Paul wrote, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures . . . But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us (Tit. 3:4-5, emphasis added). Paul gives the reason for godly conduct. We were slaves to sin once. But we are now saved from sin by the mercy of God.
The conjunction “but” indicates a strong reversal. We were going this sinful way, this foolish, disobedient way. But then the kindness and love of God appeared through the gospel. We responded to the gospel in repentance and faith in Christ. We turned around and trusted Christ. God then saved us from our sins.
Do you like to sing the song, “Amazing Grace”?
The author of this famous hymn was John Newton. His Christian mother taught him God’s Word. But after she died when Newton was 7, he went on to live a life of sin.
Newton lost his first job because of “unsettled behavior and impatience of restraint.” He deserted the Royal Navy. He was caught, flogged, and imprisoned. He then became a sailor of a slave trading ship. One day out at sea, the ship went through a terrible storm.
Newton had been reading Thomas a Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ, and was struck by a line about the “uncertain continuance of life.” He also recalled the passage in Proverbs, “Because I have called and ye have refused . . . I also will laugh at your calamity.” He converted during the storm.” He became a captain of slave ships, hoping to control the abuses of the slave trade, promoting the life of God to people on board. Eventually, he quit his slave trading job and became a pastor of an Anglican church.
In his famous song, Newton wrote, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see.”
When did you turn from your sin and trusted Christ as Savior? That’s when the God’s kindness appeared to you and saved you from your sin.
God saved us by His own mercy and grace alone. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). The Holy Spirit worked a new birth in us. He gave us a new development, a new nature, and a new spirit in us. God saved us when the Spirit gave us new life.
Thus, the reason for godly living is that we were once slaves to sin; but we are now saved by God’s mercy. God saved us by giving us the new life of the Spirit. Being transformed by the Spirit, we should now live the godly life and do good works to others.
 “John Newton: Reformed Slave Trader,” Christianity Today. Cited May 13, 2017. Online: http://www.christianitytoday. com/history/people/pastorsandpreachers/john-newton.html.