Bible Study 2: Godliness with Contentment (Godliness)

What is Godliness? 

Let me start by looking at the word, Godliness. What is Godliness? In colloquial terms, it is simply, “that which is aligned to or in consonance with God.” The Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defines it as, “The piety (devotion) which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him.” Put another way, it is being Godlike or reflecting the image of God here on earth. It is Christian devotion that produces a God-likeness in one.

The word occurs 10-16 times in the New Testament (depending on which translation). It is most frequently used in 1 Timothy and 2 Peter. Synonyms for Godliness include piety, devoutness, holiness, devotion, sanctity, piousness, virtue, reverence, sacredness, and religiousness.

Godliness is characterized by a Godward attitude. It is a God-centered, God-focused life. In His book Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby, helps us here, by listing out the things that characterize and differentiate between a God-centered life and a Self-centered life. These are listed in the table below.

A Self-Centered Life
A God-Centered Life
Is Focused on Self
Places Confidence in God
Is Proud of Self and Self’s Accomplishments
Depends on God and His ability and provision
Is Self-confident
Focuses on God and His activity
Depends on Self and Abilities
Is Humble before God
Affirms Self
Denies Self
Seeks to be Acceptable to the World and it’s Ways
Seeks first the Kingdom of God and its Righteousness
Looks at Circumstances from a Human Perspective
Seeks God’s perspective in every circumstance
Chooses Selfish and Ordinary Living
Chooses Holy and Godly living

A God-centered life is made up of a three (3) sided focus (attitude) towards God. These are,
  • The Fear (or Reverence) of God
  • The Love of God
  • The Desire for God
“The fear of God is the soul of godliness.” (John Murray) To fear God is absolute reverence and awe for an Almighty God, the Creator of all things. [Hebrews 12:28; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14] In the same token, the love of God is the heart of godliness. [John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:19] Until you know the fear of God, you are a stranger to the love of God. Until you fear God, you cannot fully grasp the love of God. They are two attributes of the one and the same God. There is no one without the other. They balance each other out, to perfect us. The love of God perfects the fear of God, just as the fear of God perfects the love of God. [2 Corinthians 5:9-15; Romans 11:22]

The fear and the love of God are the core and foundation of Godliness. It is from these our desire for God arises. Our desire for God is the highest expression of our devotion to Him. [Matthew 22:37-38; Luke 10:27; Mark 12:29-30; 1 John 2:5; John 14:23] True godliness engages our affections and awakens within us a desire to enjoy God’s presence and fellowship. It produces a longing for God himself. [Isaiah 26:8-9; Psalm 42, 27:4, 63:1; Philippians 3:10; Revelations 3:20]

Godliness is not morality. It is not an outward performance. Rather, it is an inward transformation that overflows on the outside. The WALK (inward heart disposition and adherence) produces the LIFE (outward visible characteristics). It is not a devotion to a vision, a ministry, or a reputation. It is a devotion to God that results in a life that is pleasing to Him.

Godliness is the cultivation of a relationship with God and from this the cultivation of a life that is pleasing to God. The relationship proceeds from a desire for God arising from a healthy fear (reverence) and an intimate love relationship with God. This draws and keeps us in His presence. Our heart pants after God like the deer pants for water. [Psalm 42] Our time in His presence is what changes us. As we spend time and behold Him we are transformed into His image. [2 Corinthians 3:7-18] The person who spends time with God radiates his glory in a manner that is always warm and inviting, never cold, and forbidding. 

In first Timothy, Paul compares Godliness to physical exercise. [1 Timothy 4:7-8] Apostle Peter admonishes us to add it to our faith so we will not be unfruitful. [1 Peter 2:5-11] Godliness can be seen as the things we do in keeping our spirit in a vital, healthy, life-giving state. Just as the body benefits from physical training, so the mind, soul, and spirit benefit from exercise in godliness. The exercises here include, 
  • Fellowship with God through the word [Joshua 1:8; Colossians 3:16; John 17:17; Hebrew 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:1-4]; 
  • Prayer and Fasting [Psalm 63; 2 Chronicles 20:1-15; Daniel 9:3; Isaiah 58; Ezra 8:23; Matthew 6:16-18; Acts 13:1-2]; 
  • Fellowship with fellow believers [1 John 1:5-7; Hebrews 10:25]; etc.
We must never lose sight that godliness is not merely a practice. It is a relationship with a person. It is a relationship with an audience of one. It is a relationship with God. God has to always be the focus - the beginning, and the end of it. “Godliness is not an overnight success, it’s a lifetime of growth.” (Kathy Carlton Willis) 

Hoping this helps. Anything you think I left out? Feel free to comment.

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