“…we await the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for Himself a special people, zealous of good works.” — Titus 2:13-14 MEV
My growing up in the fundamentalist tradition of the Assemblies of God fellowship gave me so many gifts: a solid “container” for my identity with clear boundaries of right and wrong, a thorough knowledge of the Bible, a sense of direction and security in the existence of God and the hope of salvation.
At the same time, it instilled a rigid system of behavior that indicated if you stepped one toe over the line, God was waiting to smack you upside the head with a big board. This was good for keeping young people in line, and I see the usefulness of it. But it gave me, for many years, the impression that while Jesus saves us, it is up to us to sanctify (or “purify”) ourselves by avoiding bad behavior and embracing good behavior.
This is why I love to come across little gems like Titus 2:14 up there: “that he might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a special people …” And there it is! Jesus is in the business of purifying us for himself — He doesn’t expect me to purify myself! He knows I can’t purify myself! (If only I had known that all those years ago!)
This takes the pressure off: my performance is not critical to my standing with God. And, somehow, paradoxically, knowing this — that nothing I do will change the way God loves me — gives me the strength to act right and do those good works …
But even if it didn’t, it wouldn’t matter — because Jesus has done everything necessary for my salvation and my sanctification. All I do is rest in him. And nobody gets smacked upside the head.