(BEING ALIVE TO GOD)
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain,"
Peter, in his second letter (2'9), finishes a tremendous sentence with this wonderful understanding:
"... the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations".
Notice that he refers to "the godly". Who are they? Paul answers this question in his second letter to Timothy (3'12) referring to them as:
"... all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus ...".
At the same time, earlier in the chapter (3'2-5), he refers to individuals who have "a form of godliness" but deny the power of godliness, that is, true godliness.
Neverrthless, his concern is with all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus. There's the difference! They are in Christ, so their desire is too.
Here's what Paul says about it to Titus (2'11-14):
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,
we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing
of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us
from every lawless deed and purify for Himself
His own special people, zealous for good works".
Godly is a word that's not often heard. It appears 12 times, first in 2 Corinthians and last in 2 Peter.
Six are translated from "theos" which is the Greek word for God. The remaining six are translated "pious, reverence, godly" from two other Greek words.
The word "godliness" appears 15 times, first in Acts and last in 2 Peter. The Greek word for it is "eusebeia" and is translated "reverence", "respect", "piety" "godliness".
And by the way, godliness is not holiness but it is sometimes confused with it. (See Kingdom Holiness on the Menu.)
Peter reveals the difference when he says:
"... what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God ...?" 2 Peter 3'11-12.
From what he is says, holiness describes a way of behaving whereas godliness describes a way thinking, a disposition.
In Acts 3'12 Peter says:
“Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?"
A GODLY DISPOSITION
When people receive Christ, and perhaps even before, they become aware of God's presence in various ways and their thinking begins to change in the direction of godliness.
The unknown far off "god" becomes the God who is near. By the Holy Spirit, He becomes "Abba, Father" and .
Through Christ, godliness can be an ever-growing quality. And in one place each Believer is exhorted to: "... exercise yourself toward godliness" (1 Timothy 4'5).
Exercise is often associated with bodily fitness. And, of course, the Lord wants His Children to look after their bodies, so as be active and use them to glorify Him.
This exercise is spiritual and "toward godliness". One major exercise would be letting the Word of Christ become the way of thinking (Colossians 3'16).
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God," Romans 12'2.
"... godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance," 1 Timothy 4'7-9.
Godliness is the disposition of those who are in Christ which shows in the various godly ways mentioned earlier.
Jesus displayed them all.
Godliness came with Jesus: walking, talking, looking, serving - all living in the awareness of His Father, and the Holy Spirit. Essentially, godliness is about thinking as He did.
1 Corinthians 2'16 proclaims that “... we have the mind of Christ".
And Philippians 2:5 urges Believes to "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus".
So what is having "the mind of Christ"? What is first in His thinking? His first recorded words provide the lead:
"... Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2'49).
The Lord's godliness is right there. His disposition is revealed immediately. "My Father's business."
Now, the Father's intention is that those He has redeemed do the same. Paul says that:
"... godliness with contentment is great gain," 1 Timothy 6'6.
When Believers die and rise again by immersion in water the godly understanding is: "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord," Romans 6'11.
However, being godly is not without risk. For some Believers it means being persecuted. More today than ever before. Even in the "democratic" world Believers suffer in various ways.
"... what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them," 2 Timothy 3'11-14.
THE WONDERFUL MYSTERY
1 Timothy 3'16 says: "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory".
Paul says there's no argument, godliness is a great mystery. Nevertheless, it's true.
On being received up into glory, Jesus Christ asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit. The Spirit would confirm the mystery to the repentant human heart.
The main element of the mystery is that God came to earth in human form, Jesus of Nazareth. His earthly life was all about completing the work the Father had sent Him to do.
All these things together constitute a Believer's disposition of godliness.
Prayer. Dear God, thank you for everything you have done in Christ. And thank you, too, for godliness and for the ability the Holy Spirit gives to be "alive to God".
In Jesus' name. Amen.