Godliness: humble reverence and deep piety toward God


I’d like to encourage each, to seriously approach this study, with the same disposition of heart, manifested by David in Psa. 139:23-24 and Psa. 26:2, which reads, “Examine me, O Lord and prove me; try my mind and my heart” (NKJV). “The examination is a thorough one, as suggested by the threefold description of; examine…prove (to assess whether a person walks in God’s law or not, Exod. 16:4…try (test) NASB; as if in fire, which reveals what is pure and what is not, Psa. 12:6. Nothing, however secret, can be hidden from the Lord (Heb. 4:13; 1 Sam.16:7; 1 Chron. 28:9)”. The Book of Psalms in Vol. 1, page 318 Truth Commentaries Evan and Marie Blackmore.      

Godliness is a disposition of heart, essential in order to render acceptable service unto God, it “denotes that piety which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him”, as defined by W.E. Vines, Expository Dict. of NT Words, pg. 162. “It is respect or reverence manifested toward all things sacred, holy and divine”. Piety as defined by W.E. Vine, pg. 183, is “to reverence, to show piety toward any to whom dutiful regard is due (akin, pious, godly, and devout)”.

“That person who remains constant under provocation and pressure develops a deep respect and reverence for God so that one begins to exhibit in ones behavior constant piety toward God. This showing of respect for God develops in the person a character that has the qualities exhibited by deity”, Truth Commentaries 2 Peter-Jude pg. 40 Clinton Hamilton. The actions of a faithful Christian whether in thought, word or in deed, are all done with the goal being, that of pleasing the Lord John 14:15; Col. 3:17, Heb. 5:8-9, Psa. 147:11.   

Interestingly, “When Paul wants to distill the essence of the Christian life into one brief paragraph, he focuses on godliness. He tells us that God’s grace “teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passion, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” as we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-12)” The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges, 1983.  

Though Peter used the term godliness on several occasions, it was utilized more so, by Paul in his epistles. In the following passages from both writers, I found it interesting, how the Holy Spirit arranged the word godliness among other words of significance, in order to convey to us a very important lesson. 

1 Tim. 2:1-2,  “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty”. “..The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” James 5:16.  

1 Tim 3:14-16, “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory”. In this text we find the words, truth and mystery, both referring to the Gospel of Christ, through which Jesus the Christ was revealed Gal.1:11, 15-16.

1Tim 4:7-8 “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come”(ESV).   

1Tim 6:1-5 “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain”.

     1Tim. 6:9-11,”But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness”. 

     2 Tim. 3:5 “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”. W.E Vine, in his Expository Dict. of NT Words, pg. 124, “defines the word form, as “an image, or impress, an outward semblance”.

     Titus 1:1-4 “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour”.

     2 Pet. 1:3 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” “Inasmuch as salvation is the subject under consideration, His divine power refers to the Gospel for Romans 1:16 declares that it is the power of God unto salvation. The negative thought would be therefore that any doctrine or practice that is not authorized by the Gospel does not have anything to do with life and godliness. The terrible conclusion that is unavoidable is that when men practice anything in their religious life that is not authorized by the Gospel they are guilty of that which will result in death to them because it is classified as ungodliness”. Bible Commentary E.R. Zerr, Vol. 6 page 268. Note 1 Pet. 4:11, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever, Amen

2 Pet. 1:5-11, And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience, godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity”. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall; For so an entrance shall be administered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. In these verses, six other essential terms are mentioned.    

2 Pet. 3:11-12,”Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” Conversation is ones manner of life or behavior, Vine pg.113.     

Don Craven is a member of the McArthur Heights Church of Christ and can be reached at doncraven@juno.com.