Saved to be changed

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This is Frank Middleweek. Frank has spent 20 years restoring this car, a Ford Mustang.

20 years cleaning, repairing or replacing every single nut and bolt, until the car is as good as new. And when a part was broken, he didn't just replace it with a new one, he went an found an old one, that was as good as new. So that now, it's just as it was when it was originally built. 

Restoration is big business. But not just for guys like Frank.

God is in the restoration business too. God is at work in the lives of every single Christian. Re-making us and restoring us, until we are good as new.

Let's pray.

Look at chapter 1v5. The Apostle Paul had left his young co-worker, Titus, on the island of Crete to "straighten out what was left unfinished" Titus was there to help the church get healthy. And part of that task was for Titus to appoint good church leaders. But it was also his job to set them a good example.

At the end of chapter 1 Paul tells Titus that he is to refute false teachers. To show that what they were teaching was wrong. And, at the beginning of chapter 2 in verse 1, Paul reminds him that he was also there to teach them "what is in accord with sound doctrine". Titus was to teach the church what is right, and to teach them how to live lives which would match up to that truth.

And so in v2 Paul urges him to teach the old men in church to be self-controlled. In v3 he's told to teach the old women in church to live reverent lives, so that they are then able to teach the young women to be self-controlled and pure. In vv 6-8 he's told to teach the young men to be self-controlled and, v7, to "set them an example by doing what is good." And in vv 9-10 he's told to teach the slaves who were part of the church how to be good Christian slaves.

And so Paul says, in v11…

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."

The grace of God, God's undeserved love and kindness, has saved all kinds of people. Old men and old women, young women and young men, slaves and masters. The church is full of all sorts of people. But the one thing they all have in common is God's grace. All of them are there because the grace of God has saved them.

God, in his incredible, undeserved love, sent his Son to die to take the punishment that our sins deserve. He sacrificed his own dear son to save us, even though none of us deserve it. Jesus chose to die on the cross for us even though by nature we are God's enemies not his friends. That's grace. But it doesn't stop there…

Because it is God, who works in us, to give us the faith to believe in him! It is God's grace that saves people from start to finish. The only reason that anyone becomes a Christian by putting their faith in Jesus is because God's grace has opened their eyes and shown them the truth.

But that, Paul goes on to say in our passage tonight, is just the beginning. That is just the beginning of the work of God's grace in the lives of Christians, vv 11-12…

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,"

God's grace not only brings salvation, it also teaches us, it trains us, to say 'No' to ungodliness, and to live godly lives. Now what does that mean? What does it mean that God's grace is teaching us to be 'godly'? Well, what that means is that God is in the restoration business.

Genesis chapter 1 verse 1, 

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

In the beginning God made everything. And on the 6th day God made us. Genesis 1 v 27…

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

When God made us, he made us in his image. Now what does that mean?

Well it doesn't mean that we look like God. It can't mean that because God is Spirit. He has no physical form apart from in Jesus. What it means to be made in the image of God, then, is not that we look like him, but that we've been made to be like him, to bear his image. God created men and women to reflect his image.

We were, if you like, made to be like mirrors. When you look in a mirror you can see your image. It reflects your own image back at you. And we were made to reflect God's image back to him, and to the world around us. God made us in his image to be like him.

God is love. Everything he does is out of his great love. And so we, in his image are to reflect that love in our lives. 

God is patient, he is slow to anger. He forgives us day after day, even though we never deserve it. And so we should be patient and forgiving. 

God is kind and gracious and generous, God is faithful and merciful, He does not boast, or get angry or jealous or envious or proud. And we should be just like that. But we're not.

We were made to reflect God's image. We should do all of those things, out of love for him, because he made us and loves us and is our God.
But we don't. We hardly ever do any of those things. And when we do it's not because we love God. By our nature we only chose to do those things when it serves us. Because we love, us.

God made us to reflect his image, but we don't, we do our own thing and go our own way. And that's called sin. And we are sinners. We don't bear God's image, we're like broken mirrors where everything is distorted.

And yet, God still loves us. He loves us even when we don't deserve it, and that's called grace. 

And by his grace he shows us how wrong our lives have become. And by his grace he shows us that he sent Jesus to die and take the punishment that we deserve. And then, by his grace, he gives us faith to put our trust in him. That was v11.

But it doesn't stop there. That's just the beginning. Because as Titus chapter 2 v 12 tells us, if you are a Christian then God's grace not only brings salvation, but it goes on to teach us to say 'No' to ungodliness and to live godly lives.

In other words God is in the restoration business. God's grace, once it has saved us, now is at work in us to restore us to what we once were.
He wants to repair what has been broken. To teach and train us to be the people we were made to be. To be 'godly', to bear God's image.

God is like a man, who walks down to the rubbish dump. And he goes through all that stinking, broken, worn-out rubbish. He goes through it, until he finds a piece that he chooses. And he takes that piece home. There's nothing special about that piece, it's a piece of rubbish just like all the other rubbish around it. There's nothing special about it…until that man picks it out and takes it home and puts it on his mantelpiece as his treasured possession.

