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Purple LilyThe Gospel of God

IV.  Training Us to Live

 

Romans 15:15-16 - But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God,...

 

Again, quoting here the whole text in our "Gospel" reference in Titus 2:11-15, 3:3-7 - taken from the English Standard Version:

 

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our 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 lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.  3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

In this sermon we are taking off from verse 12 in chapter 2 of the book of Titus:  "...training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,..."

 

"...training us..." 

 

 Now we get to some real meat!  Please note that the "training" going on in this verse is not from some dry, lifeless, arbitrary instruction manual written ages ago by some distant, unattached, indifferent instructor who could not care less whether you even take the course or whether you pass or fail!   Neither is this training in the same vein as that you would expect to receive as a recruit at a military boot camp in which the drill instructor has no personal interest in you beyond your mechanical obedience and your service number!  NO!  NO!  NO!!!  As we embark into this particular dimension of our study of the Gospel of God - the "training" part - let us remind ourselves that we are talking about our dynamic, ongoing, conversational, loving relationship ( a "DOCLOR") with our Father God, in the miraculous intervention and reconciliation that we enjoy afforded us through the work on the cross of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, by the person of the divine Holy Spirit supernaturally living in our individual heart.  [Feel free to read that last sentence again.]  We are children of the living God Almighty Who is taking the responsibility to see us into eternity fully alive and thriving in His very presence!  Remember what the Apostle Paul said in Second Corinthians about leaving this world?  

 

"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2Corinthians 5:8 ESV

 

We humans tend to think we will waltz into the throne room of heaven full of our selves, full of the ugliness and deceit and filthy thoughts that we presumptuously exercise ourselves in on a regular basis and everything will be fine.  Can you imagine what human pride and selfishness and greed would do in the beauty and purity and innocence of heaven?  None of our foolishness and iniquity will be there!  It will all be dealt with before we darken the doors of paradise.  God, in His mercy and His love for us, knowing what lurks about in the recesses of our deceitful hearts, has taken the responsibility to completely transform us into His likeness - god-like-ness!  SOMEBODY  has to do some serious housecleaning.  Can you see this?  And God is not leaving it up to human frailty and dishonesty to get the job done.  Mankind has proven over and over, we have individually proven it over and over to ourselves, that we cannot make the changes in character and being that must be made for us to be "acceptable" to God.  That is what this "training" is all about.  Substantive, practical, essential, fundamental conversion must be effected in His child and the Father has committed Himself to see to our transformation into pure children of God.  Not just in theory, not just theologically but God is training us in shoe leather, in attitude, thoughts, words and deeds!  Isn't this good news?!  

 

Amazing Grace!  "Twas grace that TAUGHT my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved."  If one is a child of God, then the Holy Spirit is busy at work in their life to bring them to a place where they will make a choice - a choice to renounce and turn away from all that raises its ugly head in their heart to oppose the formation of God's character.  Things that would be characterized as devilish, deceitful ways and the myriads of lustful passions of the world, all of which are very familiar to every one of us, these all must go.  Look in our text at verse 3 of chapter 3:  foolishness, disobedience, enslavement to many different forms of ungodly passions and pleasures, habitually given to malice and envy, caught in a downward spiral of hatred in relationships with others, an atmosphere of hatred swirling in and out of interactions between people and that hate feeding the one off the other!  Of course our deceitful innermost beings resist looking at these realities gripping us but their essence lurks like snakes in the grass in all of us.  God has a huge job to do in all of us.  It is His grace working mightily in you if you can honestly relate to the immensity of the job He has to do in your own heart.  God is working to bring each of us to the place where we can take the responsibility for our sinful nature and our sinful deeds and then willfully, humbly repudiate, repent, confess who we have become at the hands of the evil in the world around us and the evil lounging in our heart.  He is training us.  He is teaching us.  He is hard at work! 

