Conforming to Godliness

Sunday, June 28, 2015, 4:09 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Timothy 6:3-16 (NASB).

A Different Doctrine (vv. 3-5)

If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

There are some, or many doctrines of the Christian faith today which ignore the teachings of Jesus Christ, found primarily in the four gospels, and some of these different doctrines ignore other New Testament books or passages, as well. They claim that Jesus’ teachings were under the Old Covenant, and were prior to his death and resurrection, and therefore they believe they don’t apply to the church today. Yet, Jesus did not bring Old Covenant teachings, which is one of the reasons he was hated and killed. He brought New Covenant teachings, which is why the Jewish leaders were continually antagonistic towards him.

Jesus told his followers that, after he died, was resurrected, and ascended back to the Father, that the Father would send them the Holy Spirit, who would remind them of all the things that Jesus taught them (See: Jn. 14:26). Before Jesus left this earth to return to the Father, he told his followers, by the authority he was given from the Father, that they were to go into all the world and to make followers (disciples) of Christ of people of all nations, baptizing, and teaching them to obey all that Jesus Christ commanded them (See: Matt. 28:18-20). And Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said that if anyone advocates a different doctrine that does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing.

These doctrines, which ignore the teachings of Jesus, claiming they are not relevant to the church today, largely also teach the gospel of Jesus Christ absent of the cross of Christ in our lives. They teach that we don’t have to repent of our sins, and that we don’t have to obey Christ and his commandments, even though Jesus said we did, and so did his apostles. So, they also do not teach a doctrine conforming to godliness, but rather they teach that forgiveness is available to all who believe Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was resurrected, and believe God forgave us, for Christ’s sake. James said, though, that even the demons believe, and they shudder. He taught that faith, without works, is dead. Jesus taught that we must deny self, and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin), and follow (obey) him, if we want to be one of his disciples. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of sin), we will lose them for eternity, but if we die (with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24-25).

Jesus told his followers:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

Jesus gave his flesh and his blood on the cross for our sins so that we could go free from the curse of sin, be set free of slavery to sin, be given eternal life with God, and be set free to now walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Jesus died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die, but so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). He died so we would no longer walk according to the flesh, but so we could now be empowered of the Spirit to conduct our lives according to the Spirit (See Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14). He “gave himself up for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (See Tit. 2:11-14).

So if we eat his flesh and we drink his blood it means that we participate with him in his death by dying with him to our old lives of living according to sin and self, and by submitting ourselves to the cross of Christ and to the Holy Spirit’s work of grace in our lives, so that we are being transformed in heart and mind, and so we now daily walk in the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness (See Ro. 6-8; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20). If we don’t do this, we have no life in us; we don’t have eternal life with God. If we do this, we remain in Christ, and he in us, and we do have eternal life. Yet, many of Jesus’ followers rejected this teaching as “too hard,” and so many of them turned back and no longer followed him. And, that is where many people are today, even among those who claim to know him.

Love of Money (vv. 6-10)

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

There is another “different doctrine” today which teaches “health, wealth and prosperity.” They are the “name it and claim it” people who often teach that we can have whatever we want if we just have enough faith to believe it is ours. Yet, that is not the gospel according to Jesus Christ and the apostles. Jesus and the apostles taught humility and contentment with what we have, or with the basic necessities of life. If we pursue wealth, instead of pursuing Jesus Christ, we are in danger of falling into temptation toward giving in to many foolish and harmful desires, which lead to ruin. Yet, this does not teach that money is the root of all evil, but that the love (desire for) money is at the root of all sorts of evil, and to go after such may lead some people to wander from the faith. We read in James 4:1-10:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Pursue Righteousness (vv. 11-16)

But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

We need to be students of the Word of God, taken in its context, so that we can be discerning about what are false doctrines, which teach what is in opposition to the teachings of Christ and those of his apostles, and then we need to flee (run away from) what is clearly false doctrine, and no longer give what is false a foothold in our lives. We need to be followers of God, and not followers of humankind and of their “different doctrines.”

We also should be content with what we have, and we should not run after wealth, as though having more material wealth and possessions will somehow bring us greater happiness or fulfillment in this life. I don’t believe God is opposed to us having money or having possessions, but he is opposed to us seeking after what is of this world and of this earth, and running after those things, instead of us running (chasing) after God and his righteousness, holiness and godliness. He is also opposed to us being stingy and us storing up wealth for ourselves while lacking in compassion and generosity toward others who are in need, and/or as a means of trying to control our own destiny, while not trusting in God for our future. I don’t believe God is opposed to us making reasonable provisions for our lives, but he is opposed to us spending our time on this earth storing up treasures on the earth, when we should be spending that time and energy storing up treasures in heaven.

Instead of running after what is of this earth, or after false doctrines which tickle our itching ears, we should pursue (chase after) righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). God’s grace is not a free ticket into heaven so that we can continue in sin, free from guilt and remorse. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we continue to walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin, evil), we are liars (See: 1 Jn. 1). So many people are teaching a false doctrine of grace which requires nothing of them in the way of godly or holy living, but gives them the false notion they can be saved (past), live their lives how they want, and still go to heaven when they die. Scripture says differently. Don’t believe the lies. Believe what Jesus and his apostles taught. And, follow Jesus.

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.