Paul had much to say to Timothy about godliness. He was to teach others to pray for all people everywhere – even “for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:1,2). And while “bodily discipline is only of little profit,” yet “godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). Therefore, one should discipline himself “for the purpose of godliness” (v. 7) and pursue after it, along with righteousness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness (cf. 1 Tim. 6:11).
Peter also shows of the need for godliness — along with moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, brotherly kindness, and love – which is to be diligently added to one’s faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7). For what good would faith be without godliness and these other virtues?
Peter also directs the attention to where godliness can be acquired – and it is through God’s word. For he says in 2 Peter 1:3, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
And in view of the fact that “the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire…in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:7,10), we each should strive to be a people of “holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” (v. 11).
The Greek word for “godliness” in 2 Peter 3:11 is “eusebeia.” It is translated 14 times as “godliness” and once as “piety” in the New American Standard Bible. Literally, it means “to worship well,” “to be very devout.” The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary primarily defines godliness as “obeying and revering God; devout; pious.” W.E. Vine describes it as “that piety which, characterized by a God-ward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him.” According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, godliness denotes a “character and conduct determined by the principle of love or fear of God in the heart.” And E.W. Bullinger brings out an interesting point that godliness is “The opposite of… religion. Eusebia relates to real, true, vital, and spiritual relation with God; while threskeia [religion] relates to the outward acts of religious observance or ceremonies, which can be performed by the flesh. Our English word ‘religion’ was never used in the sense of true godliness. It always meant the outward forms of worship…”
We can clearly see Bullinger’s definition demonstrated by many of the scribes and Pharisees whose “godliness” was only on the surface — like an impressive veneer. In other words, they performed acts that made them appear righteous, while in actuality they were far from being godly. As Jesus states in Matthew 23:27-28: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like white-washed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
This is also seen in God’s rebuke of Judah who, though they went through the motions of being religious with their observance of sacrifices and feast days, yet were far from being godly (cf. Isa. 1:10-21). Compare also Amos 5:21-27.
This is similar to those whom Paul had told Timothy about in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. There, the apostle lists numerous specific sins that individuals would be guilty of in the last days, when difficult times would come. In this group, he points out those who will be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”
Concerning this phrase, “holding to a form of godliness,” Bullinger points out that the Greek word for “form” (morphosis) has not only the meaning of “embodiment,” but also “form without substance.” The latter describes these individuals who had a “form of godliness,” but in appearance only and not actuality. Some other Bible translations render this as, “an outward form of godliness” (Analytical-Literal Translation), “having an appearance of godliness” (Douay-Rheims). The Contemporary English Version states, “Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real.” And the Weymouth New Testament renders it, “and will keep up a make-believe of piety and yet live in defiance of its power.”
When one is just going through the motions, that can lead to hypocrisy – and true godliness and hypocrisy do not mix. Consider also Matthew 6:1-18, which warns against performing deeds merely to be seen (and praised) by men. This was typical of many scribes and Pharisees. Jesus states: “And everything they do they do with a view to being observed by men; for they widen their phylacteries and make the tassels large, and love the best seats at a dinner party or in the synagogues, and like to be bowed to in places of public resort, and to be addressed by men as ‘Rabbi’” (Matt. 23:5-7).
Instead, true godliness is characterized with a “God-ward attitude.” It means we are seeking to be seen and approved by God – rather than by man. Unfortunately, gaining just the favor of men was the concern for many of the rulers. As John writes: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (Jn. 12:42-43). These, therefore, had a “man-ward attitude” rather than a “God-ward” one.
So we might summarize godliness as pious conduct that is carried out with a desire to please God. It begins in the heart and is manifest in conduct and actions. And as we have seen in this lesson, godliness is a most valuable and necessary virtue to possess. May we, therefore, ever strive to develop more of it in our lives.
(All Scriptures are from the NASB unless otherwise indicated.)
“Set My Face Like Flint”
The above title is taken from a prophecy concerning Christ in Isaiah 50:6-7. It states:
“I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
For the Lord GOD helps Me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.”
To “set My face like flint” describes how determined the Lord was toward carrying out His Father’s will.
As we think about New Year’s Resolutions, may we also strive toward being as resolved and dedicated in our service to God as Jesus was!
News & Notes
Let us continue to remember in prayer the family and friends of Frederick Farmsworth Crosby (Charles’ brother of Panama City, Florida) who passed away December 26 at 82 years of age.
Mary Rogers (Ashley Ray Law’s grandmother) had a
better day on the 29th and was sitting up, eating, and talking
coherently (which was the first time in 2 weeks); but she is
now not doing as well. Her condition seems to change from
day to day.
Others who have continued to be on our prayer list: Cedell Fletcher, Frankie Hadley, Meadern Anderson; Belinda Medlock; Charles Crosby; James Green; Bennie Medlock; Pat Joyner; Jim Lively; Nolan McLaine; Shirley Davis; Judy Daugherty; Misty Thornton; Michelle Rittenhouse; Rachael Gerbing; Jarvis Williams; and Mary Vandevander
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes
(Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)