Lenten Day 26: UNGODLINESS
TEXT: 1 CORINTHIANS 7:7-20 OR TITUS 2:11-15
UNGODLINESS: The word ungodliness is often thought of and used today as a synonym for unrighteousness, wickedness, and gross sinful behavior. This, in fact, is one of the main reasons some find it difficult to readily equate ungodliness with Christians. However (though this is the case today), that is not what the word means by definition. Wickedness and the like can be the fruits of ungodliness, and indeed often are. However ungodliness itself is actually something else. It is something more fundamental, which in so being provides for it to bear fruit other than wickedness and vile sins. The word ungodliness clearly denotes the opposite of godliness. And godliness, as the word states, is the issue of possessing God-likeness in accordance with what God said about man when He created him. As Genesis 1:26 makes plain, God created man to be a godly creature. When God said, “Let us make man…after our likeness,” He obviously did not mean that man would be godly (God-like) in the sense that he too would possess the character, attributes, and essence of God Himself. Instead, man was created to be godly in three specific areas: 1. To think like God does; 2. To do things God’s way; and 3. To labour with God in what He is doing. These are the three fundamental components to godliness. Ungodliness, by definition therefore, is the opposite of this. It is the issue of not thinking like God does; not doing things God’s way; and not labouring with God in what He is doing; or simply living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or of one’s dependence on God.
The sad fact is that many of us who are believers tend to live our daily lives with little or no thought of God. Ungodliness, it is often assumed, is only a trait of man in his natural state as an unrighteous sinner. Hence, the conclusion is often drawn that it isn’t possible for Christians to be ungodly. Ungodliness is a trait of the natural man and the concept is used most frequently with regards to the unsaved, but it is not exclusively so. Christians can be ungodly, and the reality of this is something that the Apostle Paul dealt with throughout his epistles – Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (11 Tim 2:15-16).
The ungodliness that Paul is talking about here is not the ungodliness of the unsaved of this world. Rather it is ungodliness among the believers, as is evident from the context. It is a grievous issue, therefore, of Christian to be ungodly, and it is the focus of Paul’s doctrine in this portion of II Timothy. Christian ungodliness, therefore, is not an impossibility. It should not be thought of as a preposterous notion. On the contrary, it is a real spiritual ailment, so to speak, with definite causes and symptoms, along with grievous effects and complications. But just as with many physical ailments, which can often be overlooked or misdiagnosed due to ignorance about the ailment, so it is with Christian ungodliness. The failure to understand exactly what constitutes ungodliness in God’s sight is a reason many do not recognize this particular spiritual ailment.
We may even read our Bibles and pray for a few minutes at the beginning of each day, but then we go out into the day’s activities and basically live as though God doesn’t exist. We seldom think of our dependence on God or our responsibility to Him. We might go for hours with no thought of God at all. In that sense, we are hardly different from our nice, decent, but unbelieving neighbor. God is not at all in His thoughts and is seldom in ours. He also says that it is a sin we are all guilty of to some degree, and that it is more basic, widespread, and likely to cause other sins than anything else.
If we desire to bring glory to GOD, we must strive to make everything we do to be pleasing to Him and pray to know His will (Col 1:9-10). We must also make everything we say and do, even on the most ordinary of days, honour God in front of other people. “Our goal in the pursuit of godliness should be to grow more in our conscious awareness that every moment of our lives is lived in the presence of God; that we are responsible to Him and dependent on Him. This goal would include a growing desire to please Him and glorify Him in the most ordinary activities of life.” Ungodliness, therefore, can afflict God’s own people through the neglect of the Scriptures, improper or dishonest Bible handling, heeding to false teaching, following traditions and the commandments of men, etc.
GOD’S WORDS ON UNGODLINESS
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Rom.1.18
And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”- Rom.11.26
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,- 2Tim.2.16
EXAMPLES OF GODLY DESIRES
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? Psalm 42:1-2
O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1
The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. Psalm 27:4
The issue of man’s creation as a godly creature is a fascinating subject, especially in view of satan’s plan of evil to be “like the Most High,” and in view of his temptation of the woman and Adam to be “as gods.” The Divinely designed godliness of man is a subject about which satan knows a great deal. Hence he also knows how important producing ungodliness is when it comes to him achieving his objectives, including those in his policy of evil against God’s people. Indeed, producing ungodliness is a primary goal in satan’s policy of evil against us in this dispensation. In view of the privilege of God’s grace for us to have “the mind of Christ,” to be dealt with as adult sons, and to be involved in “the mystery of godliness,” it truly is nothing less than a shame when we possess or exhibit any form of Christian ungodliness. Are you still a slave to your passions and desires, or are your passions and desires a slave to you? A dispassionate person is one who does not allow his feelings to control his perspective and behaviour. Do not let sinful feelings define you. We walk by faith, not by feelings. Reject what is evil and hold on to what is good. Therefore “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Gal 5:16. Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Tim 4:7-8