Trained By Grace
Titus 2:11-15 ~ For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
- Introduction — If you’ve been with us the last several weeks in our brief series of teachings in the Book of Titus then you know that there are quite a few exhortations toward faithful, godly living in this book. Paul calls the Christians of Crete to a holiness that is quite challenging. For example, in the previous section he wrote…
- Titus 2:2-8 NIV ~ Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderersor addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,
5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.
7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness
8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
- When looking at exhortations and challenges like these it’s easy to begin to feel condemned by the text, or by the preacher preaching it.
- It’s quite possible to come away from a passage like this feeling like you have a new laundry list of do’s and don’ts to attend to. And the list becomes all the more heavy when you consider the close of verses 5, 8 and 10…
- Make sure you live a really good life “so that no one will malign the word of God” because of your bad witness…
- Make sure that you get your act together “so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”
- Make sure that your holy conduct is so evident, “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”
- It’s on you bucko, get on it. It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite verses.
- Philippians 2:12 ~ Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
- Verses like that are challenging. They seem to say the very thing that most humans live out daily. It’s an articulation of just what religion seems to be all about. If you’re going to be saved, or experience salvation, you’ve got to make it happen. You’ve got to work it out on your own.
- But wait! That might be man’s interpretation of salvation. That might be religious expression of salvation. But that’s not what the Bible teaches about salvation. That’s not even what Philippians 2:12 teaches, at least not all of it.
- Philippians 2:12-13 ~ Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
- So Titus 2:1-10 was filled with exhortations toward holy, righteous conduct. And such exhortations are good and right, but they’re not possible without what we learn in the next section.
- … the grace of God that brings salvation (v. 11a)
- We can’t even go any further than that.
- Point 1 — Salvation is by grace.
- This is the basic premise of the Christian Gospel
- Which means, if you’ve been around church for any length of time, you know this to the point of thinking, “Well duh, I already know that.” But not so fast. Don’t go beyond this essentially important and valuable truth too quickly.
- If you’re new to the Christian faith, or not yet a Christian, this is exceedingly good news. Why?
- Because you’ve probably tried to be good on your own. You’ve tried to do that religion thing.
- And when I say “tried to be good” I mean that you’ve tried to are good enough to…
- Appease your own conscience.
- Appease someone else’s expectation.
- Appease some religious standard.
- And you can’t! Can’t by a long shot.
- Here’s the thing, you can never be “good enough.”
- The Bible makes this so very clear. Whether Old Testament or New, this is a consistent theme in the Bible.
- Isaiah 53:6 ~ All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
- Romans 3:10, 23 ~ As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
- Well it’s at that point that the Gospel comes in with grace. We’ve all gone astray from God, but “The LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” That’s salvation by grace. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
- Salvation is by grace.
- If you’re not new to the Christian faith, then you probably think you know this truth already. I can all but guarantee you that you haven’t exhausted this truth quite as much as you think you have.
- The fact is, a lot of Christians don’t actually live under grace through faith.
- A lot of the Christians I interact with relate to God by works.
- They read Titus 2:1-10 and then try to drum up more effort to do what it says. Be sober, Be patient. Be loving. Be self-controlled. Be holy. Don’t be drunk. Don’t gossip.
- They are discouraged because…
- They don’t do enough good works
- They do too many bad works.
- And so they (often) come to church hoping to clear their conscience for all the failures of the previous week, and hopefully get back on track to do better for the next week. But by Tuesday you’ll have failed enough to feel the need to come back again next week. Or you’ll have royally screwed up enough so that I won’t see you for two or three weeks, until your conscience is so in the gutter that you’re guilted into making your way back into your normal seat. And then I’ll say, “Hey, where ya been?” And you’ll respond, “Oh, you know … been really busy.”
- There’s one other way a lot of Christians fail in the grace space. And this one is really difficult. Some Christians are convinced that they’ve been good enough, and done enough good works. Almost to the point of pride. But they’re angry because everyone else isn’t living as good as they are, and those bad living Christians aren’t seeming to be judged as they should be, because they’re bad people.
- This is ultimately the final note on the story of the Prodigal Son.
- Luke 15:25-32 ~ “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 “So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.
27 “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.
29 “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.
30 ‘But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.
32 ‘It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”
- This carries right into the next clause…
- …salvation (by grace) has appeared to all men (v. 11b)
- Point 2 — Grace is for all people.
- Again, there’s nothing novel here for the old Christian. If you’ve been around the Christianity for a long time, you’ve probably heard this taught. But it’s not an issue of simply hearing it or knowing it intellectually.
- The problem is that we don’t really live this. There are plenty of people that we effectively consider out of reach from God’s grace.
