************ Sermon on Titus 2:14 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 15, 2020
"Eager to Do What is Good"
World Hunger Sunday
COVID has been absolutely devastating to Africa. That was the topic of a recent Word & Deed discussion group. COVID has been absolutely devastating to Africa. Not the disease itself; African countries have managed to keep the coronavirus under control with a relatively low number of cases. Rather, what is devastating is the shutdown because of the disease. The region is suffering its first recession in 25 years. Some 40 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty, erasing at least five years of progress in fighting poverty. Similarly, school closures affect nearly 253 million African students, causing losses in learning. For the poor, the cure is worse than the disease.
This is where we Christians step in through Word & Deed. Who are we as Christians? We are people "eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:14). This theme is repeated four times in Paul's short letter to Titus. So doing good is important. Listen to the verses:
Titus 2:14 (NIV84) — 14 [Jesus Christ] 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.Notice the words describing this: eager, ready, devote, do.
Titus 3:1 (NIV84) — 1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,
Titus 3:8 (NIV84) — 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Titus 3:14 (NIV84) — 14 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.
But before we look at the good we are called to do, let us remind ourselves of the reason.
I God's Grace Saves
Why are we to do good? Why are we to be eager, ready, and devoted to doing good? Go back to verse 11:
Titus 2:11 (NIV84) — 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.This verse tells us three things.
First, as baptism shows us, this verse tells us God is a saving God and His grace saves undeserving sinners. God's grace saves those who can't save themselves. That's the point of "grace." Grace means it is a gift, a gift of God. Grace means it is free, unearned, undeserved, unmerited. There is nothing we do, nothing we can do, to earn salvation. Grace delivers us from the penalty of sin. We deserve punishment, eternal punishment, because of sin. But grace delivers us, saves us, rescues us.
Second, this verse tells us God's grace appeared. That is, it appeared in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus left behind the glories of heaven. He did not cling to His equality with Father. He emptied Himself. He became a man. He took on flesh. He took the nature of a servant. So He would suffer. So He would bleed. So He would die. So He would take our place. So we would be saved.
Third, this verse tells us God's grace appeared for all men. This doesn't mean all men are saved. Rather, it means all are called to repent of their sin and believe in the Lord Jesus.
God's saving grace is for you and your children, congregation. To enjoy it, to make salvation yours, from the human side all you need do is repent and believe.
II God's Grace Teaches
A God's grace saves. But God's grace also teaches. It teaches us to live good lives. God's grace not only changes our future with salvation, it also changes our present with good lives. Saving grace breaks sin's dominion.
Do you know what I am talking about? I am talking about sanctification. Saving grace makes us into new creations. The Spirit of God takes up residence in our hearts and we become brand new people, cleaned people.
Someone told me her grandson was on her computer, did all sorts of downloads, and now the computer had all these popups. Nothing was working. The computer needed to be cleaned out and reprogramed or reset.That's what the grace of God does to us. It not only saves us but it also reprograms us.
Paul describes this marvelous work of God in both a negative and a positive way.
B Negatively, we are instructed by the grace of God to deny something. Look at verse 12: "It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions." God's grace teaches us to reject, to renounce. It isn't enough for those given the saving grace of God to be saved. They also want to be delivered from the power of sin and Satan. The saved soul has been saved by God to break from the power of sin.
Paul says you reject "ungodliness." That is, you reject irreverence. When a person is given the saving grace of God, the first thing that goes out the window is irreverence, a lack of respect, a lack of worship, a lack of adoration -- for God. When God's saving grace comes, the sinner abandons all of this and becomes a true and devout worshiper of God. When God's saving grace comes, atheists, agnostics, unbelievers, and Christ deniers become worshipers of the one only true God. Your thoughts focus on God and His kingdom, power, and glory when you receive saving grace.
Paul also says those with saving grace reject "worldly passions." These are lusts which are characteristic of the ungodly culture. These lusts are given different names throughout Scripture: fleshly lusts, foolish lusts, hurtful lusts, youthful lusts. In out text Paul mentions worldly lusts or worldly passions. What kind of lusts are we talking about? Paul specifies for us in Colossians 3:
Colossians 3:5,8 (NIV84) — 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry ... 8 ... anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.Quite a list, isn't it?! Those who receive the saving grace of God are taught to make a break with patterns of living that are controlled by lust. Those lusts are renounced. They are denied. There is a transformation. There is a reprogramming. The reset button has been pressed. As verse 14 puts it, Jesus "gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify us for himself."
Galatians 5:19–21 (NIV84) — 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I hope you realize you aren't be saved, you don't have saving grace, if you don't say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions.
C Positively, we are instructed by the grace of God to affirm some things. The grace of God teaches us "to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" (Titus 2:12). Paul uses three words: self-control, upright, godly. These three words point us in three different directions.
The first direction is inward. One of the things that happens when you are saved is you have self-control. You can control yourself. You can control your tongue. You can control your desires and cravings. You can control your anger. You can control your temper. You can control yourself. As for those who are not saved, all they can do is sin, sin, sin. But a Christian has self-control. You can bring your flesh under the control of God's Spirit to do and to say what is right.
The second direction is outward. When you are saved you are upright. Which means in your relationships with your neighbors you obey God's standard for what is right and wrong. There is a change in how you treat others.
The third direction is upward. When you are saved you are godly. That is, you become reverent. You honor God. You worship God. You adore and praise God.
This is not the future that we are talking about. The grace of God teaches us how to live "in this present age." The present time. Today. Saving grace not only delivers us from future hell but also teaches us for present day living. It teaches us to say "No" today. It teaches us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives today.
III God's Grace Changes
A Some people view the grace of God as nothing but a fire insurance policy; they think of it only as something to keep them from the fires of hell. What they don't get is that saving grace is also changing grace. We see a vertical change and a horizontal change.
First, the vertical change. The grace of God, says our text, causes a change in ownership. You might have seen a sign in a store: under new management. That describes the Christian. The unregenerate sinner is the possession of sin. He is owned. He is controlled. He is a slave of unrighteousness. Saving grace breaks that ownership. We are now "his very own." His possession. Belonging to Jesus. Under new management. You all know Q & A 1 of the Catechism:
I am not my ownWhy this change in ownership, this change in management. Because He bought us. He paid the price.
body and soul,
in life and in death--
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
But now another change. The first change was vertical -- our relationship with God. The second change is horizontal -- our relationship with others. What is this change? We are now a people who are "eager to do what is good." Don't overlook the word "eager." Zealous. Passionate. God wants us passionate about good deeds. This is aggressive goodness. This is not reluctant goodness. This is an eagerness that gets up in the morning and can hardly wait to see what God wants us to do today.
B On this World Hunger Sunday we are called to do good. Because of God's grace at work within us. Because we have been redeemed and purified by Christ. Because we are under new management.
What is this good we are called to do? The Bible doesn't leave us guessing. So, let me read a number of verses that spell it out for us:
Luke 6:8–9 (NIV84) — 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
It is good to save live, to improve life.
Luke 6:35 (NIV84) — 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
It is good to help even our enemies, enemies of the cross.
1 Timothy 6:18 (NIV84) — 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share (cf Heb 13:16).
It is good to be generous and to share.
Galatians 6:10 (NIV84) — 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
We especially want to do good to fellow believers.
Everyone knows about Sodom and Gomorrah. Why were these cities destroyed? One of the reasons: they failed to do good deeds.
Ezekiel 16:49 (NIV84) — 49 Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.They did not help the poor and needy. Ezekiel announces that God's people were no better. They were His possession, His people. But they did not help the poor and needy.
Sodom failed. Israel failed. In capital letters I have written: ARE WE ANY BETTER? Yes we are. Because we are under new management. Because we have been purified and redeemed by Christ. So, I want to brag about this congregation. We are the most generous group of believers I have ever come across. I mention this in the World Hunger devotional booklet I wrote: thanks to you I was able to raise $14,150 in the bike-a-thon for Word & Deed. The Grand Rapids office of Word & Deed has us listed as its top supporting church. I thank you, congregation. And, I thank the Lord for making you this way.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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