Grace Immersion

Bonus Day 61

Grace Teaches Me To Say No

Read Titus 2:11–14

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. Titus 2:11–12

Major league baseball legend Yogi Berra was famous for his fractured-English quotes, like:

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

“If people don’t want to come out to the ball park, nobody’s gonna stop ’em.”

“It gets late early out there.”

“Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.” And of course:

“I never said most of the things I said.”

For some people the sentence “grace teaches us to say no” is in the same category as a Yogi Berra quote — the very idea of grace-taught restrictions seems like an oxymoron! Living a “self-controlled, upright” life smacks of legalism, not grace. Yet in today’s verses Paul says grace actually teaches you self-control.

How can this be? Well, grace is really the only thing that teaches self-control. Legalism doesn’t really teach you self-control; it teaches you to be controlled — to be controlled by an outside force imposing rules on your impulses. And as soon as the rules are lifted or a loophole is found, selfish desires are indulged. But the grace-oriented person understands that uncontrolled impulses are self-destructive and harmful to others and to the name of Christ, and so learns — over time — to live righteously not legalistically.

Jerry Bridges, an author famous for writing about the spiritual disciplines, gives an urgent warning: “My spiritual disciplines, like a quiet time, Bible study, Scripture memory… formed the foundation for my spiritual growth. However, I came to believe that my day-to-day relationship with God depended on how faithfully I performed them. My experience is not unusual. One student told a friend of mine that he was diligent in his daily quiet time ‘so that nothing bad will happen to me.’”

Instead, you need to remember that even in your spiritual disciplines God is dealing with you in grace. He wants you to leave behind your addictions, compulsions, negative emotions, etc., so that you are free to live in love, peace, and joy.

But it’s all by grace. The same grace that brings salvation teaches you liberating personal discipline.

Why do people get the idea that God is smiling or frowning at them based on how well they are practicing spiritual disciplines (such as a daily quiet time, etc.)?

Have you ever struggled with this?

How does grace teach me to say no?

Ask God to help you become motivated by grace to grow spiritually. Ask Him to help you see Bible reading, prayer, quiet times all as ways to tap into His love and grace and power, instead of seeing them as ways to earn brownie points from Him.