Our Redemption: The Purpose of Christ’s Sacrifice

Paul wrote, “Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness” (Tit. 2:14). He states two purposes for Jesus’ self-giving—(1) to redeem us from lawlessness; and (2) to purify a people for Himself.

The verb “redeem” (lutroo) means to “set free, redeem, rescue.” (Knight) It means to release, to let loose, or to liberate.

Nicky Gumbel tells this story in Alpha of two men who grew up as best friends, except that their lives took divergent paths. One became a judge, and the other a criminal. At one point the criminal ends up in the Judge’s court. He is obviously guilty, but he was the judge’s friend. If the judge let him off, he would not be fulfilling his role of dispensing justice.

So what he does is he sentences his friend to the appropriate fine for his crime, he then steps down from the bench, takes off his robe, and writes his friend a check for the amount of the fine in full.

This is what God does in Jesus. He sentences us to death for our sins, but then steps down from heaven and pays for our sins in full with his death.[1]

What does Christ set us free from? In v. 14, Christ sets us free from all lawlessness. Christ releases us from the power of all lawlessness. He liberates us from the control of sin. This is redemption in Christ. Redemption in Christ is liberation from the power of sin.

Note that Paul wrote “all” lawlessness and not just some. The word “all” means each and every act of lawlessness. The sacrifice of Christ covers each and every lawless act of every sinner. The purpose of Christ’s death is to redeem us from every lawless act that we have committed.

The word “lawlessness” (anomia) refers to “what is contrary to law (Friberg); or “against the law.” (Knight) Lawlessness is sin. Sin is lawlessness. “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Lawlessness is living in opposition to the law of God. “Where there is no law, there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15). Lawlessness is the transgression of the law of God. It is disobedience to God’s law. It is the violation of the law of God.

But Christ gave Himself to redeem us from all lawlessness. Christ died to release us from every act opposing the law of God. Christ liberates us from the power of every kind of sin.

[1] Mike Wilkins, “Text Illustrations: Redemption,” Sermoncentral.com. Cited March 18, 2017. Online: https://www. sermoncentral.com/illustrations/ sermon-illustration-mike-wilkins-stories-grace-7523?ref=TextIllustrationSerps.

He Gave Himself for Us

In v. 13, Paul called Jesus Christ “Savior.” That is the title of Christ. Then in v. 14, he explains that Christ “gave himself for us.” That is the work of Christ. Paul explains the work of Christ as Savior. As Savior, Christ gave Himself to redeem sinners.

Christ “gave himself for us” (v. 14). This short statement is loaded with meaning. First, Christ “gave” himself. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45). That is the reason why Jesus came from heaven. He came to give his life for us. His death was a voluntary sacrifice. He was not surprised that he will undergo crucifixion. He was not forced to die on the cross. Rather, he offered himself purposely as the lamb of God on the cross.

Second, Christ gave “himself.” Christ gave his body and blood, his very life, on the cross. Note that it was Christ who gave himself, not some other person. Today, another person stands up and offers Christ as a sacrifice. But Paul wrote that Christ gave himself. Christ himself gave himself. He gave himself once for all—a one time action in the past that is good for all sins and all sinners (Heb. 9:24-10:18). All you need to do today is to trust Christ and His sacrifice.

Third, Christ gave himself “for” us. The preposition “for” (huper) can mean two things: (1) “in behalf of, for the sake of” or (2) “in place of, instead of.” (Gingrich) Christ died in behalf of us as our representative. He died instead of us as our substitute. (Marshall) In behalf us, Christ died so that we do not need to die. That is representation. Instead of us, Christ died when we should die for our sins. That is substitution. The death of Christ was a substitutionary death in behalf of and instead of every sinner.

The Sacrifice of Christ: The Ground Zero of God’s Grace

Paul wrote, “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness (Tit. 2:14). The grace of God points us to three timelines. In v. 12, God’s grace trains us to live the godly life in the present. In v. 13, it teaches us to expect the coming of Christ in the future. In v. 14, it teaches us the purpose of Christ’s death in the past.

In v. 11, Paul wrote that “grace appeared bringing salvation.” Then in v. 14, he wrote that “Christ gave himself for us.” Paul connects salvation with the sacrifice of Christ. In v. 14, Paul adds that the sacrifice of Christ was intended to redeem us from our sin. Redemption from sin is salvation. Christ’s sacrifice then is the basis of our salvation. Conversely, salvation is based on the sacrifice of Christ. Therefore, the sacrifice of Christ is the central point of God’s grace. It is the ground zero of God’s saving grace. The death of Christ is the epicenter of God’s grace.

Salvation then is only, solely, and exclusively in the death of Christ. “He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26). There is no other way of saving us from our sin except by the death of Christ (Acts 4:12; Heb. 9:26-10:13). There is no salvation outside of the death of Christ.

One day Peter and John healed a lame man in the name of Jesus. Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none. But such as I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk!” Immediately the lame man rose up and walked. He walked and leaped and praised God!

Peter and John continued to preach to the people about the resurrection of Christ. Five thousand people trusted Christ. Then the priests of the temple had them arrested. The next day, the religious rulers and elders asked them, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”

They replied, “There is no salvation in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

There is no salvation in no one else, except through Jesus Christ and in no way else, except by the death of Christ.

Expecting the Coming Glory of Christ

Grace trains us to live expectantly for the coming glory of Christ. “Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13). The participle “waiting” (prosechomai) means “anticipate” (Gingrich); with a sense of expectation. (Friberg) We are waiting for “the blessed hope.” The blessed hope is the appearing of Jesus Christ. This hope is described by the word “blessed”—“blessed hope.” This appearing is described by the phrase, “of the glory”—“appearing of the glory.” We are waiting for the blessed hope of the appearing of the glory of Christ.

Wendy Murray Zoba tells of her little boy, Ben. He resisted his parents’ invitation to give his life to Christ. He said that he wasn’t ready. His reply bothered his parents so much.

One day, he announced that he was ready to give his life to Christ. Then he went upstairs. His parents thought that he would pray in his room. When they got there, he wasn’t praying. He was folding his pajamas into his suitcase. His parents said, “Ben, what are you doing?”

Ben answered, “Packing.”

“Why?”

“To go to heaven,” he said.[1]

Ben thought that following Christ means leaving earth and traveling to heaven that day. He was not thinking of waiting for the coming of Christ.

Our blessed hope is the appearance of the glory of Christ. The word “blessed” (makarios) means “happy usually in the sense of privileged recipient of divine favor.” (Gingrich) For so long, I’ve read these words without understanding it fully. Now I understand it better. It is a “blessed” hope because the hope of the appearing of Christ blesses us. The hope of the coming of Jesus gives us joy. Paul wrote, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2, emphasis added). We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Hence, this hope blesses us by making us rejoice in the expectation of the appearance of the glory of Jesus Christ. The anticipation of the glory of Christ makes us glad. That is what makes the blessed hope the blessed hope.

This hope is the expectation of the “appearing of the “glory.” Paul is not merely talking about the coming of Christ, but the coming glory of Christ. Words cannot explain adequately the glory of Christ. But I will describe it a little. The word “glory” (doxa) refers to “brightness, radiance, splendor” of Christ. It refers to the power, the immortality, and the eternality of God. Paul wrote, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Tim. 1:17). This is the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Note that Paul ascribes the glory of God to Christ. Christ therefore is God, having the glory of God.

Paul called Christ “our great God and Savior.” There is an article for “God” but none for “Savior”—“the great God and Savior.” There is the conjunction “and” connecting “God” and “Savior.” According to Granville Sharp’s rule in Greek grammar, when there is the article in the first noun “God” and none in the second noun “Savior,” with the conjunction “and” joining these two nouns, both nouns refer to the same person. Thus, the phrase “the great God and Savior” refers to no other than Jesus Christ (2 Cor 1:3; Eph 6:21; Heb 3:1).

C. S. Lewis wrote the book, “Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” In that book, Lucy and Aslan were talking. Aslan is the lion who is the figure of Christ in the story. Lucy was looking sad. Aslan will soon go away. Aslan tells Lucy the following.

“Do not look so sad. We shall meet soon again.”

“Please, Aslan,” said Lucy, “what do you call soon?”

