Grace trains us to renounce “ungodliness and worldly passions” (v. 12). The word “ungodliness” (asebeia) means “disregard for religious belief or practice irreverence, godlessness, impiety.” (Friberg) To be ungodly is to disregard or to disobey the things of God.
When God’s Word says “Worship God,” but you don’t worship God, you disregard God’s Word; thus, you are “ungodly.” You must renounce it. When God’s Word says “forgive those who sin against you,” but you cannot even forgive someone until now, that is ungodliness. You must break away from it. When God’s Word says sex in marriage only but you want to practice sex outside of marriage, that is ungodliness. You must forsake it.
More, grace trains us to renounce “worldly passions.”
Mylene and I were talking about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt yesterday. When they came together, Brad Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston. Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston to live with Angelina Jolie.
What was his reason for leaving his lawfully-wedded wife? He did it in the name of love and passion. The world was mesmerized with their romance. The world was not bothered by the scandal of giving in to fleshly lusts. The world was not bothered that it offends God. The world was not bothered that it destroyed a marriage and a wife.
Now Angelina has left Brad.
That is the lifestyle of many actors and actresses in Hollywood. They leave their wives for other women in the name of love.
The word “passions” (epithumia) means “in a bad sense of unrestrained desire for something forbidden lust, craving, evil desire (1T 6.9).” (Friberg) But grace trains us to renounce our fleshly passions. Grace trains us to live for God and not to live for love. The world tells us that we should live for love. Love is what matters. Love wins, they say. We hear it in songs; we watch it in movies; and we read it in books. But the Bible tells us that we should live for God. We should love God above all else. Grace trains us to live by our new nature, and not by our old nature of fleshly lusts.
Are you lusting for something that offends God? God’s grace disciplines you to renounce it. The grace of God will enable you to renounce it. The grace of God is powerful. The grace of God will give you the energy to say “No” to it. Do not give in to it. By the power of the Spirit, break away from it.
Long ago, a dentist attended our prayer group inside his office. He grew in the knowledge of God. He had a secret sin. He watched X-Rated movies. He had plenty of X-Rated VHS (videocasette) in his home. One day, he was so convicted of his sin. He called us to go to his place to do a burning ceremony. He wanted to turn from his sin by burning every X-Rated VHS he has in his possession. He did burn it that day. He said No to it. He turned from it. He broke away from it. He renounced it.
You may say, “Oh, I love her and love is what matters. I love her so it’s okay to have sex with her.” But if your love for her makes you disobey God, then it has become your new god, your idol, and you have fallen into idolatry. That is the problem of many people today—idolatry—love for oneself, love for one’s lusts, and love for one’s passions. Any love for anyone that replaces love for God is idolatry. Any devotion to anything that replaces God is idolatry.