God’s grace not only saves, but teaches. It will not save unless we are teachable. We cannot welcome saving grace without accepting teaching grace. Grace is not a blanket to cover sin that is present, but removes both its guilt and its practice.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we would live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good works. Say these things and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no man despise you.
This Paul says in Titus 2:11-15 (WEB). Grace comes with conditions. It is spiritual and moral. Holiness belongs to grace. If godliness is not present, neither is grace.
Most teaching about grace takes a wrong turn in the second sentence. Grace is not license, but living “soberly, righteously, and godly.” Some teach an insipid doctrine and love to twist logic. Grace, they say, saves without conditions, but it will show itself later in good works and righteous living. Hogwash! By trying to navigate through Luther, they are washed over the falls of perdition.
As if Paul anticipated the twisting of grace, he tells Titus to teach the nature of grace with all authority. Only here in Titus 2:15 is the Greek word translated as “authority.” Elsewhere, it is translated as commandment. God stands behind it, not Titus.
Paul knew that such teachings might cause others to “despise” TItus. But how can Titus keep others from forming a bad opinion of him? Not by modifying his teaching, but by not allowing others to disregard his words. The word “despise” may not be a good translation here. It has to do with not giving others room to disparage the teaching. Titus must not move an inch from the gospel truth. So NLT seems to get to the idea, “don’t let anyone disregard what you say.”
What matters is the message not the messenger, so the messenger must not back down or let the message be changed. Paul has in view here Titus’s reaction, not so much the reaction of his hearer’s.
The man and woman who are “zealous of good works” will do the good work of teaching the fullness and robustness of grace. Rather than change the doctrine by being tuned to the ears of their audience, they will seek to convert the hearers and transform their conduct by the unchanging truth of God’s wonderful grace.