“I call all times soon,” said Aslan; and instantly he was vanished away.”[2]

Grace trains us to renounce sin and to live godly and uprightly. Grace teaches us also to expect the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. His coming glory is soon at any time. It is soon at all times.

[1] Wendy Murray Zoba, “Future Tense,” Christianity Today magazine (October 2, 1995). Cited March 18, 2017. Online: http://www.preachingtoday. com/illustrations/2008/october/4102008.html

[2] C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Cited March 18, 2017. Online: https://www. goodreads.com/work/quotes/3349054-the-voyage-of-the-dawn-treader.

Grace: Training us to Live Godly Lives

Second, grace trains us to live soberly, rightly, and godly. “Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Tit. 2:12). The adverb “self-controlled” (sophronos) means “soberly, moderately, showing self-control Tit 2:12.” (Gingrich) The self-controlled life is expected of every believer—older men, older women, young women, and young men (Tit. 2:2-6).

The word “upright” (dikaios) means “rightly” (Gingrich); “ethically in a right way, honestly, with integrity (TI 2.12).” It “describes life in accordance with standards of justice and fairness.” (Marshall) Paul used the same word in his letter to the Thessalonians. “You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous (dikaios) and blameless was our conduct toward you believers” (1 Thess. 2:10). The words “holy and righteous,” “describes conduct which conforms to both divine and human laws.” (Gene L. Green)

While in Thessalonia, people accused Paul and his co-workers of disobeying Caesar’s laws. But Paul wrote that they followed the law while in Thessalonica. They were upright in dealing with people. They did not violate traffic rules when driving. They paid their taxes. They treated people kindly. They did not say bad words and dirty jokes. They were upright before God and people.

The adverb “godly” is from the Greek, eusebes, where we get our English name, “Eusebio.” I had a classmate back in Grade School whose name is Eusebio. But he did ungodly things that his name Eusebio doesn’t seem to fit.

The word eusebes means “in a godly manner; of life lived in a reverent relation to God piously, devotedly.” (Friberg) I learned an interesting Cebuano word—“dinios,” from the root word, “Dios” (God). My salesman once told me, “Sir, dinios ni ang akong pagtrabaho.” (I do my job in a godly and devoted way.)

Luke used the same word to describe Cornelius.

“At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort,

2 a devout man [eusebes] who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.

3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.”

4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.” (Acts 10:1-4)

Note that the word “godly” is translated “devout.” In the NT, a godly man is a devout man. Today, many people are “devout” in their religion, but “ungodly” in their daily living. They are so devout in the ways of their religion. But in life, they utter cuss words, they lie, and they cheat.

Cornelius was a godly man, a devout man. He was a centurion, a commander of 100 soldiers in the Roman army. He feared God. He gave to the poor. He prayed to God always. Fear of God. Giving to the poor. Praying to God. These are marks of a godly life.

When do we renounce sin and live in godliness? Paul wrote, “in the present age” (v. 12). In v. 12, Paul writes of the present age. Then in v. 13, he writes about the coming of Christ. Thus, the present age covers the time of Christ on earth to the time of the coming of Christ. The present age is here and now until the return of Christ. There is the present age and the coming age. The present age is the age of grace. The coming age is the age of the kingdom of Christ.

God’s grace does not only prepare a place for us in heaven. Grace trains us to live a godly life here and now, while we wait for the coming of Christ. The goal is to impact the present world for Christ.

This brings to the third training of grace.

Grace: Renouncing Worldliness

God’s grace disciplines us to say No to “worldly” passions (v. 12). What does Paul mean by the word “worldly”? When I was a new believer, they told me that movie houses are “worldly.” But if you have cable TV today, you have all kinds of movies in your home. Does that mean that your home now is worldly?

The word “worldly” (kosmikos) refers to “‘belonging to the world’, hence ‘earthly, as opposed to heavenly’ . . .” (Marshall) Anything in the world that opposes God is worldly. For so long, I thought that worldliness is a place. But I learned from the Bible that worldliness is an attitude of the heart that resists God’s will. Worldliness is a principle, a thought, an activity, a person, a movement, or a culture that opposes God’s rule. Worldliness can be all of these happening in a place, but it all starts from the heart. Hence, worldly passions refer to desires that oppose God’s will.

