Godliness refers to the act of being pious and living a good, reverent life toward God and others because of what Christ has done in us. It means living out our disposition, respect, and reverence to Christ in all aspects of our life. It is responding from our worship of Christ with the authentic desire to know Him in agreater way. This creates our desire to be pious, which is rearranging our priorities, mindsets, and character to line up with God's character and to be able to see the importance of virtue, then be equipped to use it to value others. This is the essence of real piety, to be "souled out" as in our soul is bought by our Lord and we respond with our lives to say it is real and true to my Lord (Psalm 15; Micah 6:8; Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31; Eph. 5:1; Col. 3:15-17; 1 Tim. 3:16; 4:8; 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:5; 2 Pet. 1:3, 6; 3 John 11; Rev 14:6).
Ungodliness, Irreverence, Impiety, seeking sin, wicked, and outrageous behavior are the opposites. These bad characters come from not reverencing God which lines us up with the desires of the world, preventing us from being a blessing to others and glorifying our Lord and Savior. Impiety can be ignoring the orphans and widows, letting our tongue do as it pleases, or even the heinous acts of child molesting and murder. When we are not worshiping Him, we are engaging in pride and then we will engage in sin.
Character is often defined as a collection of personality traits within our personality that show our attitude, moral fiber, disposition, and how we treat one another, good or bad. This is best assessed when we seek within us what is being exhibited from us (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22). However, Godliness is not just another character; it is a description of who we are to be in our entirety. Godliness is a basic, foundational character upon which the other characters rest. Godliness summarizes the essence of character in general as applied to our entire lives as Christians. It encapsulates the Fruit of the Spirit from God's work in us. We all have the ability to be good or be bad, to take what Christ has given us and use it, or ignore or even perverse it. This not just about our reputation and ambassadorship in Christ (2 Cor. 5:20); it is how we must be if Christ has a hold on us!
In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, the devout and pious person was focused on his or her worship of God, and then out of that relationship with Him, he or she obeyed and did good and pious works. Godliness comes from our focus, veneration, and affection of Christ that moves us from a religion to a relationship. It is an outgrowth of our growth in Him and not just something we do. This is basically sanctification, where the character and holiness of Jesus are being imparted to us. It is offered to us because He has justified us (Rom. 3:24-28; 5:9, 18; Heb. 9:22), forgiven and declared us clean to save us. Then comes the opportunity to grow further. As we get to know Him we grow more in Him and we become more set apart for His use and glory (Rom. 12:1-3; Eph. 2:10; 1 Thess. 4:7; 1 Tim. 4:4, 1 Pet. 3:15). We gain this character slowly, although it is available to us all at once. It usually takes time and effort to apply it and work out our faith in daily life (Phil. 2). Thus, this is the practical application of allowing Jesus' work to be exhibited in us. This is not just our trying to learn Jesus' character and emulating it (which we also do); rather, it is His work in us, transforming us so we naturally exhibit it. Then, by what we learn, we are able to "tweak it" better.
Godliness only comes from our submission to God, which produces love, kindness, gentleness… This happens when we are changed by what He has done. You have to ask yourself, "Am I doing this? If not, why not?" When we profess Christ as Lord or make a public testimony, we are declaring that Jesus Christ has a hold on our lives, from now through eternity, that transcends human understanding. We are no longer of this world, but belong to Him as His child, saved and redeemed. This is the start of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ as not just Savior, but as LORD over all, over our desires, needs, and plans. This is imparted to us though our intimacy with Him (Psalm 15; 36:9). True intimacy with God is not found in our feelings, works, deeds, the saying of creeds, or even by having the right theology in mind, which is important. Rather, real, true intimacy is a deep affection and knowledge of Christ that is generated by our heartfelt devotion, commitment, and trust. This is, in turn, demonstrated by our willingness and the action of moving forward in our journey of faith.
We can learn more on this character and apply it better when we give careful scrutiny and conformity to the will of God; His work in us forms our obedience, dependence, gratitude, and then submission to what He has clearly revealed in His Word. Remember, this comes from our heartfelt worship of Him first!
Is the Character of Godliness working in you?
Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and fruit of Godliness from God's most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:
1. How do I exhibit Godliness in my daily life?
2. What can I do to develop a better willingness to pursue Godliness?
3. What blocks Godliness from working and being exhibited in me?
4. How can I make Godliness function better, stronger, and faster even in times of uncertainly and stress?
· Here are positive examples from Scripture: Gen. 13:3-4; 2 Kings 18:1-8; Ezek. 47:7-12; Jer. 9:24; Matt. 5:16; Luke 6:31; Acts 11:19-24; Eph 5:1; 2 Tim. 2:22; James 1:27
· Here are negative examples from Scripture: 1 Kings 15:1-8; Jer. 17: 5-6; 29:20-28; Luke 9:62; 1 Tim. 5:15; 2 Tim. 3:6-9; James 1:26; 4:4
1.How would you define Godliness? What does piety mean to you?
2.How would the desire to be "souled out" improve your relationships with God and others? What part does Godliness play in your relationships with church members, friends, co-workers, and family?
3.How does mockery to God and His call impact the attitude of Godliness? What is the cost to others (God, family, friends, neighbors, church family, co-workers, etc.) when you are a person who is focused on seeking sin?
4.What happens to your relationship with God, with others, and with the opportunities God gives you when you fail to value others?
5.When have you been filled with Godliness the most?
6.In what situation did you fail to have an attitude of Godliness when you should have?
7.What issue is in your life that would improve with more Godliness?
8.Think through the steps you need to take to put Godliness into action in a specific instance, such as, where is Godliness not functioning properly in my Christian walk and what can I do about it? What can you do to make your worship of God an attitude that goes beyond Sunday mornings and then into your daily life?
© 2005, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org