His Without Reserve
Teaching Holiness

On Titus 2:11-14

          A.Scripture: “11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12 training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.”

          B.Comment: This passage contains elements of both justification and sanctification. On justification (being saved by grace through faith [Eph. 2:8-10]): “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all” (v. 11) and “who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity” (v. 14). On sanctification: “training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and . . . live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly” (v. 12) and “that he might . . . purify for himself a people of his own” (v. 14).
          This website’s content presents a guide on how to become like Christ. This comment illuminates two aspects of God’s salvation purposes: to have “a people of his own” and to teach His people how to be partakers of the divine nature.
          11. Grace. (Gr. charis, “generous gift, free favor, a gracious provision.”) A full understanding of this heavily expressive word, when related to God, must include two concepts: (a) grace as an attitude of God expressed by such words as “generous” and “forgiving.” This attitude is beautifully revealed in Jer. 29:11-14; and (b) grace as the gift, provision, or favor itself which results from His generosity. Joining these two, we have this understanding of the grace of God: God’s nature, His lavish love, His attitude toward us, impelled Him to make a gracious provision to win us back to Himself. That attitude resulted in an unspeakable gift, eternal life attained through the sacrifice of His only Son (John 3:16).
         12. Training. (Gr. paideuousa, “to teach, to instruct by admonition.”) In the experience of justification, the grace of God offers reconciliation between sinner and Creator. This powerful gift of grace also trains us. Training includes both teaching and practice (Matthew Henry: “practice and right ordering of life”). The artist’s masterpiece and the baker’s delicacies are the result of their putting into practice what their training has taught them. Correct understanding and correct techniques repeated over and over again produce near-perfect canvasses and bakery gems. Spiritual training here focuses on “to renounce” and “to live.” This combination of letting go and taking hold constitutes an essential transaction in the growth life of every Christian. This mental action must occur over and over again until habits of righteousness are formed. To turn away from one pattern of life and to begin to engage in another defines holiness. The grace of God moves us to turn away from “impiety and worldly passions” and to “live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly.” Our carnal natures pull us relentlessly toward lust and worldly evils. To reverse this spiritual polarity God’s grace trains us to combine Christ’s empowerment with our self-control and our renouncement of all ungodliness.
          “Saving grace not only helps men to eradicate sinful practices, it actively cultivates new and worthy habits. This daily instruction from God may be described as the process of sanctification.”–Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary on Titus 2:12.
         13. Glory. (Gr. doxa, “marvelous manifestation of authority.”) For a discussion of what it means to glorify God, see in this webs the book Holiness: the Art of Letting Go, chapter 16.
         14. Purify. The Scriptures speak of both physical and spiritual cleansing. During the Old Testament period both are required of God’s people. In the New Testament period spiritual cleansing is predominant. In this text Christ is portrayed as the purifier. In many other Scriptures the believer is the purifier. 1 John 3:2, 3 is an example: “When he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” Matthew Henry wrote on our text: “Those that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. . . . They are going on in the work, cleansing themselves more and more from all filthiness of flesh and spirit.” (See also in this website item 009, the book Holiness: the Art of Letting Go, chapters 4 and 5.)
          A people. Throughout the Old Testament and continuing into the New the “My people” theme forms a strong red and golden cord representing God’s sacrificial love and grace.
          Good deeds. The Bible’s teaching on justification (becoming reconciled with God) resounds with the words “not the result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:9). However, that phrase does not dispense with kind and benevolent actions in our relationships with others. Certainly not! Verse 10 states forcefully that once made right with God, His people are to recognize that they are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” “Our way of life” is the way of holiness, of becoming like Christ. He taught: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). And here Paul advises Titus that God’s own people are to be “zealous for good deeds.” It should come as no surprise that the practice of Christianity requires imitating Christ. It is said that “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness” (Matt. 9:35).

          Two words should be understood in the discussion about “works”: “merit” and “value.” In establishing a relationship with God “good works” have no merit. Jesus Christ built that relationship for us. In continuing our relationship with God “good works” have value–great value. They demonstrate our appreciation for being justified. They advance our ability to have the image of God restored in us. They glorify God, showing that sinful men, women, and children will live godly lives because they love their Maker, not to earn reconciliation with Him. Better yet, they are fulfilling His prayer that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven.