Sound Words: Grace Teaches Godliness

Sound WordsFew Bible words are as misunderstood as grace. Bible believers generally understand that the Christian life is begun by grace. However, many are ignorant of the fact that the Christian life continues by grace. Some promote a graceless sanctification that depends on human effort—a genuine legalism. Others teach a “grace awakening” sanctification that almost denies human effort—a sort of antinomianism. How does grace relate to Christian living? Titus 2:11–14 provides the answer.

Grace teaches godliness. Contrary to the “do-what-you-want” view, Titus 2:11–12 says that the same grace that provides salvation for all men teaches Christians to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and instead live soberly, righteously and godly—right now! The same grace that saved you, changes you. If it isn’t, you’re not saved. Grace teaches godliness. So much for antinomianism.

Grace teaches godliness. Contrary to the “do-it-yourself” view, Titus 2:11–12 also says that your Christian life is as grace-based as your Christian birth. (see Gal 3:3) Sure, you participate in your sanctification by denying what is evil and pursuing what is right, but you do so only as you are taught by grace. You need divine enablement. You need the grace that teaches godliness. So much for legalism.

The Christian life is lived in the light of Christ’s two “appearances.” He came once to save us from sin (v. 11). He will come again to vanquish sin (v. 14). With an eye on each, let’s pursue godly living—by grace.

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“Sound Words” is a monthly column in the OBF Visitor, the publication of The Ohio Bible Fellowship. This article was first printed in December 2006 and is cross-posted from the OBF Visitor blog, where many other articles are posted and may be searched by author, category and keyword. Information on subscribing to the Visitor is available here.

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6 Responses

  1. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid! Paul sure nails this issue in Rom. 6. (I think I like Paul so much ’cause he was trained as a lawyer.)

  2. Here is a shameless plug for my post on the passage from a few weeks ago.

    There is an element of mystery in how God’s grace accomplishes this teaching, but there is no doubt about the direction in which the teaching is pointed. Modern antinomians are foolishly ignoring the imperatives and philosophy of the New Testament in trying to live as they please.

    Regards,
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Good post Chris.

  4. I want to get the exposition on Itimothy chapter 4

  5. but what is grace? I’m sorry but I’ve become totally confused on that point when the bible say’s and the grace of the lord was with him [jesus] what does it mean? likewise, grace teaches godliness…I don’t understand, what is grace? (btw I’m already saved and I understand that Christ saved me by the cross which is what I’ve always understood grace to mean- saving or giving where nothing was deserved. however in light of these new verses I’m confused)

  6. Liz,

    I have to be very brief, but the Bible teaches that grace is much more pervasive in the Christian life than most people realize. We are indeed saved by grace (Eph 2:8-9). God has provided us the gift of salvation as an undeserved gift (through Jesus Christ) which we could never earn. The point of the verses in Titus 2 cited above (and others, such as 2 Peter 3:18) is that our growth as Christians is likewise by grace. We’re still dependent on God to give strength beyond our own and achieve what we cannot. So (a) grace doesn’t stop when you trust Christ, and (b) grace is not an excuse to sin. On the contrary, “grace teaches godliness.”

    FWIW, I’m reading Holiness by Grace by Bryan Chapell, and it’s quite helpful in explaining this important matter. I recommend it to you. I also recommend that you find a strong Bible-preaching church with a pastor that can explain this further.

    Hope this helps!

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