Saturday, 23 June 2018
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
In the previous verses, Paul spoke of being subject to rulers, and to act in a manner which is right in conduct towards others. In this context, he begins this verse with, “For we ourselves…” Paul is not speaking merely of himself and Titus, but of all believers. This is clearly evident from the content of the coming verses. He is making a general statement about all people – the life that we live in our fallen human nature. With this understanding, he says that we “were also once foolish.”
The word indicates “not thinking.” Thus it is someone who is unmindful of their actions and who acts in a dense or mindless way. As HELPS Word Studies says it, such a person is “just plain stupid.”
Next, Paul says that we were once also “disobedient.” It speaks of someone who is unwilling to be persuaded, and thus acts in a contrary manner. In the case of religion, it would be someone who is unwilling to be persuaded by God. God has revealed himself in certain ways, such as through creation. His self-revelation makes His nature and being obvious, and yet we outwardly rebel against what is obvious, doing what we prefer instead of what He prefers.
We also were once “deceived.” The idea is of one who sways from the proper path, roaming into error, or simply being misled. The Greek word is planaó, and it is where the word “planet” is derived from. A planet is a “wandering body,” unlike the stars whose course appears constant and predictable. The use of the word in the Bible almost always describes the sin of roaming from what is proper.
Paul next says that we also were once “serving various lusts and pleasures.” It is actually stronger in the Greek, indicating slavery to desires and pleasures. Instead of living in a right, circumspect, and moral manner, we as humans participate in that which is corrupt, becoming enslaved to our passions and earthly desires. As slaves, we act in a manner which is obedient to the flesh, honoring it as our master.
In addition to this, he notes that we also once were “living in malice and envy.” The word translated as malice signifies “evil.” Thus we have an evil bent in our minds which is then worked out in outward evil conduct and in doing harm to others (malice). We are also consumed with envy towards those around us who possess what we desire, but do not have. Together, the malice and envy form a deadly cocktail which can, and often does, result in real harm to those who are the target of our unhealthy attitude.
Paul finishes the verse of how we once also were by saying that we were “hateful and hating one another.” The word translated as “hateful” is found only here in the Bible. It signifies people who actively and purposefully hate things that are good. It is an attitude which is repulsive. HELPS Word Studies says that it is seen “…when ‘self-revealed failure’ is apparent even to the perpetrator of a crime.” In the end, such hatred is actually a hatred of God. As noted above, He has revealed Himself in a manner which is obvious. But fallen man refuses to participate in loving Him. Instead, we act out in a hateful manner. Paul then combines this with “hating one another.” In being hateful, we transfer that corrupt state of self outwardly, acting hatefully to others. There is no sense of brotherly love, but of ill-will.
Life application: We all have these negative qualities inside of us, whether we act on them or not. It is a part of human nature. The further we are from a life of godliness, the more these will be acted out. They will be on prominent display in our life and conduct. Eventually, we become like brute animals. A sufficient example is to look at those who are in gangs. They display most of these traits towards the world around them. Their only allegiance is to self-gain, and there is no regard for the Creator, or for those created in His image. Without Christ, this nature exists and can be brought forward from anyone. The tribulation period will demonstrate this on a global scale.
Lord God, our human nature is one which is fallen, and which is at enmity with You. Without Christ Jesus, life is a bad path which can easily degrade into the vilest conduct towards You, towards others, and towards self. Thank You that we can be freed from the flesh to walk in the Spirit because of Jesus. In this, we can and will become vessels which are holy and acceptable to You. And so Lord, help us to apply Your word to our daily walk always. Amen.