11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our 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 lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)
At a recent elders’ meeting, Nathan taught from the second chapter of Titus. While it wasn’t the main thrust of his teaching, the phrase “renounce ungodliness” stood out to me. In context, Paul is exhorting Titus to teach what accords with sound doctrine. He goes on to list ways to exhort older men, older women, young women, younger men, and bondservants. He then starts verse 11 with the word “for”, indicating that what is coming next–is the ground for all of the previous teaching.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bring salvation for all people.” The grace of God has appeared, in the person of Jesus Christ, through whom people from every nation will be saved. This saving grace doesn’t merely justify us and leave us where we are. Rather, God’s transforming power redeems us from lawlessness (v. 14); that is, it frees us from slavery to sin. It trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions (v.12).
I like that word renounce. It means to formally declare one’s abandonment of; to refuse to recognize or abide by any longer; to declare that one will no longer engage in or support. Synonyms include repudiate, deny, reject, abandon. Renounce is an active verb. Once we have been set free from sin through faith in Jesus Christ, we are to go to war against our sin. We are to abandon ungodliness. We are to reject worldly passions. We are to kill sinful habits. And we are to do all of this–not is our own strength–but through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, it’s an act of our will; but it’s a Holy Spirit empowered will, acting through prayer and the reading of (and meditating on) Scripture. We are to put on the whole armor of God to stand firm against the devil’s schemes and our own iniquity (Ephesians 6:10-18).
As we continually fight this war against the sin that resides within us, the amazing grace of God begins to bear the fruit of self-control, righteousness, and godliness (v. 12). It purifies us and makes us zealous for good works (v. 14). It causes us to be transformed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) and look forward with great anticipation, eagerness, and hope to the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (v. 13), when God will gather us in as His own possession.
Brothers and sisters, let us make a concerted effort to renounce ungodliness. Let us abandon worldly passions. Let us put to death anything that distracts us from the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And as we do so, we will notice the glorious fruit of self-control, righteousness, and godliness growing in ourselves and each other.