In passages throughout the Scriptures, numerous reasons are given for Jesus Christ leaving heaven, coming to the earth, dying on the cross, and giving Himself up for us. Those reasons include: This was part of God’s eternal plan; Christ’s great love for all creation; His desire to save all men; and to fulfill prophecy, etc. However, when Paul wrote his epistle to Titus, he gave two more essential reasons for Jesus death.
“For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to REDEEM us from every lawless deed, and to PURIFY for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds”. (Titus 2:11-14).
In verse 1 of this chapter, Paul tells Titus to “Speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine”. The writer then goes on in verses 2-10 to list duties and responsibilities for older men, older women, young women, young men, and servants/slaves. There are DO’s and DON’T’S given for each group. The word “For” in verse 11 introduces the doctrinal principles that serve as the basis for the ethical conduct and moral lifestyles described in the previous verses (2-10). From these verses we understand the principle that “Right Conduct is Based on Right Doctrine”.
Paul writes that the same amazing Grace of God that saves us also instructs, teaches, and trains us in living godly lives. This grace teaches us to: Deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; Live sensibly, righteously, and godly; Keep looking and waiting for Jesus’ return; and be a people enslaved to Him and zealous for good works. In other words, say NO to sin and YES to godliness! God’s grace should have the effect on every believer to live exactly this way so that we can earnestly await Christ’s second coming with joy. Also, this grace should provide us with a great desire to give up self, become His servant, and be one of His own special people.
The two essential reasons given for the death of Jesus on the cross are found in verse 14. “Who gave Himself for us, that He might REDEEM us from every lawless deed and PURIFY for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works”. REDEMPTION and PURIFICATION have always been necessary for men to be God’s children. We must be REDEEMED (Set free by payment of a ransom) from our sins because we are all sinners. (Rom 3:23). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. (Rom 5:8). Redemption is a must because something has to provide satisfaction to God for our breaking His laws. (Heb 10:1-4).
Jehovah’s people of old had to be REDEEMED from both the bondage of slavery and the bondage of sin. “Therefore say to the children of Israel: I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians; I will rescue you from their bondage; and I will REDEEM you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments”. (Ex 6:6). The anonymous prayer in Psalm 130 contains these words; “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant REDEMPTION. And He shall REDEEM Israel from all their iniquities”. (Ps 130: 7-8). The Lord stood ready with “Abundant” REDEMPTION no matter how great or how many their sins, and He provides that same REDEEMING measure for us.
The N.T. has much to say about REDEMPTION and Christ as our REDEEMER. Because of the fact that people still sin under the law of Christ, forgiveness is still needed and God’s wrath still has to be appeased. The blood of the Savior is the only thing that can provide forgiveness, propitiation, and salvation. “In Him we have REDEMPTION through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace”. (Eph 1:7). In these 19 words, we have the entire Plan of Salvation revealed: Man’s Sin; God’s Grace; The Blood of Christ; REDEMPTION From Those Sins; and Forgiveness of Every Sin. The apostle Peter, who witnessed the sufferings, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of our Lord, brought this point home very vividly. “Knowing that you were not REDEEMED with corruptible things, like silver or gold from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious Blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot. (I Pet 1:18-19).
The concept of Jesus being the only perfect sacrifice because He was indeed “Without Spot or Blemish” leads us to the next reason found in our text – PURIFICATION. PURIFICATION is a CLEANSING from all that formerly stained or defiled, and our sins certainly have done that. Christ died so that He could PURIFY us for Himself as a people for His possession. PURIFICATION under the Old Law came by an ordinance from God through Moses and Aaron. Israel was to bring a red heifer with no blemish and no defect and on which a yoke was never placed. The heifer was taken to the priest to be slaughtered, then its blood was sprinkled toward the front of the tabernacle. Next the entire animal was completely burned down to the ashes. “Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer…and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of PURIFICATION. It is for PURIFYING from sin”. (Num 19:9). For the people to be COMPLETELY free from sin and acceptable to God, they needed to be PURIFIED.
The N.T. teaches this same principle except that our PURIFICATION is not with water, but with the precious BLOOD of Jesus Christ. “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sacrifices for the PURIFYING of the flesh, how much more shall the BLOOD of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, CLEANSE your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? … And according to the law almost all things are PURIFIED with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission”. (Heb 9:13-14, 22).
The Hebrew writer ties both these two reasons together quite well in this same chapter. “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own BLOOD He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained ETERNAL REDEMPTION”. (Heb 9:11-12).
First REDEMPTION, then PURIFICATION, by the Grace of God and through the Blood of Christ will take all those who are willing to – Lead godly lives; Be zealous for good works; Eagerly await Christ’ return; and Follow the example of the Savior – to that home, eternal in the heavens!