Defeat Lust & Pornography
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Transformed from the Inside Out (Part 2)

Last Updated: April 20, 2015

In Part 1 we saw Paul’s grand vision for the church in Crete: despite pagan surroundings and backgrounds, Paul wanted to see them live lives that attracted the world to Jesus. His vision was people living transformed, God-centered lives—a people eager for good works.

Titus 2:11-14 gives us a rich picture of what this new life looks like.

Old Lives Renounced

Before we look at the “how,” let us look at the “what”: What sort of life do the recipients of grace live?

Grace teaches us to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions” (2:12). “Ungodliness” means a total disregard for God and His desires. It is an animosity to His rule and His law. It is going one’s own way with blatant impiety and disregard toward God. An attitude of ungodliness is one of immorality and idolatry. “Worldly passions” refer to our sinful impulses and strong cravings for the things the world values. It is a lust for pleasure, power, and possessions unhinged from any moral bearings.

These two vices are intimately related in Paul’s mind. When we remove a desire for God and for the things He loves from the epicenter of our being, we are left to our own directionless impulses. Paul explains elsewhere that worldly passions, though rooted in our earthly bodies, are driven by our heart-idolatries (Romans 6:12; Colossians 3:5), driven by ungodliness. Even though we know God is eternal, powerful, divine, and the rightful law-giver, we willfully suppress this knowledge and choose not to honor Him as God or give thanks to Him. Instead, we make idols for ourselves, giving our affection, attention, and devotion to predictable trinket gods that can be manipulated and controlled, idols that give temporary offers of satisfaction. This worship-shift leads to a lifestyle of many deplorable passions. The curse of ungodliness is everywhere, and it is the root cause of all manner of lust, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, insolence, haughtiness, boasting, parental disobedience, foolishness, faithlessness, heartlessness, and ruthlessness (Romans 1:18-32).

It is worth noting, these qualities do not describe merely the “really bad” people in the world, but all of us (Titus 2:12). We may not all manifest outwardly all the worst traits of ungodliness and worldly passions, but this root of sin is in all of us. Driven by our idolatrous desire to remove God from the throne, and fueled by our impulsive thirst for pleasure, security, and power, we are all rebels, merely hollow shells of God’s image.

Herein we have the first hint about how the grace of God changes us. Grace means “undeserved favor.” We do not deserve God’s blessing in any way. We deserve, rather, to be treated as the rebels we really are. And yet the great mystery of the gospel is, “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). He did not die for those who think they merely need a moral boost or a few wrongdoings pardoned—he died for idol-worshiping people who refuse to remember God and choose instead to be enslaved by their habitual and unquenchable thirsts. This is truly radical grace, a grace that makes us sit up and take notice of God.

New Lives Embraced

Paul tells us that grace is training us to “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”

First, “self-control” means being sober, of sound mind, thinking clearly and discreetly, not taken up by our impulses. This word appears over and over in Paul’s letter to Titus. He wants elders (1:8), older men (2:2), younger men (2:6), and women (2:5) to display the virtue of self-control. In a culture known for its impulsiveness and sensuality, people of self-control were indeed very rare.

Second, “upright” can also be translated as “righteous.” This word refers to someone who is concerned about true justice: they want to see God’s just standards, punishments, and rewards accomplished. Righteousness in a biblical sense is a longing for God’s righteous rule of the world, a longing that impacts how we see ourselves and how we treat one another. The upright are those who observe God’s law in all earthly relationships.

Third, “godly” means pious and dutiful. The root of the word means reverence and worship. Godliness is a disposition of love for God mixed with a holy fear of God. As such, the godly are those who long to know God, know His will, and do it. They delightfully and publicly live their devotion to Him.

In summary, grace brings about a radical worship-shift in our lives: we go from living irreverent lives with unhinged desires to lives driven by a love for God which transforms everything about how we live. Grace trains us to live a new inward (self-controlled), outward (upright), and upward (godly) life—a life holistically transformed.

The Catalyst for Inner Change

So what motivates this sort of radical change? What dynamic does God create to bring about this shift in lifestyle? In what way does His grace train us to reorient our whole lives?

This will be the subject of Part 3 . . .

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