11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 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 appearing of the glory 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. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
God’s grace is not only a SALVATION-OFFERING grace, but also a TEACHING grace. It is a grace that FORMS OUR TASTES for the things of God. God’s grace teaches us from two perspectives how to live the Christian life. First, we see that His grace teaches us to DENY. We are to deny UNGODLINESS.
Second, we are to deny WORLDLY PASSIONS! The word κοσμικός has the meaning “of or belonging to the world.” It can be used to mean “relating to the universe” or “earthly” or “worldly” (having the character of this present corrupt age). The Latin Vulgate translates the world as saecularis (= secular). The word ἐπιθυμία is used frequently in the New Testament and is variously translated “desires,” “lusts,” “impulses,” or even “concupiscence” in Colossians 3:5 (KJV) (I’m sure you use the word “concupiscence” often in your daily conversation!).
God does not want us to be passionless people! But the same word for “desires” can be translated “lusts” (depending on the context). Paul is admonishing Christians to deny “the worldly lusts.” What are “the worldly lusts” in our culture which secularize the believer in Jesus?
We are to deny, to turn away from, ungodliness and the worldly passions. Some “worldly passions” that occur to me are:
(1) a sense of entitlement: The world owes me a living, good fortune, relaxation, comfort.
(2) an attitude of ownership: My life is my own; I can choose to do what I wish with my time, my money, my desires.
(3) a spirit of minimalism: I will do only what is expected or required of me, especially in spiritual matters (church involvement, witnessing, social concern).
What worldly passions occur to you? Can you put your finger on a specific one from which you need to turn away? (to be continued)