Anything that is not Godlike is ungodliness

We can be ungodly when we pray. We can be ungodly when we preach. We can be ungodly even when we are learning Biblical facts. We have looked at Biblical illustrations of all of these and more. As to the last in that list, but not the least of the potential acts of ungodliness, the Bible tells us that the demons know Biblical facts so well that those facts cause them to tremble. However, there is no way we can infer that demons are godly.

It is important to know that we can participate in any religious activity
in an ungodly manner, even if those activities were directly designed and commanded by God.  

It is important to know that we will participate in all religious activities in an ungodly manner, unless we make a conscious decision not to do so. As humans, we will operate by the power of the old sin nature, unless we choose or set our minds on spiritual things.

Romans 8:5-8 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, (set their minds on) the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

We can come to a church service, hold a Bible in our hands, bow our heads in prayer, but participating in those acts does not necessarily mean we have set our minds on the things of the Spirit. Most of us are so completely self-centered or have our mind set on me and what I want, that there is no way we can give serious thought to real spiritual things, to say nothing about having our mind set on spiritual things.

Often, Believers are activity engaged in religious and church activities while all the time operating by the energy of the flesh. Anything done in the energy of the flesh is unholy. It is carnal. Yes, we may be doing just what comes naturally, but the natural is the opposite of the spiritual.

We may be very sincere in our desire to do spiritual things or to help others grow and what we are doing may even look like spiritual things. However, unless those actions and attitudes are under the power of the Holy Spirit, and according to the instructions of the Holy Spirit, those actions and attitudes are carnal. Anything that is of carnality is unholy.

The Bible has many accounts of just such schizophrenic type religious activities. In a real sense, the Believer has a split-personality. We have by our natural birth, the old sin nature or human nature. We have by our new birth, the Divine Nature of God. As a believer we are a new creation.

Looking at an illustration of a human, who has been saved by the grace of God, may help our understanding of this problem. My illustration of the human make-up, or this short study of the soul of mankind is not intended as an exhaustive or complete study of the makeup of mankind, either saved or unsaved. A Believer has only one earthly body through which to live and manifest the life within. A more accurate statement would be, the Believer has only one earthly body through which to live and manifest the lives within. I'm in no way talking about the so called multiple personalities.

The Believer has soulish life, or if it makes you feel better, psyche life. Not psychic, although some people are a little that way, too. The Believer received their soulish life, from God, as a result of procreation by their parents. Parents pass down to each conceived life a fatal genetic spiritual disease, which we call the old sin nature or the human nature.

Ephesians 2:1-7 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 2:1-143 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

This is the condition and nature of all natural humans. The natural soulish condition of all humans is that of being God depraved, or totally void of any spiritual qualities. The actions and attitudes of the natural or soulish person are away from God, and at enmity with Him. This is the condition of the natural life or human life which we often call the old sin nature. Acting like a human or acting godless is the most natural response a human can have.

At the point of accepting Christ as personal Savior, every Believer receives a divine nature by means of the new creation by and from God. This transaction is known as the new birth or birth from above. The Scriptures are careful to show that this new birth is different than the natural birth in type, function and origin. Both, the natural birth through procreation and the new birth through the new creation, have certain native responses, actions and attitudes. Some of these responses, actions and attitudes are similar in outward demonstration, but are opposite in:

The source of human responses, actions and attitudes of:

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

The motive of human responses, actions and attitudes of:

The end results of human responses, actions and attitudes of:

A born again Believer receives this spiritual life at the time of their acceptance of Christ as Savior. However, that born again Believer does not lose the old sin nature. Therefore, the Believer has both natures within, and is capable of living either life to its full extent, but not at the same time. God's desire for every Believer is, that they know and live the spiritual life to its fullest.

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
Acts 17:28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.

That is God's desire for each Believer. However, for this desire of God to be a reality in the life of a Believer, that Believer must have a certain mind set. We have looked at Romans 8:5-7 earlier in the lesson, but please, refresh your thinking by looking back and reading it once again.

When the Believer has the spiritual mind set, that Believer will have life and peace, God's life and God's peace. When the Believer has the natural mind set, that Believer will be at enmity against God, and cannot please God, no matter how good or moral they may attempt to be, or appear to be to others.

The natural human can only produce physical or carnal actions. Because the Believer has both the human nature (old sin nature), and the Divine Nature, the Believer has the potential of doing and living as any other natural human, even when engaged in religious activities.

