11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 (who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
C.S. Lewis in his book The Great Divorce says those who end up in hell look back on their lives and see that all was hell, and those in heaven look back on their lives and see that all was heaven. What he was saying is that for those of us in Christ at the end when we look back at our whole lives, at everything that happened, we know that it was for bringing us into the Kingdom of God, into adoption as sons, into the very presence of God. And those who at the last find themselves outside the gates, condemned by a just God, all of their lives, even the good that they did and that happened to them was actually condemnation and hell on earth. Some pretty bold, but I think accurate, words from one of the 20th century’s greatest minds.
In his letter to Titus, Paul describes how Jesus brought the grace of God to give us a hope (“waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…”), and also has given us a present purpose (“training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and live self controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age…”). Redemption assures us of hope in the future, final redemption of the revelation of God’s glory, and that gives us a sure foundation for hope in our present circumstances. We don’t have to wait until we die to see how the grace of God changes everything in our lives for good; it happens as we live, even the very moment we are born again, which is a picture or shadow of the final reality. God redeems us from sin and death, from lawless hearts, and He gives us grace to train us to die to this world and live as a present citizen in his Kingdom, as his people (v. 14). He cleanses and purifies us from the defilement of sin and suffering. Step by step these are the facts of redemption.
Sadly, sometimes we lose sight of this present reality of redemption. We do not see what God is up to or how far he has brought us, how far we are in the training from verse 12. When this happens we can tend toward despair or worse, apathy, and we give up the fight against ungodliness. This is where the hope of the return of Jesus sustains us because for you, Christian, that hope is sure, like an anchor for your soul (Hebrews 6:19). When we cannot see present redemption at work in our lives we should cling to the promise of our final redemption and place our faith in the inevitable reality of verse 13, Jesus will come back.
Now lest we think that this is all about us, at the end of this great paragraph Paul brings the ultimate end into clear focus for us. Verse 14 tells us why Jesus “…who gave himself for us” came; “to redeem us from all lawlessness” (that’s about us) “and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (that’s about Him). It is amazing that God redeems us when we are in rebellion against him (Rom. 5:6) and then by his grace trains us, “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions” (because we just don’t renounce them automatically), to bring himself glory and pleasure (Ps. 147:11, Luke 12:32). What?!? Redemption is not primarily about you or your circumstances (although it does change you in spite of your circumstances). No, redemption is about a great God, who has a great purpose, and who will accomplish his purpose for the fame of his name. However, we miss that this is our eternal good. God alone can satisfy you, and so redeeming you from slavery to all that you were seeking to satisfy you, for his glory, is your greatest good. You can know that your redemption will be accomplished (Phil. 1:6) because you know he will be glorified. That is the promise; that is the anchor; that is the sure foundation of your change. To him who is able be praise and honor and majesty and glory forever and ever, amen and amen.