Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Renovating this old House

Meditation for the week of November 4, 2012

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.  (Titus 3:1-5)

The Lord tells Nicodemus, Ye MUST be born again or from above (John 3:7).  The Lord, of course, is speaking of a spiritual birth, not of a natural birth.  Nicodemus didn’t understand the Lord at first and neither do we.  But Paul seems to explain it fairly clearly to Titus.  Paul tells Titus to “remind them” which indicates to me that Titus and those he ministered to were born again.  But it is easy in this day and age to forget that those who claim the title of Christian do not always understand this concept which is so important.

Those who are “born again” do not always speak in tongues.  We read about Nicodemus who was told that he needed to be born again on three occasions, but we never read of him speaking in tongues.  We know that in the new testament, those who were “born again” after the events of Acts 2 where the church came into existence were baptized.  That is they were immersed in water to reflect their own identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.  But you can be baptized and not be a Christian.  The early Christians put the “remembering of the Lord” in a preeminent place in their worship.  But going through the form or ritual of remembering the Lord does not mean that a person is born again.  A person can be very Christ-like in their attitudes and life and yet not be born again.  A person who is born again has believed in or believed on or trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation from the penalty that their sins deserve.  They have believed in their hearts that Christ died for them and was raised from the dead which means that this becomes the motivation and focus of their lives.  This is not an academic believing about the Lord, but an intelligent believing in Him that affects the mind as well as the emotions.  The person who is born again has a time past in their lives when according to Paul they were  foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.  The person who is born again is being renewed or renovated by the Holy Spirit.  The Lord wants to take people that are broken and make something useable and beautiful out of them.

The reason we need to be reminded of the things that once characterized us is because these are the qualities that by and large are exhibited by unbelievers.  These things are called sin.  We live in a world that practices these things, and it is easy to become like the people we are constantly around.  Notice the list:  1) foolish  2) disobedient 3) deceived 4) slaves to lusts and pleasures 5) characterized by malice and envy, hating one another.    But while living right is not the definition of the new birth, particularly if living right is a self-righteous way of trying to appease God in order to go to heaven, a person who is born again should be undergoing a “renovation”.  In Romans 12:2, Paul writes about this saying, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing (renovation) of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).”

Christians are certainly not sinless.  If that were true passages like this would not need to be written.  But Christians should certainly sin less (than they did before they were saved.)  We should have a conscience about sin.   There are certain sins that most of us preach against and avoid like the plague.  However,  I notice that there are some sins that we don’t say too much about, and since the rise of the internet and email we are actively involved in it.  It is this matter of speaking evil about people.  Some translations call it slander.   Slander usually has to do with defaming a person by telling something that is not true.  But would this not include defaming a person with something that we cannot prove is true?  The old testament requirement for truth in a court of law was for two or three witnesses to attest to the truth.  When we pass along “truth” about others, we need to remember that we are often subjected to the same standard that we set for others.  That is why in Matthew 7:1-5, we are not to judge in a way that we would not want to be judged. 

We also need to remember that the Lord is kind and loving.  Notice that our relationship with the Lord is based on the kindness and love of God our Savior.  To be kind and loving means that there are some things that we should probably leave unsaid.  The old adage that something should be true, kind and necessary before we repeat it is a good principle to follow.

Slander is a moral evil, just like adultery, drunkenness, stealing, lying and murder.  The easiest way to avoid being involved in a sin that is so easy to commit is to let the Lord renovate our minds. Then we need to “think” before we speak.  The Lord does indwell us, and He wants to dwell in a renovated house.

Bruce Collins

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