When ‘Godliness’ is Ungodly (John 17:14-19)

When ‘Godliness’ is Ungodly (John 17:14-19)

Over the last few decades there has been a debate within the church in America. How much do you separate yourself from the world? This has been over music, dress, alcohol, etc. From the debate has emerged two sides. One side seeks to move away from anything and anyone they perceive to be “worldly.” They emphasize physical separation from the world in order to be “holy.” The other side emphasizes reaching people by living like them. They would say that God is more concerned with reaching people than morality. Sexual standards, moral decisions, obedience to God’s Law, etc. all become “traditions” that must be laid aside to “reach people.”

The Word of God

In our text Jesus points out that He imparted one thing to His disciples, the Word of God. He did not impart a form of godliness, traditional morality, or “reaching people;” He simply taught the disciples the Word of God. Both sides of this debate, while claiming Scriptural authority, are sorely lacking in any biblical basis for their position. For example, in the worship wars of the 90’s how many Bible verses were used within context? Largely both sides claim a biblical basis for their position of separation or conformity without actually using the Bible!

The world hates those who are like Christ

Jesus is very clear that we will be hated by this world. There is no truce. There are only two ways for lost people and Christians to get along, conversion of the lost or compromise of the saved. Notice retreat is not an option, neither is conformity. Jesus simply does not fall into either side of the debate.

In the world but not of the world

Jesus is very clear. He has no intentions for us to physically separate from the world. In fact, He has sent us into the world. He emphatically prays against a physical removing of ourselves from this world. Jesus also prays specifically that we would not fall into the evil of this world. He knows that we will be tempted and tried, but He prays that we would be kept by the power of God from conformity to this world. God’s people are to be physically in this world. We will live, work, shop, play, etc. around sinful people. We will have them in our homes and lives. We cannot physically remove ourselves to our little Christian compound. We must be in the world. However, we cannot become like this world in its sin and evil. We must not be of this world.

Godliness looks like Jesus

Many times people consider themselves to be “godly” because they are so separate from sinful people. Others believe themselves to be “godly” because of some unseen, internal faith that is not evident in the way they lived. Jesus lived a holy life to show us what conformity to God’s Word looks like. Any “godliness” that does not look like Jesus is literally unlike God or ungodly. We must follow Jesus Christ as revealed in His Word.


Are you seeking to become like Jesus?


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