Titus 2:11-14. 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 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.
Justification. Sanctification. Glorification.
Traditionally, these three words have been used to explain the “phases” of a Christian’s salvation. We were justified when we received Christ and were set free from the penalty of sin. We are being sanctified as the Spirit of Christ in us is progressively setting us free from the power of sin. And we will one day be glorified when we are with God and set free from the presence of sin forever.
Another way that salvation and growth in Christ have been understood more recently is through the concept of “position and condition.” Position refers to the believers settled, unchanging place in Christ. While condition refers to the ever changing way that the believer is experiencing Christ in any given moment.
OK, now that we have some of the lingo down, let’s talk about how we grow in Christ. And Titus 2:11-14 is a master class in spiritual growth. Almost everything we need to know about salvation and growth is right here.
- Justification – who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession.
- Glorification – waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
- Sanctification – training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…who are zealous for good works.
- Our position: Redeemed into God’s glory.
- Our condition: Training how to live in grace.
Every true Christian wants to be growing in Christ. They want to be sanctified. They want their spiritual condition to change and improve. This is probably why your reading this right now. Because you want to know how you can be more like Jesus. And that’s awesome.
But the great error that every Christian makes at some point in their life (or all the time) is to focus on our condition rather than our position. To constantly check our present “sanctification level” against some standard (God’s rules, Christian principles, other Christians, Jesus himself) instead of constantly beholding our past justification and our future glorification.
Titus 2:11-14 follows a list of “conditions” that should be present in a growing sanctified body of believers (see 2:1-10) – love, purity, integrity, respect, encouragement. But when Paul explains how to get the church to this condition, when he explains how Jesus (grace appearing) sanctifies us, where does he turn our attention? Not to ourselves and our “spiritual progress.” He points our hearts to our glorification – waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ – and our justification – who gave himself for us to redeem us.
Christian, listen to me, if you want to grow in Christ then you must take your eyes off of yourself and place them firmly on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. You must stop scoring your own spiritual progress, and receive his perfect score instead. You must stop pleading with God for victory, peace, and blessing, and start believing that, in Christ, you already have all of these and much more. You need to stop “dying daily to sin,” and, rather, start counting yourself forever dead to sin in Christ (no matter how much you sin today). You need to stop waiting for your situation or your behavior to get better, and start waiting for your blessed hope. Your only hope. You need to stop trying harder and harder to “please God,” and start being trained for godliness by grace.
Show me a struggling Christian (every Christian) and I’ll show you a Christian that is focused on their condition, rather than on their position. I’ll show you a Christian that is self-managing their sanctification, rather than resting in their justification. I’ll show you a Christian that is waiting for growth, rather than waiting for glory.
We all want to change. We all want to grow spiritually. We all want to be transformed into Christ-likeness. And that’s obviously a good thing. But what we all struggle to understand is the HOW. And the truth is you’ll never grow in Christ by trying to grow in Christ. You’ll only grow in Christ by trusting Christ in you. Trusting his salvation. His redemption of your life. His purifying of your heart. His possession of your soul.
“To live is Christ means that the more we look at his appearing, the more we wait for his glorious return, the more we place our faith in his life rather than our own life, the more we will be transformed into his likeness. Trained up in his godliness. Zealous for his good works. For now we know that we ARE his good work.
Are you focusing on your condition or your position?
You in Christ
Can you explain your justification and glorification in Christ?
Christ in you
How can you live from what Christ has done, rather than from what you can do?
Playlist: Trained By Grace.