Godliness, what is it?
There are many who are praying for revival, but I wonder if they really know what that would mean. In the great revivals of the past, the effects of those revivals that were seen were a spirit of godliness. It was not the emotions and feelings that changed the communities where revival happened. It was the godliness which followed. During the great Rochester Revival with Charles Finley the bars and brothels were closed because of a lack of customers. Does the church really want revival or just another meeting to make us feel good?
This month, I want to look at the subject of godliness. I fully realize that some of you have stopped reading this article because you don’t want to hear about it. Maybe that is because you don’t know what godliness really is. First, lets look at the word itself. The Greek word for godliness is “eusebeia” which comes from the Greek word eusebēs which means to be pious. This word is a compound word, the first part “eus” means good or well. The second part of the Greek word “sebō.” This word is translated as God-fearing but is also translated as worship or worshipper in the English language. We can translate this word as worshipping well. Therein we have a problem because to many believers, worship is a form of music. It is a genre that they like listening to. It makes them feel good or excited. Worship is an attitude of reverence toward God. One of the greatest moments of worship is when no one says a thing. There is no music played. It is when we are overcome with fear, awe, and reverence at the awesome presence of God. We then understand that godliness is worshipping God in a good way.
The Greek word eusebeia is used 15 times in the New Testament. Paul, in writing and giving instruction to Timothy said, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7–8 NASB95) Paul was teaching Timothy how to be a good servant of Christ Jesus. First, he tells Timothy to stay away from worldly fables and he tells Timothy how to live a godly life. Discipline is a word that many people do not like. In verse seven, the word Paul uses which is translated as discipline is slightly different than that word in verse eight. The Greek word in verse seven is gymnazō. This word means to exercise naked. Yes, you heard me right! The word for discipline in verse eight means simply to discipline. What is Paul saying? Godliness comes when we strip off everything. When we strip off every hinderance to our godliness.
The writer of Hebrews said, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1 (NASB95). When we lay aside encumbrances and sin, we will live a life of godliness. I think we will all agree that sin will stop us from living godly but what about those encumbrances? Those encumbrances can be relationships, fear, bitterness, loneliness, grief and so many other things. They could be things we view on television or on the internet. What may be a hinderance for you may not be for others. These hinderances are a personal thing. I challenge you to ask the Holy Spirit to point our anything that is hindering you from having a godly attitude.
In verse eight, Paul tells us that godliness is profitable for all things. The word profitable can be translated beneficial. I like benefits and I believe you do too. Most people look at godliness as a hinderance, but God says godliness in a benefit. Paul then goes on and tells us the reason why. He says that godliness holds promise. The Louw-Nida lexicon says this about the word holds; “to have or possess objects or property (in the technical sense of having control over the use of such objects)—‘to have, to own, to possess, to belong to.”
We must remember that godliness is much more attitude than action. In some cases, a godly attitude will affect our actions, but it starts with an attitude. What is Paul saying? Godliness processes and controls the promise for this life and the one to come. What promise is that? It is any promise that is needed in our lives today. The adage says, “What is the best promise of God? It is the one you need.” I believe Paul is telling us that godliness takes hold of the promises we need to live on earth. It also takes hold of the promises for the life to come. Godliness helps us hold on to our hope.
A final reminder: Godliness is more attitude than action. People can have a form of godliness but not be godly. Godliness starts in the heart by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. By obeying the Holy Spirit’s nudges, He will bring us into a place of godliness. What is He asking of you today? Please obey, it will lead you to godliness and that will open the doors of heaven to you.