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The Untransformed: Self-condemned
02/29/2004
Scripture: Titus 3:8-11
Track 9 of 9 in the Living as disciples in the "here and now" series
Running time: 31 minutes, 49 seconds.
"Don't be this way"



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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Sermon for Sunday, February 29, 2004
"The Untransformed: Self-Condemned"
Living as Disciples in the "here and now"
(Titus 3:8b-11 )
Copyright 2004 G. Charles Sackett

It's been almost four years ago, I was laying in the pre op room on a gurney and on the other side of this curtain were these people making these awful noises and I said, what is that? Well, that's post op and I told Gail, when I wake up, I'm not gonna sound like that. The only thing I remember about waking up was letting out a blood curdling scream. I think I said, it hurts!

I remember waking up a little while later and apologizing to this nurse saying, I don't know what I said when I woke up the first time, but, if I was offensive, I didn't mean it.

Coming out of that I was not who I really wanted to be. And I have this lingering fear. This, I hope isn't needing psycho analysis or anything, but, I have this lingering fear that one of these days I'm gonna wake up and be somebody I don't want to be. I have a tendency, now don't look at my wife, because she will confirm this. I'm wanting her to keep a straight face while I say this. I, I have a tendency, on occasion, once in a while, rarely, to be cranky! Ha ha And I don't want to be. I have this honest desire to be one of those mellow, pleasant, old men. I'm getting the "old" part down pretty good. The mellow, cranky part I'm not so sure about. And I'm not sure I know exactly where that comes from because it's not like I have a whole bunch of cranky, old people that I'm around all the time that frighten me. Maybe it's just the cranky, old people I've been around have had such a profound influence, cause it doesn't take very many of them.

This is all connected really, to our text, believe it or not. And it comes in sort of a prayer request form. Please -- when you think about it, pray that I wake up on the right side of the bed, will you?

Let's look at Titus Chapter 3. I want to read it first from the NIV and then I want to share with you a different version of this. We're gonna be looking at this text, Titus Chapter 3. We're gonna come back to verses 1 and 2 and then go to the end of the book, verses 8 through 11.

Titus Chapter 3:1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

Now verse 8. The first part of verse 8, This is a trustworthy saying. (Seems to refer to that great Slavic passage verses 4 and 5 through 7) Then he says, . . .I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Let me read this for you from the Message by Eugene Peterson. Chapter 3:1

Remind the people to respect the government and be law abiding. Always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God's people should be bighearted and courteous.

And then down in verse 8. I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone. Stay away from mindless, pointless quarreling over genealogies and fine print in the law code. That gets you nowhere. Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice but then be done with him. It's obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off..

We've been living in this world of contrasts all the way through the book of Titus. Christian leaders versus non-Christian leaders, in Chapter 1. Mature saints versus immature saints, men and men, and, women and women, godly teachers versus false teachers, Christian slaves versus non-Christian slaves. Primarily what we've seen is this clash of church and world. The alien who lives in this world and the citizen who is of this world stand in stark contrast with one another in the body and in the world. When we come to this particular text, we note well verse 8, there are certain characteristics that are excellent and profitable and in verse 9, there are characteristics that are unprofitable and useless. That striking contrast one more time. We're gonna look at one more contrast this morning. That's gonna be the end of the book of Titus for us. We're going to move on in our preaching on Sunday mornings, but this particular contrast is so utterly important to the life of the church.

First thing he says in verses 1 and 2 and 8 is this. Transforms people, model godly virtues. Surrounding this great text about God saving us, about sending his Son on our behalf in order to be the one who redeems us. In this great text about how he washes us and renews us by his Spirit ahead of that and behind it, he contrasts what it means to be a transformed person.

Verses 1 and 2, characteristics of the transformed life. The beginning of verse 8, these things are profitable and useful to everyone. Essentially what it is, is in Titus this expression of what it means to really live a life characterized by good works.

You remember that phrase as it occurred so often in this particular text. For example, back in Chapter 2:14 after this first strong Christological statement about the grace of God appearing in verse 14, Jesus, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

You drop down to Chapter 3:2, or in to verse 1. We are to be ready to do whatever is good, . . . .Verse 8 . . . .That we should be careful to devote ourselves to doing what is good. Chapter 3:14, the second text we preached from. Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good. . . .so he defines for us what that looks like in verses 1 and 2. Just a number of really simple characteristics. The kinds of things you should be able to expect in the life of a person transformed by the coming of Jesus into their life. Somebody who has been renewed by the presence of the Spirit, who has had their old life washed away. Newness has come. What ought to characterize that life? He says, for example, a submissive spirit.

