1 Timothy 3:16 “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in a body,was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world,  was taken up in glory”

     What is true godliness?  How is it acquired?  Why should we bother with it?  Godliness sounds like something that if a person has it he will be able to walk on air.  In the world, the term godliness can have a negative or pretentious flavour that people avoid and disdain.  To say you pursue godliness in your life makes people think you are a self-righteous religious nut.

     Stephen Davey in trying to define ‘true godliness’ approached the concept from its incarnate opposite – the Pharisaical reliance on law abiding; “Although it is important to obey the law, it isn’t the real test of godliness. Actually, it’s possible for you to keep the speed limit and still be an ungodly person. It’s possible to stop at all the stop signs, hold the door for women, chew with your mouth closed, clock-in to work five minutes early every morning, and perform good deeds galore—and still be completely unholy in your heart.”  Davey makes the point that the motives in the heart which only God can see tells the true story; “Although everyone may sing your praises, the question is: what does God see when He looks at your heart?”
     The Forerunner Commentary defines godliness as holiness;  “holiness is being cleaned, purified, and set apart, distinguished from others, for God’s uses. Holiness is notable by a life as free from the defiling acts of sin as the convert can achieve as he overcomes and grows. Holiness is godliness.”   However, even in Christian circles ‘holy’ can be a four letter word associated with  self-righteousness and superiority.  The narrow road to holiness is not often talked about and more rarely taken.
     Centuries ago, Gerhard Tersteegen cautioned against outwards shows of ‘holiness’ through gifts; “[W]e must not particularly desire any such like high things, and by no means be envious, when we see or hear of them in others. Self-love often thinks, ‘Ah, if thou hadst such gifts, such light and zeal, as this or that individual, thou wouldst then be truly godly and able to edify others.’ Self-love may induce us to imitate something or other, to which we are not called, and without the grace of God. All this arises from a principle of self-conceit and self-love, and is a very dangerous temptation of Satan, against which we must arm ourselves by prayer and humility, . . .” Whatever the case may be, self-love, self-righteousness and any kind of focus other than on Jesus takes you away from holiness or godliness
     Yet the abuses of the concept should not deter us from an exploration of its true meaning and our pursuit of it.  For some, charismatic gifts are a sign of holiness and others don’t emphasize them.  Gifts and ‘spiritual fireworks’   can often be considered to be hallmarks of holy or Godly people.   Yet Paul doesn’t make that connection in 1 Timothy 3:16.  Jesus definitely didn’t; “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you . . . ” (Matthew 7:22,23)  If you’re looking for evidence of godliness the fruit of the Spirit is a better indicator; “But the fruit<sup class="crossreference" value="(AI)”> of the Spirit is love,<sup class="crossreference" value="(AJ)”> joy, peace,<sup class="crossreference" value="(AK)”> forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.<sup class="crossreference" value="(AL)”> Against such things there is no law.”  (Gal 5:22,23)
     C. Spurgeon wrote that; Godliness makes a man like God. Godliness leads a man to love God, and to serve God; it brings the fear of God before his eyes, and the love of God into his heart.”  Godliness springs from faith on His Holy Word; “He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”  I  often thought of godliness as a quiet, resolute, joyful tendency towards God  having very little to do with me and a lot to do with the power of His Word in my life and over me.  “That is why we labour and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”  (1 Timothy 4:10)

     Why pursue godliness or holiness?  Paul instructs Timothy; “But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:6-9)  If we pursue holiness and avoid greed we stay out of trouble!  

     Godliness brings peace; peace with God, peace on earth, peace with family, peace with neighbours, and peace with your self.  Scripture tells us; “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”  (Hebrews 12:14)  Jesus said; “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  (Matthew 5:8)   Holiness or godliness comes from trusting His Word for your life and living it out.  If you do, you will be able to live with joy and peace on earth as well as prepare yourself for life in heaven.  You will see God!

     Praise the Lord!