Note: This is a repost of a series I started last year but did not finish. I am currently teaching this series at my church Sycamore Baptist Church, so I will be reposting the few articles I already wrote along with the new ones that will finish the series.
Last week we began our series on Respectable Sins, you can read the introductory post here. This week, we will deal with the first of many sins we as Christians ignore, that being ungodliness.
Clarification and Definition
When thinking of ungodliness, do not confuse it with unrighteousness. Unrighteousness refers to sinful actions, while ungodliness describes our attitude toward God.
Specifically, ungodliness is defined as “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” .
With this definition in mind, we can see how someone can be morally good, yet still ungodly. In fact, there are a lot of people who are morally good, yet ungodly. They help others, are courteous, and friendly, but they have no thought of God in their everyday lives. While our society would say that they are good people, God’s Word would say they are ungodly people.
Ungodliness is not just a sin the world commits. There are many in the church who are ungodly as well. They go about their daily lives thinking nothing of the Lord. While we expect those in the world to live as if God does not exist, it is not God’s will for His people to live with no thought of Him. Since this is the case, we must do all we can to rid the sin of ungodliness from our lives. In order to do that, we have to first understand how ungodliness manifests itself.
How Does Ungodliness Manifest Itself?
There are several ways ungodliness can manifest itself in the life of a Christian. The first way ungodliness manifests itself is through our planning. We prove we are ungodly when we do not include God’s will in our plans. Read what James writes,
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”” (Jas 4:13–15)
The second way ungodliness manifests itself is through our prayer. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul transcribes the way he has been praying for the Colossians. He writes,
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Col 1:9–12)
Here we see Paul is concerned for God’s will, glory, and desire for the Colossians lives. He prays they would grow in the knowledge of God’s will and in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. He also gives thanks to the Father for the Colossians’ salvation. When we observe the manner in which Paul prayed and compare it against our own prayers, do we see a similarity? I would argue our prayers are markedly different than Paul’s. Paul’s prayer is God-centered. He is concerned for God’s will and God’s glory. Our prayers are often more of a to-do list that we present to God. They consist of various health and financial needs, which are not necessarily wrong to pray about. Bringing these requests to God actually shows that we depend on Him for our daily sustenance. However, if that is all we pray about, then our prayers are essentially human-centered and we are treating God like a divine genie.
The third way we manifest ungodliness in our lives is through our work. Paul again writing to the Colossians says,
“Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Col 3:22–25)
Paul tells the Colossians to work heartily for the Lord. This implies they have God in mind when they are working. They think about Him and what He desires in their work. How often do we think about God and representing Him well when we are at work?
The fourth way we manifest ungodliness is through neglecting God in all our actions. In 1 Corinthians Paul says,
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)
Do we seek to bring glory to God in all our actions, in all our daily tasks, in all our meetings, in every meal? Do we even think about God as we walk through our day? When we do not have God in mind as we move through our daily tasks, we are living ungodly lives.
The final way we manifest ungodliness is through our lack of prayer. Read how the Psalmist viewed his relationship with the Lord:
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps 42:1–2)
The Psalmist’s soul thirsts after God, as a dear pants for a stream when he is thirsty. His desire to appear before the Lord in prayer is great. There are many of us, who do not know what it means to desire to come before the Lord as much as we desire a drink of water or our next meal. There are many men who are in full-time Vocational Ministry, many who teach a Sunday School class, or lead a Small Group Ministry, or work in the Children’s Ministry, who do not desire to commune with the Lord in prayer. Lest I leave anyone out, there are many who sit in the pews each week and never commune with the Lord outside bowing their head when the pastor prays on Sunday. If this is the case, then you are living an ungodly life.
We can begin to remove this sin from our lives, by being more aware our lives are lived in the presence of God, and that He is the Sovereign Lord not only over this world, but us as well.
Scripture to Memorize
1 Timothy 4:7-8; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 1:9-10 and 3:23; Psalms 42:1-2; 63:1; 27:4
Questions for Reflection
- Why should we include God in our plans and seek His desire for what He would have us to accomplish?
- Are your prayers like Paul’s? Do you pray for God’s will and glory? Do you pray for the spiritual health of others?
- How often do you think about God while you are at work? Do you see your time there as an opportunity to glorify Him?
- How could you better think about God in all that you do?
- Do you desire to meet with the Lord like the Psalmist does? Is your desire to spend time with Him in prayer and Bible reading as strong as your desire for your next meal?
 Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 54.
Structure of post taken from Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 53-61.