I can't help but think of the number of conversations that I've had with my colleague at Lincoln, J. K. Jones. J. K. does the same thing in Lincoln that I do here. He preaches at Jefferson Street Christian Church. He is just a delightful, delightful man. And one of the words, that if I had to give just a general description of him, would be this, yield. The guy has learned how to have a submissive spirit. He's honest about it. He will sometimes say to me, I don't know if that's my particular choice right at this moment, but what I'm going to choose to do is to yield.

He asked me Friday, in a conversation I had with him, how in the world did you endure eighteen years of college administration? Bottom line -- yield. You do what you have to do, because it's the right thing to do. It's that submissive spirit that says I don't always understand this. I'm not even always in agreement with it, but because I trust the people that I work with. I yield myself because I trust the presence of the Spirit. I yield myself to what God is trying to do.

What characterizes the transformed person? Well, he says, a readiness to respond. There's just something about the transformed life that causes me to ready, not to be reactionary, but to be responsive to the needs of people.

I work with a young lady by the name of Ann Spellman. She heads up our media center. We've had a difficult time at school keeping janitorial services in the building we call Restoration Hall, which is where the Seminary classes occur. It's just been hard to be able to have somebody seemingly to get into a rhythm to keep the place clean. Here's this young woman, who works full time at our school, in another capacity, who is over in the office of the guy who is responsible for facilities, and saying, listen, if you can't get anybody else to do it, I'll do it. I'll come in early and I'll clean before classes start. Just so our students have a clean place to go to school. It's that kind of, automatic, with her, ah I mean it wouldn't matter, well, it sounded something like this. She knows that I like to run. She knows that I like to run in the winter and I don't know if you've tried it, but running on ice is just not a real fun thing to do. So about three days ago, she says, do you have a few minutes? Come over by my office, I got something for ya. They make these really nifty things you can slide on over your shoes, that are like ice grips. She just ordered them and brought them over to me. Just responsive, just that kind of spirit that says, if you've got a need, I'm going to try to meet it. It's that transformed kind of life where the world would be selfish, the transformed person has this responsive nature.

He says that we have a controlled tongue. I know a lot more people who don't, than who do. It's really hard to come up with an illustration of somebody who really has a good controlled tongue. So I thought I would just tell you the opposite story. And, I know you'll find this really hard to believe.

I had a couple of students come to my office a few years ago. They were concerned about an assignment, that if they didn't complete it by the end of the semester, they were going to fail the class. Now, I should tell you that this is like three days before the assignment is due. And they're wanting to know what they can do to get this assignment done. What they have to do is visit a cross-cultural, cross-language event. They could go to ISU, U of I, go to an international dinner. We gave them a list about this long of different places they could go, ethnic churches in the area. They came in with a litany of excuses about this long as to why they hadn't been able to get that done. And I said, well let me see if I can help you. I got on the telephone and I started making phone calls. I called the Western Center near ISU Do you have anything going on in Spanish this week? Yes we do on Thursday night. And I said, well now they got something on well, on Thursday night we were planning on going out.

I spent over an hour making phone calls and every time I would make a suggestion, they would have some reason why they couldn't do that. Finally I said, ya know, here are five options. I don't know what else to tell ya. I've got a class I've got to go to. I walked down the hallway. They were behind me. I duct into an office. I thought they had gone right on by me. One of the other profs was in there and I just let go. I don't know why I waste my time with these students. For cryin' out loud, here I spent an hour with these two trying to find them some. . . . . . . . . . . and I turned around and there they were. That's not the transformed character.

He says the transformed character has learned how to control the tongue, who has brought that part of our nature into submission by the Spirit and has washed us of that kind of reactionary, malicious nature that we sometimes fall into when we think it's okay to say things we really shouldn't say.

He says they have a peaceful Spirit. You know it's such a flip side to the contentious person. You know that person that you know your gonna have to have a conversation with and you just absolutely, do not want to have the conversation because you know that no matter what this conversation is like, it's gonna be hard and harsh and there's going to be contention there and so you just dread it, the whole time you know that.

And then there's those people you love to go see, because everything about them is just this peaceful nature. You get done with the conversation and you feel better than when you went in and you think you went there to help them, and instead of you helping them, you came out feeling like wow! that was kinda fun.

