For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,…
1. Grace teacheth us holiness.
(1) It teaches by way of direction what duties we ought to perform, and so it makes use of the moral law as a rule of life. Obedience respects the command, as love doth the kindness and merit of the lawgiver.
(2) It teacheth by way of argument; it argueth and reasoneth from the love of God (Galatians 2:20). The law and the prophets do not beseech, but only command and threaten; but the grace of God useth a different method in the New Testament.
(3) It teacheth by way of encouragement, as manifesting both help and reward. Uses.
1. Of information. It showeth us —
(1) What is true holiness, such as cometh from the teachings of grace, obliging conscience to the duty of the law, inclining the heart to obey out of the sense of God's love, and encouraging us by faith, drawing strength from Christ, and looking to God for an acceptance from Him.
(2) That grace and corruption draw several inferences and conclusions from the same premises. A bee gathereth honey from whence a spider sucketh poison.
(3) That it is the greatest wrong one can do to grace to slacken any part of our duty for grace's sake (Jude 1:14).
2. Of trial. Whether we are made partakers of the grace of God in the gospel? Have we these teachings and arguings? Many can endure to hear that grace bringeth salvation, but that it teacheth us to deny ungodliness, there they flinch. Men would have us offer salvation and preach promises; but when we press duty, they cry out, "This is a hard saying." The cities of refuge under the law were all cities of the Levites and schools of instruction, to note that whoever taketh sanctuary at grace meeteth instruction; it is no benefit to thee else. In the general, doth it persuade you to make a willing resignation of yourselves to God? (Romans 12:1.)
(1) Doth it press you to deny lusts? (Ezra 9:13, 14.)
(2) Doth it press you to good? (1 John 5:3.)
2. Grace teacheth us both to depart from evil and also to do good (Psalm 34:15), "Depart from evil, and do good"; Isaiah 1:16, 17, "Cease to do evil, learn to do well." We must do both, because God hates evil and delights in good; we must hate what God hates, and love what God loves. That is true friendship — eadem velle et nolle — to will and hill the same thing. I durst not sin, God hates it; I durst not omit this duty, God loves it. Let it press us not to rest in abstaining from sin merely. Many are not vicious, but they are not sanctified; they have no feeling of the power of the new life.
3. We must first begin with renouncing evil; that is the first thing grace teacheth. Since the fall, the method is analytical, to unravel and undo that which hath been done in the soul. So it is said of Christ (1 John 3:8). Dagon must down, ere the ark be set up. It cannot be otherwise, it must not be otherwise; there must be mortifying and subduing of sin by acts of humiliation and godly sorrow before there will be experience of grace.
4. It is not enough to renounce one sin, but we must renounce all; for when the apostle speaks of denying ungodliness, he intends all ungodliness. Compare this with 1 Peter 2:1; James 1:21. I might give you several reasons. One sin is contrary to God as well as another. There is the same aversion from an eternal good in all things, though the manner of conversion to the creature be different. Again, one sin is contrary to the law of God as well as another; there is a contempt of the same authority in all sins. God's command binds, and it is of force in lesser sins as well as greater; and therefore they that bear any respect to the law of God must hate all sin — "I hate vain thoughts, but Thy law do I love" (Psalm 119:113). God hath given a law to the thoughts, to the sudden workings of the spirit, as well as to actions that are more deliberate; and therefore, if we love the law, we should hate every lesser contrariety to it, even a vain thought. And all sin proceedeth from the same corruption; therefore, if we would subdue and mortify it, we must renounce all sin.Use
1. Direction what to do in the business of mortification. We must deny all ungodliness; not a hoof must be left in Egypt. Grace will not stand with any allowed sin; and in demolishing the old building, not one stone must be left upon another.
(1) In your purpose and resolution you must make Satan no allowance; he standeth hucking, as Pharaoh did with Moses and Aaron; first he would let them go three days into the wilderness; then he permitted them to take their little ones with them; but they would not go without their cattle, their flocks, and their herds also; they would not leave anything — no, not a hoof — behind them. So the devil would have a part left as a pledge, that in time the whole man may fall to his share (2 Kings 5:18).
(2) We should often examine our hearts, lest there lurk some vice whereof we think ourselves free (Lamentations 3:40).
(3) Desire God to show you if there be anything left that is grievous to His Spirit (Job 34:32).
(4) When any sins break out, set upon the mortification of them. Do not neglect the least sins; they are of dangerous consequence; but renew thy peace with God, judging thyself for them, and mourning for them, avoiding temptations, cutting off the provision for the flesh (1 Corinthians 9:27). Use
2. Of trial. Do we renounce all sin? But you will say, "Who can say I have made my heart clean, I am pure from sin?" (Proverbs 20:9.) I answer —
(1) It must be done in purpose and resolution. In conversion there is an entire surrender of the soul to God.
(2) There must be a serious inclination of the will against it. Carnal men wilt profess a purpose and faint resolution, but there is no principle of grace to bear it, no bent of the will against it — "I hate every false way" (Psalm 119:104). A child of God doth not escape every false way; but he hateth it, the inclination of the new nature is against it, and therefore sin is not committed without resistance.
3. There must be endeavours against it. The case of obedience must be universal, though the success be not answerable — "Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all Thy commandments" (Psalm 119:6); not when I have kept them, but when I have a respect to them all. We should never be able to look God in the face if our: acceptance lay upon keeping all His commandments; but we must respect them all, and endeavour to keep them all, and dispense with ourselves in no known failing, and still the work of denying all sin must be carried on by degrees.
(T. Manton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,