In his sermon Glorious Grace, the great Puritan Preacher Jonathan Edwards said, “THE MERCY OF GOD IS that attribute which we, the fallen, sinful race of Adam, stand in greatest need of, and God has been pleased, according to our needs, more gloriously to manifest this attribute than any other. The wonders of divine grace are the greatest of all wonders. The wonders of divine power and wisdom in the making [of] this great world are marvelous; other wonders of his justice in punishing sin are wonderful; many wonderful things have happened since the creation of the world, but none like the wonders of grace. “Grace, grace!” is the sound that the gospel rings with, “Grace, grace!” will be that shout which will ring in heaven forever; and perhaps what the angels sung at the birth of Christ, of God’s good will towards men, is the highest theme that ever they entered upon.”
Yesterday we learned that the grace of God is far more than $3 worth of God. But what exactly is grace and what does it do?
“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 (NKJV)
In this passage we see what I believe is the best description of what grace really is. In this passage we see that God’s grace is much more than the forgiveness of sins. God’s grace is much more than a get out of hell free card that allows us to live for ourselves. We see that God’s grace teaches us. What does God’s grace teach us? There are several things that verse 12 says grace teaches us.
Grace teaches us to turn from ungodliness. The word that is translated as “ungodliness” here basically means anything that is not like God. It is anything that doesn’t honor God in word or deed. It is anything that violates God’s commandments or goes against His will. In a way ungodliness is living as if God didn’t exist. Or taking no thought to what God would want done. So to live an ungodly life is to live in sin and/or to do whatever we want without taking any thought to what God wants.
I think this idea is summed up well in the Psalms. “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.” (Psalms 10:4 NKJV) The wicked, or ungodly, don’t bother to seek God and see what He would want them to do. The wicked, or ungodly, also don’t think about God. God isn’t something they think about in their lives. The grace of God teaches us to deny this kind of lifestyle.
Grace teaches us to turn from worldly lusts. Worldly lust is a desire that did not come from God for things that God would not want us to have. Worldly lusts are desires that motivate us to…
Look when we should look away.
Do when we should resist.
Get more when we should give more.
Act selfishly when we should act sacrificially.
Worry about the recognition of men when we should be worried about the recognition of God.
The grace of God teaches us to deny these desires.
Grace teaches us to exercise self-control. The idea of live soberly is to be self-controlled and disciplined in our lives. It is choosing to restrain our desires, lusts and appetites. I’m sure we all want to get to the place in our lives where all of our desires, lusts and appetites are easily and automatically kept in check. We want to be in place in our lives where sin and excess has no appeal to us.
That is the idea. But the reality is that we will always be tempted by sin and excess. While we are in this body and this life, temptations will be there. So what we must do is exercise self-control. Basically this means that we choose to do what is right despite our desire to do wrong. When everything within us is pulling us toward sin and excess, self-control chooses to resist this pull. The grace of God teaches us to do this.
The grace of God teaches us to live righteously. I was surprised to find out what this word meant. I assumed that righteousness here meant to live a pure or holy life. There is a Greek word that is translated as righteousness that means that, it’s just not this one. The word used here carries with it the idea of being just in our treatment of others, to deal justly and righteously with others. This means we are to treat people right and to do good to them.
It basically means we are to treat others the way we would want to be treated ourselves. If they are poor, needy, destitute, diseased, bedridden or homebound we live justly or righteously by doing what we can to help them. The grace of God teaches us to do these things.
The grace of God teaches us to live a godly life. In a way godly here is just the opposite of ungodly earlier. Where the ungodly live in ways that don’t honor God, the godly live in ways that do honor God. Where the ungodly take no thought of God in their lives, the godly live consciously of God’s presence in their lives and always seek His will. I guess you could say that godly living is living a lifestyle of obedience to God. The grace of God teaches us to live conscious of God’s will and God’s wants in every area of our lives.
How have you seen the grace of God teach you these things?