If the Believer does not have the mind set of the spiritual, that Believer will be doing and living just as any other natural human in ungodliness. Of the Bible's many accounts of this type of schizophrenic religious activity in which the Believer demonstrates this split-personality, the account in Isaiah is one of the most graphic.

Isaiah 1:10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah:

We will not take the time to tear this passage apart. We have been here several times in the past. God is addressing the people and the rulers of Israel in this passage. God put the Israelites of this time who were actively engaged in religious practices in the same spiritual classification with those of Sodom and Gomorrah.

This fact will make your blood run cold when you see the import of this passage, as it applies to the forms of godliness without God's power. God's opinion of a religious phony is the same as His opinion of those in Sodom and Gomorrah.

These people of Israel were doing the proper things in a proper way as to the form of worship set forth in the Mosaic Law. These people were participating in a religious activity designed by God, but their participation was unholy in motive and attitude.

Isaiah 1:11-15 "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" says the Lord. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. 12 "When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? 13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. 14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

God, Himself, gives the explanation and evaluation of this situation, in:

Isaiah 29:13 Therefore the Lord said: Inasmuch as these people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,

We have spent some time examining the importance of what we teach, and the manner in which we teach what is taught. To some, I'm sure this examination seemed as though we were beating a dead horse, but in reality, this is of prime importance! It is so easy to develop a "form of godliness" that denies the real power of true godliness. This false form of godliness has its roots in what is taught, and ultimately what is believed.

Over and over again, throughout the Bible from Adam to the Anti-christ, and here in Isaiah, we see people who had a "form of godliness" that was in fact ungodliness. The key factor in these false religious practices was that these practices were based on a teaching other than "the doctrine which is according to godliness". Folks, this fact is pointed out by the Holy Spirit over and over and over again, from Genesis to Revelation. The Holy Spirit wants us to be aware of the problem, and avoid it at all cost.

In Isaiah and quoted in the New Testament by Christ, it says that their fear of God, or their worship was based on what they were taught, and that which was taught was the "commandments of men" Isaiah 29:13. Please notice, these "commandments of men" (Isaiah 29:13) were designed while still using and following the form of the Mosaic Law. A similar declaration is made of the heathens in Romans 1-2 and elsewhere. The heathen missed God's truth from creation. Those of Isaiah misused God's truth from the Mosaic Law. You can hardly turn the pages of the Word of God without finding some reference to these phony forms of godliness that were based on something other than "the doctrine which is according to godliness".

1 Timothy 6:3-6 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

We could make our way through the ups and downs of the nation of Israel, and we would see this fact over and over again. We could study the prophets, and this fact would stand out like a sore thumb. This was one of the greatest obstacles in the ministry of Christ and the Apostles.

Mark 7:2-9 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?" 6 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 7 'And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' 8 "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men-- the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do." 9 And He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

Being the spiritual giants that we are, we don't have to worry about this problem, because we would never get involved in doing such things, right?

Proverbs 30:6 Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar.

It is absolutely imperative that we stick to the pure Word of God as the text of our teaching, as the object of our teaching, as the source material for our teaching, etc. Any outside or extra Biblical materials, illustrations, experiences, philosophies, etc, must be only for illumination and clarification of the Word of God so that the human mind can understand, grasp and be drawn to the Word of God, not to the extra Biblical material.

That extra Biblical material must not be placed as the center piece of any teaching, nor can it be used to interpret any passage. Any Scripture portion must be taught and interpreted by comparing that Scripture with all other Scriptures, and we must carefully rightly divide that precious information, plus nothing. Anything less or more can and will lead to a "form of godliness" without any divine power.

This "form of godliness" may leave the hearers with a warm fuzzy feeling, and even a moral determination. Many people may be drawn to this form of godliness, but even so, it is without the power of true godliness.

The human mind and soul are naturally drawn to bigness, external trappings, popularity, etc. None of which were a part of Christ's life and ministry. With the lack of these things, I wonder how many of us would have been drawn to follow Christ and His ministry, or would we have looked elsewhere? Elsewhere like the Pharisees, they were popular, or like the Sadducees, they had the money and style, or like the Romans, they had the power, or would we, like most other natural folks, and the majority of Christ's followers, turn away to something more reasonable?

There is nothing wrong with bigness, trappings, popularity, etc, but too often those external things are substituted for true inner godliness. Were you impressed with the message of the song or the style of the singer? Were you impressed with the message or the beauty of the building? Were you impressed with the message or the status and/or popularity of the speaker?

