Monday, September 7, 2009

Respectable Sins - Ungodliness (Ch 7)

Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges

Chapter 7 - Ungodliness

Now Bridges turns to the first of 14 chapters dealing with so called respectable sins. The first he chooses to tackle is ungodliness.

I first turned to this chapter thinking, what exactly does he mean by ungodliness? Well, he is very clear:
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 one's dependence on God. (p54)
He stresses that there is a difference between wickedness and ungodliness - you can be a perfectly pleasant person, but still be ungodly.
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. (p54)
Bridges then examines what it means to do all to the glory of God:

1. I desire that everything I do be pleasing to God. "I want God to be pleased with the way I go about the ordinary activities of my day" (p57)
2. I desire than all my activities of an ordinary day will honour God before other people. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus says, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Bridges identifies another mark of ungodliness as having only a meagre desire to have a personal relationship with God:
A person man be moral and upright, or even busy in Christian service, yet have little or no desire to develop an intimate relationship with God...For the godly person, God is the center and focal point of his or her life...However, such a God-centredness can only be developed in the context of an ever growing intimate relationship with God. (p58)

So, then asks Bridges - what do we do?
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. (p60)

I found this chapter a very helpful starting point in thinking about specific sins. Ungodliness overarches all sin - for if we were living our lives fully aware of God's presence, how many other sins would we take more care to control? It is our desire to ignore God and pretend he is not there, that enables us to continue to sin in abandon.

Some of the bible verses that he referred to that I found helpful are:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)*

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Col 3:23)*

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God (Col 1:9-10)

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

Some things to think about:
1. Did Bridges' definition of ungodliness resonate with you?
2. How do you think you are going at keeping God at the centre all of the time?
3. Are you encouraged to spend more time strengthening your personal relationship with God? What do you need to change to enable that to happen?

On Friday: Ch 8 - Anxiety and frustration

* these will be the two I will try to learn from this chapter

All bible references here and throughout this blog are NIV.

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