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More Than Forgiveness

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Scripture Reading
More Than Forgiveness
Titus 2:11–14 NIV
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Introduction
Today we begin a four-week journey about God’s grace.
Have you given much thought about grace? Have you ever studied God’s Word to discover what grace is and how it applies to your life?
ILLUSTRATION
I once had a neighbor who was a rage-aholic. He often had anger fits and treated his family horribly. When I heard it happening, I would bang on his door and intervene. Every single time he begged his wife for forgiveness, and she being “good Christian woman” would forgive him.
I once had a neighbor who was a rage-aholic. He often had anger fits and treated his family horribly. We could hear him screaming through the walls of our duplex. When I heard it happening, I would bang on his door and intervene. Every single time he begged his wife for forgiveness, and she being “good Christian woman” would forgive him.
Each time we hoped it never happened again. But it did—over and over again!
I only wish I knew as much about grace then, as I do now. The only thing any of us knew of God’s grace was forgiveness. So she forgave him. Unfortunately for them, we knew very little about grace; we knew just enough to put her in danger.
Grace is not just about forgiveness.
If I banged on that door today, I would advise the woman to go somewhere else where she was safe. No Christian has a duty to remain in a home and risk injury or death because of some notion of grace is expressed as “constant forgiveness!”
If I were advising her today, I would tell the woman to get away from him and demand that her husband get the help he needs, to overcome his deep anger and pain.
You see, every marriage has a third member—Jesus! In that situation, Jesus would do at least two things: (1) protect the woman and her children, and (2) provide help for the man.
Jesus would never leave the woman in a harmful situation, or the man to figure out how to deal with his anger—He would intervene!
Now step away from the story for a moment. What about us?
Would a gracious God leave us in the condition he finds us? Would he spend his days reminding us of our shortcomings, demanding, again and again, prayers of repentance and sorrow?
Would the loving Creator wave his hand and say, “You are forgiven, now—go and sin no more,” without lifting even one finger to empower us over our sin?
Does God’s grace mean only forgiveness, or is there more?
First of all, remember, God is NEVER the problem—OUR UNDERSTANDING is the problem!
When we search the Bible to understand grace, we discover Grace forgives, but it also guides.
Grace is not just to forgive us so we can be cleansed to enter heaven, it is meant to guard us in this life so we can live sensible, upright, and godly lives while we live here.
Grace is not just to forgive us so we can be cleansed to enter heaven, it meant to guard us in this life so we can live sensible, upright, and godly lives while we live here.
Our text today is
It introduces us to grace in ways that are both familiar, and also unfamiliar. The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was writing to a young pastor, Titus. Titus had traveled with Paul, and was trained by him—Paul was his father in the faith.
The Apostle calls Titus (1:4) “my true son in the faith…”
Titus 1:4 NLT
4 I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace.
) “my true child in the faith…”
“my true child in the faith…”
Paul reveals to us, that the same grace God gives to save us, is the same grace He provides to say “No” to those things that corrupt our walk with God.
Titus 2:11–12 NIV
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,
Titus 2:11–14 ANT
11 For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward (appeared) for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind. 12 It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness (irreligion) and worldly (passionate) desires, to live discreet (temperate, self-controlled), upright, devout (spiritually whole) lives in this present world, 13 Awaiting and looking for the [fulfillment, the realization of our] blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 14 Who gave Himself on our behalf that He might redeem us (purchase our freedom) from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people [to be peculiarly His own, people who are] eager and enthusiastic about [living a life that is good and filled with] beneficial deeds.
In this passage, the word “grace” appears right next to phrases like “self-controlled” and “upright and godly lives”. The text implies making one "spiritually whole.”
In this passage, the word “grace” appears right next to phrases like “self-controlled” and “upright and godly lives.” What kind of grace is this? If grace means only “forgiveness,” why does the Scripture also talk about learning a new way to live?
What kind of grace is this? If grace means only “forgiveness,” why does the Paul also talk about learning a new way to live? Making us “spiritually whole.”
Most believers are very familiar with “the grace that brings salvation,” but not many have ever heard of a grace that “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
Most believers are familiar with a saving grace capable of securing heaven after we die, but have never considered the possibility that God’s grace can nurture us in this present age.
Let’s look at the four key points of this passage:
1. Grace offers salvation to all people.
This is the part of God’s grace most Christians know. It is foundational to our faith
Ephesians 2:8 NLT
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
This is the starting point of our life in Christ, but it’s just the start. The good news gets even better!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (). This is the starting point of our life in Christ, but it’s just the start. The good news gets even better!
