Pursue Righteousness and Godliness

1 Timothy 6:3-5 ESV

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

A Different Doctrine

What immediately came to mind here is the passage in Ephesians 4:17-24. In it we learn that we who are in Christ, by God-given faith in Jesus Christ, are to no longer live like we did before we believed in Christ. We are not to live like the ungodly, like those who have hardened their hearts against the truth of the Scriptures, and have become callous, and have “given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity”.

For that is not the way we should have learned Christ. But sadly that is what the majority of professing Christians in America are being taught from one extreme to another. Many are just being told that they must make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and their sins are now forgiven and now heaven is guaranteed them when they die regardless of how they live their lives on this earth. And so that leaves the door wide open for them to continue living in deliberate and habitual sin against God and against other humans without conscience, and not in obedience to Christ and his gospel.

Others are taking it much further than that and they are being told that God requires nothing of them other than to believe, which is rarely defined, and so they don’t have to repent of their sins, and they don’t have to obey the Lord, and they don’t have to submit to his Lordship over their lives. And they are telling them that those who are teaching them that those things are required of them for salvation are teaching “works salvation” which is wrong and which they are to reject. And so they, too, continue living in their sin.

So, what is the truth that is in Christ Jesus that we should have learned if we were taught the truth that is in him? It is that we are to put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:17-24; cf. Romans 6:1-23; Romans 8:1-14; 1 John 3:4-10).

1 Timothy 6:11-14 ESV

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which 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 in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Fight the Good Fight

We are not to believe that false gospel being taught. It is not okay by God for us to claim him as Lord and as Savior of our lives while we continue living in sinful rebellion against him in deliberate and habitual sin, in the gratifying of the cravings of our sinful flesh. We are not to love (embrace, crave) the world and its sinful desires – the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life. For if we do, the love of God is not in us (1 John 1:5-9; 1 John 2:3-6,15-17; 1 John 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Luke 9:23-26).

Instead, we who are of God are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness in faith, gentleness (controlled strength, not weakness), pure hearts, moral purity, honesty, integrity, uprightness and holiness, etc. We are to walk (in conduct, in practice) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. For if we walk according to the flesh, in habitual and deliberate sin, we will not inherit eternal life with God (Romans 8:1-14).

So, we are to fight the good fight of faith, and this involves us resisting Satan and fleeing temptation and saying “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and saying “Yes” to living godly, upright, and self-controlled lives until Jesus Christ returns to take us to be with him for eternity. For Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (James 4:7-8; 1 Peter 5:9; 2 Timothy 2:22; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 2:24).

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

Hymn lyrics by William Williams, pub.1745
tr. by Peter Williams, pub.1771
Music by John Hughes, 1907

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold.
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer
Sin and Satan and the grave,
Sin and Satan and the grave.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee. Amen.

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