Those enslaved to sin frequently feel as if there is no way out for them. Sin can get such a grip on a heart and life, have such a stranglehold, that the relentless images and immediate pull of sin can feel overwhelming and impossible to escape.
And indeed, when we give in to any sin, time and time again, we become weakened, dull in our thinking, weighed down with guilt, and covered in shame. We end up confused, extremely discouraged, and thoroughly frustrated with ourselves. We might wonder, "Why can't I just stop this?"
We might go years and years in our sinful condition until we become entirely hopeless that we will ever change. We read glowing testimonies of how God set other people free, and the beginning of their story sounds so much like ours - yet, for some reason unknown to us, we don't find that same freedom. Instead, we plod along in quiet despair, believing that freedom seems to be for everyone else, but not for us. We despair, thinking, "I can't lose weight!" "I can't be free from porn!" "I cannot forgive my spouse!" "I cannot stop smoking, no matter what I try!" "I can't break free from ...." But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Both salvation, and our freedom from sin, come by the grace of God, purchased at the cross for us and is actuated by faith in Jesus’ finished work. Notice how this is made clear by Paul’s words to Titus:
“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” (Titus 2:11-14).
The grace of God is extremely powerful as we can see in Titus 2, grace offers (brings) salvation and teaches us to live differently. In other words, God's grace saves, sanctifies, and sets us free.
The phrase "the grace of God has appeared" means that the grace of God came to us in the form of a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came from God "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
Grace lived without sin in your place to award you all the blessings promised to those who keep the Law perfectly; then Grace died in your place to remove the curse of God that is on every life that breaks the Law. Grace lived and died for you, because Grace, in the Person of Jesus Christ, loves you dearly (Ephesians 5:25-33).
Friend, the grace of God accomplishes something because it comes to the heart of a believer with power. Notice what grace believed does for us:
“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 2:12).
God’s grace does not merely save us from judgment, God’s wrath, and hell, as excellent as all those are; it also teaches us to live differently, teaching us to say no to worldly passions.
Think of the benefit of this: what is overeating? It is simply a worldly passion, a deep inner desire to gratify our flesh. What are drunkenness, abuse of drugs, immorality with its resulting gratification of the flesh, or any other form of sin? These are all gratification of our flesh, worldly passions, and carnal lust. That’s it—nothing more, nothing less.
And God’s grace teaches us to say no to the flesh and to live a self-controlled life, a life that is upright rather than fallen down, a life that is godly right here and now, as we wait for Jesus to come and take us home. This freedom and transformation of life is the power of grace!
But grace is not merely a theological term or an inanimate concept; no, grace is a Person, Jesus Christ! And grace comes to us as we look at the cross and believe the message of what Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection. Indeed, Jesus purchased grace for us by the payment of His blood for our sins.
“Jesus Christ, 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” (Titus 2:13-14).
Oh, friend, look at the purchase price made for you to receive grace! Look at the suffering Jesus willingly endured: the rejection and mocking, the pain and torture, the blood and sweat, the agony and tears, the horror and wrath, the piercing and death! Look at His love poured out for you on Calvary’s hill! Look at His wounds and scars, look at the nails and thorns, look at the bleeding and dying! Oh, yes, it’s true, Jesus “loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus is grace in action: grace covered in blood, grace won on a cursed tree, grace, full and free!
Jesus paid a high price for you to receive grace! It was the price of a perfect life and a substitutionary death! It was a price conceived in love, in eternity past, implemented in time by love, and the results of this love last throughout all eternity as we worship Him in heaven “who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Revelation 1:5). His powerful death on the cross is how Jesus lovingly served us: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many!“ (Matthew 20:28).
Consider Titus 2:14 in the Amplified version:
“who [willingly] gave Himself [to be crucified] on our behalf to redeem us and purchase our freedom from all wickedness, and to purify for Himself a chosen and very special people to be His own possession, who are enthusiastic for doing what is good” (Titus 2:14 AMP).
Now notice the results of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus died to:
Sin’s power and control in our lives can indeed be discouraging, frustrating, and weakening to us. We can become hopeless in our fight against it, having tried so hard and failed so often.
But rather than wallowing in despair or turning to the world with its worldly wisdom, we must learn how to receive grace! Learn how to apply the cross to our sin struggles. Learn to come daily to the cross, loaded down with sin, look up, and see your load being taken off of you and put on the dying Lamb of God. See Jesus weighed down with the sins of the world as He gave His life for you. See Him bleed to atone for all your sins. See Him die with forgiveness on His lips. See Him declare the victory, saying with a loud voice, “It is finished!” Then you will truly be able to say, “Mine was the transgression, thine the deadly pain” (Paul Gerhardt 1607-1676).
As you look at the cross, you see that God replaced your scarlet sins with the whiteness of snow (Isaiah 1:18). He cast our sins behind his back (Isaiah 38:17), blotted them out to never again bring them to mind (Isaiah 43:25). He swept them away like a dissolving cloud or mist (Isaiah 44:22), tread them into the ground without a trace, and cast them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19)! Yes, God removed your transgressions as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:8–12). Come live in this grace and learn from it.