Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
Do you live a godly life? Do you desire to live a godly life? There is a subtle but meaningful difference in these two questions. Today's message will look at the phrase Live Godly and examine how it fits into our focus verse as well as how it fits into our lives.
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12).
To Live Godly is a high ambition. Would you be so bold as to make such a claim for yourself? Well, how about claiming that you desire to live godly? There is a huge difference in the two claims, but the result, as far as suffering persecution, is the same. Those who live godly lives and those who desire (and keep on desiring) to live such lives are both subject to the same fate here upon the earth. The desire of the text is not a fleeting wish, but it is an ongoing will to live in such a manner. It expresses itself in thought as well as in word and deed.
If one desires to live a godly life (and this is a lofty ambition), a guide is needed. Godliness is not achieved through our own nature or intuition. True godliness can only be achieved by turning away from our nature and intuition at times. Jesus illustrated this principle time and time again in His earthly ministry. Countless times I know I would have done just the opposite of what He did because my nature simply would not have squared with His actions. So a desire to live a godly life is commendable, but it doesn't go far enough.
Paul spoke directly to how such a feat may be accomplished. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” (Titus 2.11-14). He was not ashamed nor afraid to say what we should do. The should of this passage speaks to a calling higher than ourselves; it is above our nature. Conscience ought to be followed, but conscience also should be educated. The desire to live godly looks outside oneself to a standard that transcends human frailties and biases. In fact, the key to accomplishing such a feat is right in the text just quoted. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us...”
The conscience and spirit of man must be taught to live in a godly manner. It will not occur merely by doing what comes naturally. This grace of which Paul spoke was the grace that had been committed to him in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3.8). One of the purposes of the gospel is to teach; it is a “feel good” message, but it is far more than that. It challenges us to look at ourselves and compare ourselves with the standard of godliness that is revealed in the scriptures. Furthermore, the gospel calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds into that which is good and acceptable in God's sight (Romans 12.1-2).
The desire to live godly is a lofty desire that can only be realized by allowing God to teach us the principles of godliness and then by being transformed into His likeness. Otherwise, it is but an idle dream which has no substance. Beyond this life, there is a huge plus to godly living. Allow Peter to specify that advantage: “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.” (2 Peter 2.9). Since persecution for those who seek godliness is sure, doesn't it make sense to make your desire real and reap the eternal benefits of godly living?
1. What is the difference between living godly and desiring to live godly?
2. When and how can this desire become a reality?
3. Why is simply following our conscience not good enough? Does man ever act illegally or immorally while following his conscience?
4. Given the fact that one desires to live godly as opposed to actually living in a godly manner, what differences can be expected here in this life? What about in the world to come?
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