11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
They (the verses above) summarize that life that Paul has just described, they root it in God’s grace and Christ’s work, and they locate it in time. This is the life that a Christian lives from the time he becomes a Christian to the time he is taken from this world, either by death or, in the case of some favored generation of believers, by the Second Coming. It is a life of faith, or, as Paul puts it here, of hope, a strong word in the New Testament. The Christian’s hope is the certainty of things not seen, things that are still to come but are sure to come. A great grace, a great God and Savior, a great redemption, a great future and a great calling meantime are all to lead every Christian to be a zealot for good works.
Characteristic of Paul’s teaching of the Christian life in his letters, the Christian life is described here in a double way. It is described both negatively and positively. Think, for example, of Colossians 3:5-10 where Christians are exhorted to “put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature…” – the negative – and then “put on the new self” and “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, and so on” – the positive. Everywhere we have this double action: mortification and vivification; putting to death and bringing to life.
And we have that same double action here. We have it in v. 12. We are called to say “No!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and, and this is the sense of the context, to say “Yes!”to self-control and godliness. We have it again in v. 14. Christ redeemed us both to deliver us from all wickedness and to purify us for himself, to make us eager to do what is good. And we have it still again in v. 15 where Titus is commanded both to rebuke – to clear away the bad – and to encourage – to strengthen what is good. It is not enough to take the bad parts out of a non-functioning car. The new parts must be installed and then adjusted and then put to work. It is not enough for a student to stop being lazy and to quit watching so much TV. He must now acquire the habits of hard work, of attention to his studies, and, of enjoying the intellectual progress that he begins to make.
All right thinking about living the Christian life will embrace this double motion, this action in opposite directions: to put sin to death in our hearts and lives and to bring more and more to expression the new nature that the Holy Spirit, as the gift of Christ, has created in us. As Paul makes a point of saying and then saying again in these few verses, both the deliverance from sin and the putting on of the new man are the gifts of God’s grace and the fruits of Christ’s redemption.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Titus 3:1-2.