“If ideas have consequences, and they clearly do, the most consequential of all our ideas is the idea of God,” opined Gary Henry in his daybook Enthusiastic Ideas. “Nowhere does life ask us any more basic question, than when it asks us what we’re going to believe about God.”
Gary then argues that (1) if we are open to the idea that God exists, and (2) we accept the truth about God and make a commitment to Him, then this knowledge and belief should translate into a godly life.
Yesterday, we began a four-part series by introducing our word for the week, Godliness. Today, we ask, “What is the source of Godliness?”
Obviously, we would respond, “It’s God.” Such an admission has serious implications. One writer expressed it this way, “The godly man sets God always before him; the thought of God controls his whole life; his effort to all things in the name of the Lord; to see His glory only. God is the center of a devout life; to fix the eyes of the souls on Him we must learn the great lesson ‘love not the world.'”
However, there is a bit more to unravel as we consider The Source. These passages offer some insight.
In I Timothy 3:16, the apostle Paul speaks of the “mystery of godliness.” In the same context he also refers to the “mystery of faith.” The idea of a “mystery” is not like some detective thriller. But it refers to that which has been hidden in the mind of God and has now been revealed. Paul affirmed that we can read and understand “the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3::3-5).
In I Timothy 6:3, in the context of offering exhortations as well as warnings regarding those who would teach false doctrines, the apostle speaks of “the doctrine according to godliness.” The word “doctrine” involves instruction or teaching. And it includes that which has been taught. The doctrine didn’t originate with mere men, or an ecclesiastical decree from a church, but it comes from the very breath of God Himself (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
In the opening of his letter to Titus, Paul speaks of “the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness” (Tit. 1:1). In His prayer for all believers, Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by your truth, your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). Furthermore, the Ephesian Christians are said to have “heard the word of truth,” which is identified as “the gospel of your salvation.”
What is the point?
We have a standard for godliness. Its attitudes and actions, behavior and habits are revealed to us in this “mystery.” In the “”one faith.” In the apostles’ doctrine. In the body of Truth. In other words, the Bible defines, directs and dictates what godliness is. And what it isn’t.
Truth is not relative. Morality is not conditional. Ethics are not uncertain. The God-ordained principles of purity, decency, and righteousness have not changed in the 21st century. What was wrong 2000 years ago, is still wrong today.
The works of the flesh enunciated in Gal. 5:19-21 which include adultery, fornication, homosexuality, drunkenness and sexual impurity are still works of the flesh today that describe ungodly behavior. And the fruit of the Spirit which include love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, gentleness, and self control, continue to identify characteristics of godliness.
Please be advised that we are not left to our own devices to decide and define godliness. God has already done that. And He has clearly revealed it. No preacher, pastor, church or religious hierarchy can redefine godliness and be pleasing to God.
Understanding The Source of godliness ought to issue itself in living a God-conscious life with the realization of His Divine presence. Also respect for and adhere to “the truth according to godliness.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman