so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life, (3:7).
Three short chapters, each one concerned with godly living. But if living right was all there was to our calling, then we would have been supplied with a spreadsheet of checklists rather than His Living Word. For godly living is not something we can check off our to-do list; it is an absolute impossibility apart from Him. It is only His Justifying Grace that empowers godliness in the life of every believer.
And as Paul wraps up this brief note of encouragement and instruction, everything comes into focus as he reminds Titus of the condition of man before salvation.
For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another, (3:7).
His Living Word clearly diagnoses the condition of every man, woman and child. All of us have sinned. All of us fall short. And all of us can only be declared righteous by His Justifying Grace, as we place our faith in the atoning sacrifice of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith, (Romans 3:23-25a).
Paul went to great lengths to explain the truth of the doctrine of Justification in the book of Romans. For a very brief overview, let’s take some time to read the notes below.
From NIV Study Bible:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith… (Romans 3:23-25a NIV).
justified. Paul uses the Greek verb for “justified” 27 times, mostly in Romans and Galatians. It is translated “justify” in all cases [in the NIV translation] except two (2:13; 3:20) where it is translated “declared righteous.” The term describes what happens when people believe in Christ as their Savior: from the negative viewpoint, God declares them to be not guilty; from the positive viewpoint, he declares them to be righteous. He cancels the guilt of their sin and credits righteousness to them. Paul emphasizes two points in this regard:
(1) No one lives a perfectly good, holy, righteous life. On the contrary, “there is no one righteous” (v. 10), and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v. 23). “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his [God’s] sight by observing the law” (v. 20).
(2) But even though all are sinners, God will declare those who put their trust in Jesus not guilty but righteous. This legal declaration is valid because Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins and lived a life of perfect righteousness that can in turn be imputed to us. This is the central theme of Romans and is stated in the theme verse 1:17 (“a righteousness from God”). Christ’s righteousness (his obedience to God’s law and his sacrificial death) will be credited to believers as their own. Paul uses the Greek for “credited” 10 times in [Romans] ch. 4 alone.
freely by his grace. The central thought in justification is that, although people clearly and totally deserve to be declared guilty (vv. 9-19), God declares them righteous because of their trust in Christ. This is stated in several ways here: (1) “freely” (as a gift, for nothing), (2) “by his grace,” (3) “through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” and (4) “through faith” [Romans 3:25a].
redemption. A word taken from the slave market—the basic idea is that of obtaining release by payment of a ransom. Paul uses this word to refer to release from guilt, with its liability for judgment, and to deliverance from slavery to sin, because Christ in his death paid the ransom to set us free.
His Justifying Grace is His gift freely given, declaring us not guilty but righteous through Christ’s payment that releases us from the bondage of sin, and can only be received by faith in His shed blood as the atoning sacrifice for our sin.
And Paul exhorts Titus, and each of us, to trust His Living Word; our eternity is guaranteed and our life on this planet is forever changed to engage in good deeds because of His Justifying Grace.
This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men, (3:8).
Consider His Justifying Grace
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life, (3:4-7).
- His Justifying Grace, revealed in His Kindness and Love: But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appearedOr do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).
- But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, (Romans 5:8).
- His Justifying Grace, manifested in His Mercy: He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercyBut God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2:4-5).
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3).
- His Justifying Grace, completed in His Holy Spirit’s Work: by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy SpiritJesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” (John 3:5-6).
- But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, (Romans 8:11).
- His Justifying Grace, demonstrated in His Generosity: whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich, (2 Corinthians 8:9).
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, (Ephesians 1:3).
- His Justifying Grace, concluded in our Inheritance: so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life… In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory, (Ephesians 1:10-14).
- strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light, (Colossians 1:11-12).
How do we respond to His Justifying Grace?
We are called to holy and godly living, but not in our own effort. For just as we are solely dependent on His Justifying Grace for salvation, we are to be solely dependent on His Justifying Grace to engage in good deeds.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them, (Ephesians 2:8-10).
As we depend on His Justifying Grace, He will live His life through us and empower us to walk in the good works He has prepared for us and thus glorify Him in all that we do.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me, (Galatians 2:20).
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God, (1 Corinthians 10:31).
And Paul instructed Titus to remind the body of Christ in Crete that living our life in dependence upon His Justifying Grace will result in our being diligent to engage in good deeds.
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men, (3:1-2).
Let us depend on His Justifying Grace, that He will live His life through us, that we would be subject to authorities.
Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
7 Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men, (Philippians 2:5-7 HCSB).
Let us depend on His Justifying Grace, that He will live His life through us, that we would be obedient.
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love,” (John 15:10).
Let us depend on His Justifying Grace, that He will live His life through us, that we would be ready for good deeds.
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him, (Philippians 2:12-13 NLT).
Let us depend on His Justifying Grace, that He will live His life through us, that we would malign no one.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you, (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Let us depend on His Justifying Grace, that He will live His life through us, that we would be peaceable.
God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others, (2 Corinthians 5:18 CEV).
Let us depend on His Justifying Grace, that He will live His life through us, that we would be gentle.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” (Matthew 11:28-29).
Let us depend on His Justifying Grace, that He will live His life through us, that we would live our life by showing every consideration for all men.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:3-5).
Oh, let us daily lay down all that we are, trusting Him to lead us to engage in good deeds, that our life would truly become a living and acceptable sacrifice of worship as we depend on His Justifying Grace.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship, (Romans 12:1).