3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love
for mankind appeared,
5 He saved us—
not by works of righteousness that we had done,
but according to His mercy,
through the washing of regeneration
and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
6 He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 so that having been justified by His grace,
we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.
8 This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.
Paul spent a lot of time in his letter instructing Titus concerning how the believers should act. In today’s passage, Paul compares and contrasts. He says we used to act one way, but now we act a different way. Why the difference?
Jesus saved us.
In describing salvation’s effect on us, Paul uses two big words that we need to understand clearly: righteous and justified.
Righteous doesn't mean right, as in morally perfect. It means set right—put in right relationship.
Before the grace of God was applied to us in Christ, we were out of whack. We weren’t in right relationship with God or anybody else. That showed up in malice, envy, and all the other behaviors Paul names.
Justified is closely related to this righteousness, or rightness. To be justified, in religious terms, is to be made right.
Justified has another meaning that gives us a great word picture to help us understand. In printing terms, to justify is to align the type on a page with the edges of the page. When you set the margins on your Word document, you justify the type. You align it with the page.
When God's grace sets us right, it aligns us with God's bigger picture. It aligns our values with God's values, our character with God's character, our purpose with God's.
Whereas before we were all over the page, at the whim of our own purposes and desires, now we begin to live toward the future God is living toward—that "hope of eternal life" And we begin to behave like God behaves as we head toward that goal. God's grace changes our eternal destination.
But it also changes the manner in which we move though the present world. God's grace enables us to say a giant "Yes!" to Jesus and His future. But, as Paul pointed out earlier (Titus 2:11-12), God's grace enables us to say an intentional and effective "No!" to our past self with its behaviors and destiny.
Paul says in Titus 3:8 that we can trust this grace-action of God in our lives. We can trust grace to change us, to set us right and align us, not only with God's goal, but also with God's character. Paul wants Titus to stress this. Why? So believers will devote themselves to this alignment, which will show up in what Paul calls “good works.”
Devote was an Old Testament word that meant "to set aside for God to use." Good means “what is pleasing, what is morally excellent.” And it means “having the qualities required for a particular role; appropriate to a particular purpose.”
God didn't save you just so you could be morally good, or merely so you would please Him. He saved you so you would have the qualities required for a particular role, a particular purpose: to represent Him in a way that attracts others to Him.
- In Titus 2:10, Paul instructs believers who are slaves to behave toward their masters “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” What are some ways believers behave that makes the teaching of God unattractive to others?
- How are you different because Jesus has saved you? Compare your behavior, emotions, attitudes before Christ to those since Christ has come into your life.
- What are some behaviors, attitudes or emotions that remain in your life that could prevent someone from being attracted to Christ?How do these keep you from being aligned with God’s character, ways and purpose? Do you trust that God could set this right in your life through His grace?
- How do you feel about being “devoted”—set aside for God to use? What would keep you from wanting to be completely useful to Him—as Paul describes it, eager?
- How do you need to pray in light of your answers above?