We need only to grasp Paul's overall point here. Jesus Christ, our Example and Savior, will never deviate from His character; He "is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). The apostle gives this admonition directly to God's children: Despite how we may personally relate to God as shown by how we live, our Savior will always be faithful to God and His purpose. He will live and act as He truly is regardless of what we personally think or how we live our lives. This is what we, too, must strive to do.
Thus, two applications to our lives follow: God loves and mercifully and generously gives to His children, but He also judges, requiring His children to live up to standards that glorify Him and His Family.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part Two)
A somewhat different use of the concept deny oneself occurs in II Timothy 2:13. God is faithful and cannot deny His character or His promises (Romans 3:3). However, a comparison of Paul's statement with Jesus' call to self-denial is enlightening. God, being so different from self-centered men, has nothing in His perfect character that needs to be denied. In His perfect goodness, God can only affirm Himself.
Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 5): Self-Denial
People in the congregation were getting into arguments about genealogies, meanings of words, and technicalities about the law of Moses. Paul called these arguments ungodliness. These arguers probably felt that they were more righteous than anyone else, but Paul calls it ungodliness. Why? Because of what it was producing: disorder and disunity. If it was producing disorder and disunity within the congregation, it was not producing an environment for growth. Peace had gone by the wayside.
Paul also says in verse 16 to "shun" those things. Shunning denotes walking away from someone or something, turning one's back on it. These kinds of arguments do not produce the right kinds of fruit. To the contrary, Romans 14:17 says the Kingdom of God is represented by "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
This is an example of ungodliness within a congregation, but a more common application appears in a context like Romans 1:18, 28-32:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. . . . And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Most of these behaviors and attitudes listed here as ungodliness are what we are more familiar. They can also occur within a congregation of the church of God. In this context, though, we find the unholy marriage of idolatry with immorality—true ungodliness.
In the context of Titus 2:11-13, we can understand that when grace truly comes into a person's life, the Christian will consciously repudiate and utterly reject ungodliness. It will not happen all at once, but if he or she is growing, the Christian will be moving precisely in that direction.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The apostle gives this warning directly to God's children. Despite how we may personally relate to Him in how we live, God cannot deny what He truly is. We may be highly variable in our attitude and conduct because we are lackadaisical and tolerate human nature having its way. We may yield to this world's influence on us and backslide into the same careless way of life that dominated us before God called us into His church (Ephesians 2:3). Yet, our God and Savior is constant and faithful to what He is. His character and purpose never change. God loves, and because He does, He also judges. Does not Proverbs 13:24 instruct, "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly"? Our Savior will not overlook this need in us.
Sometimes His discipline can be very stressful (Hebrews 12:11), but that is the cost of following Him where He leads. He will act as He truly is regardless of what we personally think or fail to think or whether we allow Him to be closely or only marginally involved in how we live our lives.
This world's nominal Christianity has so wrongly overemphasized God's grace that it makes salvation assured if we will only accept Jesus Christ. However, it does so without equally teaching that we must meet the responsibilities that God also clearly reveals. We must faithfully walk to the Promised Land. To keep our part of the New Covenant, we must live His way of life to be prepared to live in the Promised Land.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part One)
This verse tells us that we can trust Him all the way to death because "He cannot deny Himself." God's very nature and character constitute a solemn obligation that He is His own law, that He is bound by what He is and that He can never be even in the smallest degree contradictory to or less than the level of His own consistent and uniform self. No wonder James 1:17 exclaims:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
As God, He must be true to the character of goodness and wisdom that His very name implies.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness