Written by Dane Boruff
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– 2 Peter 1:5-8
'For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. ' – Titus 2:11-14 NIV
As discussed in last week’s devotion, faith is a free gift given by God. It is the first step towards spiritual maturity, and it is the mark of our salvation. There is no work required of us in order to receive this gift. We must simply understand and believe in the saving work of Jesus Christ. How great is that?! God, in his mercy and justice, made a way for us to be made holy in his sight! Unfortunately, many of us believe that is where the story stops, but scripture shows that this is just the beginning.
2 Peter 1:5 says that because we have received this salvation through faith, we should make “every effort” to add to our faith goodness (moral excellence in the NLT). This is the first step towards spiritual maturity. God doesn’t desire for us to simply stop at salvation. He wants us to become “mature and complete, lacking nothing” – James 1:4. To make “every effort” implies work. Salvation may be a free gift, but spiritual maturity is one that requires us to do the work needed to achieve it.
Our scripture for today is Titus 2:11-14. It shows us that because we have received this grace and salvation we should “turn from godless living and sinful pleasures” and be “committed to doing good deeds”. That is what goodness looks like practically from the outside, but there is something deeper at work in this passage. It speaks to our hope. We have hope in the return of Jesus Christ. This hope changes the way we view the world, and everything in it. He gave his life to “free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people”, and we can live differently in this world because we have faith that he will return and free the entire world from sin in the same way he freed us.
Here’s the problem, many of us don’t want salvation from sin, we just want salvation from the consequences of sin. Read Galatians 5:19-25 and you will quickly see that a life lived in step with the Holy Spirit does not mix with a life lived in the flesh (sinful nature). We must crucify our flesh in order to begin to grow in spiritual maturity. This is a daily act of denial. Our flesh will say, “I want that”, and we will deny those desires. Sounds fun right?! In all seriousness, this is not something that will be easy, but it is a muscle that we have to work. Just like a daily gym routine, the more we do it the easier it becomes. But sustaining a lifestyle lived in step with the Holy Spirit is not a work that can be done by brute force alone. It requires true knowledge of God, and that is what we will talk about next week!
- What is the difference in salvation from sin and salvation from the consequences of sin?
- How often do you think about the fact that Christ will return to free the whole world from sin?
- How does that knowledge change your view of the world?
- Are there desires of the flesh that you still struggle with?
- What would it take to deny yourself of those things?
- Our passage from Titus says that we should be “totally committed to doing good deeds”. What is one good deed you could do today in light of this commitment?