Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Saying no to ungodliness (2)

Now to try and work on the question I was left with last week,
How does the grace of God teach us to say no to ungodliness? (Titus 2:11-12)

Bronnie asked,
how do you define the grace of God?
and I think this is a helpful question to think about before I go any further.

The usual answer is that the grace of God is undeserved favour shown toward man. Man doesn't deserve God to look upon him with favour, but He does. That is grace. Man deserves punishment for his sin. Justice ought to be enacted. But instead, punishment is withheld (mercy) and God is good to us, saving us, making us his children and showering us with blessings. That is grace.

And he shows his grace to us in the cross. That is how we know God looks upon us with favour because he himself provides the sacrifice. That is how we know God is good to us, because he did not even spare his own son that He might redeem us. That is how we know it is undeserved, because we see that sin cannot go unpunished and we realise what our sin deserves.

That is grace.

And I think that is exactly what it means here in Titus 2:11-12. It's almost as if in the word grace here, Paul has captured the whole of the appearance and work of Christ. 'Grace' can't appear... it's an abstract noun. But God appeared in the person of Christ and he brought salvation as he gave himself for us on the cross even though we didn't deserve it.

Paul says something similar in Titus 3:4-5, this time using the words 'kindness' and 'love';
4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
God shows his favour to us; his love, his kindness. His mercy. His grace. He saves us. He gives his life for us. And did we deserve this? No. it was not because of our righteousness.

So, back to our question. How does the grace of God teach us to say no to ungodliness? At the moment I can think of three ways. It teaches us about,
  1. humility
  2. love and,
  3. forgiveness
and I'll look at these three things over the next three weeks, (or months, or years...) showing how I think they change and motivate us to say no to ungodliness.

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