2. Grace teaches us to say, “No!”
God doesn’t want us forever trapped in a cycle of sin and forgiveness.
So grace keeps on working for us, teaching us how to resist temptation and ungodliness.
What this means is: We can call on the grace of God BEFORE we fall into sin!
3. Grace teaches us how to live.
There’s more to the Christian life than saying “no” to sin.
God’s grace is available to replace our sinful habit patterns with self-control, so we can live upright and godly lives.
This is NOT the result of trusting in our works or our will-power; it is surrendering to God to allow grace to teach us.
4. Grace fills us with hope.
Life in Christ is not meant to be a desperate fight against sin, nor even a narrow focus on godly living.
In verse 13 we see that it’s God grace that fills us with hope—hope for this life, and the next.
Titus 2:13 NLT
13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
The emphasis of the Biblical teachings on grace reveal several facts:
God does not allow sin to rule over our lives so we have to struggle to keep from doing it.
2. God DID NOT leave us stranded to struggle on our own.
3. Grace is intended to teach us a new way to live.
GRACE serves two primary purposes: (1) It delivers us from the PENALTY of sin, and (2) it continues to deliver us from the POWER of sin over us.
ILLUSTRATION
This is part of the good news: grace not only forgives our sin, grace teaches us how to live a life that is no longer captive to sin!
If grace is the teacher, we are the students, and all of life is the classroom. If we possess the humility to become learners, God’s grace not only transports us to heaven when we die, it brings heaven close to us while we live. This is part of the good news; grace not only forgives our sin, grace teaches us how to live a life that is no longer captive to sin!
Too often we get stuck in unhealthy spiritual patterns:
Too many believers are stuck in an unhealthy pattern. We choose sin, which is bad enough. Worse still, afterward, a voice in our head tries to drag us down deeper still. It’s the voice of the Adversary. He whispers enticement before our sin and shouts condemnation after. His is a voice skilled in subtle influence, followed by paralyzing guilt. It’s a voice filled with accusation. He is a liar and the Father of Lies; lies are his native tongue.
First we choose to sin;
Then we listen to the voice in our head that drags us down deeper into the sin;
We fail to recognize the voice that leads us astray is the voice of our Adversary. He whispers to tempt us, then whispers to convince us to continue, then he shouts shouts condemnation to destroy us!
Then how do we respond by condemning ourselves, running from God, and we become paralyzed with guilt!
We condemn ourselves, run from God, and become paralyzed with guilt!
We need to remember the voice of the Accuser is a liar and the Father of Lies!
Yes, sin always brings death; and God’s grace wipes away the penalty of death and the stain of sin! BUT GRACE DOES MORE THAN THAT! Grace raises us to LIVE a new life. [PAUSE]
But grace does more than that! Grace raises us to LIVE a new life.
This is the glory of God. He speaks to us even in our sin. The Great Alchemist turns our sin into the stuff of restoration. His message is restoration, and what’s more, he takes our defeat and turns it into the very fabric of instruction. God wants us to learn from our past sins, and “Go and sin no more” (). Have you ever learned from your sin? This is grace. God is not only ready to forgive; he is eager to teach. If we are open to God’s voice, even our sin become grace in his hands. He will show us the path and correct our steps, not by insisting on obedience, but by revealing our hearts. Not by counting ours sins against us, but by teaching us a new way to live.
DO NOT EVER FORGET, God speaks to us even in our sin!
SOMETIMES God speaks to us when we are IN SIN. He calls to us when we are living apart from Him, calling us to COME OUT of sin to restore our relationship to Him!
Like the woman in who was accused of adultery:
John 8:10–11 NLT
10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” 11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
John 8:11 NLT
11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Jesus spoke to her while she was still in sin, forgave her, and told her to, “…go and sin no more!” ()
John 8:11 NLT
11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
ILLUSTRATION
I have noticed God talking to me at times when I am IN SIN. He calls me to come OUT OF IT, then He teaches me about my deficiencies!
He doesn’t just tell me I am sinning—He teaches me why I sinned and how to avoid doing it again, or how to run from it!
For example:
The Great Alchemist turns our sin into the stuff of restoration. His message is restoration, and what’s more, he takes our defeat and turns it into the very fabric of instruction. God wants us to learn from our past sins, and “Go and sin no more” (). Have you ever learned from your sin? This is grace. God is not only ready to forgive; he is eager to teach. If we are open to God’s voice, even our sin become grace in his hands. He will show us the path and correct our steps, not by insisting on obedience, but by revealing our hearts. Not by counting ours sins against us, but by teaching us a new way to live.
