins. V4 -7 .
Consider the immensity of Christ’s saving work…

  • How we are NOT redeemed. 5. Paul is careful to exclude some more palatable ideas, that might just appeal to the ego and vanity of mankind…. here’s how we are NOT saved – ‘Not by works’. Not even by good works, or works within the law, or religious works. Not by anything that we have done, AT ALL. So Paul sets the record straight for us. Not by works of righteousness which we have done..
  • How we ARE redeemed.
    • By the Loving Kindness of God. V4 His MERCY. He did not have to rescue us, – But then mercy is mercy only because it is undeserved.
    • It is Christ’s work alone. He saved us. At the cross He died, bearing all of our sins in his own sinless body on the tree. He bore the righteous judgement of God upon himself, the punishment for all our sins, he was forsaken by the Father, so we would never be forsaken, and the atonement that he made that day is sufficient for every sin committed by every sinner in every age.
    • He has washed us from all our sins. His precious shed blood has atoned for all of our sins.  He has regenerated us. In his death, we are granted life.
  • How that redemption is applied to individuals. We affirm and confess that our salvation was accomplished at the cross. But how is Christ’s finished work applied to our hearts? It’s a genuine puzzle to some people. Here it is. We are RENEWED through the work of the Holy Spirit. Dead in sins, we are made alive, given new life. Predisposed to confess and repent and trust…  We are are the recipients of God’s abundant grace. The Holy Spirit is poured out upon us!
  • The effect of this saving work. V7  We are JUSTIFIED. Our legal status before God our creator and judge has been changed. Don’t make any mistake – we are still sinners. We will struggle with sin until the day we die, but our status before God is different, we are IN CHRIST, clothed in his righteousness and declared not guilty! We are simultaneously sinners and justified saints. We are made HEIRS of God. His Sons! Brought into his family as Sons with all the status and inheritance rights of a son We receive eternal life. No-one can ever take us from Him!
    Can you grasp the great contrast between the wretchedness of the sinner and the loving kindness and mercy of God toward us? You will need to, in order to go one step further…

3. How I am to be Thankful for Such Redemption. V8
The Christian will so live in gratitude to God for his salvation that he will love and serve others as Christ has loved him. He will forgive as he has been forgiven. He will always be humble, repentant, thankful, content, at peace with God. This is something that we are to constantly affirm. Good works don’t save us but they are most certainly the witness to our salvation. Not just to the world, but to ourselves.
© Bob McEvoy 2017

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