What is Godliness?

What does it mean to be godly? Is godliness a word which can only be described with opinion statements, as is true for a word like beautiful? Everyone has an opinion about what it means but to put it into a word definition or write its qualifications is another story—perhaps even impossible to do.

So, where do we go for help? Like everything in life, we go to God’s Word.

1 Timothy 3:16 says this: And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

Fascinating! God, through Paul’s pen, calls it a great mystery, but the mystery is not HOW it is to be done. The great mystery is that we, mortal beings, can enjoy and display godliness because of Jesus’ great sacrifice! What a mystery! What a blessing! What a great responsibility!

But wait! There’s more! The verse goes on to say that Jesus manifested God in His flesh, and so can we: godliness! However, just ‘acting’ like God isn’t enough. A hypocrite may look the part, but the inside is empty or even rotten.

True godliness happens because we are justified by the Spirit.

We have been changed from the inside out! Seen of angels. Are the angels watching? I suppose they can, but more important to the born-again believer who is trying to live out godliness, God’s Holy Spirit not only sees us but is IN US! We cannot live godly without the Holy Spirit’s guiding, rebuking, and prompting us.

The final three statements of 1 Timothy 3:16 are so sweet. We all have a mandate to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2), and may I we do that through our godliness. When someone says, “You are the only Bible some folks will ever read,” they are referring to your godly example. What joy is ours when it is believed on in the world! And then comes the end of the story: received up in glory. It’s a little 3-point outline for the Christian life!

Dr. David Jeremiah has written a book called What is Godliness? and I’m sure it would be very helpful to anyone who is seeking more than just a 500-word post about it. He says this,

“Put simply, godliness is living a fruitful, obedient Christian life.”

The writers at Biblestudytools.com sum it all up nicely, and I couldn’t have said it any better:

For Paul godliness is no static, stained-glass word. It is active—kinetic obedience that springs from a reverent awe of God. It is the Isaiah-like action that has a man, awestruck by God, rise from his face saying, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Awe—then action! Godliness is not piety as we generally think of it—upturned eyes and folded hands. Godliness cannot be cloistered. The godly among us are those people whose reverent worship of God flows into obedience throughout the week. Only God-struck doers of the Word can rightly be termed godly.

So, how is your shine?


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