For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11-13)
Time and again, we have considered the connection between grace and justification. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Romans 3:24 and Ephesians 1:7). Now, we have an opportunity to ponder once more the relationship between grace and sanctification. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” It is God’s grace that brings salvation to mankind. For nearly 2,000 years, that saving grace of the Lord has been offered to humanity through the preaching of the gospel. This particular verse now adds another function to the work of grace. “For the grace of God [is] teaching us.”
The grace of God not only saves the souls of all who believe; it also works in believers’ lives to teach and instruct them. God’s grace, working through His word (“The word of His grace”—Acts 20:32), instructs and shapes our thinking and living: “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” It is the will of our Heavenly Father that His children turn away from that which is worldly and spiritually compromising. He wants us to walk in godliness, in Christlikeness. God works this into our hearts by His grace.
God’s grace also develops expectant lives, eager to have the Lord Jesus return for His people: “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
The grace of God impacting our hearts through His word by His Spirit is His divine means to bring about such transformation in us. To view sanctification as something we can produce through our own performance (that is, by law) is akin to overlooking God’s grace and underestimating the provisions of the cross of Christ. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21).