Think for a moment out of all the teachers you’ve had in school, which one comes to mind the easiest? Which one is your favorite? Who’s teaching had the greatest impact on you? Mine was Ms. Bear. She was my 2nd grade teacher. She was your typical elementary school teacher who looked like she had just been transplanted out of Mr Roger’s neighborhood. I loved her. Why? Because she was a great teacher, but mostly because I really knew she cared about me. That made all the difference. She took time to invest.
It reminded me of a passage in Titus 2:11-14:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 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.
What does the beginning of that verse say? It says grace trains us to put off sin. It doesn’t say grace compels us to keep sinning. It doesn’t say God’s wrath trains us to put off sin. It says that grace trains us to stop sinning. Grace is our teacher. Now, the word train can mean a million different things right? Soldiers train. Kids train. Computer engineers train. But they are all different types of training. I’d hope my kid doesn’t get trained the same way a Navy Seal gets trained. So what kind of training does it mean in this verse?
The greek word used is παιδεύουσα (root word paidĕuō). It literally means to train up a child. Do you see how beautiful that is? The Apostle Paul is communicating to us in this verse that the same way a Father in tenderness trains a child is the same way grace trains us to stop sinning. It’s not the same as a drill sergeant. Grace will never fire you. Grace will never kick you out of class. Grace will never ask for your letter of resignation. The more you stray or mess up, the more grace gets deeply involved with you. Isn’t that true with a Father? At work when you mess up, you get fired. But when a child messes up, the parents usually expend more energy on that child. Discipline is a beautiful tool of Jesus to actually prove we are legitimate children of the king (See Hebrews 12:7-11).
So for those struggling with sin, know that your moral effort, or your white knuckle obedience won’t cut it. Come on, be honest, everyone has that one sin they can’t seem to stop doing. The guilt, the shame, and the embarrassment of thinking you are better than that. So you rationalize and think you just must have not had enough faith. This time you will definitely trust in Jesus more, try harder, and finally succeed. But here’s the truth-making more rules won’t cut it. Mustering up more effort won’t cut it. It doesn’t depend on your will or exertion, but on the mercy of God (Romans 9:16). Are those things good? Sure, but as a response to grace, not a merit for grace. Grace is what teaches us to say no to the world. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness. It teaches us to say no worldly passions. Have you ever let that sink in? Do you really believe that? Or do you think reading your bible more in the morning will do the trick? Do you believe that the unmerited favor of God towards you because of Jesus is what kills the power of sin in your life?
“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” || Romans 6:14 ESV