Just Say “NO”

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,  14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. (NIV)


The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to Titus, who is helping in the church on the island of Crete. Paul and Titus had evangelized the people, and then Paul had to depart for other duties leaving Titus to appoint and train overseers, pastors. In this Pastoral Epistle Paul is giving Titus instruction on such training. 

This passage begins with the word “for”, or because. It is a reference to the previous verse or verses. In this case, he is giving the reasons why Christians should make the Gospel attractive to others, non Christians, by their behavior. In the literal Greek, verses 11-14 form one long sentence with the grace of God being the subject. 

The literal Greek translation for verse eleven is “appeared for the grace of God saving for all of men.” The meaning is “because the grace of God appeared saving all sorts of men.” We should make the Gospel attractive because God’s grace was meant to save all people, not just ourselves and our church friends. 

The literal Greek for verse twelve is “instructing us that, having denied ungodliness and worldly lust, discreetly and righteously and Godly we might live in the present age.” The behavior that makes the Gospel attractive is defined as discreet, righteous, and Godly. This behavior comes from denying “ungodliness and worldly lust.” 

So it all starts with just saying “no” (12a) to sin. We do this in the beginning, when we repent of our sin and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. However, that one time repentance is not enough, because Satan never gives up. In fact, the closer we move towards God the more Satan intensifies his efforts. So we must constantly be saying “no” to sin, and repenting when we fail. We must die to ourselves, our “worldly lust” everyday, all day, as Satan tempts us. It becomes easier after we become a Christian because the Holy Spirit indwells us and helps us. But there is still an element of personal responsibility required, otherwise there would have been no need for Paul to write this verse. 

So we are to live this Godly life, as we wait for the second coming of Christ when Satan and his demons will be thrown into the lake of fire, never to do his work again in the new Heaven and the new Earth (v. 13). As long as we are on this earth, we will all be tempted by Satan. God never tempts us. Temptation only comes from Satan. So it is easy to know what we should, and should not, do. The hard part is just saying “no”, but we must, if we are to live a Godly life.

But why live a Godly life? Why not indulge ourselves in “worldly lust?” After all, God will always forgive us if we just confess our sin, right? Wrong! Repentance is part of confession. To just confess sin with every intention of returning to it the next moment is not confession. Jesus died on the cross “to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (v. 14). He died on the cross to change us, not so that we can just continue on our merry way in “worldly lust.” He died on the cross so that we would thank Him by doing “what is good.” We show our thanks, our love, for Jesus, by being obedient to Him. This is why we must say “no” to sin. 

Paul concludes this passage by instructing Titus, and all those who teach, to teach “the things” (v. 15a) of this letter. Teachers are to teach by encouraging and rebuking, “with all authority” from God (v. 15b).  When we rebuke, under God’s authority, we are not judging our fellow man. When one rebukes under the authority of God, it is God rebuking, not man. We should never be “despised” (v. 15c) by “anyone” in the church when carrying out the work of God. 

Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary