For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, Titus 2:11-12
Above is Jimbob story, below audio is today’s blog reading
In today’s story Jimbob tries to practice his “no”. His momma tells him its part of character development. Over the last couple of days, I have found myself repeating and meditating on the phrase, “I can and I am able to say ‘No’.” When phrases or situations repeat themselves, I recognize it as one of the ways that God is possibly speaking to me. So let’s dig in.
Titus 2:12 very clearly repeats the thought I was having. “It teaches us to say “No”. Now the context of the verse has a beginning and ending to this newfound ability to say “No”. Let’s look at the ending and then loop back to the beginning. The ending explains WHAT we are to say “no” to and the beginning answers the HOW.
Paul tells Titus that we are to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. In other words Paul gives the framework to keep our lives aligned for blessings to continue flow toward us. When you step outside of these guardrails life begins to get bumpy, and dangerous to ourselves and sometimes others.
Ungodliness is the Greek word asebia. It is the negative of honoring or respecting that which is holy and sacred. Dishonoring. In this context, Paul is telling Titus to say “No” to everything which would bring God dishonor or would reveal a lack of reverence for Him. It is more than the 10 commandments although they would be included. It is a similar framework in the “shame cultures” which instructs children to obey or they would bring shame upon the whole family. So we say “no” to those things which are not like godly character or the ways of God.
Worldly passions is two Greek words – kosmikas and epithymias. The kosmos refers to everything belonging to the world in which we live. In this context it is the base part of the worldly system which is opposite of the values of the kingdom of God. Epythymias is the term for strong desire such as a lust for gold. People left home possessions behind in order to pursue becoming rich in finding gold. The strong desire dominated their decisions. This is a person led by strong feelings as the compass for their decisions.
God’s grace becomes the teacher to live holy. If you are like me, I thought the Law, rules and regulations would be the teacher to choose to live godly. Why grace? The law teaches that we all fall short, we are all guilty. We don’t just sin a little bit, we are designated as sinners. Grace moves our actions to a higher plane outside of our passions and “ought to’s”
Grace and forgiveness creates hope. It links to love. It allows us to connect to a higher pursuit of actions. The boy who starts to like a girl, begins to use deodorant and cologne which his parents have been struggling to make him do. He changes behavior because he honors her. It’s no longer about having to put on deodorant, now he gets to do something that he believes will please his girlfriend. She likes him, regardless. But if she mentions it one time, he seems to never forget to put it on. His newfound love alters his behavior and gives him the strength to change.
Let’s put it all together in Greg’s expounded version
God forgives me of sin and extends grace to me, again and again which is part of the definition of grace. This grace is needed for salvation, I can’t earn it by being good enough. This grace is available to everyone who wishes to partake of God’s forgiveness. This grace and forgiveness begins to discipline and instruct while at the same time helping us to live godly lives. We will have the power and strength to say “no” to all that is not godly. We will choose to honor God in our behavior and speech. It will also help us to say “no” to our out of control, before Christ, worldly passions.
God’s grace is strong enough to break those bad habits and addictions. God’s grace is available to strengthen us to say “no” to time wasters, sweets, pornography, gossip, gambling, lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life. The strength does not come from your emboldened resolve, it comes from brokenness and failure in which the grace of God touches your heart. To promise God you will do better next time only reveals you are relying on your own strength, rather lean into God’s grace for the strength to overcome. He forgives and creates the relationship bond to bring the way fo escape needed to say “no”. It is His grace which sets you on the path to choosing godliness and saying “no” to all the other stuff. There has to be a “yes to God” which is wrapped in His love (relationship) before there is strength to say “no” to this world.
May God bless you as you learn to say “Yes” to God and “No” to everything ungodly. One pastor told me about marriage. It’s not only saying “yes, I do” to the one you love. It is also saying “No” to everyone else. When your spouse is the object of your affection…all the other alternatives just never measure up to the prized possession in your life. A loving relationship captivates the heart to choose honor and aligns a lifestyle befitting love.
Go ahead and say “no” aloud to get some practice. By God’s grace let your “no” realign your loving relationship to God, His will and way.
Blessings Love y’all