Before Paul, “the grace of God that bringeth salvation” (2:11) only appeared to Jewish men (John 4:22). But beginning with Paul, it now appears to Jews and Gentiles, teaching us how to behave (2:12). But it teaches us differently than our moms taught us this. When we were kids, we were under the law — Mom’s law (Pr. 1:8). It worked like the Law of Moses. She punished us when we were bad (cf. Lev. 26) with the rod of correction (Pr. 22:15). But when a child becomes an adult (cf. Gal. 4:1,2) parents correct them with words of correction, and God does too (II Tim. 3:16).
Jews learned to be godly under the Law, so legalists insist we teach the Law today. They don’t understand how grace can teach us to be godly. If you don’t either, consider that we shouldn’t presume on God’s grace just because we are immune from the prosecution of God’s laws (Eph. 5:3-7).
The word “godly” is a contraction for “God-like,” so “denying ungodliness” (2:12) means to deny anything in your life that is not like God. “Lusts” (2:12) aren’t always bad in the Bible (Deut. 12:20). The word just means to eagerly desire something. But “worldly lusts” (2:12) are desires that are associated with the world that God says is going downhill fast (Eph. 2:2,3).
Ungodliness refers to actions, but worldly lusts refers to thoughts. So Paul is saying not to sin and not to even think about sinning (cf. James 1:14,15). We should live “soberly” instead (2:12). Drunks are controlled by alcohol, and we should be controlled by the Spirit instead (Eph. 5:18), by obeying the things in the Book that the Spirit wrote.
Soberness also involves not thinking too highly of yourself (Rom. 12:3) — like a drunk! Drunks also think they can live carelessly without consequences, that their legendary driving ability isn’t impaired by alcohol. Christians who don’t think soberly think they can think about sin without falling into sin, and can commit sin without consequences.
When Paul says to live “righteously” (2:12), we are righteous (II Cor. 5:21) so we should live righteously. We are accepted in Christ (Eph. 1:6) so we should live acceptably (Rom. 12:1). We are unleavened by sin in God’s eyes, so we should live that way (I Cor. 5:7).
If you find that hard, maybe you are looking at all the ungodliness in the world instead of “looking for that blessed hope” (2:13) the Rapture (I Thes. 4:13-18). This verse follows a verse that tells us to live godly because the way to stop sinning is to start focusing on eternity instead (Col. 3:1,2).
The resurrection of the dead has always been the hope of God’s people (Acts 23:6; 24:14,15; 26:6-8), but the Rapture is our blessed hope — to go to heaven without dying!
Both the Rapture and the 2nd Coming are called “glorious” (Tit. 2:13 cf. Mt. 24:29,30), but don’t confuse them! The glory of the 2nd Coming is the “power” the Lord will use to defeat the Antichrist and judge the world. The glory of the Rapture is that we’ll be spared that judgment! Both comings will feature the coming of “the great God” (Tit. 2:13 cf. Rev. 19:11-18), but don’t confuse them! God is great when He judges, and great when He spares His people judgment as well.
But if both comings are called great and glorious, how do we tell them apart? Paul calls the Rapture the coming of “our Saviour” (2:13). At the Second Coming, God’s people will be looking for the Judge (James 5:8,9) to come and incinerate creation (II Pet. 3:10-12) to clear the way for their hope, the new earth (v.13). But Paul calls Him “our Saviour” at the Rapture because we’ll be saved from judgment. The Rapture will be the culmination of our salvation (Rom. 13:11).
Of course, these days many Christians are looking for the Tribulation and the Antichrist rather than Christ. That’s Biblical (Mt. 24:3-33; Luke 21:25-28; Acts 1:9-11) but not dispensational. God knew this would happen so had Paul tell Titus to teach the truth “with all authority” (2:15).
But Paul is only talking about the Rapture to help us deal with sin (2:12-14). God was zealous to save you (Isa. 9:6,7), are you “zealous of good works” (Tit. 2:14)?