Truth the Great Motivator - Titus 2:11-14
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One of the desires of every parent is to hear their child utter their first word. Now often there is competition within the family unit for the first word to be either mummy or daddy. I still remember my son’s first word with great pride - it was door. Although parents love to hear their children speak, they can sometimes wish their children hadn’t learned how to use words in the first place. My parents tell me that one of my favourite words as a child was why. And I would ask this question repeatedly.
I’ve realised as I’ve got older that it’s best not to overuse the why question. However, it is a great question to ask at this point in the book of Titus.
Last week James Belham pointed us so clearly and so compellingly to the life expected from the disciples of Jesus Christ. And we heard much practical exhortation of how our behaviour as Christians should be transformed.
However, as we reach the end of verse 10, there is one big question that we should be asking, why? Why should Christians live like this?
If we get the answer to this question wrong then one of two devastating things can happen.
First, if you aren’t yet a Christian and get this answer wrong, then you may completely misunderstand what Christianity is all about. That may keep you from saving faith in Jesus Christ. And if you miss out on this the rest of your life here on earth and the rest of your eternity will be ruined.
Second, if you are a Christian but get the answer to this question wrong then although you will genuinely be saved forever to live with God and his people in God’s future paradise, which will be bliss, you may end up living now with joyless duty and paralysing fear.
Why should Christians live different? The answer is in verse 11. Read verse 11.
The first thing to point out is what verse 11 doesn’t say.
Crucially, we are not told to adjust our current behaviour because of future consequences.
Thankfully we are not told that our future acceptance with God will be based on our religious performance.
Unfortunately, this is how many religions operate and, unfortunately, at the popular level that’s how many people think Christianity operates. If that the way it would be a miserable way to live. It would lead to joyless duty and paralysing fear.
Joyless duty - joy comes from love and security. Performance driven acceptance may lead to much activity and much activity over time but it doesn’t lead to deep joy. t
Performance driven acceptance also leads to paralysing fear. The anxiety of not having reached the standards or not knowing if you have reached the required target level or if you ever do reach the standards, the fear that the next day your performance level will drop.
Performance driven acceptance is the road to misery!
Thankfully that’s not the motivation mentioned in verse 11 for living a godly life. Let me read it again and as I do let this joyful declaration sink into your heart.
Why should Christians change their behaviour? Read verse 11.
This is such a glorious and liberating statement because it doesn’t point us to the future. No, it gets us to gaze at the past.
Or to be more precise, it fixes our eyes on one key event in human history that rightly understand will lead to Christian transformation that is joyful and secure.
What is it? The time when the grace of God appeared.
This phrase refers to one particular occasion in the human story. It’s not referring to God’s gracious character in general. no, it is talking about the incarnation of grace. To the time when the eternal, gracious Son of God appeared in human flesh, and he was given the name Jesus.
Ask someone on the street ‘Why did Jesus come?’ and you will get a variety of answers but don’t you just love the answer given in verse 11.
To do something unique that would make salvation a possibility for all kinds of people. Because of his life, death and resurrection anyone can find acceptance with God, anyone no matter who they are or what they have done can enter into a personal relationship with God, simply by trusting in Jesus.
In one sense this is still performance based acceptance. However, there is one crucial difference. It’s not our personal performance that brings acceptance. No, it is the perfect past performance of Jesus that brings acceptance to anyone who puts their faith in him!
Now here’s the crucial link. When anyone does put their faith in Jesus, the motivation for their future transformed behaviour is the past gracious appearance of Jesus. Or if I can put it like this, the reason a Christian should want to live differently is because of what Jesus has done for them.
At this point is is very tempting to speculate about how this works. This week I’ve been trying to let the text before me constrain what I think and when I think it. So at this point let me encourage you not to come up with your own reasons why you think grace leads to change. But instead let me encourage you to read on and see what Paul writes next.
Look at verse 12. Read verses 12-13.
There is certainly going to be another appearing. The appearing of the glory of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We get a taste of this in the Gospels when Jesus is transfigured before some of his disciples.
What a glorious sight it will be to see Jesus fully glorified- you will not be disappointed!
Have you ever been promised something will be spectacular and you just felt underwhelmed? Jesus won’t be like this.
Christians are commanded to wait for this day - how?
Christian - your waiting is not to be modelled on the passive sun bathing of those who holiday in sunnier climates. No, our waiting is to be characterised by a proactive pursuit of godliness. Saying no to certain things and saying yes to other things.
The reason we are to live like this is because of the past gracious appearance of Jesus. Somehow what he did then teaches us how to live in the here and now.
But how? How does this work? What is it about the past salvation act of Jesus that means his followers will be keen to change their behaviour?
I think Paul keeps us in suspense until we get to verse 14. Look at what he says.
Read verse 14.
Many of the same ideas are repeated in this verse using different words but there is something new. In verse 14, the gracious appearance of Jesus gets some details. And it is these details that motivate us to change.
Part of our problem is that we are often sloppy or lazy in our use of biblical words. More precision will lead to more godly living.
So let me show you three grace details that are mentioned in verse 14.
First, the grace of Jesus means we have a new owner
Jesus has redeemed us.
Redemption does not mean that someone has paid a price to release us from our bondage. That’s partly right but it’s not the whole definition.
Redemption means that someone else has paid a price to release us from our bondage and now owns us.
We are not free to live for ourselves. We are set free to live for and with the most beautiful Lord in the universe - the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have been bought by the previous blood of Jesus. He now owns us. So we are to live for him.
This should not be a dull and reluctant duty. We must see that as our creator he know what is best.
Do you see why this grace detail means we should live differently? It tells us we have a new master. And so we must now live for him.
Second, the grace of Jesus means we have a new love
We’re told that Jesus gave himself for us in order to redeem us.
What a beautiful detail!
The Son of God was not reluctant. From a heart of divine love, he willingly sacrificed himself so that we could be rescued from eternal punishment for eternal relationship.
My response? I love him in response to his love for me.
Therefore, I should want to live differently because of the love of Jesus for me.
What happens when you love someone? You have new desires to love the things they love.
This is what the Puritans called the power of new affections.
Do you see why this grace detail means we should live differently? It tells us the Son of God loved us. And so it reminds us of our new love for Christ and so it causes us to live for him.
In fact, it does something more. It not only reminds me of my love for Christ, it feeds my love for Christ.
Third, the grace of Jesus means we have a new identity
The third detail of the grace Paul tells us about in verse 14 is that we have a new identity.
A people that are his very own. This language reminds us of Exodus 19:5.
There is story told of the late Queen Mother of the British Royal family. When her children Princess Elizabeth (Now the Queen) and Princess Margaret were young and were going to party or on a visit, she would remind them before they left, “Royal children have royal manners.” It was a reminder that their behaviour needed to match their status. their status came first then their behaviour.
It is the same with us. What Jesus has done leads to who we are. And who we are leads to what we do.
How should we respond to this?
Look at verse 15.
- If you are a teacher in this church at whatever level - teach grace!
- When you are a listener - hear grace, dwell on grace and think about the implications of grace. This is the message we need for our heads and for our hearts.
A challenge for tomorrow
First, get up and remind yourself of the gracious appearance of Jesus. Realise that your acceptance before God is not based on how you will perform that day. Rejoice in this.
Then remember the three grace details. Remember you have a new owner; a new love; and a new identity.
And then, in the power of the Holy Spirit, live out the glorious implications of these truths for the rest of the day.
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