They have a considerate nature. They're the kind of people who do, in fact, care about the feelings of other people.

I could use the same story to show you both sides of this. I was preaching one Sunday night. I mentioned this last week, about making the mistake of having two guards instead of one, chained to the apostle Paul and this fellow from our church was sitting back here, about where Zak is. He stood up and he said, just one. I mean this was in the middle of the service, in the middle of the sermon. I corrected myself. He sat down but as soon as church was over he was up here clap clap clap in my face. I took him back into my office and we had a conversation, one of those contentious conversations, where I embarrassed myself badly. Because when I walked out, everybody in the foyer area was listening to this conversation. And I don't want to put him entirely in bad light because I did not conduct myself well. But I did seek his forgiveness and he gave it to me. And I apologized to the whole church, both for being mistaken in the sermon and also for the way I conducted myself. And I'll be, if every time I turned around, that man did not confront me over that issue again and again and again and in fact, he wrote letters to four Bible colleges and said I was a heretic. He wrote to Christian Standard and said I was heretical. He finally confronted me one Wednesday night when I walked in to Bible study after coming home from seminary. He was sitting there and one more time, finally, one of the Elders said, did he apologize about that? Uh ha! Did you forgive him? Yes. Then you have no business bringing this up again. And if you ever bring it up again, we're gonna have to ask you to leave. Which, by the way, he did right then and there. He got up and walked out.

The transformed life has this ability to be considerate. I don't mind confrontation. Well I shouldn't say that. I don't particularly like confrontation, but, if you're gonna confront me, I don't mind if you do it in the privacy of a place where we can talk, but to do it just out in front of God and everybody where it just takes no consideration for any of us or anybody around us. You know, it's not just that it bothers you and me, but now everybody in the hearing distance has been brought into this thing. It's the considerate nature that says, let's talk, but let's talk together.

The transformed nature also has this genuine humility. There was a guy from our seminary here, not too many years ago, who graduated with a 4. average. That's not particularly an easy thing to do when consider he's taken 75 hours of classes and has got nothing less than an "A". But he was also one of these guys that you would have never perceived to be a straight "A" student. I don't mean he looked dumb. I mean he just didn't come across as smartalecky. And probably the greatest compliment ever paid that fella, he never heard himself. It was when an undergraduate student, who was at graduation, looked at him and said, I would have never thought he was that smart. Genuine humility, who has strength, great strength, but never displays it badly.

The nature of the transformed life is this life that looks, frankly, a lot like Jesus, doesn't it? Those characteristics, in fact, you're going to discover over the next several weeks. Many of those you're gonna find repeated in the life of Jesus, because as we make the transition now, out of Titus, in this sense of, what does it mean to be a light in our community and to live out our faith, we're going to walk into a description of the nature of Jesus and many of these characteristics we're gonna find about him, as we hope to become a community of people who look like him. Cause you see, transformed people model godly virtue

Their testimony is excellent and profitable. What they communicate is that the fact that God sent his Son was not a waste of time. There is another side to this, however. Whereas transformed people model godly virtue, untransformed people don't. It's a real simple opposite here.

If you look down here at verses 9 and following, you're going to discover this bad picture. He says, avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels. . . .because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

The untransformed life is when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Man, it's when we wake up cranky. One of our profs used to say, born on the dark side of the moon.

Because you see, we get upset over stuff that, frankly, just doesn't matter all that much. And the litany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . kinds of situations is enough to drive you absolutely out of your mind. Whole church movements who have divided over whether or not you should or should not have a Sunday school program.

I was working in the basement of a brand new church we were building. A building we were building. We were putting the conduit in the floor. I had wacked myself in the head. I was kind of cranky that day because I just hit myself with a piece of pipe. A guy came down who was a stranger. Came down, he was lead into the basement to talk to me. He said, do you happen to know where a certain church is in the area? And I said, we are one of those kinds of churches. Well, yeah I know, but you guys use the piano. And I said, well that's okay. On this particular morning we won't. We're happy to have worship without an instrument. That's not a big deal. Well, no, I would just be more comfortable if you had some place I could. . . I said, well, yeah, ten miles down the road I can tell you how to find this church. He looked at me and he said, Do you know if they support the Herald of Truth? And I thought, who cares! The Herald of Truth was a radio program from our of Texas. Now I don't know whether he was for it or agin' it. All I know was he was going to make his decision about going to church based on whether they did or didn't support a certain radio program. And I thought to myself, there are bigger issues in the world than this.

