Before I went to seminary, I worked for a rental car company. I had a cubicle in their administrative offices. It was a great job for a number of reasons, and I was actually good at what I did. So good, in fact, that they knew I was leaving and promoted me anyway—six months before I left for seminary.
I don’t tell you this story to brag, but to explain why I was able to have the most coveted cubicle in my department. It was away from everyone else and over by the printer, so I was by myself but never really alone. And since I was by myself, I could listen to music and sermons. Back in those days, I was listening to lots of sermons on cassette tapes, but I can only remember one. The preacher’s text was from Titus 2: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say, “No” to ungodliness…” (vv. 11-12).
His thesis was that we are conditioned to look at the gospel as the way to enter into the Christian life, but then we look to the law to make us holy. It is the law of God that trains us to say “no” to sin, or so we believe. He said that when we believe the gospel—the good news of what Christ has done for us—we become trained to follow Him in righteousness. When we look at what God the Father has done through God the Son, then God the Spirit changes us. Preaching to ourselves, the beauty of the gospel helps us to say “no” to the ugliness of ungodliness.
I was glad I had that isolated cubicle, not only so I could listen to that sermon while working, but also because I was able to listen and then let the tears flow down without any embarrassment. You see, I had heard all this before, but until that day, I just kept forgetting. We come to Christ by believing the gospel of His grace. And we follow Christ by doing the same thing.
There are two kinds of people reading this. Some of you have never heard the full gospel. You have only heard that believing the gospel is how you become a Christian, but perhaps no one has ever told you that believing the gospel is also how you live as a Christian. The beauty of the rest of the gospel is that it actually teaches us how to turn from sin.
Some of you are just like me; you’ve heard this before, but you keep forgetting. You forget the beauty. You forget the power of gazing on that beauty. My hope is that you are reminded today that when you are tempted to use the law to fight sin, the gospel is a better teacher of who we are in Christ and the life promised to us.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond