Once our lives are rooted in the grace of the gospel, we must grow in the grace of the gospel. This growth requires discipline. We tend to equate discipline with rules and performance; but God equates discipline with firm but loving care for our souls.
We must come back to the grace of the gospel everyday. We are saved by grace. We are to grow by grace. We do not pursue spiritual growth or the evidences of God’s discipline to attain salvation. That would be salvation by works. Rather, God’s discipline in our lives and the desire to grow on our part is the result of us receiving God’s gift of salvation by faith.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age …” (Titus 2:11-12).
Salvation and discipline are inseparable. Salvation is not only a change in position, but it is also a change in attitude. This requires discipline. The key to attaining and maintaining any skill is practice, practice and more practice. This is true of our spiritual growth as well.
Grace teaches us to say NO. Paul wrote that God’s grace instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires. The word deny carries the idea of a conscious, purposeful action of the will. It includes the commitment a Believer makes when he first trusts Christ as Savior as well as the countless other decisions he makes to continue denying ungodliness.
Ungodliness is an attitude that ignores or disregards God. Ungodliness is usually equated with wickedness, but it is more of a lack of fear and reverence for God. A person can be highly moral and generous and still be ungodly.
One of the first identifying marks of a growing Christian is the pursuit of holiness. God has called every Christian to a holy life. Holiness is not mere moralism. Anyone can be good. But only those saved by God’s grace and growing in that grace can be holy. The pursuit of holiness is to take aggressive action to separate ourselves both from the sin with us and from the temptations of the world around us. The pursuit of holiness involves a constant series of choices. We choose in every situation which direction we will go … toward sin or toward Jesus. When we trust in Christ as Savior, we bring a habit of ungodliness into our new life in Christ. By God’s grace, He changes us choice by choice to become more like Jesus.
Grace teaches us to say YES. No higher compliment can be paid to a Christian than to call him a godly person. Godliness is an attitude toward God that results in actions that are pleasing to God. This attitude is what we call devotion. Devotion to God is not an activity. It is an attitude toward God. You cannot have a close personal relationship if you are not seeking to please God. You cannot please God without spending time with him. God’s grace disciplines us to say yes to living sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age. The songwriter penned it this way, “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.”
“Lord, here am I. I am yours. Change my thoughts to think like Jesus. Change my heart to love like Jesus. Change my desires to want what Jesus wants. Change my attitude to care like Jesus cares. Change me from the inside out. Help me to live for you.”