Monday, December 19, 2016

When grace is our teacher

"Christ and His Disciples by Rembrandt

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Titus 2:1-15

TO CHEW ON: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age." Titus 2:11-12

We are all to some degree products of our education. Many a life has been put on track by the words and actions of an encouraging teacher. Our reading today tells us that God's grace also teaches us. What does it teach?

First, we are to deny certain things:
- ungodliness [asebeia is a lack of reverence and regard for God.]

- worldly lusts. Lust [epithumia] is a strong desire and intense craving for something. Worldly lusts would include things like the "gratification of sensual cravings, desiring the forbidden, longing for evil, coveting what belongs to someone else, and striving for things, persons, and experiences contrary to the will of God" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1713.

Instead we are to live:
- soberly [sophronos that is "act in a responsible manner, sensibly, prudently, being in self-control and in full possession of intellectual and emotional faculties" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1721]

- righteously [dikaios meaning properly as is right, agreeable to the law of right.]

- godly [eusebos that is piously with our actions set in motion by reverence for God.]

What impresses me about Paul's interpretation of God's grace teaching us is how much our will is involved. Right attitudes don't just fall into place or come over us. We choose to deny [arneomai - disregard, reject] certain mind-sets and actions, and to intentionally cultivate or live [zao - breathe, be among the living, be active in] others.

Living this way is not some unpleasant heavy duty but a ticket to freedom. Leslyn Musch explains it well:

"God's grace teaches us to do good works not to earn salvation, but because we are free from sinful behaviors and free to do good things for God. This is the privilege and inheritance of God's people and not a harsh law to be followed and fulfilled. Holy living is the response of God's chosen and special people to the redeeming love and immeasurable grace of Jesus Christ" - Leslyn Musch, "Truth-In-Action through Titus, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1723 (emphasis added).

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to deny impulses within me to take You lightly and to gratify my selfish and worldly cravings. Help me to choose the sober, righteous, and godly response to the circumstances of my life today. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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