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That was Then, This is Now

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That was Then, This is Now

There is a distinct difference between the past and the present. 

I remember a few weeks ago, I was trying to explain to a group of students what the “Texas Blue Law” was.  For those of you who don’t know, on Sundays, out of respect for the churches, you couldn’t buy anything but groceries, no alcohol, hardware, school supplies, etc… 

That was THEN, this is NOW…..

Then I was thinking last week about my typing class back in high school 1981.  The room was filled with IBM selectric typewriters, and as I was telling my daughter, when everyone was practicing their typing exercises, the clatter was loud.

That was THEN, this is NOW…..

            I know that some of you listening may be thinking, “That’s nothing”…..and be tempted to recall how things have changed so drastically in terms of not just technological changes over the years, but also social changes.

To say THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW….would almost be an understatement.

The Book of Titus records how Paul the Apostle wrote some practical instructions for a church on the island of Crete.

In what was perhaps his 4th missionary journey, on his way back to Rome Paul wrote very pointed and specific instructions on everything from qualifications for deacons and pastors, the dangers of false teaching, the encouragement to persevere…….but sandwiched between all these details, we find in Titus 3:3 a grand distinction that is worth our consideration this morning


All through the book, Paul gets down to details with this church. For instance in chapter 3 verse 1 he says:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. [1]

That’s simple enough instruction, like the fruit of the Spirit, it’s the Christian’s responsibility to BE NICE



The Message today has 2 points.

The first point is:

1.       That was THEN

Titus 3:3-7 (NIV)

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.

Look at this list!


(making decisions that are self-centered and self focused, and irresponsible,)


(rejecting all authority, even God given authority…doing things our way)


(thinking we are doing right, but following the pattern of the world….assuming all is well when nothing is well)

Then he uses this catch all phrase that no one would want to reflect on:

“Enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures”

The myth of sin is that it doesn’t enslave…..SIN ALWAYS ENSLAVES…..consider what God personally said to Cain when he tried to keep him from letting his anger get the best of him…

Genesis 4:6-7 (NIV)

6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

The next phrase:

We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.


What a terrible way to live.


You see for the Christian, everything changes…..Paul declared in 2 Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Paul shifts from reflecting on the Old School selfish way of living to the new way…..

Paul doesn’t just list out the fact that we are Christians, he talks about what motivated God to save us….

4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

Then he says HOW God saved us…..AND IS SAVING US

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

THIS IS NOW!  There was that glorious day that we first accepted Jesus into our heart….but this is NOW…

Right Now He is saving us…..Right now His Grace is Keeping us…..Every morning His mercies are new…

Renewal by the Holy Spirit

As Peter declared

1 Peter 1:9 (NIV)

9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

in that middle participle….It’s a perpetual reception….the grace keeps coming, and coming, and coming…..ARE RECEIVING.



But will it run out?  No….Look at this next verse

6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7

It started back on Mt. Calvary….

Andre Crouch captured it so well

The Blood that Jesus shed for me

Way back on calvary

It reaches to the highest mountain

And it flows to the lowest valley

The blood  that gives me strength

From day to day

It will never lose it’s power

Praise God!  6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior


But that’s not ALL.

 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

There’s a future in our Present!!!!  Having been justified by His grace!!

In another epistle Paul declared:

Romans 8:18 (NIV)

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Kristy Starling sang

There’s a better place

Where our father waits

And every tear

He’ll wipe away

The darkness will be gone

The weak shall be strong

Hold on, to your faith

There will come a day

so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.



But what about you?  Somewhere in this sermon you may have thought, That first part sounds like my life now?  Does it?  Are you looking for more?  Do you want a life not characterized by anxiety?

You can have it this morning…

Peter said Now is the Accepted time, now is the day of Salvation

Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)

9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

There may be others here, currently Christians, but you’ve been sinking back into some old habits…. 

Old things have to pass away.


[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984), Tit 3:1-2.

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