Respectable Sins: Chapter 7 "Ungodliness"
I've found much to think through in this chapter. For starters Bridges concept of ungodliness seems to be different to mine. I suspect that says more about my Christian understanding than anything else!
I tend to think of “ungodliness” as a collective word describing all our actions, words, attitudes that are not pleasing to God. But Bridges suggests that there is a specific sin of ungodliness, and it is a sinful attitude, rather than an act.
He says “Ungodliness may be defined as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or of dependence on God”(p54). He seems to be suggesting that ungodliness is the respectable-looking sin of not being God-centred. We think of unbelievers as not being God-centred in their thinking and living, but so are the saints. Whilst many of our actions may not be wicked or evil, our thinking can still be very un-God-centred.
If we define ungodliness as a way of thinking that is not God-centred, then I can see that ungodliness could be the root cause of many of our respectable sins. But I’m not sure the words “ungodliness” and “godliness” are used this way in the Scriptures. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
Certainly many passages in Scripture do urge us to be God-centred in our day to day thinking. Bridges mentions James 4:13-15, and points us to the God-centred prayers of Paul in the first chapters of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Romans 12:1-2, 1Corinthians 10:31, and 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 likewise urge us to shape our mind-life around what matters matter to God, renewing our thinking about ourselves, others and life, in the light of the character of God and what he has done for us in Christ. In these Scriptures we also see that God–centred thinking is cross centred thinking, because it’s in the atoning work of Christ that we see most clearly the character of God and what matters to him.
It seems to me that we’ll only want to centre our thinking and living around God if we‘re fully convinced of his worth. If we don’t believe God is deserving of being centre stage in our lives, then we’ll shift ourselves so he’s “out of sight, out of mind”. And that’s why it’s so important for all the saints to know God well, for us to havea theology of God that is grounded in the Scriptures. A growing, working, applied theology of God and what he does is essential if I’m to remain convinced that God is worthy of his place at the centre of my life and thinking. This might lie behind Bridges encouragement to develop an intimate relationship with God (p57-58).
If ungodliness is the sin of un-God-centred thinking, then certainly “Our goal in the pursuit of godliness should be to grow more in our conscious awareness that every moment of our lives is lived in the presence of God; that we are responsible to him and dependent on Him. This goal would include a growing desire to please Him and glorify him in the most ordinary activities of life.” (p60)
The challenge of this chapter comes in a great question Bridges asks as he finishes - “What would you do differently in your various activites of the day if you were seeking to do all to the glory of God?”(p60).