Our subject for today, the grace of God and how it works in our lives, is arguably the most important concept for you to understand and live by in the battle to be godly.
Because it is so important, the enemy of our souls has created much confusion and controversy on this topic. But if you can fight your way clear in understanding and applying God’s grace, you will experience a close relationship with God and consistent victory over sin (Rom. 6:14).
The classic definition is the best: God’s grace is His unmerited favor. Grace means that God showered favor and blessing on those who did not in any way deserve or earn it. They deserved His judgment and wrath. But He showed them favor.
God’s pure grace gets polluted from two sides. On the one side, grace runs counter to the way the world works, so it’s difficult for us to grasp it and get used to it. The world works on the merit system.
If you do well in school, you get good grades and win awards. If you do well in sports, you make the team and get a lot of applause. If you get into college, the merit system continues to reward excellence.
This carries over into the business world after college. Exceptional performance earns promotions and raises. Sloppy performance will get you fired.
Ask anyone on the street his opinion of how a person gets into heaven and you will hear something about being a good person. It was at the heart of pharisaic, legalistic religion in the times of Jesus and Paul.
But God’s grace also gets distorted from another side, which mistakes the grace of God for licentiousness (Jude 4). Many professing Christians wrongly think that God’s grace means that He gives out free passes that allow us to sin, with no consequences for disobedience.
If you emphasize the need to obey God’s commandments or do good works, they call you a legalist. If you warn them that their sloppy view of sin will result in God’s discipline, they don’t want to hear it.
Their mantra is, “I’m not into your rules kind of religion. I’m under grace, not law.” For them, grace means permission for sloppy living.
Our text corrects both of these serious misconceptions of God’s grace. Paul shows that…
God’s grace first saves and then trains His people
for godliness and good deeds.
The word “for” that opens verse 11 links these verses to what he has just said. In 2:1-10, Paul has shown that various groups of believers should beautify their lives with godliness and good deeds so as to attract others to the Savior. Paul’s mention of “God our Savior” (2:10) causes him to elaborate on the theological basis for our salvation and how understanding that inevitably leads to a life of godliness and good deeds. At the heart of everything is this crucial concept of God’s grace.