By H. E. Phillips
The Roman Empire fell because of internal problems rather than from outside forces. Some of the internal influences that brought Rome down are portrayed by the terms, ungodliness and worldly lusts. Some of these tragic sins were: divorce and remarriage, stealing, lying, brutal murders, fornication, nudity, immoral dress, social drinking (alcohol and drugs), gambling, greed, abortion, abuse of children, dancing, profanity and vulgarity, witchcraft, idolatry, corruption in government and business. These same conditions exist today in America to an alarming degree.
A casual survey of the social problems in society today as compared with 50 years ago will establish the cancer of immorality in America and the rest of the world. Even 20 years ago we did not have the waves of juvenile brutal crimes that we have today. The sadistic treatment of wives by husbands; the savage assault on the elderly for no reason; the barbaric attacks upon strangers for money and hate all indicate the immoral condition of this generation.
Morality: (1) “The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct. (2) A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct: religious morality; Christian morality. (3) Virtuous conduct. (4) A rule or lessons in moral conduct” (The American Heritage Dictionary). The only true standard of right and wrong is the New Testament of Jesus Christ. All of these sins are covered by the terms “ungodliness” and “worldly lusts.”
Ungodliness and Worldly Lusts
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 2:11,12). Three words must be understood to appreciate this statement:
1. Denying: “(d) to abrogate, forsake, to renounce a thing, whether evil, Tit. 2:12, or good, 1 Tim. 5:8…. (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine.) It means to totally renounce; it is a definite act of rejecting some-thing.
2. Ungodliness: General impiety (Rom.1:18; 11:26; 2 Tim.2:16). The lack of piety or reverence toward God. “Such ungodliness is idolatry plus immorality, both terms taken in their most comprehensive meaning” (New Testament Commentary, 1-11 Timothy – Titus, William Hendriksen, 371).
Ungodliness indicates complete contempt for God and religion, with evil purpose and evil motive. It covers all religious mockery and profanity of all kinds. Every thought, word, or deed that is without piety and reverence toward God is “ungodliness” and will bring the wrath of God upon the guilty.
3. Worldly lusts: “pertaining to this world, is used …(b) in Tit. 2:12, ethically, of `worldly lusts,’ or desires” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine).
Worldly lusts include the sinful, inordinate craving for satisfaction of physical appetites; excessive food and drink; inordinate sexual desires, rape, multiple marriages; live-ins; prostitution, homosexual and lesbian activity of all kinds and pornography.
Worldly lusts also include the sinful craving for a dominate position, which results in quarreling, envy, division, strife, hate, and murder. Please read 1 John 2:15, 16 which well describes the basis of worldly lusts.
Worldly lusts also include the uncontrolled yearning for material possessions and the glory that goes with them (1 Tim. 6:9). It includes inordinate longing for lustful power to possess and control (1 John 2:16; Tit. 3:3).
We are to “deny” ungodliness and worldly lusts and we must live soberly, godly and righteously in this present world. “Ungodliness” and “worldly lusts” include some of the most atrocious and destructive sins characterizing our present generation. I do not have space to discuss these sins as I would like to do. I shall mention a few of them and make brief comments. Some of these sins are:
Divorce and Remarriage
Nearly half of all marriages are broken by divorce and most of them leave children to suffer life long scars. Remarriage two or three times is common. Children are born out of wedlock or aborted before birth at an alarming rate, even to an immoral nation. Divorce for any cause except for fornication, and remarriage is sinful. The Bible says so (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11,12; Luke 16:18). The divorce rate has steadily increased over the past 50 years until about half of all marriages end in divorce. The law of God on marriage for all is for as long as both shall live (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39), with only one exception fornication (Matt. 5:32; 19:9).
Stealing and Lying
Stealing is wrong. We are admonished to work for our needs rather than steal (Eph. 4:28). “Lie not one to another” (Col. 3:9). Many Americans admit to lying about many things. Stealing from neighbors, employers, relatives, markets, and from strangers is far more common today than it was 30 years ago. People today will lie about anything.
Prostitution and Sexual Sin
Before 1930 it was rare that one would read of a child born out of wedlock. Today nearly half of all children conceived are killed by abortion or born out of marriage. There is a tremendous increase of immoral sexual activity since 1930, including children. The rapid decline of the morality of children and young people sound the alarm for the moral bankruptcy of this nation.
The seductive and immoral woman dresses in the “attire of an harlot.” Obviously, the attire of an harlot is that manner of dress (or lack of dress) which communicates the message of sexual interest and availability. The word “harlot” here describes a woman who is willing to engage in fornication with someone to whom she is not married.
The “attire of a harlot” may come in many styles: sexy dresses with no underclothes, very short and tight shorts, modern swim wear, bikinis, miniskirts, very tight-fitting skirts and pants, and sometimes no clothes at all. She is advertising for fornication. Godly people do not dress in such a manner (1 Pet. 3:1-4; Prov. 7:10). Christians are to dress in modest apparel, decently and with respect. The principle applies to both men and women. If a man “looketh on a woman to lust after her,” he commits a sin (Matt. 5:27-28). But how can a woman be guiltless if she dresses in such a way that invites that kind of look?
Social Drinking: Alcohol and Drugs
The abuse of alcohol and drugs is one of the most prevalent sins in America. Most people consume alcohol in some measure. Drunkenness is one of our major social problems, and one of the most expensive in America. The Bible condemns both drunkenness and social drinking (Prov. 20:1;23:29-32; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18; 1 Pet. 3:3-4).
Filthy Vulgar Literature
No one can read filthy and vulgar literature and think on the virtuous qualities named by Paul in Philippians 4:8. Pornography is based on lust, which is licentiousness, and “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). Jesus warns us of this sin in Matthew 5:28, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Please read Job 31:1, 9-12.
Profanity and Vulgarity
Vulgarity and profanity have invaded and permeated nearly every area of society. Since World War H the decency of language has been discarded in favor of the filth and profanity used today. Even primary and junior high schools allow cursing, vulgarity, and profanity.
What Christians Can Do About Morality
“Love not the world” (1 John 2:15; James 1:27; 4:4).
“Be not conformed to the world” (Rom. 12:2).
“Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11).
“Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22; 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:11).
“Flee from all evil” (2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Tim. 6:11; 1 Cor. 6:18).
“Put off the old man of sin” (Eph. 4:22, 24).
“Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
“Mortify the sins of the flesh” (Col. 3:5; Rom. 6).
“Deny ungodliness and worldly lusts” (Tit. 2:12).
“Dress modestly and so teach” (1 Tim. 2:9).
“Speak the truth and lie not” (Eph. 4:25).
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph. 4:29).
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
And be careful to teach and heed the command in Ephesians 6:1-4.
The only remedy for the gross ungodliness and worldly lusts that exists in the world today is to return to plain, forceful Bible teaching. Please read what inspiration commands in 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
Some elders, preachers and Bible teachers are too timid, or lack conviction, to speak plainly against the sins of society that are destroying us. The way to avoid worldly lusts is to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 24). Read also 2 Peter 2:10, 18; Jude 16 and 18.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 1 p. 22-23
January 2, 1997