“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I’m found was blind but now I see.”
You know the song; but do you know the story of the man who wrote it?
John Newton was only seven years old when his Godly mother died. He was turned over to relatives and soon forgot the scriptures she had taught him. By the time he had become an apprentice seaman, he acquired knowledge of a different kind – he was vile and wicked along with having a reputation of being able to curse for two hours straight without repeating a single word! Later he joined the British Navy, but because he couldn’t tolerate the discipline required, he deserted.
He then fled to Africa so he could, as he put it, “Have my fill of sin.” Eventually he fell into the hands of a Portuguese slave trader where he was treated like an animal. Finally, after he escaped, he found his way back to Africa, where a passing ship picked him up. Because he was a skilled navigator, he earned the rank of first mate.
Some weeks later, the ship sailed into a storm off the coast of Scotland and almost sank. During the storm, Newton started running the pumps; and in the midst of the tempest, Newton cried out to God!
God miraculously spared his life and changed his heart that day! He emerged from that experience to become the chaplain of Parliament and even preached before the King! In spite of his vile past, he would be called the second founder of the Church of England! He, was the one who wrote Amazing Grace!
God’s grace towards us is truly amazing. In fact, the Bible tells us that God’s grace not only redeems us, but His grace also “instructs” us. Notice what Paul says in Titus;
12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age. (Titus 2:12, CSB)
Paul says that God’s grace is “instructing” us to deny ungodly attitudes and behaviors and embrace spiritual actions that bring glory to God.
Deny Godless And Worldly Lusts
Paul says that it is God’s grace that instructs us to “deny godlessness and worldly lusts.” Paul is saying that the grace of God not only redeems us, but that God’s grace reforms us. That is, the grace of God disciplines us in such a way as to help to change us, our attitudes, ambitions, appetites and actions. When we come to faith, God’s grace enables us to say “no” to the things of the world and say “yes” to the things of God.
The word translated “deny” is an interesting word. This verb refers to a once and for all action. In other words, it is a settled matter.
Embrace A Lifestyle That Honors God
The same grace that instructs us to deny godless and worldly attitudes and actions also instructs us to embrace attitudes and actions that honor God.
Paul mentions three distinct ways we live to honor Him. First, he says grace instructs us to live sensible lives. The word translated “sensible” could also be translated self-controlled.
Second, grace instructs us to live righteous lives. The word righteous refers to right living toward others. We are to live righteously as we relate to other people.
Third, grace instructs us to live godly lives, meaning we are to live to please God.
Implications For D-Group Leaders
Knowing that we are deny godless and worldly lusts and embrace a lifestyle that honors God, here are three implications that can help us as we lead others in D-Groups.
- We help those we invest in understand that our acceptance before God is not based on our performance, but on the finished work of Christ. God accepts us not for what we “do for Him,” but for “who we are in Him.” Men and women that we disciple must know that they are …accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6, KJV)
- We must avoid legalism. We should communicate this often, that our group is grace driven. In other words, we are dependent on the grace of God to work in our lives as we journey together; not on legalism that leads to criticism and a judgmental attitude.
- We must be patient. You’ve heard the old saying, “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” It’s so true and so relevant as we lead, mentor, or disciple people. I love what Paul said in Philippians 2:12-13 (CSB); 12Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.
I am so thankful to know that although I am working hard to create an environment in my D-Group for my members to grow, it is God that provides the growth.
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, CSB)