From the book of Romans we read,
- “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18 – NASB)
How is one to define “ungodliness?” If we are to look at the Greek word, Strong notes, “impiety, i.e. (by implication) wickedness.” Zodhiates goes a bit further in his lexicon, writing, “impiety towards God; lack of reverence.” He also writes, “wickedness in general,” but goes on to say, “neglect or violation of duty towards God, our neighbor or ourselves, joined with and springing from impiety toward God.” But note the word that these men associate with “ungodliness;” “wickedness.” I would tend to disagree that “ungodliness” and “wickedness,” as we understand them, are the same. I am of the mind that author Jerry Bridges has written correctly,
- “Contrary to what we normally think, ungodliness and wickedness are not the same.” He goes on to note that, “A person may be a nice, respectable citizen and still be an ungodly person.”
In our text the apostle Paul separates “ungodliness” from “unrighteousness,” and for good reason. Author Jerry Bridges notes,’
- “Ungodliness describes an attitude toward God, while unrighteousness refers to sinful actions in thought, word, or deed. An atheist or avowed secularist is obviously an ungodly person, but so are a lot of morally decent people, even if they say they believe in God.”
He goes on to write, and I would beg for your attention to his definition of “ungodliness:”
- “Ungodliness may be 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 ones’ dependence on God. You can readily see, then, that someone can lead a respectable life and still be ungodly in the sense that God is essentially irrelevant in his or her life. We rub shoulders with such people every day in the course of our ordinary activities. They may be friendly, courteous, and helpful to other people, but God is not at all in their thoughts. They may even attend church for an hour or so each week but then live the remainder of the week as if God doesn’t exist. They are not wicked people, but they are ungodly.”
Mr. Bridges goes on to say to those who profess to be in Christ,
- “Now, the sad fact is that many of us who are believers tend to live our daily lives with little or no thought of God. 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.”
Brethren, these are excellent words worthy of our greatest attention. The Bible constantly speaks of our utter dependence on God. If that is so, how can He not be our foremost thought? How can He not be in our every move, our every breath. Note this text from the book of James,
- “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.'” (James 4:13-15 – NASB)
Do you see it brethren? Do you see how James is emphasizing our utter dependence on God? And to grasp this leads us to a fuller understanding of “ungodliness.” Note well, that as you and I go about the “this or that” it is “If the Lord wills.” If “we shall live,” it is “if the Lord wills” (cf. Psalm 31:15).
This text has had, and continues to have, a profound effect on my life. I function in the sphere of constant awareness of God and His sovereignty in and over my life. I am repeatedly saying as I walk, If You will ” I “shall live and also do this or that.” And that has created in my life a constant, ongoing fellowship with Him.
Understanding “ungodliness” is something each of us should strive for so that we effectively pursue “the Lord’s will” for the “lives” He has given us. God’s command to us is,
- “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (I Timothy 4:7 – NASB)
I’m of the mind that to fulfill this command it is most profitable to have a proper understanding of “ungodliness.”
Have a good day brethren . . . and as you walk, may you do so in a constant communion and a constant awareness of the Lord, fully aware of His sovereign hand on you.
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