Denying – Living – Looking
By Charles H. Spurgeon
We read in Scripture: "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:11-14).
You see there are three words before you – denying, living, looking.
When the Holy Spirit comes into the heart, He finds that we are conceited, puffed up. We have learned lessons of worldly wisdom and carnal policy which we need to unlearn and deny.
What have we to deny? We have to deny ungodliness and "wordly lusts"; that is, the lusts or the present world or age. The lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life are yet with us. Where ever the grace of God comes effectually, it makes the one living loosely deny the desires of the flesh; it causes the man who lusted after gold to conquer his greediness; it brings the proud man away from his ambitions; it trains the idler to diligence; and it sobers the wanton mind which cared only for the frivolities of life. The grace of God has made us deny the prevailing philosophies, glories, maxims and fashions of this present world.
But then, brethren, you cannot be complete with a merely negative religion; you must have something positive – that "we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." Observe, brethren, that the Holy Ghost expects us to live in this present world, and therefore we are not to exclude ourselves from it. This age is the battlefield in which the soldier of Christ is to fight. Society is the place in which Christianity is to exhibit the graces of Christ. It is of no use for you to scheme to escape from it. You are bound to breast this torrent, and buffet all its waves. If the grace of God is in you, that grace is meant to be displayed, not in a select and secluded retreat, but in this present world.
This life is described in a threefold way. You are, first, to live "soberly" – that is, for yourself. "Soberly" in all your eating and your drinking, and in the indulgence of all bodily appetites – that goes without saying. You are to live soberly in all your thinking, all your speaking, all your acting. There is to be sobriety in all your worldly pursuits. You are to have yourself well in hand; you are to be self-restrained. The man who is disciplined by the grace of God becomes thoughtful, considerate, self-contained; and he is no longer tossed about by passion, or swayed by prejudice.
As to his fellowman the believer lives "righteously." I cannot understand that Christian who can do a dirty thing in business. If you mean to go the way of the devil, say so, and take the consequences, but if you profess to be servants of God, deny all partnership with unrighteousness. Dishonesty and falsehood are the opposites of godliness. A Christian man may be poor, but he must live righteously; he may lack sharpness, but he must not lack integrity. A Christian profession without uprightness is a lie. Grace must discipline us to righteous living.
Toward God we are told that we are to be "godly." Every man who has the grace of God in him indeed and of a truth, will think much of God, and will seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. God will enter into all his calculations, God’s presence will be his joy, God’s strength will be his confidence, God’s providence will be his inheritance, God’s glory will be the chief end of his being, God’s law the guide of his conversation.
There is looking, as well as living. One work of the grace of God is to cause us to be "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." This hope is not of debt, but of grace; though our Lord will give us a reward, it will not be according to the law of works. The Lord cometh, and in the coming of the Lord lies the great hope of the believer, his great stimulus to overcome evil, his main incentive to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Oh, to be found blameless in the day of the manifestation of our Lord! God grant us this!
What is the way to be ready to meet Jesus? It is the same Jesus that went away from us who is coming, then let us be doing what He was doing before He went away. If it is the same Jesus that is coming, we cannot possibly put ourselves into a posture of which He will better approve than be going about, doing good. If you would meet Him with joy, serve Him with earnestness. If the Lord Jesus Christ were to come today I should like Him to find me at my studying, praying, or preaching. Would you not like Him to find you in your Sunday school, in your class, or out there at the corner of the street preaching, or doing whatever you have the privilege of doing in His name? Would you meet your Lord in idleness? Do not think of it.
I called one day on one of my church members, and she was whitening the front steps. She got up all in confusion, and said: "Oh dear, sir, I did not know you were coming today, or I would have been ready."
I replied, "Dear friend, you could not be in better trim than you are; you are doing your duty like a good housewife, and may God bless you."
She had no money to spare for a servant, and she was doing her duty by keeping the home tidy. I thought she looked more beautiful with her pail beside her than if she had been dressed according to the latest fashion. I said to her: "When the Lord Jesus Christ comes suddenly, I hope He will find me doing as you are doing, namely, fulfilling the duty of the hour."
I want you all to get your pails without being ashamed of them. Serve the Lord in some way or other. Serve Him always. Serve Him intensely. Serve Him more and more. Go tomorrow and serve the Lord at the counter, or in the workshop, or in the field. Go and serve the Lord by helping the poor and the needy, the widow and the fatherless. Serve Him by teaching the children, especially by endeavoring to train your own children. Go and show the drunkard that there is hope for him in Christ, or let the fallen woman know that Jesus can restore her. Do what Jesus has given you the power to do.