Recently I read these verses from Titus 2:11-12 that awakened me once again to the power of God's grace. The passage reads ... For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Verse 11 says that the grace of God saves us. All of us know that and we love that truth. But look at what comes next ... I had never really meditated on this truth before. God's grace not only saves us, it teaches us. First it teaches us "to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions. How can God's grace teach me to resist my sin and lust for worldly things?
I picture God as our Father holding us like little children in his embrace. (Eph. 1:6) And when we try to stray from Him and pursue the deeds of the flesh He shows us the emptiness of that pursuit and runs after us (as did the Father with his prodigal son) with arms of love ready to restore us with his grace and tender mercy. Notice grace teaches us. The law confronts us. It confronts us with our sin. But grace beckons us back to our Father's embrace. And within that embrace he teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldy passions. This teaching process will go on as long as we live because our desire for ungodliness will go on as long as we live.
But the grace of God not only teaches us to say "No" it also teaches us to say "Yes." Yes to what? Yes to living self controlled, upright and godly lives. I'm just beginning to realize that sanctification is not just saying "No" to sin, it's saying "Yes" to holiness. For example, I can feel like I've had victory over a particular sin like gossip because I haven't gossiped in a long time. However, the goal is not to stop gossiping. The goal is to have my mouth be a means of God's grace in loving and encouraging people. It's a putting off of the old self and a putting on of the new self. So this passage tells us that grace teaches us to say "Yes" to a self-controlled, upright and godly life. In other words, my actions should be pure and holy toward myself, others and God.
What a great prayer to pray for yourself, your children, your church, etc. God, I pray that your grace would teach me (as you pursue me in your love) to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions and say "Yes" to a self-controlled, upright and godly life for your glory!