That's what God does for us, in his grace. When you believe and trust in Jesus as your saviour, that's because God in his grace has been at work in you. He's chosen you to be his. He's opened your eyes and shown you the truth. He has made you his own. But he doesn't stop there.

Because God doesn't want to leave us the way he found us. Now that we are his, God's grace goes to work in our lives to change us. It's as if that man who took home that piece of rubbish then gets to work on it. He cleans it up, he fixes the things that are broken. He knocks out the dents, and he buffs out the scratches. In fact, he wants to restore that bit or rubbish back to what it once was. He wants to restore it until it's good as new. He wants to polish it up…until he can see his face in it.

If you are a Christian here tonight, then that is the work that God is doing in you, vv 11-12…

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,"

God wants to restore you to what you and I once were. Made in the image of God. He wants you and me to reflect his image, to live 'godly' lives.

And that's not just what God wants us to be doing by our own strength now that we know him as our saviour and king. He doesn't save us by his grace and then tell us to get on with living for him by ourselves. No, this is what he is doing in our lives, by his grace, if we are his children. If you have put your trust in Jesus and you're living with him as your king, then God is at work restoring you. Teaching and training, you and I, to say to 'no' to ungodliness and 'yes' to godliness.

When we become Christians God puts his Holy Spirit into us. His Spirit comes and lives in us, and, as it says in Romans 8 v 11…

"…if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."

The same Spirit, who brought Jesus back from the dead and gave him new life, now lives in the heart of every Christian and he gives us new life. 

If you are a Christian, then you were saved to be changed. God doesn't just want to save you from Hell, he wants to prepare you for Heaven.
He wants to restore you back to what you once were.

Perhaps…my dear brother or sister, you are struggling with sin in your life? Perhaps you are fighting a daily battle, not only against the world around you which tells you that sex outside marriage is ok, or that you have a right to feel angry, or that greed and pride are really good things? Perhaps it also feels as if you're fighting your own desires for things that you know are wrong?

Well, if that's you…then be encouraged. You're not fighting for godliness in your own strength. You're not alone in your battle. God is with you. His Spirit is at work in you. And his grace is teaching and training you. In fact the proof that God is at work in you is that you want to fight and you feel the battle. For some of us here this evening the message of Titus 2 should encourage us.

But for others here this evening the message of Titus 2 should challenge us. You were saved to be changed. He has shown you the truth and now he is calling you to live a new life. His grace is at work inside you. So why are you still living like the world around you?

What are the ways in which you need to change in order to bear God's image? What are the things in your life that are ungodly, that need to go? What are the worldly passions, the things of this world that are more important to you than living for your king? What are the things you spend more money or more time or more energy on, than your relationship with God? What are the things that you worry about more than living for God? And what are godly characteristics that you see least of in your life? Is it love? Or patience? Or self-control? Or forgiveness? Or kindness? Or generosity?

Why don't you ask the people who know you best and whom you trust the most…"How do you think I could be more godly?" That is where God is at work in your life, and that is where he wants you to be at work in your life.

God is in the restoration business. He hasn't just made you his own, now he wants to make you as good as new. You were saved to be changed.

And finally in verses 13 and 14 Paul shows us three wonderful ways in which your life changes when you are striving, by God's grace, to live a godly life. We don't have time to look at them in detail, but let's quickly see what they are. 

First of all, if you have been saved by grace and are being changed by grace, then you have…

Hope not fear

Look at vv12-13…

"It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,"

When you are a Christian, when you have been saved and are being changed, then you look forward to the day that you die, or the day that Jesus returns with hope and not fear. Why? Well, because that day will be glorious.

Jesus is our saviour so on that day, when God judges our lives we will be forgiven and welcomed into heaven. But that's not all.

Because in this life God's restoration work in our lives is a struggle. It's painful sometimes, it hurts and it's hard. But on that day the restoration will be complete. On that day we will not only see Jesus, we will be like him. Finally, perfectly and forever. We have been saved to be changed, so we look forward to that day with hope not fear.

Secondly, we are…

Free not slaves

"Jesus Christ…" it says in v14, "gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness."

The word 'redeem' comes from the slave market. When you redeem someone you buy them out of their slavery. You pay the price to set them free.
And that is what God, through Jesus, has done for us.

When we don't know Jesus, and when we don't trust in him we are not free, we are slaves to ungodliness and worldly passions. Non-Christians are slaves to the world and their own desires. But Christians have been set free. We are now free to say 'no' to ungodliness, and to become the people God made us to be.

And finally those who have been saved to be changed are…

Found not lost

"Jesus Christ…" v14…

"...gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

We have a new identity, a new purpose in life. God has made us his very own.

If you are a Christian here tonight, if Jesus is your king, then you are like a piece of rubbish, that God has chosen to be his very own. And now he is at work in you, cleaning you, restoring you, making you back into the person that he made you to be.

Sometimes that process is hard. And sometimes the tools he uses can hurt. But you can be sure that all of them are used in love, to restore you, until you and I perfectly reflect his image. 

Because God doesn't just save people by his grace. He saves us to change us.

Let's pray.

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