Summary: We are in training in God's school of Christlikeness. Having already received the diploma, we are transformed by Christ to renounce the past, live godly lives in the present, and look forward to our future with hope and not fear.
This week we sent our son back to school as he had his first taste of Junior High. Sometimes I look back to my High School years and believe it or not I wish I could do it over again and learn those lessons that I didn’t take so seriously and also not worry so much about things that don’t matter like peer acceptance and making the right impression.
Very few of us are ever going to be in school again as a student but this morning as we look to the Word of God, we will see that we are always to be in HIS school. It’s a school that started the day you trusted in Christ as your Savior. Maybe that was your infant baptism or maybe you left his school and only returned later in life. Maybe your first day of school was only a few years ago. But the point is that if you trust in Christ, you are enrolled in God’s school.
Why? As in all schools, the goal is graduation – to complete the courses and to learn the knowledge passed on from the teachers and finally you will prove yourself complete and ready to enter the adult life.
The goal of God’s school is that you become just like his Son Jesus Christ. This is your highest goal in life – to be like Jesus. He repeatedly said: “Follow Me!” What does that mean? That we are to do what he does. To be “conformed to the image of His Son.” (Rom. 8:29) When you said, “I trust you!” then you committed to follow Jesus – to be like him - to conform your life to him as your model, mentor, example.
But there is a crucial difference when we enter into His school. You don’t wait for your diploma! With the School of Christlikeness, your first day, the day you receive Christ as your Lord, you get the diploma! All the work, the exams, the hours spent studying have been completed by Jesus Christ. He paid the price for your graduation.
After all, it says in Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people.” Completed from the start! Already holy, righteous, and worthy! Diploma stamped with the signature of the King of Kings on day one! Read what God declares to those that trust in Christ’s work for us: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
What is that called? GRACE. Grace is when we receive something which we haven’t worked for or earned. It’s getting something good which we don’t deserve. The diploma on graduation day cannot be called grace unless you really deserved to flunk out. You earned it! But God’s diploma – his stamp of approval allowing you into his kingdom is totally unearned and not-worked for. We can only receive that by grace! Do you see the incredible and wonderful gift that is?
But if we as students of Christ already have our diploma, then what’s the point of being in his school. Let’s just drop out and live like the world. The whole point of Christ paying our price, is so that we can freely live for him, walk after him, learn from him. Only then can the real training begin. Yes, we are right with God. But our behavior, our mind, our actions are not like Jesus and that’s our life project!
Titus writes that the salvation has come for all people “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope.” The word Titus uses is “training” which is the word “paideo.” It really is a word to use for school-children and comes from the word for boy or girl. It means - to bring up a child and guide him toward maturity – to instruct, train, and educate.
This word is not just for youth but it’s for all of us – we are all students of Christ learning to be like Jesus. God is changing our habits, changing our mindset, changing our way of talking and living.
1. As students of Christlikeness School our first lesson is to renounce the past. It’s something we learn to do every day! Our text says “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.”
When school is in session, students no longer live free and easy lives. No more sleeping until noon. No more hours to fill their time with their own interests. When we become followers of Christ we enter into HIS rules and HIS standards and surrender our own. We are in his training course.
We refuse to follow, obey, or recognize any further anything that is not godly. When confirmands come before the congregation, they are asked to renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways. We are children of the King and not of Satan and therefore we deny anything that is associated with his kingdom.