The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 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 appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who 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. Titus 2:11 14, NIV
“Sanctify” can stand for the accomplished work of God applied to an individual in salvation . . . but sanctification also can refer to the working of the Word and the Spirit to equip us to serve God in the world and to be morally blameless until Jesus returns. Lawrence O. Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words
Grace not only brings the good news of the gospel, it instructs us in how to live. We can never say, “Well, I really didn’t know how I was supposed to behave.” By grace we are saved, and by grace we learn to live righteously. This world is not our ultimate home. We are pilgrims passing through to a greater Kingdom. While we are here, we are to live in a way that glorifies God. A great incentive to godly living in our present age is our hope for the Lord’s return. Paul describes it as a “blessed hope”: it encourages us to live in such a way that we will not be caught off guard or embarrassed by the Lord’s appearing. It motivates us to grow in grace.
As I look back over my life, it is interesting to see the slow (because of me!) sanctification process that has taken place. When I first began to grow in Christ, I was taught to abide in His Word with a heart to obey. I was encouraged to listen to His Word daily and to be still in order to hear His voice through His Spirit. So began my journey toward this blessed hope.
I can give testimony to the power of the Word and the Spirit. God’s faithfulness to mold and shape His children into holiness and godliness is an extraordinary work of grace. I remember when I was struck with God’s desire for my holiness. I was reading Oswald Chambers’ exhortation, “It is quite true to say—‘I cannot live a holy life,’ but you can decide to let Jesus Christ make you holy.”4 And that is what I asked, that I might be made holy. It is a process, and I am far from the goal, but I do desire to present my body as a living and holy sacrifice. Sanctification is a lovely word, but in reality it is a day by day commitment to persevere in God’s strength, not my own.
As I have gotten older, the Lord’s appearing has become more precious. I find myself desiring more than ever to be all that God wants me to be. We are marvelously privileged to be found by grace and loved to the extent that the Spirit abides within us to guide us and teach us how to live. By grace, “We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God filled, God honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears” (Titus 2:11 13, MSG).