Ephesians 4:14-15 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ--

It is not always a truism, but it is a "rule of thumb , when you see a person running from one thing to another, frantically trying to do enough in order to gain favor with God, or inner peace, etc, you can be pretty sure that person is self-centered, or has the mind set of the world.

They have a form of godliness, but are not allowing the power of godliness to rule in their lives. How sad! It happens to many fine Christians. Yes, even some right here.

2 Timothy 3:1-7 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

If any of the descriptions in this passage apply to you, you need to lift your heart to God right now, and change your mind set.

1 Timothy 6:5-8 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

Time for a spiritual heart check! What kind of godliness do you have?

Isaiah 30:15 For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength." But you would not,
Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Isaiah 32:17 The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

There is not much room to argue with the Holy Spirit on this point. If you don't have peace, there is no righteousness working in you. If you don't have quietness and assurance, then whatever you have is not righteousness. This quietness is not simply the absence of noise.

quietness (Hebrew)
Security and/or tranquillity.
Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.
Job 34:29 When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble? And when He hides His face, who then can see Him, whether it is against a nation or a man alone?

That was a bunch of information. However, there is a lot more in the Scriptures concerning holiness, quietness, confidence, etc. and their relationship to one another. I've been told that some do not like to come to church just to hear a bunch of Scriptures read. I'm sorry, I can't apologize for such a practice, because it is the Scriptures that are important.

It is the Scripture that will bring conviction. It is the Scripture that will bring change. It is the Scripture that will make it possible for us to partake or assimilate God's Divine Nature into our everyday living. Personal experience, or human philosophy cannot accomplish these needed things. Without the Scripture we are nothing, and we have nothing.

Are you still in the spiritual heart check mode? How is your spiritual heart rate? Is it on the quiet side? Or are you racing around trying to make spirituality happen in your life, and/or in the lives of others. Or maybe you are trying to get someone else to stop doing something, or to do something, so they will act and think more like you, so they will be spiritual like you?

Oh, please don't try to get them to act like you! In some cases, it would be better if you acted like them. If you want to do something of value, set the example of acting like Christ, so they will have something to follow.

What we need is for me, yes, and you to act like Christ!
You and I need to give our lives and time to being like Christ.   
1 Corinthians 4:2-5 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts; and then each one's praise will come from God.

Christ is perfectly capable of taking care of the rest of His Children, without our interference. I know that deflates our over blown religious ego a bit, but none the less, it is still true.

As a general rule, when people set out to make other people and situations spiritual, they aren't really interested in spirituality, even though they may think they are. What often happens, no, what most generally happens when we set out to clean up another's life is that, we will attempt to get the other person to act in a way that is pleasing to us (not so much pleasing to God). Their changed actions will make it more pleasant for us to live around them.

As we will see in our study of this passage, what we need to do is look in the mirror, and allow ourselves to change, not try to change the others. Your job, or ministry as it is called in our passage, is to allow yourself to change, and keep on changing. That is, unless you have already reached perfection. Paul never did reach that plateau that some, by their actions, indicate they already have.

Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
4 Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me remove the speck out of your eye"; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.

Smarts a little, doesn't it? It sure does to me, but then I have a long way to go. However, some others probably have already arrived, so this passage wouldn't be a problem to them. This thing of holiness is a very personal matter, and it is also a Body or church matter.

1 Peter 4:16-19 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now "If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

If we Believers would personally work on clearing up our own eyesight, and not worry about the other guy, and if the church, or house of God would make proper judgment, we would see the results in the world around us, and also in the Christians around us. People need to see the proper way of living, not just hear about what they should do.

Hearing about what is proper and how to do it is one of the tasks of Biblical teaching. But change does not come just from being told to do it. Change comes by applying the Word of God to the life, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and by following the example of those who have already changed (Hebrews 11 etc.).

When Believers change their mind set, that change will be reflected in their lifestyle. This changed lifestyle, lived before other Believers and the unsaved, will be an example that can be watched and followed. As we will see later, that changed lifestyle will also be an epistle that can be read and understood by those who are not following Christ.

In their presentations, the true prophets of the Old Testament held to this principle of the Word of God only. Some of those to whom they spoke listened. For the most part, the people turned a deaf ear to the Word of God, and turned to the teaching of men. Many of the prophets, who stayed true the God's Word, were killed, imprisoned, ridiculed, etc.. We can hope for better things from this group.

The human nature, being what it is, we will need to give close attention to the teaching, whether it be personal or group teaching, or we too will turn away from sound doctrine, and turn to the feel good religious philosophies of today. These philosophies are only the warmed over and re-packaged philosophy of Satan in the Garden.

© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998