Christmas in Titus 2:11-14
For most people Christmas is all about being with your family. Many people have to leave town to go where their family is, and others just never get their whole family back together except on Christmas. Mothers are the busiest people in the world this time of year buying presents, preparing the house and all the decorations, hosting parties, and organizing the family. The kids all view Christmas as a long vacation from school, and that time of the year when they get flooded with presents. Retailers do a significant amount of their annual business this time of the year, and all businessmen are rushing around trying to complete the end of the year deals, doing tax planning, and wondering how they are going to pay for all this. Husbands tend to have a different perspective than wives, as one wife said, “Let’s give each other more practical gifts this year like socks and fur coats.” Somewhere in all this hectic activity we are in danger of forgetting what Christmas is really about. In fact forgetting is a major part of human nature. Consider what Moses told an entire nation of people who had just been saved from slavery in Egypt, and were now getting ready to enter the “promised land” that God was going to give them. In Deuteronomy 8:10-19, Moses warned them to bless the Lord for the many gifts He had given them and would continue to give, and not forget that all their land, food, homes, and wealth was the gift of God. “Beware that you do not forget the Lord…otherwise when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses…and your wealth multiplies…then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord…for it is He that is giving you the power to make wealth.” History tells us they forgot.
So This Is Christmas
The Bible certainly has a different view of Christmas than the commercial world we live in. The word Christmas does not even appear in the Bible, but of course there are many references to the birth of Christ. The Bible is concerned with the incarnation–the embodiment of God in human form. In Titus 2:11-14, Paul wrote to his disciple Titus, who he left in Crete to supervise the churches there. Paul used the birth of Christ as a motivation for godliness and good works. Please read the passage.
In verse 11 he calls the incarnation “the grace of God”. God sent His Son into the world as a gift, and what did it accomplish? It brought salvation to all who would receive it. The grace of God in flesh and blood wrapped up like a package was given to us freely. Once we have received this gift, what should be the logical course of action by us?
Verse 11 demands three actions from us that are given in v.12-13. The idea is that if Jesus did this (v.11) for me, then I can do this (v.12-13) for Him. The grace of God is “instructing us” to do something. In Greek the word translated here as instructing is the word we get pedagogy from which means the art of teaching children. From the very beginning of our walk with God we are being instructed to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires”. There are certain actions that we used to do before Christ that we no longer should do. There are certain lustful desires that we have always had, but now we must shed them. Things like gossip, revenge, materialism, drunkenness, lying, cheating, and stealing that we do so naturally must now be denied. To deny them means to recognize them and be determined to leave them behind. Even more difficult is to deny the worldly desires or passions like greed, jealousy, and illicit sexual lust. Recognize them, confess them, be determined to refrain, pray about them and trust the Holy Spirit to shrink these progressively out of your life. At the very least, slow down their frequency with a goal that they disappear. Paul does a great job of explaining this in Romans 6 that we need to leave behind what we used to be and do, and now follow our new Master—Jesus. In Romans 6:11-14 he writes, “consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus…and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Secondly, in Titus 2:12 we are told “to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age”. To live sensibly is to use your head, and live a rational life style that is best for you. Stop doing insensible foolish things. Live an intelligent, wise life which is the peaceful virtuous life. Like the great philosopher Aristotle said—the chief goal of living is to live a happy life, and we are happiest when we are virtuous, sober, honest, and striving for standards of right. Living the godly, righteous life is to live according to the example of Jesus who not only lived a sinless life, but the life of a servant-leader. Don’t miss the condition or the problem that Paul ends this verse with, “in the present age”. This righteous living is to be done here and now in these carnal bodies and in this fallen world. Well, nobody said it was going to be easy. These conditions make it so hard that God has given us a Helper. As John says in 1 John 4:4, “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”; and Paul wrote in Romans 8:11, “since the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you…He will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
On the Lookout
The third action that should result in us from the grace of God is given in Titus 2:13. The reason you improve your lifestyle, and become obedient to the Word of God is that your focus has changed. You no longer only see the here and now, but you see future promised events. You begin living based on the future promises of God. Paul says here that we are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” For sure he is talking about the second coming of Christ that we look forward to. The “hope” that we have is not some dream or wish. Biblical hope is desired expectancy. It is the greatest future event, and we fully expect it to happen. Hebrews 11:1 defines this faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We believe it and we base our life on it. The rest of the world is “looking” for money, success, property, personal acclaim and recognition, but we are looking forward to this future great event which will be the culmination of all history and will vindicate all that we believe. Your focus, your “look” should be all about the PAROUSIA. Parousia is the Greek word used throughout the New Testament for the second coming of Christ. It literally means “arrival”, and may be translated “coming” or “appearing”. In the first century, parousia was used of the arrival of a king. That makes it the perfect word for the arrival of Jesus—the King of Kings. For us, it signifies not only His coming but His presence with us from that time on.
The New Testament authors say in many passages that we need to make sure that when Jesus comes, He will find us denying ungodliness, living righteously, and expecting Him.
In Titus 2:14, Paul concludes by giving an important reason for Christ’s first coming. We know that “for God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son”, but here is another reason that fits Paul’s context. Jesus came and gave Himself not only to redeem us from sin, but also to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, “zealous for good deeds.” This Christmas let us remember what “the grace of God appearing” for us demands—Deny ungodliness, live righteously, be zealous for good deeds, and be continuously looking for the Parousia, and make no mistake, HE IS COMING AGAIN