Titus 2:11-14 (NIV) 11 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, 13 while we wait for the 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 wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
I often think about the first day sin entered the world. It was a day in which everything changed. I try to picture it and think about just what changes sin brought about. As the succulent juices of the fruit dribbled down the chins of Adam and Eve, their eyes wide with new knowledge. It wasn’t the knowledge they were expecting. For the first time, evil thoughts nestled themselves in the recesses of the brains. The snake, Satan, chuckled in the background as their perfect, joyful life with God now lay shattered, the pieces unable to be put together. As the realization at what they had lost dawned on them, both Adam and Eve did the only thing they could think to do and blamed each other. They covered themselves with fig leaves because they could no longer trust themselves or each other. Now with sin in the world, wickedness would spread. Murders would happen, relationships would be torn apart, pain would run rampant across the world, and people would no longer care for the God who loves them so much. Sin riddled our world through the ages. It couldn’t go on like this. God didn’t want his people to be damned to an eternity in hell. God couldn’t take it. He needed to do something to save the crown of his creation, the human race he loves with all his heart. And he did.
Today we get to look at four verses from Titus chapter two and see how God broke the pattern of sin. Sin is still here today, but it has no power over us. These verses are a four-step process of how God changed everything again with the birth of the baby boy known as Jesus. With this little boy in Bethlehem, nothing would be the same for God’s people ever again.
The first verse tells us, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” That little baby in a manger that we are here to celebrate; he is the grace of God. He is a visible act of God’s love for us as a fallen world. Within his tiny little hands and tiny little feet resided the greatest power the world will ever know. This grace did not appear in the cold splendor of royal might or as a ruthless dictator, but in a humble babe. Yet, his appearance marked the saving and the forgiveness of sins for all people. But exactly does this mean for us? Let’s start breaking it down in the next verse.
The next verse says, “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” In other words, the grace of Jesus teaches us godliness. It tells us what to do and what not to do. But it’s more than that. If that were all it did, it would be no different from the law. Rather, God’s grace provides the reason, the strength, the will to do what pleases God. It coaxes, it stimulates, it inspires, it gives us the strength to deny and reject all godlessness, all the desires and lusts of this world. Maybe the best way to explain it is it’s the umph behind what a Christian does. And just like we would expect from children in school, its teachings produce noticeable results in us. The Christian shows the grace that has saved him also affects his life. He does these to please God. The Christian never stops learning godliness because God never stops his shower of grace that comes through the gospel. This learning process continues throughout “this present age.” This implies an age still to come, which brings us to step three.
“While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” This shows us the godliness we were taught by Jesus now hopes for glory at his return. Let me simplify this. Imagine this world is like a play. Act 1 was needing and waiting for a Savior. Act 2 was Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Act 3 is when Christ finally returns. We are now waiting for Act 3 and we look forward to when Christ will come again, wrap things up in this world and bring us to an eternity with him.
This brings us to our final step to understanding the birth of Jesus. The verse tells us, “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Our glory is certain because Jesus redeemed us. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 explains, “You are not your own; you were brought at a price.” Jesus buys us back through his perfect life and innocent death on a cross. He has made you his own cherished possession, cleansing you from your sin freely by his grace. This is how we can look at the birth of Jesus and understand exactly what his birth means for us. In view of the cross, his birth means everything to us. He is a Christmas gift to all people. Those who trust in him lay hold of this gift and get to open it again and again. It is not always the gift our sinful flesh wants, but it is the gift we need every day of our lives. Jesus changes everything for you. Amen.