Many times grace is misunderstood. Grace misunderstood teaches us easy-believism for salvation (prayer of accepting Jesus and going on my way) and gives us license to do what I want instead of obediently following Jesus. On the other hand, grace misunderstood causes many to buy into the idea that we are saved by grace, but must work out our salvation in our own strength. But Titus 2:11-14 says:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 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 (ESV).
God’s grace is a saving grace that also transforms and empowers us to live God-pleasing lives. The definition I like to use for grace is God’s unmerited transforming power working in and through us by the Holy Spirit. Grace is God’s unmerited favor and his power working in our heart and lives through the Holy Spirit to transform and enable us to faithfully follow and fruitfully serve Jesus.
According to this passage grace not only saves us, but is God’s power to transform or sanctify the follower of Jesus. Grace trains us. The idea of training is bringing up a child or training people to be able to do something. Grace trains us in the life skills of being faithful followers of Jesus. It trains us to renounce or say no to ungodliness and worldly passions while empowering us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. The beauty of grace is that it deals with both the sin nature that we need to renounce while it transforms us to be like Christ—not just pointing out the sin problem but giving a way to live in victory and freedom in Jesus in God’s strength. What a gracious Father who understands our frailties and bent to sin and give us his grace as the solution! Grace gives me the ability to say no to sin and live a transformed life under the Spirit’s control, treating others the way God has treated me in Christ Jesus. Grace gives me the ability to be fully dependent on God and love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. This godly life is the work of grace that is available to everyone who calls on the name of Jesus.
To experience the benefits of God’s grace, we need to abide in Jesus and yield to his leading. As we abide in Jesus and stay connected through the Word and prayer, we can not only hear what we need to renounce in our lives, but also have his power to be transformed by his grace. This transformation by grace occurs as we yield to Jesus by renouncing and repenting of our ungodliness and worldly passions and willingly engaging the Spirit-led actions that God asks us to do. This leads to a self-controlled, upright, and godly life. It is not me doing in my strength what I think I need to do, but rather it is following the Spirit’s leading through grace. This is the supernatural power of God’s transforming grace working in us.
I need to be careful not to hinder the work of grace by doing it in my strength or saying, “I can’t or won’t yield this area of my life.” Next time we will address the ways we hinder God’s grace from being transforming in our lives.
If you want to read more regarding grace, I would recommend The Disciplines of Grace by Jerry Bridges.