Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Revealing Something Marvelous - Godliness

"Parkering" Courtesy of adne.hall

Why does a dog bark (you know)? Because he's a dog! Why does a dog bite (you know)? Because he's a dog! Why does a man sin? Because he's a sinner!
-- Henry Sardina

We begin with the end goal, godliness. An acceptable definition of godliness is the conforming of one’s character into the character of God. For some background, we must return to the Garden of Eden. Man fell into sin through disobedience. The disobedience, ironically enough, was committed in pursuit of godliness. The reason they did not heed God’s word and took the fruit was because Adam and Eve saw the consumption of fruit as a potion that would magically transform them into the likeness of God.

The exact opposite is what actually happened. Man fell from the position of privilege he held as the image of God to something quite lower. When Seth was born, the Bible specifically states that he was in the image of Adam, not of God. Hence, godliness is no longer the norm. Godliness is not something that man is born with. Godliness is something that must be attained, it must be cultivated.

The Christian has the solution for this mess, Christ’s work on the cross was much more than a bridge-making endeavor between earth and heaven. Christ’s work on the cross removed those natural barriers that made godliness in this life an impossibility, and transformed it into a reasonable goal for our lives. This is why Paul can write a letter to Titus exhorting him to pursue godliness as he uses his administrative gifts for the Lord.

The opening verses in Titus clearly set the stage for our character-altering experience:

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

In two verses Paul gives us the main tenet of godliness--truth. God is and represents the truth in every situation. He cannot lie, because he has no false fiber in His personality. This is the standard for godliness. If anything has any deficiency in truth, then it is not wholly of God.

So we are presented with the same options that Adam and Eve desired: we have the knowledge of good and evil. We are also infused with the capacity to choose to indulge either desire at any point in time. The question is, will we align our behavior with God’s?

Since everything God does is true and genuine, then in everything we do, we should strive for truth and do them out of genuine motivations. In fact, Paul sees every occasion in life as an opportunity to behave in a godly manner, see Titus 1:7-11.

For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.

Here we see that the bishop (church official) must be blameless because he represents God. As a representative for God, there are several things that he will naturally refrain from. However, even while we state that these are natural behaviors, we recognize that they are also choices. Choices must be made. Choices involve sacrifice and discipline. Godliness is not a state of being, it is a conscious decision borne out of a close relationship with God.

If you are still not convinced that godliness is a behavior that flows from a close relationship with God, consider Titus 1:15-16:

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Here, as in the former passage, we see both the godly and the ungodly on display. The pure always do what is pure because what flows from inside can be seen by all. But when a person who has no relationship with God acts-out, it quickly becomes evident that they do not know who He is at all. Every-day decisions show who you are aligned with and act as clues for others, telling them what kind of person you are. This phenomenon is known in Christian circles as the testimony.

The Christian’s testimony is important because of what it represents. It represents the power of the gospel of God. The believer’s actions enhance the gospel when he lives in accordance to those things that please God. Paul tells Titus that by aligning ourselves with God, we add special ornamentation to His doctrine in Chapter 2:10-13.

showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. 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,

This ornamentation is a real-life, tangible example of the restorative power of God’s salvation. Remember, salvation has been delivered to man in order to restore God’s intended order of things. The purpose of this restoration is to mold us out of this marred image of man, back into the perfect image of God. It is a privilege to be the workmanship of a master craftsman, and that is where the believer finds himself.

The world will know our relation to God by our behavior. Just as we know a dog by their bark, the Christian should be marked by certain things. In fact, the entire epistle to Titus is consumed by several characteristics that should be evident in the life of the godly Christian. These things include holiness, evangelism, truth, grace and sound doctrine--all of which come from a right relationship with God. Godliness is the premise. The individual parts fit together to form the whole.

It is no wonder that key words in this essay include behavior and characteristics, God wants to mold your very nature into something like His own. He wants to change your character. At certain points through this collection you may be shocked, please know that these shocking details are intended for your benefit through God’s grace. Jonathan Brower once said, “We don't like to be shocked, but we must learn because God loves you too much to let you stay the way you are.” It is true; our nature avoids anything that brings discomfort, but God’s love realizes that sometimes we must walk on pins and needles to get to a better place. God takes up the hammer and chisel and breaks off the old parts to reveal something marvelous.

And in that end goal, we marvel.

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Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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