Though I may not have posted for a while, that does not mean that I have not had anything to say! I have had so many ideas for posts here recently that it is hard to pick just one! :-)
But I did. I have recently been thinking on a couple of New Testament passages…
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our 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 lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” ~Titus 2:11-14
“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” ~Hebrews 5:14
I find these two passages to be very complimentary–the one speaking of the grace of God as the source of our training in refusing sin and practicing righteousness; the other speaking of the training itself–the constant practice in discerning which is which.
It is clear that we cannot follow “the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it and find rest for (sic) our souls” (Jeremiah 6:16) unless we are able to distinguish the right way from from the wrong way, unless we can see the darkness for the light. This is where the second passage clarifies and applies the first.
Paul says to Titus that it is the grace of God that trains us to renounce worldly passions and to live in a self-disciplined manner. The writer of Hebrews tells his readers that it is the mature Christian whose discernment is trained to distinguish between the two.
I also wanted to note one other thing that particularly strikes me about the passage from Titus: Paul makes it very clear that it is the “grace of God” that trains us. We don’t often think of the grace of God as training us–as saving us, as comforting us, as preserving us, as sanctifying us–but as training us? As training our “powers of discernment” between good and evil? Yet, that is what Paul says here. Even as God’s grace is constantly preserving us, it is constantly training us.
For what is sanctification but training in the paths of righteousness? “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” (WSC A. 35) Doesn’t this sound a lot like these two passages in Titus and Hebrews about our training in living like God’s people?
It is God’s grace that sanctifies us, renewing us in the image of God (i.e. training us to put on righteousness) and enabling us to die unto sin (i.e. training us to put off worldly passions).
Of course, I have here hardly discussed the idea of God’s training grace that he lavishes on us so abundantly, yet I hope I have scratched the surface on a terminology and concept that Scripture presents for our understanding and for our training in distinguishing between good and evil. May we truly be constant in our practice of this discernment for the glory of the God of grace who has saved us!