Have you ever heard someone ask: “So, God’s grace is a license to sin and be an ungodly person?” A yearning comes over us for them to know this marvelous grace is not a free ride for living any way we want to live but actually the open road of righteousnessTitus 2:12 says, “[Grace] teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” The word “teaches” is the Greek word “paideuo”. It means “to continually train towards proper conduct, to instruct according to rules, and to punish with the intent to bring better behavior.” We can think of God’s grace as an instructor who educates, energizes and empowers us in the ways of righteousness. We wouldn’t want anyone to mistake His grace for a permit to run in sin.
But it doesn’t just help us to live without sin. God’s grace helps us to be actively godly. Sometimes that comes by pain. Sometimes in His Sovereign Goodness our God chooses to use unpleasant methods to bring about godliness that otherwise wouldn’t be part of our lives. He will discipline. He will correct. He will bring harm. Will we trust Him through it knowing that while tearing us down He is actually building us up? There will be times -and often I suppose – when we need His hand to injure us to learn better behavior and experience spiritual growth in our lives. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” So it would appear that because of His grace God is not hesitant to employ pain and discomfort so that we may be moved forward towards better things than our convenience and comfort: namely greater faith and godly living.
Through these costly advancements the work of God in us is made visible to all around, which is why Paul mentions “in this present age” at the end of the verse. The atmosphere of the age we live in is corrupted. God does not want us as His people to “blend in” with the immoral scene of this world. Our character should not be of any resemblance to that of the age we exist in. He wants us to stand out in stark contrast. We are to live as lights against a backdrop of corrupt darkness and showing that we know God by our self-controlled, upright, and godly living.