“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14 ESV
There is a lot of confusion these days as to what exactly is God’s grace to us. Some people see his grace merely as a get-out-of-jail-free card. Some people see it solely as “fire insurance” against them continuing in their sinful practices, so that they can continue on in their sinful practices without fear of judgment. And, some people see his grace solely as forgiveness of sin and the hope of heaven when they leave this earth. But, is it any of those?
I believe, if we do a careful study of this subject of God’s grace in the New Testament, that we will learn that God’s grace is none of these or none of these solely on their own. And, I believe, too, in this careful study of scripture on this subject, that we will also learn that the early Christians struggled to understand God’s grace to them, and some of them had misconceptions about God’s grace which then had to be corrected.
And, I believe this passage in Titus 2 is one of those passages of scripture which corrects wrong thinking about God’s grace, and which sets the record straight. And, there are others, too. But, first I want us to examine this passage in Titus and see what God would have to say to us through it.
Grace bringing salvation
Ok, so this is talking about the grace of God which brings us salvation from sin and eternal life with God. The word “grace” here means God’s kindness, his favor, his benefit which he brings to us, which he is freely extending towards us. And, he did this extending of his grace towards us through Jesus’ death on a cross for our sins and via his resurrection from the dead.
So, what benefit did God intend for us by sending his only begotten Son to die on a cross for our sins? Was it merely to forgive us our sins and to give us the hope of eternal life with God? NO! For, we read in scripture that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us, and that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:15, 21).
Also, when Jesus died on that cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us, thus when he died our sins died with him. But, also when he died he purchased us back for God (he redeemed us) with his blood, shed on a cross for our sins, so that we would now be God’s possession, and so that we would now glorify God with our lives (1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:21; Tit. 2:14).
In other words, Jesus’ purpose in dying for us on that cross was not just to forgive us our sins, and it was not just to promise us eternal life with God. But, it was to deliver us out of our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and to empower us to walk daily in his righteousness, holiness and purity (See: Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-25).
So, the gift of God’s grace to us is not just forgiveness of sin, and an escape from hell, and the promise of heaven when we die. The gift of God’s grace is also deliverance out of our addiction to sin and empowerment of the Spirit of God, who is dwelling within those of us who believe in Jesus, to live holy lives pleasing to God, free from the control of sin and Satan, and now free to be slaves to God and to his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).
His Grace Trains Us
So, not only does his grace deliver us from our addiction to sin and empower us to live holy lives pleasing to God, but it trains (it instructs) us in how to walk in freedom from addiction to sin, and how to walk in holiness and purity. So, the gift of God’s grace is so much more than what most people think it is. The gift of his grace makes it possible for us to no longer live (walk) in darkness but to now walk in the light as He is in the light.
Therefore, when people say that faith in Jesus Christ means God does it all and we do nothing, or that if we do believe that we have to obey Christ, that it means we are trying to work our way into heaven, we can refer them back to these verses. For, the gift of God’s grace does not give us carte blanche to continue in our sinful practices. It frees us from the control of them and it gives us the power to live righteously. So, we are just operating in the gift of God’s grace when we repent of our sins and we follow our Lord in obedience.
So, again, God’s grace to us does not give us permission to continue in our sinful practices without fear of punishment. It also doesn’t look the other way when we do sin. And, it does not placate or coddle people in their sin. His grace forgives the repentant sinner, but there is no forgiveness for those who stubbornly refuse to bow the knee to God and to submit to his will, and who go on in their sinful practices thinking God’s grace covers it all (Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Eph. 5:3-6; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
So, how does his grace train us? It instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. And, this is exactly what we have to do to live free from the control of sin and to walk in holiness before our God.
We have to refuse to yield to sin’s control, we have to put off all sinful practices, we have to get rid of all that is leading us into sin, too, and we have to resist Satan and flee temptation and then we need to put on the armor of God daily and walk in the Spirit so that we do not gratify the sinful cravings of the flesh (Jn. 8:12; Heb. 12:1-11; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Eph. 6:10-20).
To Redeem Us
Again, we are reminded here, too, that the purpose of God’s grace to us, the gift that he provided for us, is that in his death on that cross he redeemed us from all lawlessness (evil, wickedness, sin) to purify (cleanse) us from sin so that we would be a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works, which God prepared in advance that we should do, that we should walk in them, by allowing him to do his work in our hearts and lives (See also: Eph. 2:10).
So, know that God’s grace to us is not just forgiveness of sins so that we can escape hell and so we can go to heaven when we die. His grace to us freed us from our addiction to sin so that we can live holy lives, pleasing to him, in his power and strength within us. So, know, too, that God’s grace to us is not license to continue in sinful practices without fear of punishment. For, scripture is real clear that if we walk according to the flesh, and we don’t walk according to the Spirit, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8).
To Be Like Him
An Original Work / March 16, 2014
Based off Scripture
Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.
Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.
Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!
When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.