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Epistle of Paul to Titus 2: 11-14 (NIV)
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
This short passage from the Apostle Paul’s pastoral guidance to Titus presents the reader with a fine blend of theology, doctrine and practical application. We do well to read this slowly, to digest the message in small portions and to see how the Apostle reinforced his instruction for emphasis.
We, his readers, are to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. “Worldly passions” can be as widely-encompassing as our imaginations permit: lusts can be for anything that suggests pleasure but also for those things for which we might thirst (power, influence, prestige or release from pain, stress or anxiety). Saying “No” to ungodliness could conceivably leave someone in a neutral situation; Paul shows that this is not what God requires. “Godly lives” must be positive in their manifestation, lives are to be “self-controlled, upright”. Then all this is re-emphasised as the Apostle showed that the purpose of the Lord’s people’s being redeemed from all wickedness is to purify for the Lord’s service a people who are his very own, who are “eager to do what is good”.
The reasons why God’s very own people are to speak, behave and think as he has required of us are vitally important and we are to strive to understand his purposes. We have been redeemed, bought back, our debts paid off in full, through the actions “of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us” (verses 13, 14). This is through the grace of God, the grace that brings salvation (verse 11). That grace, and the salvation won for us, give us cause to hope, to be completely assured in fact, and that “blessed hope” anticipates the return of Christ, his “glorious appearing”. Yes, his return will be for the purpose of judgement but those who are “a people that are his very own” need have no fear of judgement because they have already been redeemed. Not only are they redeemed but they are being purified for the mission he offers, “eager to do what is good”.
Sometimes it may seem difficult to say “No” to ungodliness, especially when the world so earnestly cajoles people to conform to its ways for the sake of satisfying other agenda. We need insight and wisdom to recognise such agenda and to perceive that which is of God and that which is contrary to his will. Such insight and wisdom may seem elusive; we are therefore to surrender any pride and ask for the insight and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. The same grace of God that brings salvation ensures that people who are God’s very own are not left without a Counsellor. We are able to draw on the resources of divine authority to be led through any sense of confusion and any dilemma.
Let us then with courage and boldness and eager anticipation “wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ”!