Friday, September 18, 2009

Slaves to Various Passions and Pleasures


“Slaves to various passions and pleasures” (Titus 3:3)

Paul, in his letter to Titus, is teaching Titus to be discerning between believers and false teachers. Paul is constantly teaching faith will produce godliness. In this section of Titus, Paul is telling Christians to remember who they were before Christ graciously saved their souls. In the list we read “slaves to various passions and pleasures.” This was applicable back then and still applicable today.

I would like to focus in on the word “various” here in this text. Various represent change. It represent going from one to another in this text. God, on the other hand, does not change. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). Also in Hebrews we see, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). The infinite God never changes but his finite creatures are ever changing. Paul’s reminder to the Christians at Crete about their life before Christ is clear, “Slaves to various passions and pleasures.”

Most will argue that “passions and pleasures” are the issue in this text not the word “various.” I agree “passions and pleasures” can be dangerous but the problem is chasing after the “various passions and pleasures” of this world not eternal pleasures. The Bible is clear on the distinction between the two. In the parable of the sower in Luke 8 Jesus talks about the seed that fell among the thorns saying, “They are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (14). Jesus is clear the pleasures of this life will kill a man’s soul. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul” (Mark 8:36)? The answer is nothing. His profit in the end is hell. His entire life he moved from one passion and pleasure to another to fill the void in his eternal soul. At the end of his life his soul is still empty of true life. The unrepentant hearts of mankind forfeit their souls by being “slaves to various passions and pleasure.”

If I were end here this post now that would be horrible. I would have told you about our eternal souls never being able to be satisfied for all eternity which is bad news. But knowing the bad news makes the good news good. David in Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” God’s word plainly says that “passions and pleasures” are not the issue but rather where you are finding your “passions and pleasures.” This is why I love John Piper’s message of Christian Hedonism. Piper says, “The great hindrance to worship is not that we are pleasure-seeking people, but that we are willing to settle for such pitiful pleasures.”

We must repent of our chasing after the fleeting pleasures of sin. We must, by God grace, be satisfied with the eternal pleasures Christ offers at his right hand. Until you put your trust in Christ you will remain “slaves to various passions and pleasures.”

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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