I love the gospel. But I can’t say the same about godliness. I’m grateful for the gospel of grace. But I’m less appreciative about the demands of grace. I love the truth of the gospel. But I can’t say that I feel the same way about godliness. Here’s a little test. How would you feel if I were to tell you, “You should not be reading this Praiselines during the sermon.”? Not so nice eh?
We’ve been reading the book of Titus for the past 10 weeks beginning with 3 one to one Bible readings followed by 7 studies in our small groups. We’ve heard 7 sermons from all 3 chapters of Titus. So I wonder, “What key areas of life have you been challenged in as a result of reading Titus?” That was the last question from our study of Titus. The question is under the section titled “Implications”. I wonder if this is the least discussed section in your Bible study group.
Many of us enjoy and look forward to participating in our weekly Bible study groups. It’s a highlight of my week to meet with our youth leaders and study God’s Word together. We enjoy reading the Bible, digging deep, asking probing questions, contributing our answers…But often when it comes to “Implications”, the group somehow gets awkwardly quiet. The questions cease and the leader struggles to get any response to, “What key areas of life have you been challenged in as a result of reading Titus?” So we’ll just skip down to “Give thanks and pray” and then someone will request to pray for his upcoming exams or work.
The above cell group is not unique. We love studying God’s Word but can we say the same about living out God’s Word that we love? We say we love God, but do we know what God loves? We have heard this simple but difficult lesson in Titus of the relationship between our faith and practice, between our belief and behaviour.
So what happens when our godliness does not match up to the Word of God? What do we do when we enjoy preaching but not practicing what was preached? What happens when our godliness does not accord with truth (Titus 1:1)?
Should we stop saying that we love the gospel? We treasure that the gospel of grace has saved us but we are not so prepared for gospel of grace to train us in godliness (Titus 2:11–12). Perhaps we should stop embarrassing ourselves by removing any chance that we might discredit the gospel. We just won’t mention that we are Christians. Then no one would have any expectations of us. We won’t have to behave. We’ll just blend in.
But that fixes nothing. For the real problem is not so much with the lack of godliness. The issue lies with the lack of truth. For truth accords with godliness. The absence of godliness means the absence of truth.
Godliness is a product. When there is ungodliness, the solution is not found by working on godliness. It is not about trying harder, praying more or any form of self will and determination. Godliness is a product of gospel truth. Ungodliness is a symptom of faith in a false gospel. So the cure for ungodliness is in trusting the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
When we are convicted of our ungodliness, the solution is not less but more of the truth. When our practice does not match our preaching, the answer is not less but more of God’s Word. When our behaviour does not align with our belief, the cure is not less but more of the Bible. For truth accords with godliness. The true gospel always produces godliness. So go attend our cell groups, read the Bible one to one, listen to the sermons and pray, “Speak, O Lord”.
Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfil in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.
“Speak, O Lord”
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music