John Newton’s song Amazing Grace highlights how God saves wretches who once were lost in their sins. Stanza 3 testifies of the ongoing work of grace in the life of saved wretches like us: “Thru many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”
In our day, much Christian teaching and preaching focuses on the saving work of God’s grace in the sense of its delivering sinners from the penalty of their sins. Although that is certainly a vital dimension of the work of God’s grace for sinners, the apostle Paul emphasizes a key facet of its work that needs much more emphasis than it is currently receiving—God’s grace that saves sinners has a vital sanctifying teaching ministry in the life of every true believer:
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
In this passage, Paul stresses that God’s grace teaches believers to be denying ungodliness and worldly lusts as they live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. An examination of this truth brings out vital understanding for how we should live in our day.
GRACE TEACHES BELEIVERS ABOUT THE UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY LUSTS OF OUR PRESENT WORLD
The teaching of Paul about grace in this passage implies that grace teaches us about the ungodliness and worldly lusts that characterize the present world. We understand then that our age in which we live has evil aspects that are ungodly (not like God) and worldly (opposed to Him, His interests, and the best interests of His people and focused rather on human desires that are either intrinsically evil or are perversions of God-given legitimate desires).
An emphasis that downplays the reality of the ungodly and worldly aspects of the present world thus misleads believers into thinking contrary to what the Scripture teaches about God’s grace. Such teaching comes far short of rightly instructing believers to live the grace-filled lives that God desires for them.
GRACES TEACHES BELIEVERS TO IDENTIFY THE UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY LUSTS OF OUR AGE
Also implicit in this Pauline teaching about grace is the reality that God’s grace enables believers to identify what is ungodly and worldly in the present world. Apart from that grace, they would be like all the lost people of the world who lack the ability and desire to identify accurately what aspects of our age are ungodly and worldly versus what aspects are not so.
Moreover, because of God’s grace working in their lives, Christians who are right with God desire to discern accurately what comprises the ungodliness and worldly lusts of our contemporary world. Based on these truths, an emphasis on living a grace-filled life that minimizes a believer’s need to discern what comprises the ungodliness and worldly lusts of our world is in direct opposition to explicit Scriptural teaching about what God’s grace effects in a believer’s life.
GRACE TEACHES BELIEVERS TO DENY THE UNGODLINESS AND WORLDLY LUSTS OF OUR WORLD
Beyond enabling believers to identify the ungodliness and worldly lusts of our day and teaching them to do so, God’s grace teaches believers to deny these aspects of our world! We thus do not live the grace-filled lives that God intends if we are not actively denying these things in our lives.
An emphasis on grace-filled living that does not stress a believer’s denying ungodliness and worldly lusts in his living is highly detrimental to the cause of Christ because it misleads believers about an essential facet of how they must live in this world. We must reject such teaching as unscriptural because it is not in accord with biblical teaching about what God’s grace effects in a believer’s life.
Is amazing grace teaching wretches like you and me both to identify the ungodliness and worldly lusts of our present age and to deny them? Or, has deficient teaching about living a grace-filled life misled us so that we are not actively doing so?