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Adding Godliness

Peter provided a list of 7 characteristics that he, basically, says are necessary qualities for the Christian to have in order to get to Heaven. Having worked with the first four, we now look at Godliness.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2Pe 1:5-7)

There is a lot to think about with the characteristic of godliness. For example, what exactly is godliness? I like to ask that question because godliness seems to be a little vague. In the Greek, there is a word used that sometimes is translated “pious” or “piety”, in the Hebrew there is a word that started out meaning “kind”  but evolved to “religiously pious”. (I am not a Greek or Hebrew expert, mind you, I am simply using Strong’s concordance.) But to say that godliness is “piety”, a word that most of us do not use too often does not really help us.

One way you might learn what a word means is by learning what it is not. Perhaps you might remember when Gilligan was adopted by the Howell’s on the TV show “Gilligan’s Island”. Suddenly, he was not able to associate with the common folks: his old friends. In a humorous way, we see that being called by a certain name requires a certain lifestyle. The same is true for those of us called by the name of Christ.

Godliness cannot be defined by it’s form. Paul warns us about those who have a form of godliness but have denied the power of it.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2Ti 3:1-5)

Appearing to be godly is not the same as being godly. Not that these people would appear to be godly if they actually acted like Paul says, so they hide those characteristics and adopt a form of godliness. Perhaps they are a bit like the Pharisees:

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. (Mat 6:5-7)

Both types of these prayers (of the Pharisees and Gentiles) have the form of godliness. One is done publicly, but not internally, and the other is done as if repetition alone would be of some value. Neither examples of prayer takes into consideration that there must be a sincerity that comes from the heart in order to make the actions which appear to be godly to actual godliness.

One more passage that talks about godliness and shows the opposites of it is this one:

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness–with good works. (1Ti 2:8-10)

If I am correct, the “likewise” ties what Paul says about men and women together; both need to have godliness (even though it only specifically mentions it in the section about women). What would not be appropriate to godliness for men is “anger or quarreling” and for women focusing on “braided hair, gold, pearls, costly attire”.  The opposite then, of prayer with holy hands, and respectable apparel and good works should be considered part of godliness..

Yet, there is more that can be said about godliness. Lord willing we will tomorrow.

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