Some of you have and some of you will go see the movie, "The Passion of the Christ" and if it doesn't do anything else, let it remind you of this. The color of the carpet doesn't matter a lot in light of the death of Jesus. What time we start church doesn't make a lot of difference in light of what God has done in Christ to bring redemption to humanity, the stuff that really matters. And yet for a certain group of people, who really are deeply committed. I don't mean that, that, they aren't bad people, their motives are good, they want to wrangle and contend over the kind of stuff that is absolutely useless.

This particular fellow that I mentioned to you used to write me letters, regularly, long laborious - four - five- six page letters, contending with some particular interpretation of scripture. I mean he would . . . . I would read those and try to figure out how to answer them and I would think, I owe this to him. I want to be his friend. I want to try to help, but you'd answer the question and then he'd come back with 8,000 more pages of stuff. I finally did what any self-respecting professor would do. I took the letter down to Neil Wyndham (??)and I gave it to him and said, here, you deal with this. huh! It's just a waste of time. It's not that all the questions are bad. Don't misunderstand me. Some of the questions are worth pursuing. They are! But when all you're doing is warring over this little word and that little word and this little. . .huh. . . .there are just some things that matter and there are some things that are useless. Absolutely useless! And we have to decide what we're gonna do because you see, it is that untransformed life that becomes divisive. Did you hear that language in this text?

See, fortunately, we're looking at Titus and not Timothy. Because if we were looking at 1st and 2nd Timothy, we would be getting a very strong statement from Paul about divisive people. You recognize that there are a very slim list of sins in the New Testament for which God says there is basically nothing we can do outside of absolute turnaround. There are only a handful of sins for which he says, there is no redemption or barely redemption. You know what one of those sins is, over and over and over again? It's the sin of divisiveness. I think there's a reason for that, because in the New Testament, we are the body of Christ. We are the bride of Christ. We are the temple of Christ. We are the family of Christ. And every time we become contentious and divisive with one another, we divide the body. We tear down the temple. We adulterate the bride. We divorce within the family. We create an image of what Christ is not, rather than what Christ is.

And so the elders told Sid, either you stop the behavior or we'll have to ask you to leave. And they did. Because leaders lead when they have to protect the body of Jesus. And unfortunately I can tell you way too many stories of churches where they didn't. A church, for example, where a very good friend of mine was the second of two people to have his marriage ruined because a man in the church entered an adulterous relationship with his wife and the church did nothing to discipline the man.

If you ask about that church today, one of the things they'll say, oh yeah, I know that church. That's the church where. . . . . . . .

Or in my role as professor, you don't know how many times students come to me and say, you know, such and such a church called me. They want to know if I would come and preach for them. And I say, well, yeah, let me tell ya, that's the church where. . . .

That's not the kind of reputation the church wants. The kind of reputation the church wants is the kind of reputation this church has. The kind of reputation where you can say yeah, that's the church where people live transformed lives.

Look with me at just three very quick statements in Titus Chapter 2. In Titus 2 he says to these younger women to carry out this self-controlled life. Look at the latter part of verse 5; so that no one will malign the word of God. Look at verse 8; these, Titus is supposed to live a certain kind of life, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Or verse 10; the slaves are supposed to live in such a way, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. Do you hear the "so that" language? So that the Gospel looks like the Gospel is supposed to look.

See, the whole point of this book is that the life of a Christian determines the churches witness to the world. What you and I choose to look like, whether we decide to exhibit a transformed or an untransformed life is gonna be that which determines how the world views the church and the faith and Christ. And the way they view Him is going to determine their eternal salvation, which makes the way they look at us really important.

And so several thousand people in Quincy, Illinois will go down here to a theater and they'll watch an artistic rendition of the final twelve hours of the life of Jesus and they will be profoundly impacted by His incredible love and grace and mercy. They will be profoundly overwhelmed by what it meant for Him to submit to the needs of humanity. And they'll come out of that theater and they'll take a look around and here's one of the questions they will ask. I wonder if it makes any difference in the life of people? And they'll know that you're a Christian and they'll want to know, has it made any difference in you? Has it changed you? And based more on what they see in you, than what they see in that theater, they will decide whether or not they want what you have.

So my invitation this morning is really simple. Make a decision to live like a transformed person. Let Christ be seen in you.

Let's stand.