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  • Writer's pictureMars Hill Church of Christ


Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Let’s get right to the point: GODLINESS IS A MYSTERY! The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:16: “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.”

John Hamilton spoke of the mystery of godliness beautifully in the following poem:

Beautiful Mystery

By John Hamilton

Such pure love I can’t truly understand

that longed and sought to rescue man from sin,

yet none could fulfill God’s righteous demand,

so He came Himself robed in bone and skin.

I comprehend not just completely why

the great God of heaven condescended,

born on this earth with sole purpose to die

that breach ‘tween God and man could be mended.

The Creator of life did sacrifice,

sparing not agony, blood, pain and death,

for my ransom paid the ultimate price.

How could I not praise Him with every breath?

There’s no greater mystery, I confess,

inscrutable beauty of godliness.

The mystery of Godliness goes back to God Himself, when Jesus came to this earth in the flesh. It lasted during His three-and-a-half year ministry, culminating in His ascension back into Heaven, and continues with Him forever. But GODLINESS is also is the LIFESTYLE that you and I must live on earth in order to join the Lord forever in His eternal home….So, this is a serious topic!

When learning about parts of speech in English class in school, we were taught that most words ending in -ly were ADVERBS. “Godly” is one of those ADVERB words that describes how we ought to live. To live a godly life is the correct way to live. 1 Timothy 2:2 teaches we should pray “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Living a godly life is the best way to live, although living a godly life will cost you. 2 Timothy 3:12 truthfully admits and warns us, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” But salvation is worth suffering for. We are made perfect through suffering, and Jesus was made perfect through His suffering.

The disciple is not above his Lord. Being like Jesus is what it takes to live a godly life, and living a godly life WILL involve suffering. You ladies that have given birth know that the pain and suffering involved in labor and delivery is well worth the joy of receiving that sweet baby! And if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf!

And GODLINESS is a GIFT! 2 Peter 1:3 says that God’s “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.” Because GODLINESS is a GIFT, one of the first things we should know about living a godly life is that we should be THANKFUL for the gift. One of my very favorite Bible verses is I Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

If you have ever wondered what God wants you to do with your life, this is it! GOD’S WILL concerning YOU—for you PERSONALLY—is to be thankful for EVERYTHING! Now that should keep you busy! If you start right NOW being thankful, there will be enough to keep you busy in GODLINESS for every day for the REST OF YOUR LIFE! Being GODLY is BEING LIKE GOD. Jesus was God [John 1:1], and what did Jesus do? Well, before he fed 5,000+ people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, he lifted up His eyes to Heaven and gave thanks to God [according to Matthew 14]. When he instituted the Lord’s Supper, He gave thanks before He distributed the unleavened bread, and gave thanks again before He passed out the fruit of the vine. Do you pray before meals? Do you give thanks when you pray? One of the simple, but major signs of a godly life is praying. Interestingly, the verse just prior to I Thessalonians 5:18 [the verse that tells us to give thanks for everything], says, “Pray without ceasing.”

Let’s read a passage from 2 Peter 1:5-7, where the Apostle Peter shows us that GODLINESS is something that must be ADDED to our character: “And [add] to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” All of the other things we are told to add in that passage are part of living a godly life—faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.” What is the result of adding these things to our behavior? Verses 10 and 11 say, “if you do these things, you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” TALK ABOUT A GRAND ENTRANCE!!! Won’t it be grand when the Lord calls you His good and faithful servant and says, “Well done; enter into the joys of your Lord.”?

However, if you do NOT have these qualities, including godliness, verse 9 says, “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” We need to make our calling and election sure by professing and living a holy, godly life.

Since being godly means BEING LIKE GOD, it is important that we be so close enough to God that we even THINK LIKE GOD. In the Old Testament, King David was called “a man after God’s own heart.” In the Book of Psalms, David said to God, “O, how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” That is one of the ways that David became a godly man—a man after God’s own heart. He thought about God’s commandments. He wrote down his thoughts about God. He relied on God for strength and trusted in Him with all his heart. You cannot be godly unless you think constantly about God. Read God’s Word often, and think about it seriously. David said he meditated on God’s Law ALL THE DAY.

Being godly involves every aspect of life--How we behave at school, how we earn our living, how we treat our friends, and even how we treat our enemies. It involves the way we interact with our spouses, children, and other family members when we are relaxing at home. Of course, godliness is demonstrated during the worship of the church, on vacation, at the bowling alley, in Wal-Mart, and in the grandstand during a ball game.