 

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6 ESV

 

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV

 

6 "For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”  7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  Hebrews 12:6-7 ESV

 

You will note in verse 14 of Titus 2, the phrase: "redeem us from all lawlessness."  This is very precious.  Christ Jesus, on the Cross, paid the price to redeem us from ALL lawlessness - ALL that raises its ugly head in rebellion against the purity and the authority of God.  And the transformation that this training brings about manifests itself in the enthusiasm we exercise in doing good as opposed to the doing of so much selfishness and lustfulness and lawlessness in the past...such genuine enthusiasm in our heart that God is pleased to call us His own!  The price has been paid - a price we could not pay on our own and the ultimate consequence is the blessedness of actually living in God's camp as His obedient child.  This is our heritage.  This is the glorious destiny each of us as His children can embrace.  Anticipate God's success in accomplishing His goal for you in your life, in shoe leather!  Paul says: "I am SURE of this!!!  Grasp it with your mind.  Hold it with your imagination.  Know that you are being equipped with everything that is good so that you may DO His will, for HE IS WORKING IN US!

 

Renounce/Live

 

You will notice that there is a two-pronged goal in God's training:  1) For us to willfully, honestly, humbly renounce and turn away from all that offends and resists God in our being, and 2) to live...to live lives that mirror the character of our Creator...self-controlled, upright and godly (that is, "God-like")...IN THIS PRESENT AGE! 

 

In our attitude, in our thoughts, in our words, in our deeds, in the totality of all that we are as living human beings right here on Planet Earth, right now in real time, God's aim, His goal, His purpose for us is to live, to thrive, to have the fruitfulness that we see exemplified in the plant world.  A pear tree starts with a tiny seed that sprouts hidden in the sod, pushes its way up through the dirt and debris of the ground, and begins growth into a huge tree in comparison to what it started out being - that tiny, seemingly inert, lifeless seed.  But that is not all.  It does not just labor the ground with its size and its appearance, it begins to blossom, to bloom in the spring; big, beautiful flowers announcing for all to see a coming harvest: the succulent, healthy, nourishing fruit in the fall.  God is tending each of His plantings, each of His children, to bring them to maturity; maturity characterized by self-control, righteousness and godliness.  That is, self-control in our attitudes, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds.  Righteousness in our attitudes, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds.  God-likeness in our attitudes, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds.  God is not focused on how well you tap-dance or whether you can recite the books of the Bible or not.  He is working, His training is aimed at our character, our world view, our faith, hope and love, our god-like-ness!

 

...to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.  Isaiah 61:3 ESV

 

Christian Maturity

 

WHAT A HERITAGE!  WHAT A DESTINY!  What prospects of satisfaction, of contentment, of accomplishment, of attainment, of fulfillment, of maturity that lie in our future.  No matter, little child, how inadequate and unattractive and unholy you would judge yourself today, be encouraged - YES, get excited: It is written in Holy Scripture, that He who began a good work in you will surely bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  It may take a lifetime.  God may have a long way to go in your maturity.  Self-control in your habits may be near non-existent from your point of view.  Righteousness may be wishful thinking in your opinion right now.  To be godly may seem like a dream.  But be of good cheer - the Grace of God is alive and well, bringing salvation to all who receive Him...to all who believe Him...to all the children of His realm!  And if you were to look back to where you began and compare yourself to where you are today in your walk with the Lord Jesus, you would see you are not where you were back then, Praise God!  You may have a long way to go, but you have come a long way by the Grace of God!  This is His job.  God is hard at work.  Be careful not to belittle His ability to raise you up.  You may be discouraged at your own progress, but do not make fun of the One who is tending you as His child.  Trust God.  Give Him credit for being God, for being a promise keeper, for having the capability to do what He has said He will do in your life.  Of course, you are inadequate in your own strength.  Of course, when left to your own prowess and your own devices you fail every time.  Of course you cannot grow into a mature Christian on your own - it is God's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.

 

This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.  Psalm 118:23 ESV

 

 Just trust Him.  Just hold on to Him.  Just follow Him moment by moment and accept His discipline when you stray.  Remember...He is God, not you!

 

Reach up to Him.  Call out to your Heavenly Father.  Stand, full of humble gratitude at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Walk humbly, one step at a time, firmly holding the Hand of Holy Spirit as He teaches, as He convicts, as He comforts with His love, as He shows you the path of life, as He teaches you to renounce and to live.

 

 

For the next sermon, Click here to go back to The Gospel of God outline.

 

 

The Scripture quotations marked "ESV" are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

All other scripture quotations are from the Authorized Version of the King James Bible.

 

Content - © Copyright 2010, 2011, 2014 Christian Concourse Ministries, Inc.  All rights reserved.

 

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