This is grace. God is not only ready to forgive; he is eager to teach. If we are open to God’s voice, even our sin become grace in his hands. He will show us the path and correct our steps, not by insisting on obedience, but by revealing our hearts. Not by counting ours sins against us, but by teaching us a new way to live.
When I get angry, Jesus wants me to see the source of my anger, and admit my weakness that produced the anger that took control of me.
For example, if I fall into anger, Jesus wants to reveal its source, and heal the weakness that led to sin. If I choose greed, Jesus wants to reveal my insecurity, and heal the weakness that led to sin. If I choose lust, Jesus wants to reveal my desire, and heal the weakness that led to sin. If I choose judgment, Jesus wants to reveal my pride, and heal the weakness that led to sin. (Do you get the idea that God wants to heal the weaknesses that lead to sin?)
He provides the insight to deal with my deficiency and grow to eliminate anger in my life.
When I am judgmental, Jesus wants me to see my pride, acknowledge it, and discover why I am judgmental.
When I become greedy, He wants me to face selfishness and understand why I am selfish and why I fear giving to others.
If I choose greed, Jesus wants to reveal my insecurity, and heal the weakness that led to sin. If I choose lust, Jesus wants to reveal my desire, and heal the weakness that led to sin. If I choose judgment, Jesus wants to reveal my pride, and heal the weakness that led to sin. (Do you get the idea that God wants to heal the weaknesses that lead to sin?)
Grace is not just about forgiveness, it’s about learning the source of my deficiencies that lead me into sin, so I can dig out the root causes of my rebellion!
When Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more” He not only commanded her to stop her sinful life, but He gave her the POWER to stop!
In the coming week, what might happen if you tried this exercise once a day, each day? This exercise is not about merely gaining biblical knowledge (as important as that may be). It’s about opening our eyes, ears, and lives to the deeper grace God has in store. God’s grace wants to teach us a new way to live! True, we will still stumble and fall along the way, but there is always grace for forgiveness. Better still, there’s even more grace available to us for each new day and every new situation.
LOOK AT the passage again and TAKE IT LITERALLY for what it says—let’s read it with all the implications inserted:
Our application of these verses can be very personal: we can pray, listen, and learn. Let me explain:
Titus 2:11–14 ANT
11 For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward (appeared) for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind. 12 It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness (irreligion) and worldly (passionate) desires, to live discreet (temperate, self-controlled), upright, devout (spiritually whole) lives in this present world, 13 Awaiting and looking for the [fulfillment, the realization of our] blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 14 Who gave Himself on our behalf that He might redeem us (purchase our freedom) from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people [to be peculiarly His own, people who are] eager and enthusiastic about [living a life that is good and filled with] beneficial deeds.
In our daily prayers, we should include prayers like this: “Spirit of God, please open my eyes and heart to recognize your grace-works in my life.”
GOD’S matchless grace:
It’s also a part of God’s grace to answer prayers like this. Jesus assured us that if we ask him for bread, he will not give us a stone ().
Has delivered us from our old sinful self and cleanses us so we can enter heaven.
We can be confident that God will answer prayers like this one. After our time of prayer, it is our opportunity to learn. Make a few notes of what came to your mind. What did you discover about God as you prayed and listened? What did you discover about yourself? You can be sure that God will lead you toward a larger understanding of grace.
Grace guards us and trains in this life so we can live sensible, upright, and godly lives.
2. Grace guards us in this life so we can live sensible, upright, and godly lives .
In the coming week, what might happen if you tried this exercise once a day, each day? This exercise is not about merely gaining biblical knowledge (as important as that may be). It’s about opening our eyes, ears, and lives to the deeper grace God has in store. God’s grace wants to teach us a new way to live! True, we will still stumble and fall along the way, but there is always grace for forgiveness. Better still, there’s even more grace available to us for each new day and every new situation.
3.
Grace teaches us to understand our weaknesses and gives us the POWER to say “no” to sin.
Grace make us eager/enthusiastic to do what is good and beneficial for others!
Grace gives us the POWER to say “no” to sin!
Grace wasn’t just for the past to save you, nor for the future to get you into heaven—it’s for right now to makes us God’s own peculiar people to touch the lives of everyone we know!
[COMMUNION follows]
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