As I said last week, I wanted to return to Titus and build on some of the things mentioned last week, found in Titus 3:1-8. We considered this incredible idea of grace; that is, God loves us, sinful man, so much, that He planned “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) to put His grand redemptive plan in place. God yearns for this to be our reason for the change, for transformation. That is what happens when grace impacts the believer, as we consider in last week’s lesson. Today, we dive into it even further.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation to all men, teaching us that…”
As is always the case, it is crucial to seek to understand the context, and this one is powerful. Slaves who have come to accept Christ as Savior, those who have come to know the grace of God found only in Christ, are exhorted to “be obedient to their own masters” (Titus 2:9). Their behavior is such “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10). As one person put it, they “were giving it [The “it” is the gospel.] drawing power by making it attractive to those whom we are striving to win to Christ through the preaching of the gospel.” In this case, it was the slave seeking to draw his master towards the gospel. The question is, how does one achieve such a perspective in life? The answer is simple and profound: God’s grace teaches us. The word “teaches” here means to cause one to learn, at times, through the process of discipline. When “grace” is the center of our reasoning, it sets the stage to learn about His ways. Then we can implement His concepts in our lives. His grace teaches us “not to live against God nor to do the evil things the world wants us to do” (NCV, Titus 2:12). This is part of the “good works” we considered last week mentioned in chapter 3 and chapter 2 verse 6; which involves the desire to get rid of the old man and pursue the “new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Grace beckons us to seek Christlikeness, because of the unmerited favor shown towards sinful man. This transformation of character, that is, the changing of the external because of what God through Christ has done to the internal man is what helps draw others towards Christ and the gospel. People see something different.
That same grace teaches us to turn from our old ways, and now “teaches us to live now in a wise and right way and in a way that shows we serve God” (Titus 2:12). Those old ways of life are “torn up by the roots” by God’s grace. We seek to live wisely, or as my NKJV says, soberly; that is, with self-restraint. It spurs the believer to live a “right way” or “righteously” towards those around us. Okay, think of the slave for a minute—the challenge of how he was to interact with his master. Things have changed now that he is in Christ, and there is no doubt his master would notice. This grace also causes the believer to change how he or she engages with God. There would be a newfound reverence towards God because of His grace. The truth of the matter is simple: life would not be the same once someone comes to know His grace. I wonder what the master would think as they come in contact with a slave transformed by God’s grace.
Treating their master with respect is a lot to ask of those who found themselves held captive in slavery. There had to be something that enabled them to look beyond their present situation. They were “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 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” (Titus 2:13-14). The grace that brought them hope is the same grace that caused them to hope. John C said a couple of weeks ago, not a hope that is wishful thinking, but rather, a hope that causes them to anticipate their Savior’s return. A hope that generates within them a desire to pursue good works. Such a change is not without its impact. Why? Because grace changes the believer.