“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world,” Titus 2:11, 12.
Often we we describe God’s grace as his unmerited favor, but how often do we think of this grace also as a teacher of those who are in Christ? I believe mostly it does not cross our minds that all those who have been saved are in a sense in the classroom being taught by grace?
But this is exactly what Apostle Paul tells us in the above text. Grace is our teacher. The root of the word, “teaching,” used here, in the original language (Greek) can also be used to form a word that describes the one who teaches children (pedagogue), and not just merely teaching them, but training and bringing them up in a particular way. Like little children, grace trains and brings us up in the way and fear of the Lord.
The first thing that grace does as our teacher, according to the text, is to teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Ungodliness refers to all sinful things outside us while worldly lusts refer to all kinds of sinful desires within us.
When we have experienced the grace of God, the sinful acts that once looked normal immediately become distasteful and we reject them. The sinful places we frequented thinking that that is where real enjoyment is instantly appear to be what they really are, asvanity fair. All who have experienced this grace can agree with the poet who once wrote that when you turn your eyes upon Jesus the things of the earth grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.
Grace opens our spiritual eyes to see how depraved we are and we cry out as Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then by the same grace we also cry out, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 7:25) because through his grace I am able to deny and kill these worldly lusts. By grace I am able to say no to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. Contrary to what some teach that grace give us liberty to do everything we please, we realize that grace actually gives us power to deny everything that does not please God.
Secondly, grace as our teacher teaches us to embrace holiness and Paul describes this holiness with three adverbs namely soberly, righteously and godly. Soberly refers to what the Christian does to himself or herself. Righteously refers to the Christian’s relationship with others while godly refers to his relationship to God.
Soberly also means self-control. The grace of God teaches us to control our desires so that they do not lead us to sin. Being sober means exercising self-control in our eating and drinking, in our thinking and speaking, and in our pursuits for various goals in life. As Christians we should never let our desires control us to the extent that we forget that our chief end in this world is to glorify and enjoy God forever. A Christian should never be to the one who says to himself: “I want this particular thing and I will surely get it not matter whatever it takes whether it is right or wrong.” No friends, being sober means being driven by the grace of God and not the sinful desires of our hearts.
Embracing holiness also means living righteously or justly. If we are business people, it means being honest in our transactions with our clients and customers. If we are employees, it means working with integrity. If we are employers, it means dealing with our employees with dignity and fairness. If we are students, it means studying and doing our assignments honestly and to the best our ability. At home, it means husbands loving their wives and wives to submitting to their own husbands. It means children obeying their parents and parents loving and caring for their children. Charles Spurgeon summarizes it well, “A Christian profession without uprightness is a lie.”
Thirdly, embracing holiness means living godly or piously. It implies to being thankful always for God’s mercy and grace in our lives. It means to honor and glorify God because he is exalted far above us and the rest of the creation, and yet to love him with all our hearts, minds and souls because he is our Father. Again Charles Spurgeon puts it well: “To live godly means that God will enter into all our activities, God’s presence will be our joy, God’s strength our confidence, God’s providence our inheritance, God’s glory the chief end of our being, and God’s law the guide of our conversations.”
But you might look at this verse and say to yourself: “That’s not me! I know that I have repented my sin and believed in Christ but my life has not fully denied ungodliness and fully embraced holiness.”
Well my friend, you need to realize that this work of grace is not automatic, but we have to take deliberate efforts and cooperate with the Holy Spirit to help us grow in grace. You need to constantly use the means of grace, which God has established to help you in your daily work with Christ.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question and Answer 88 describes these means of grace to us. It asks, “What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?” The answer reads, “ The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all of which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
How is your study and meditation of the Bible? The Psalmist says that blessed is the man who delights in the law of God and in it he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings its fruit in time. Are you seeking this means of grace to help you deny ungodliness?
What about prayer? How regularly are you praying that Christ will transform you to be more and more like him? How often are you on your knees imploring the Holy Spirit to help you to deny ungodliness and embrace holiness? You need all the means of grace, which God has provided for you to help you grow and excel in the classroom of grace.