Teaching Grace

“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, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.”
–Titus 2:11-14

          The grace of God is not only a saving grace that has spared us of the hell we deserved; it is also a teaching grace.  When we first met Jesus we weren’t prepared for death, but we weren’t worthy of life.  Now, slowly but surely, the grace of God that instantly made us ready to die is making us fit to live.
         We start to notice our attitudes about sin changing.  The work of grace in us is beginning to crucify our flesh with Christ and make our spirits more and more alive in Him.  The ungodly passions to which our consciences were once numb suddenly prick our hearts and repulse us.  Sins that used to bring us temporal joy are not so tempting.  We’ve been taught by the grace of God to just say “No” to them.
         David Brainerd, a missionary of a past generation, who was also a very eloquent writer on matters of faith, told of an example of this happening in people’s lives.  He said the group to whom he was ministering was coming from a background with pagan ideas, rituals, and violent attitudes and actions.  But he found that preaching against their many sins didn’t produce many changes in the way these new converts saw the old life.  It was when he continually preached of the cross of Christ to them that their attitudes began to significantly change.  It is not law, but the saving grace of God that teaches us to view sin as God views it.
         This passage’s second benefit of traveling the Grace Superhighway is a fruit of the Spirit:  the self-controlled life.  Previously at the mercy of the flesh, we now find within ourselves a Power that is not of ourselves.  A Power to be different.  A Power to be upright and godly, even though we remain surrounded by the depraved world out of which we’ve just been saved.
         The third wonderful benefit of grace is eternity-mindedness and desire to be with Jesus.  Because of grace He is no longer our judge or accuser, but our friend.  We stop wanting to live for today and for this world, and become increasingly eager for His presence and His return, that His will may be done on earth just as in heaven.  This grace in us makes us long to worship Him and to live lives of thanksgiving for His redemption of us.
         The fourth benefit of our grace journey is another attitude change.  Not only does our desire to sin decrease, but we find in ourselves an eagerness “to do what is good.”  That eagerness wasn’t there before we knew grace.  Our previous attempts at good works were motivated by selfish desires; now we can truly do good as He enables.  We are now and forever His people.  His grace is purifying us, and our works are motivated by a newfound desire to honor Him and bring Him glory.
This written devotional is the planned topic for my message at church this Sunday.

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