Saturday, November 01, 2008

Titus 2:11 (1)

This is the first part of myt script from Wednesday night, preaching on what turns out to be one of my favourite verses of the Bible

After what seems like weeks of qualifications and requirements for different people in the church, you might very well be justified to sit and listen to Titus being preached and wonder when it’s ever going to end. What Paul is going to ask of us next? Maybe spending so much time looking at the requirements of the Elder of the church, the older and younger men and women has been something of a discouragement to you. I know for me sometimes reading the challenges that Paul lays at our door in this chapter, can seem like a list of things I don’t, can’t and won’t do, rather than standards that I am capable of maintaining.

Maybe one question that had flowed out of thought process has been ‘why should I live up to all Paul demands in this letter?’ Perhaps a better question that springs to mind each Wednesday night after service though is how? How can I possibly live up to what is being required of me here. How can I possibly put away what I’m supposed to be putting away and put on what I’m supposed to put on? As we’ve seen from the previous verses, God requires us to live righteous lives. But as we know from experience we can’t. No matter how we try, we still sin. And if you’re anything like me when you win a battle with a significant sin in your life, you get proud about it…and that starts the process all over again. We can’t live like Paul tells us to, so we need help. And in this precious verse, we see, I think, not just the motivation we need, but the ability we crave to live the lives we’re told we should. That’s why this sentence begins with the word ‘for’ in there. Paul’s saying ‘do all this because of this’. Titus 2:11 is probably about as glorious a ‘because’ as you can get.

So what is this ability? Where do we get the help, the ability and the motivation that we need to live that lives that God uses Paul to call us to. Verse 11 tells us that it is the grace of God. The very point of the grace of God is to save people from their sins. To save us from the innumerable times when we fall so desperately short of the standard set by Paul here. Sin not only leads to punishment in the next life, but also to corruption in this life. Sin defiles the conscious, drives a wedge between man and his fellow man, sin is never satisfied, sin will never say ‘ok, I’ve had enough’. Sin always wants more. Like every third string quarter back wants to be Matt Brady, anger wants to be murder, envy wants to be theft and lust wants to be sex outside of marriage. Sin wants to corrupt us in this life, and destroy us in the next. The grace of God stops that. The grace of God is simply the best news there is: God’s unmerited favour to sinners like us. A world in which God was not unendingly gracious to people is a world not worth thinking about.

This grace that Paul talks about is all sufficient. It is all covering. There is no sin greater than the deep and vast oceans of God’s grace. The Gospel of God’s grace is contra conditional, not unconditional. God doesn’t love you and me ‘just as I am’…He loves us just as Jesus is! That’s much better. Because of the grace of God our righteousness is in Heaven, at the right hand of God the Father, where it can not and will not be moved. Is there any sweeter news than this? That because of the grace of God we are loved by the Father as Jesus is loved by the Father. This grace not only motivates us to change but gives the ability to change. This is the grace of God that bringeth salvation. This is the grace of God that can and does change us on the inside, which will bring about the outside change we so clearly need.

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