In Titus 2:11-12, Paul expressed both the negative and positive aspects of what grace accomplishes in the Christian life: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to [negatively] renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to [positively] live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
Those three words — self-controlled, upright, and godly — are considered by most Bible commentators to refer to actions with regard to one’s self, one’s neighbor, and God.
- Self-control expresses the self-restraint we need to practice toward the good and legitimate things of life, as well as the outright denial of things clearly sinful.
- Upright or righteous conduct refers to just and right actions toward other people, doing to them what we would have them do to us (Matthew 7: 12).
- Godliness is having a regard for God’s glory and God’s will in every aspect of our lives, doing everything out of reverence and love for Him.
Matthew Henry has a helpful description of godliness in his commentary on Titus 2:12:
Personal and relative duties must be done in obedience to his commands, with due aim at pleasing and honouring him, from principles of holy love and fear of him. But there is an express and direct duty also that we owe to God, namely, belief and acknowledgment of his being and perfections, paying him internal and external worship and homage, — loving, fearing, and trusting in him, — depending on him, and devoting ourselves to him, — observing all those religious duties and ordinances that he has appointed, — praying to him, praising him, and meditating on his word and works.
Bridges, Jerry (2014-02-01). Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey (p. 47). NavPress. Kindle Edition.