How to Grow in Godliness?

Thomas Monaghan,  the founder of Domino’s Pizza and its CEO from 1970 to 1985 grew a small debt ridden business to what is today the largest Pizza chain in the world with sales exceeding 8.6 billion dollars in 2021.

Once asked to account for the incredible growth of the company, Monaghan explained,  “I programed everything for growth. Everyday we develop people–the key to growth is developing people, not special cheese, not tasty crust, not fast delivery, but people.  People are the key to all effective leadership.”

Pastors, preachers and church leaders could take a page from Monaghan’s book.  Growing a church is not about innovative programs,  beautiful buildings, or dynamic preachers.  It’s all about the people.  Growing people. Growing spiritually. And growing spiritually means growing in godliness.

So, how do you grow in godliness?

Jay E. Adams was right when he wrote, “Discipline is the secret to godliness.”  This is a scriptural answer.  Paul enunciated this truth in 1 Timothy 4:7:  “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”

The word rendered “discipline” or in other versions either “exercise,” or “train,” is one from which we derive the English words “gymnasium” and “gymnastics.”  It’s an athletic term that speaks to rigorous training,  Barclay says that in the ancient world every town had a gymnasium where Greek youths between 16-18 would train.  However, this culture was riddled with homosexuality.

So, while physical exercise of the body produces some benefits, Paul offers a word of caution and reminds us that the spiritual discipline of the soul is better and produces the purpose for which God created us–godliness. Such training improves us both in time and renders eternal results.

However, as Donald S. Whitney observed, “Discipline without direction is drudgery.” Here are 7 Biblical discipline directives to help us grow in godliness.

#1 I must want to be godly.

“The desire of the righteous is only good” (Prov. 11:23). Godliness begins with a desire to be more like God.  To reach forward to your spiritual potential.  Do you want to be godly?  To walk in the spirit? To please God?  Or do you desire the lusts of the flesh? And the pleasures that carnal pursuits offer? (Gal. 5:17-26).

#2 I must examine myself  

Be honest.  Look inside yourself.  Your mind. Your motives. Your heart.  Are you in Christ?  Are you in the faith? (2Cor 13:5).  Are you seeking godliness?

#3 I must see the purpose in godliness.

Phillip Brooks observed that “godliness is the great purpose of life–the shaping of character by Truth.”  God says, “Be holy. For I am holy” (1Pet. 1:15-16). And Paul stated that God predestinated us to “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).  God’s purpose for our lives is to be discipled after Christ. To take on His character. His nature. His attitude.

#4 I must believe that I can change.

The whole concept of Christianity is about change.  Changing from the old man of sin to the new man “created according to God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:17-32).  Repentance involves change and is motivated by godly sorrow (2Cor. 7:9-11).  Author Gail Sheehy was right, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we’re not really living.”

#5 I must work to develop new habits.

Some say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” That may be so, but you can teach and train a person converted to Christ to a new way of living. New behaviors. New habits (2 Cor. 5:17). It is often said, “We first form our habits, then our habits form us.”  So, it will require diligence effort to break ungodly habits and acquire godly habits.  But we can do it.

#6 I must continually work to grow in godliness.

Godliness is a lifetime pursuit.  A journey that never ends in this life.  It calls for the daily discipline of prayer, Bible study, meditation, and a purpose driven spiritual focus. Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily and follow Me” (Lk. 9:23).

#7 I must filter every attitude, action and relationship through the lens of godliness.  

There is no area of life in which godliness does not apply.  Godliness is not reserved for a single day.  It doesn’t take a vacation.  It doesn’t take time off.  Godliness is 24/7.

Vance Havner was right, “The alternative to discipline is disaster.”  Since we’ve been given everything “that pertains to life and godliness” (2Pet. 1:2), then let us “discipline (ourselves) for the purpose of godliness.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Discipleship, Godliness

3 responses to “How to Grow in Godliness?

  1. Pingback: Friday’s List To Live By #99 | ThePreachersWord

  2. Jayejaye

    Thanks so much. I’ve been praying to God every day to “set my mind on Him” etc. which is good. But I’ve been lazy on my end of not even trying to attack my sinful habits or actions that tempt me to sin.
    I pray for purity of the heart and mind but here I am saturating my heart and mind with all things that are worldly and only spending time with God just enough til I am satisfied or I feel better about myself. Treating him as if He’s a vending machine.


  3. Pingback: Weekly Recap: September 5-9 | ThePreachersWord

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