A few days ago, I listened to a sermon by Pastor Don Fortner of Danville, Kentucky, entitled “The Doctrine of Godliness”. It is from the sixth chapter of Romans. It is rather long, so it took me about three sittings to hear it all the first time through. It was such a blessing to my heart, that I wanted to pass it along to you. I know that you are just as busy (or busier!) as I am, or you may not have the capability to listen to sermons online, so I gave it a second listen while taking notes.
I wanted to share the highlights with you here, but please, if at all possible, listen to the message by Brother Fortner. I have never met him, but the 10 – 15 sermons that I’ve heard have been a blessing. You can listen, download, or watch the sermon by clicking HERE. You can also view his sermon outline by clicking HERE.
Here are my notes:
All religion attempts to give men laws and rules by which to live. They have the notion that by obeying certain rules, we can be holy. These churches preach doing good works constantly. However, we are not justified or sanctified by works, but by grace.
These “self-righteous, will-worship Armenians, and works-religionists” respond to the message of grace with the cry of “Licentiousness!” However, these that proclaim to live the law, are really against the law. They, in fact, are the antinomians. What they call “obedience” is really just their best effort at obedience, and their best effort is still disobedience. God doesn’t say, “Give me your best effort”, He expects perfect obedience. “Try” isn’t good enough with God.
In Romans 6:1-2, Paul addresses the issue of those who are no longer under the law and yet who would live a licentious life: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” What is he saying? He’s saying “It’s absurd to even imagine that grace promotes ungodliness!” Why? Because of Romans 6:14:”For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Christ doesn’t simply repair our old heart, He gives us a new heart! (Ezekiel 36:25-26)
So what is “godliness”? To most folks, this is “touch not, taste not, handle not”. But anybody can keep rules! No, godliness is living for God; consecration to God.
Godliness is both our responsibility and God’s promise:
Our responsibility – ” Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” – Romans 6:12 This doesn’t mean not wearing a beard, or smoking tobacco, or anything like it. It means things like covetousness, lust, greed – all the things no one else knows about but you. Sin doesn’t just live in me, it RAGES in me. We must always fight it, never giving up.
God’s promise – the power of Christ in me. God holds me back from sin, not me! “Our responsibility is our response to His ability!” – Harry Graham.
Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually. ~ Psalm 119:117
“Sin becomes more bitter as Christ becomes more precious.” ~ Robert Hawker
The above points are just the things that leapt out at me. I can in no way do the actual sermon justice, so I beseech you to give it a listen. I have heard a lot of sermons that included long lists of rules for me to follow. And, since I’m a control freak, it’s kind of fun to have a checklist and go through and tick each one off as I complete it. The problem with that is that I begin to feel puffed up and proud as I look at my accomplishments. I then start comparing my list to another’s list. “Hmm… she wears that!? For shame! Doesn’t she have the list? She should know better!” But while I’m thinking about her list (or lack thereof), I’m committing a sin – the sin of pride. And that’s the very thing that I must fight against. And not just pride, I also have to fight laziness, selfishness, lust, gluttony – oh my, the list is too long to put here.
Rules may make you feel safe and happy, but rules don’t please God. Only Christ can please a thrice holy God. I hope you know Him. If you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit on your life for what you are – not what you do – then believe on Him for salvation and enjoy His free grace.