Wednesday, July 28, 2010

thorn on godliness

Joe Thorn rightly assesses that both legalism and license kill godliness; that only the gospel gives life to godliness. It is "the result of the gospel taking root in our hearts, producing the fruit of Godward love and obedience through an attitude of joy and gratitude." Thorn writes regarding godlness:

1. We should desire it.

Godliness is the natural desire of all those born of God. We want to be reflect the imago dei and look like our Heavenly Father. We long to be more like our Savior who not only shows us perfect diety, but also perfect humanity. We crave for the Spirit of God to sanctify us through the word. There is happiness to be found in holiness when it is born in us by the grace of God.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Tim 4:7, 8 (ESV)

2. We should develop it.

While sanctification is the work of God, “whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God,” it is also what enables us “more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” (WSC Q.35). This means godliness is to be pursued. By the grace of God and the power of his Spirit we can die to the flesh and live unto him. We do not give up on the pursuit, for even though sin remains with us in all things this side of the resurrection, we have Christ’s prayer for and God’s promise of growth in grace and godliness.

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 1 Tim. 6:11 (ESV)

3. We must not trust in it.

Desiring and developing godliness is only good when we know better than to trust in our godliness as the means of believing or even feeling ourselves to be acceptable before God. Our hope and confidence before God is never our righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ.

…yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. Gal. 2:16 (ESV)

4. We must not boast in it.

In our pursuit of godliness we must not boast in it for 2 simple reasons. First, our godliness is imperfect, corrupt with sin. Even our best praying and service is tainted with mixed motives or a divided heart. Second, our godliness is the work of God in us, not a result of our trying harder and getting better. True godliness produces humility as we recognize its presence and growth to be the gracious, progressive work of God.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil. 2:12, 2:13 (ESV)

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