John wrote,

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17).

The word “possessions” (bios) is translated “life” in the KJV and ESV; hence, “pride of life.” But in the next chapter, the KJV translates the same word as “world’s good” (“world’s goods” – NKJV, ESV, NASB) (1 John 3:17). The word means (1) “life” or (2) “livelihood, property . . . 1 J 3:17 . . . pride in one’s possessions 2:16.” (Gingrich) It is better translated as “possessions” (ESV footnote), “what he has and does” (NIV), or “riches” (NRSV). It fits the context of “the things of the world” (v. 15), “all that is in the world” (v. 16), and “world’s goods” (1 John 3:17, ESV, NKJV, NRSV).

Note that the “possessions” are not worldly. It’s not your possessions but pride in your possessions that makes you worldly. It’s how you treat your possessions—the pride of possessions. It’s not your material things but your materialistic attitude that may make you worldly. Be careful when you are proud of your possessions or your prosperity. Be wary when your life is driven more by the pursuit of your materialistic desires than the pursuit of God. Worldliness is the desires of the flesh and the desires of your eyes that oppose the rule of God in your life.

Do you have a desire for something that contradicts God’s will? Grace trains you to renounce that.

Training Grace: Renouncing Ungodliness and Worldly Passions

Grace trains us to renounce “ungodliness and worldly passions” (v. 12). The word “ungodliness” (asebeia) means “disregard for religious belief or practice irreverence, godlessness, impiety.” (Friberg) To be ungodly is to disregard or to disobey the things of God.

When God’s Word says “Worship God,” but you don’t worship God, you disregard God’s Word; thus, you are “ungodly.” You must renounce it. When God’s Word says “forgive those who sin against you,” but you cannot even forgive someone until now, that is ungodliness. You must break away from it. When God’s Word says sex in marriage only but you want to practice sex outside of marriage, that is ungodliness. You must forsake it.

More, grace trains us to renounce “worldly passions.”

Mylene and I were talking about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt yesterday. When they came together, Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston. Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston to live with Angelina Jolie.

What was his reason for leaving his lawfully-wedded wife? He did it in the name of love and passion. The world was mesmerized with their romance. The world was not bothered by the scandal of giving in to fleshly lusts. The world was not bothered that it offends God. The world was not bothered that it destroyed a marriage and a wife.

Now Angelina has left Brad.

That is the lifestyle of many actors and actresses in Hollywood. They leave their wives for other women in the name of love.

The word “passions” (epithumia) means “in a bad sense of unrestrained desire for something forbidden lust, craving, evil desire (1T 6.9).” (Friberg) But grace trains us to renounce our fleshly passions. Grace trains us to live for God and not to live for love. The world tells us that we should live for love. Love is what matters. Love wins, they say. We hear it in songs; we watch it in movies; and we read it in books. But the Bible tells us that we should live for God. We should love God above all else. Grace trains us to live by our new nature, and not by our old nature of fleshly lusts.

Are you lusting for something that offends God? God’s grace disciplines you to renounce it. The grace of God will enable you to renounce it. The grace of God is powerful. The grace of God will give you the energy to say “No” to it. Do not give in to it. By the power of the Spirit, break away from it.

Long ago, a dentist attended our prayer group inside his office. He grew in the knowledge of God. He had a secret sin. He watched X-Rated movies. He had plenty of X-Rated VHS (videocasette) in his home. One day, he was so convicted of his sin. He called us to go to his place to do a burning ceremony. He wanted to turn from his sin by burning every X-Rated VHS he has in his possession. He did burn it that day. He said No to it. He turned from it. He broke away from it. He renounced it.

You may say, “Oh, I love her and love is what matters. I love her so it’s okay to have sex with her.” But if your love for her makes you disobey God, then it has become your new god, your idol, and you have fallen into idolatry. That is the problem of many people today—idolatry—love for oneself, love for one’s lusts, and love for one’s passions. Any love for anyone that replaces love for God is idolatry. Any devotion to anything that replaces God is idolatry.