October 10, 2021
Has God’s grace changed you? Has God’s free gift of Jesus Christ given to you worked in your life to help you do what you couldn’t do for yourself? Has He helped you live a new life? Now, some of you will be quick to say, “Yes, of course God’s grace has changed me. I was once a rebel who wanted nothing to do with God. Now I wake up each day looking forward to doing His will.”
Or some of you might say, “Yes, God’s grace has changed me. I used to be religious. I believed if I did all the right things, went to church, read my Bible, didn’t drink or swear, then God would love me. But I could never do enough. But once I met Jesus, and I understood the power of God’s grace. Now I know it’s not what I do for God that matters. It’s what Jesus has done for me. When he died for me, not only did he save me, but he gave me His righteousness so now I get to live fully accepted by God.”
Now in both those cases, we can hear the power of God’s grace. Only God’s grace can take a stubborn rebel and make her a surrendered follower. And only God’s grace could remove a man from the performance treadmill and and transform him into a beloved child.
But what about the person who comes to God for forgiveness, but just keeps on indulging in sin, chasing after worldly pleasures, and doesn’t live any differently than before he met Jesus? What about him? Did he really experience God’s grace if there’s no evidence of God’s life in him?
Now the reason I’m asking, “Has God’s grace changed you?” is that many people still struggle to surrender to Christ; or grapple with guilt, can’t get off the performance treadmill, or really never experience change. Many people have never fully grasped how God’s grace is meant to change their life for the better. And if that’s you, then let me encourage you to open your Bible to Titus 2:11-14, where God’s Word reveals four ways God’s grace is meant to make a clear difference in your life. Here in these verses, Paul spells out four changes you can expect to experience if you’ve received His gift of amazing grace. And the first change is found in verse 11, and that is this:
God’s Grace will change your destiny Here’s the good news of God’s grace: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people Titus 2:11 In this first verse, Paul tells us that sometime in the past, the grace of God appeared. This word “appeared” is actually a technical term for “an epiphany of a god or hero” who comes to bring help. What a great description. Sometime in the past God sent Jesus to help us when we could not help ourselves. That’s the definition of grace. God sent Jesus to deliver us from the consequences of our sin. To bring salvation to all people. The grace of God appeared, lived among us, and then gave His life for us to set us free!
Now, here’s the thing: You and I can never truly understand the power of God’s grace without first understanding the disaster of our sin. We talked about sin a bit in depth last week. Our transgressions make us rebel against God. We don’t want to do what He wants. We rebel against His law. We want to set up our own laws. So we set ourselves up as our own gods. We refuse to trust His ways and go our own way. But our sin isn’t just about our acts of rebellion. Sin is, first of all, a condition of the heart that results in rebellion. You and I commit sins because we are sinners. The condition of sin, into which every single person who’s ever lived was born, renders every one of us unable to live up to God’s standards. Not only that, but our sin nature leaves us without the desire, the will or the ability to do perfectly what God declares is right.
So it is true when God’s Word declares, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 And this is true: We are all unable, we are all guilty, and there is not a thing we can do to help ourselves change our sinful and guilty condition. This is an inescapable and sad reality. There’s nothing in us that can save us from our sin. There’s nothing we can do to change our sinful nature.
Enter God’s grace. God didn’t want to leave us in this sorry, helpless and hopeless state. So, He sent His Son to do for us what we could not do, to die as we should have died, and to rise again, defeating sin and death. He did this so that He might bring you salvation. That He might set you free from the consequences of your sin, once and for all and forever. He did this for you to bring you to God. That’s the good news of God’s grace.
And when you understand God’s grace to you in Jesus – when you understand that God did for you what you could not do for yourself – when you humbly receive His help by receiving Jesus, putting your trust in Him, that’s how God’s grace can change your life forever. For the moment you trust in Jesus, He will remove the judgment your sins deserve; He will make you right with God and you will be completely forgiven, holy and pure in His sight. That’s what Jesus Christ came to do. The grace of God appeared to bring salvation to all mankind, including you.
So, let me ask you: Have you responded to God’s grace to you in Jesus? Jesus did for you what you could not do for yourself. He came to rescue you and change your destiny forever. Have you received God’s grace by receiving Jesus Christ by faith? If you have, then you know that Jesus didn’t just rescue you from the consequences of your sin. He’s changed your life forever. For He brought you to God. That’s the first and most amazing blessing of God’s grace. The grace of God appeared to bring you salvation.