Furthermore, godliness is reflected in the way we dress! According to 1 Timothy 2:10, wearing modest clothing that is NOT expensive is becoming to women professing godliness, and is accompanied by good works. Many times we think about immodest apparel as not wearing enough clothes. However, in the context of 1 Timothy chapter 2, the problem of immodesty that Paul was addressing in the first century church was that the ladies were wearing TOO MUCH! They were wearing gold and pearls in their fancy plaited hair. They were wearing costly apparel.

Living in an ungodly way makes God angry! Heed Romans 1:18: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” Don’t you know that God is angry over the untruthfulness and the ungodly behavior of some of our politicians in recent days?

Godliness can be achieved through avoidance of false teaching and through performance of spiritual exercise. 1 Timothy 4:7 says, “But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” If you are not a cheerful giver, work on your attitude. If your prayer life is lacking, make a conscious effort to make it a habit. Go out of your way to do something that will benefit another person. Things like this make for godly living.

1 Timothy 4:8: “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

Seeking the approval of God is important for godly living. Paul told the young preacher Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” [2 Timothy 2:15]. We used to sing a little song on the church bus with the children many years ago that went like this: “Study your Bible ev’ry day! Tell others what it has to say! For it tells of Jesus, who will guide you on your way! Study your Bible ev’ry day!”

The teaching that we do in the church is supposed to accord with the doctrine of godliness. Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:3-5: 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 is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.”

And yet the next verse, 1 Timothy 6:6, shows us the value of being godly: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

To be godly, we must avoid temptations and hurtful lusts that drown us in destruction, among which are the love of money and greediness. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:11: “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” People will work for money. You have often heard people say, “FOLLOW THE MONEY.” But the Bible teaches that we should FOLLOW AFTER GODLINESS!

Be careful who you listen to! Paul warned Timothy, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” [2 Timothy 2:16]. Sometimes you have to look below the surface to figure out people’s motives. In 2 Timothy 3:5, Paul said that some people have “a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof, and that we should turn away from such.”

TRUTH FOLLOWS GODLINESS. Titus 1:1: “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 John 8:32, Jesus said, “And ye shall know the TRUTH, and the truth shall make you free.” In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” In John 17:17, the Bible says, “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth.” Jesus is the Word of God [John 1:1]. Jesus is God. We need to hear the truth, believe, the truth, obey the truth, and tell the truth. God always tells the truth! We should be like that! As we read in 2 Peter 1:3, God’s “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.”

The GRACE OF GOD, Titus 2:12 says, teaches us “that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” The GRACE OF GOD is also a gift. Grace is defined as the unmerited favor we receive from God. Romans 5:8 teaches us that God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We do not deserve salvation. We cannot accomplish salvation on our own. God offered us His grace when we were powerless to help ourselves because of our sinfulness. Romans 3:23 teaches us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. That is God’s grace. But let’s contrast God’s grace with God’s MERCY: Grace is receiving something that we don’t deserve, while MERCY is NOT RECEIVING THE PUNISHMENT WE DO DESERVE. Both GRACE and MERCY are gifts of God for which we should be thankful. And we can show our thankfulness to God by LIVING SOBERLY. GODLY people realize the seriousness of sin. Without God’s grace and mercy, we would die in our sins. A godly person will live soberly and seriously, and will obey God’s instructions for removing our sins. The Apostle Paul said he was chiefest of sinners. In order to become godly, the preacher Ananias told him in Acts 22:16, “Arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” [Mark 16:16]. Christ, being our example, and fulfilling the righteousness of God, was baptized by his cousin John in the Jordan River to show us what to do. Jesus never asks us to do anything that He was not willing to do himself. He was our example of GODLINESS. Every sinner must be baptized for remission of sins. Jesus Himself, however, HAD NO SIN! Still, because he was perfectly righteous, He demonstrated his GRACE and MERCY by being baptized Himself in order to show us what to do! God the Father and the Holy Spirit approved of this godly act by being present at Jesus’ baptism. When Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove. What a beautiful scene that must have been! And God’s own voice spoke from heaven at the event, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” Want to be godly? Be baptized to fulfill all righteousness. God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus will approve this.


2 Peter 3:8-14 New King James Version (NKJV):

8 “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

The Day of the Lord

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be [b]burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Be Steadfast

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”


2 Peter 3:11: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness!”

~Kevin Patrick Dillon

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