It is both amazing and frightening how easy it is to get dangerously comfortable and think ourselves right in the eyes of God when – in actuality – we are not. We can be harboring ungodliness and not even realize it!
Like the old song says we need God to shine the light of heaven on our souls. We must prayerfully examine our ways, thoughts and actions. With that in mind, let’s unpack 5 ways we can be harboring ungodliness. Then we’ll look at some things to do when we find it hiding out in our lives.
I know you might be thinking of the homosexuality so prevalent and praised in our society today, but that’s not what we are discussing here. Paul uses the Greek word ἄστοργος (astorgos [as’-tor-gos]) which is translated “without natural affection.” It means hard-hearted towards kindred, unsociable, inhuman [very cruel, unfeeling], and unloving (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary; Thayer’s Greek Definitions). So, how can believers harbor this ungodliness? Let me give you some examples.
I have witnessed foolishness like this amongst professing believers, and it is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it seems too many of us like to believe that how we behave at home, how we treat our families, does not matter as long as we are “good”/look good to others. The truth is, however, that it matters to God how we treat our families.
To neglect and ignore the needs of our spouse, children, and/or parents is ungodly. Sometimes I wonder if we realize the messages we send by our actions towards others. I have heard adults display disturbing attitudes regarding their parents. Oftentimes these individuals, while raised poor, were not abused or neglected. Yet there’s a hardness towards their parents that I find difficult to understand. Some are so harsh when they do mention their parents that one wonders if they have any love for them at all, and I am talking about professing believers.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen & heard about wives & mothers and/or husbands & fathers who won’t keep themselves or their homes clean and lack the qualities parents should have for their kids. There are husbands who refuse to treat their wives with basic courtesy, and vice versa. I have personally witnessed a mother (a khristian) maliciously embarrass their child by verbally abusing them [ALL the time] in public.
Do they not realize what their ways/actions are telling their families? They will tell you they love their spouse and kids; however, their actions say, “I don’t love you and I don’t want you.”
God is not pleased with parents mistreating and neglecting the needs of their children. He is not pleased with the mistreatment of spouses. He is also not pleased with children disrespecting/neglecting their parents.
We can think ourselves great, but if the natural affection (the love) that automatically comes with the territory for our families is missing, then in us ungodliness has found shelter.
A lack of self-control can reveal itself in a number of ways. Self-control is one of those things in which we can always do better in one area or another. One may have self-control when it comes to talking too much but may lack self-control when it comes to indulging in their favorite foods. Another may have the self-control to avoid gossip but may lack restraint when it comes to handling their anger. Self-control can be quite the beast to conquer for many of us.
Self-control, or temperance as the KJV calls it, is to have power over oneself. This hedonistic society thrives on pleasure/self-indulgence at any cost, but believers are to exercise power or control over all our desires and appetites (Gal 5:23; 1 Cor 9:25; Phil 4:5).
We are instructed to be people of self-control. God is not going to force us to practice self-control in all things (1 Cor 9:25). God will help us, He will strengthen us. It is, however, up to us to desire to please Him more than ourselves. We cannot just give in to the requests of our flesh, make no effort to obey the Word, and try to cover it with an “I just can’t,” he/she shouldn’t have said/done that, or that old “the devil made me do it” excuse. None of that will fly with God.
Talk, our society is filled with it. Sometimes we, believers, indulge in it way too much. As a whole, we could stand to talk a lot less. The Bible clearly instructs us on talking, and we should really use talk more purposefully than we do. This is an area we all need to examine closely.
How many times have you noticed believers using their tongues to slander others rather than to encourage or pray for them? I have watched those who claim salvation use their words to literally drive people away from the church!
How many times have we ourselves used our tongues as a tool of disparagement, more concerned with what we want to say than we are to please God with our words?
How are we using our words? Are we thinking BEFORE we speak? Are we rude and uncaring in the things that we say? Do we care whether or not what we say could potentially hurt the hearer? Do we use our words to encourage, uplift, or glorify God, or is our talk foolish, hurtful, and/or destructive? Do we have self-control when it comes talking? Something to think about isn’t it? If we don’t mind our mouths then we are a habitat for ungodliness.
Ungratefulness is one of those things that can be hidden from our view. It is revealed, often to others, via our words and attitudes about what we have/don’t have, want/don’t want. It can become such a part of us that mindless complaining is just what we do. Being ungrateful is dangerous and God definitely does not like it; just read about the children of Israel and how the Lord grew tired of their complaining, of their ungratefulness (Exodus 16:2-8; Numbers11:1-35; Numbers14:1-36; Numbers 21:4-6).
Human beings are born complainers; we don’t have to cultivate it, it comes as natural to us as breathing. As believers, however, we have to embrace gratitude and put away ungratefulness and complaining. We have to be diligent in this area because we can so easily take God’s goodness for granted.
We must be careful not to kowtow to our flesh when we get the urge to give in to ungratefulness. If we are constantly complaining, we are disobedient (1 Thess 5:18; Phil 4:6; Eph 5:20), thus giving shelter to ungodliness in our lives.
Pride; the bane of man’s existence. Pride is something we always have to be on the lookout for and guard against. Pride can rear its head in many, often very subtle ways. Pride is something God hates, and every believer should hate it as well, especially when discovered in themselves (Prov 8:13; Prov 6:16-19).
Think about the above 4 issues we have looked at. Is not pride at the helm?
Pride reveals itself in innumerable ways; here’s 50 to start with right here (list taken from “The Fifty Fruits of Pride” by Brent Detwiler).
Pride is nothing to provide a safe haven for. It is destructive; it will set us at odds with God, and will ultimately lead to our ruin (Prov 16:18). If it’s in our hearts, and we refuse to uproot and get rid of it, then we are most definitely harboring ungodliness.
Let us watch against pride in every shape – pride of intellect, pride of wealth, pride in our own goodness, pride in our own deserts. Nothing is so likely to keep a man out of heaven, and prevent him seeing Christ, as pride. So long as we think we are something, we shall never be saved. ~~J. C. Ryle
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
We have looked at 5 ways of harboring ungodliness (this is not an exhaustive list by any means). So what do we do if we have discovered ungodliness in our lives?
You can also check out the following blog post for more tips on overcoming ungodliness:
Until next time,
Let’s hear some chatter out there!
*What are other ways we can be harboring ungodliness?
*Have you had to uproot and get rid of ungodliness in your own life?
*What advice would you give for anyone struggling to let go of ungodliness?