But that’ just beginning of what God’s grace does. Let’s look at the next way God’s grace is meant to work in your life: 2. God’s Grace will change your lifestyle God’s grace actually begins to change the way we live. Paul describes how grace works in this way: training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age Titus 2:12
I really like this term Paul uses to explain how God’s grace work in us. It’s this term “training.” It means to train by discipline. Think of it this way: God’s grace disciples us. In other words, once you’ve been saved by God’s grace, His grace will begin training you to become like the One who saved you by His grace. And there’s two parts to this training.
First, the negative: God’s grace will teach you to abandon a worldly lifestyle. Literally, God’s grace will work in you to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. God’s grace will change you so you will no longer want anything to do with your old ungodly and lustful lifestyle that opposed God and His will.
God’s grace will help you see that your old way of living was offensive to God. First, in your ungodliness. Specifically, ungodliness is the rejection of all that is reverent and of all that has to do with God. When God’s grace changes you, you will be done with that attitude. You’ll be done with selfishness. You’ll be done with making up your own rules. You’ll be done with pride, thinking you know better than God. And grace will change you so that you will renounce your former rebellious ways. You will no longer be like you once were.
Secondly, you’ll no longer want anything to do with living according to your worldly passions. Worldly passions are the sinful impulses that express themselves through the body. In John’s letter, he makes it pretty clear that anyone who does this hasn’t truly experienced the Father’s love. They haven’t been changed by God’s grace. He writes: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:15-16 This is a person still controlled by the sinful nature, not someone who’s been given a new nature. So, God’s grace works in you to show you this is not the kind of lifestyle that pleases the Father. God’s grace will make you want to say “no” to this old way of living – this self-centered way of living.
Now, this is not to say that once you’ve experienced God’s grace, that we will no longer be tempted by the pleasures of this world, that you will no longer be tempted by the cravings of your flesh. You will be tempted. And sometimes your temptation will be even greater than before you came to faith. But what God’s grace will teach you is that what the world offers you is nothing compared to what the Father gives you. So then, as grace disciples you, the ways of the world will lose their grip on you. And you’ll see the temptations of the world for what they really are – as counterfeit offerings for life. So, we’ll abandon the ways of the world, we’ll renounce them, reject them and deny them – because the pleasures and joys of God are so much greater.
And that’s what Paul now shows us: How God’s grace disciples us. First, we renounce ungodly and worldly passions, so that we may now live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. In other words, God’s grace doesn’t stop you from living, but gives you a new way to live. God’s grace will teach you to embrace a godly lifestyle This lifestyle covers three areas: your relationship with yourself (living self-controlled), with others (treating others right), and with God (living godly). Let’s look briefly at each aspect of our new lifestyle:
First, in our relationship with ourselves: “self-controlled.” This is to be sound-minded, allowing your mind to call the shots in life, having mastery over your flesh. This is the ability to exercise discernment over the sensual desires and temptations common to human life. It’s the ability to see worldly temptations and lusts for what they are, so that we will deny ourselves from indulging in sinful acts. Grace rescued us from slavery to sin; so, grace teaches us to have nothing to do with those sins that once enslaved us. It’s living now from a place of truth, not from the craving of our flesh or the ups and downs of our feelings.
Second, in our relationships with others: “upright.” It’s treating people right. It’s treating people with dignity and love as Jesus has treated us. It’s what we see Jesus expand upon in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s not allowing hatred, lust, or revenge to have any role in our relationships, but rather love. God’s grace to us teaches us to love like God has loved us. To treat others as Jesus has treated us.
Third, in our relationships with God: “godly.” This is living in such a way as to glorify God with your life. It’s the opposite of living to please yourself, it’s living to please God because He saved you when you could not save yourself. Again, once you’ve tasted the grace of God who gave His best for you, His grace will make you want to give your best for Him.
You see, God’s grace will change you so you will want to live differently. God’s grace doesn’t just rescue you from your destructive and hopeless past, His grace gives you a whole new way to live. And the good news is that just how God’s grace brings us salvation, God’s grace helps us live by grace. God gives us what we need to live this new life. He gives us His Word to transform our minds. He gives us His Spirit to help us and teach us. And gives us a place to belong with brothers and sisters, who can encourage you, pray for you and disciple you along the way. This is another reason we have Journey Groups – so we can learn together how to live this new life of grace.
