In Titus 2:11-14, Paul is discussing the grace of God that has appeared and offers salvation to all. Of course, it has “appeared” in the person and work of Jesus Christ. His appearance changed history, it split time in two, and it continues to transform the world one person at a time. But not only has the grace of God appeared—Paul goes on to tell us that this same grace teaches us to say “No,” to ungodliness and worldly passions.
In saying “Yes” to God, grace, and salvation, we are saying “No” to sin. “No!” Not, “Maybe,” or “Possibly,” or “Check back tomorrow.” “No!” That is our final answer.
It not only is this way, it has to be this way. Grace would not be grace if it allowed us to crawl right back to our pigpens of sin. God loves us too much to let us die in our sins and He loves us too much to let us live in our sins. He wants us to get into Christ, and then He wants Christ to get into us.
All of that is why the grace that saves us is the grace that teaches us to say “No” to sin. The grace that brings salvation, teaches sanctification (holiness). The grace that saves the believer, commits him to a certain behavior. Anyone who claims to have tasted God’s grace but is not pursuing sanctification, has not understood the grace of God. “Yes” to God and His grace is a “No” to Satan and sin. It is a yes to the good life. It is a yes to God’s life.
It is a yes to self-controlled, upright, and godly living. It is a yes to a lifestyle that has its own rewards. Isn’t it wonderful to wake up in the morning and remember everything you did the night before and not be ashamed of your behavior? Isn’t it nice to see time, money, and energy once invested in evil, now given over to good? Isn’t it great to say, as John Newton did, “I am not what I hope to be or what I should be but by the grace of God, I am not what I used to be?” Is there anything better than seeing yourself slowly changing into a better person for Him?
“No” to Satan and sin is a “Yes” to the blessed hope He has for us. It is a yes to the glorious appearing of Jesus. Last, but not least, it is a yes to:
. . . our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.
In the end, isn’t that what we need? Isn’t that what we want? We want something to live for that is bigger than we are. We need something to live for that is higher and holier than our selfish, destructive, and foolish ways. We need deliverance not only from the sinfulness of our lives, but also from the smallness of them.
We are born, grow up, marry, raise a family, retire, and die. Mark Twain said death is “the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had” because it at least put an end to man’s meaninglessness. Bertrand Russell spoke in a similar way when he said, “only on the firmfoundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation be safely built.” Thank God they were wrong! Living for Jesus not only rescues us from hell, but it also injects eternal purpose and meaning into previously empty lives.
By His grace we are a people who now are His possession. Consequently, we are people with a purpose. We are people whose “Yes” to God is a “No” to Satan and sin. We are people whose “No” to Satan and sin is a “Yes” to the rest of life. It is a yes to the best of life. It is a yes to Jesus, the Lord of life.