- “No!” You object. “No one is out of reach from God’s grace.” You’re correct. That’s the right thing to say. But if we actually believe this, then we would be more persistent in sharing God’s grace with people. And I don’t really mean just by sharing the Gospel of Grace (which we should do), but by actually extending grace to people. And not just people who aren’t Christians, of course we should do this. But we need to also extend grace to Christians.
- What do I mean? Well, sometimes Church people are known for kicking other Church people while they’re down. When in reality, we need to be those who are extending God’s grace to all people. Because grace is for all people.
- Now if you’re not a Christian, or you’re a new Christian, then this (again) is not just good news, it’s great news.
- Maybe you’ve had the thought, “God won’t accept me. You don’t know how bad I’ve been.” Or, “You can’t imagine the way I’ve lived.”
- First, I probably don’t want to imagine the way you’ve lived.
- Second, God knows every bad thing you’ve ever thought, said, or done … and still He offers you salvation by grace, because salvation by grace is for all people.
- His throne is called “the throne of grace.” And He has given us access to come to it at any time, to receive His abundant grace and mercy.
- Hebrews 4:16 ~ Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
- Salvation is by grace and it is for all people; good, bad, and ugly. And God, in His grace, accepts us, and then desires to transform us by the same grace…
- For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
- Titus 2:12 ~ teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
- Point 3 — Saving grace teaches us how to live.
- So we have these long lists of exhortations and commands in the Scripture. And we are compelled by some internal drive to try to do all the do’s and don’t do all the don’t’s. But until we have the grace of God, we’re completely incapable of doing all the do’s and avoiding all the don’t’s.
- But then God’s grace enters in, and it teaches us how to live.
- What exactly does the grace of God teach us?
- God’s grace teaches us how to deny our selves.
- The grace of God … teaches us … “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts.”
- God’s grace teaches us how to reject ungodly impulses of carnality.
- Out of gratitude for salvation and not religious obligation to obtain salvation.
- By the gracious enabling of His Spirit.
- Romans 7:18-19, 24-25 ~ For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
15 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
- Romans 8:1-4 ~ There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
- So God’s grace teaches us to deny ungodly impulses of carnality, and it also teaches us…
- To walk in righteousness.
- The grace of God teaches us … “we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,”
- Maintain the right focus.
- Titus 2:13 ~ looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
- Point 4 — Saving grace secures our eternal hope.
- In all the talk of denying ungodly impulses of carnality and walking in righteousness, it is essential to constantly remind ourselves (by maintaining the right focus) that our self-denial and righteousness does not save us.
- We are looking forward to seeing Christ. Either at the second coming, or when He comes for us when we die. Whatever the case, we’re looking forward to seeing Christ. He is our great God and Savior! And we are saved completely by His saving grace and not our works. In another place we read…
- Hebrews 12:1-2 ~ Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
- So we are denying ungodly impulses of carnality—“lay aside every weight and sin”—and we are walking in righteousness—“let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”—and all of this is not to earn our salvation, but in response to what Jesus did to secure our eternal hope—“Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith joyously endured the cross” to save us.
- If you have trusted in Christ, and received His grace by faith, then you are secure in Him.
- Ephesians 1:13-14 ~ In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
- So we are eagerly looking for the return of our Savior. Why are we eagerly waiting for Him? What did He do for us?
- Titus 2:14 ~ who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
- So why should I deny myself and live after righteousness if Jesus has already given me eternal salvation by grace? If I’ve already gotten the reward, why do the work?
- Because Jesus gave Himself for us, not only to win our eternal salvation in heaven. But so that He might redeem us from all sinful and lawless behavior so that we would be a purified and special people who are passionate about glorifying Him by our good works.
- Point 5 — Saving grace sets us apart as God’s purified, peculiar and passionate people.
- We can’t purify ourselves apart from God’s grace. But once His grace entered in, He redeems us (saves us) from every lawless deed (that’s every sin), so as to make us His purified people.
- Illustration — My friend Josh Turansky, who pastors the church plant we’ve sponsored on downtown Baltimore, he posted a picture on Instagram this morning of a guy named Dan, The caption said, “Pray for Dan. I literally pulled him out of the gutter to come to church this morning. His words to me as we are walking over was “I’ve sinned so much Jesus can’t forgive me.”
- Not true. Jesus gave Himself to redeem us from every sin, and…
- Christ makes us His own special people by grace.
- 1 Peter 2:9-10 ~ But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
- May our response to God’s saving grace be that we become a passionate people zealous for good works.
- Good works which ultimately glorify our Father in heaven.
- Matthew 5:16 ~ “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.