First, God’s grace changes our destiny and, secondly, God’s grace changes how we live. Now, here’s a third way God’s grace will change you: God’s Grace will change your perspective:
Just as God’s grace appeared to us in the past through our humble Savior, there is coming a day when God’s grace will appear to us again, but this time in all His glory. It is this second appearance that changes our outlook in our present age. Paul describes it as waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ Titus 2:13
We live in a day, when Christians in general have forgotten this reality – the reality that this world is not our true home, the reality that God’s people are alien and strangers in this world just passing through. We have forgotten that the uncertainties and troubles of this day are temporary. And we have forgotten that that just as Jesus Christ appeared in the past to save us, He will come again. And when He comes again, the whole world will see Him in all His majestic glory as King of King and Lord of Lords.
But until that day, those who have been saved by His grace, will wait for our blessed hope. Right now, too many people live with a misplaced hope – somehow thinking that all our hopes are to be found in this life. But God’s grace to us in Jesus changes that perspective. God’s grace teaches us to wait for something better, something more beautiful, more fulfilling and joyful than anything we can ever find in this world. And so we wait. But just what is this waiting? It is waiting with an eager and confident expectation for the appearing of the One who saved us and gave us a new life with Him.
Jesus is our blessed hope. One day Jesus will return in all His glory. One day Jesus will wipe away every tear. One day Jesus will be put evil in its place. One day there will no more suffering or death. And one day Jesus will make everything right, new and good.
And those who’ve experienced God’s grace in Jesus Christ hold onto the hope of His appearing. That’s how God’s grace shapes our perspective in this life. God’s grace gives us a different outlook to what’s going on today. God’s grace reminds us that this world is not all there is. God’s grace teaches us that God is for us and never against us. God’s grace reminds us that He who is in us is greater than He who is in the world. With this perspective we see the suffering, chaos and evil for what it is – Satan’s last gasp at trying to win the day. But we have a confident hope – a blessed hope. We know God’s Hero is coming back, and when He does, He will set the world right. He will reign in power and love. And we know who this Hero is. He is our great God and Savior Jesus Christ! So, until that day, God’s grace changes how we see this world and helps us wait and hold onto the promise that a better day is on the way.
Is this your perspective? Do you see everything through the eyes of God’s grace? Do you hold onto this blessed hope? If there is one aspect of God’s grace we desperately need today, it’s this hope. When things look bleak. When evil seems to win the day. Do not fret. Do not worry. Do not fear. Jesus is coming back. This is our blessed hope. And this is how God’s grace changes us. But until he does return, God’s grace is meant to change you in one more way. And that is this:
God’s Grace will change your passions In summarizing what Jesus has done for you he writes of Jesus saying, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:14
Because Jesus willingly gave Himself for you to redeem you from a life of lawlessness and then cleansed you from all unrighteousness and made you His own, you have been the recipient of grace upon grace upon grace. And the result of Him willingly giving Himself for you should do something in you. It should make you want to give yourself for Him. God’s grace to you should change your heart.
Think about each one of these gifts of grace:
When Jesus redeemed you at the cross, you were a slave to sin. You had no other choice but to sin. But Jesus paid the price to set you free. And the purchase price of your redemption was His precious blood. He set you free from slavery to sin so you can now willingly serve your God.
When Jesus purified you at the cross His grace took you out of the pigpen of life. Sin makes us guilty and dirty. Grace makes us innocent and clean. This is the promise of the new covenant: “I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols.” Ezekiel 36:25
A when Jesus purchased you and purified you, His grace did this for you, so you could belong to Him. He did this so you would no longer be alone but be included in His body – to become His brothers and sisters – so that together, we could bless the world with His grace. His grace gave us a new identity as uniquely His. Peter makes this same point: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 What security is ours! Once we were Satan’s, now we are the Son’s. Once we were sin’s, now we are the Savior’s. Once we were foreigners, now we are family. Now you belong to Jesus.
And because you belong to Jesus, this doesn’t just give you great security, it gives you a new purpose in life –to willingly impart grace to a world devoid of grace. To willingly give yourself to help others because Jesus willingly gave Himself for you. This is the motivation for serving, for giving mercy, for being patient with sinners and just loving them. God’s grace teaches us to give like Jesus gave Himself for us.
Are you starting to see how God’s grace is meant to change you? How God’s grace is meant to transform us into a people who are different from the world, into a people filled with hope, and a people who can’t wait to give grace? That’s what God’s grace will do for you, when you let God’s grace change you. So, let me ask you, do you want God’s grace to change you? If that’s you, then let Jesus help you.
For some of you that means receiving God’s grace by receiving Jesus as your Savior. For some of you that means God is calling you to renounce some sin you’ve been holding on to. For some of you it’s just learning to rest in the grace God’s given you. And for some of you that means just rejoicing that you belong to Him. The grace of God has appeared to bring you to salvation, and then give you grace upon grace. What a God, what a Savior. Let’s pray.