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Godliness 101

“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; For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Where unto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle (I speak the truth in Christ and lie not,) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”  1 Tim 2:1-5

There is much information about God’s desire for man in this passage. Let’s first list some items:

1.      God’s heart desire is that all men be saved. This is also stated in 2 Pet. 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” People do perish, not because of God’s desire, but because they do not avail themselves of the provisions that God has made for them to be saved.

2.      God not only wants all men to be saved but also that they come to the full knowledge of the truth. God is what we would call “transparent” in the sense that He has no hidden agendas for us. The apostle addressed this in 1Cor. 2:9 & 10 saying “…as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” This part of the passage is a quote from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. The quote ends at the end of verse 9. However, Paul goes on to say in the next verse “But God hath [now] revealed them unto us by his Spirit”. The things that God has prepared for them that love Him were kept a secret by God through the entire Old Testament and, in fact, through our Lord’s earthly ministry to Israel as well. It was not until our Lord had ascended back to heaven after His death, burial, and resurrection and even further after Israel had rejected Him yet again after Pentecost that He revealed the greatest and most blessed information to us.  Those things that He “Hath prepared for them that love him” are now fully revealed to us.

3.      God wants us to live quiet and peaceable lives. An environment of peace and tranquility is necessary if the gospel is to be proclaimed freely and without the distractions of domestic turmoil. Therefore, the apostle urges us to pray to that end, i.e. that peace and tranquility might prevail.

4.      Having an environment of tranquility and peace, the apostle then instructs to focus on our conduct and how we carry on our affairs, i.e. “…in all godliness and honesty.” This is where we come into the administration of God’s grace in seeing lost people get saved and saved people come to the knowledge of the truth – by living godly lives.

We ask then “What is godliness?”  A dictionary definition is “A careful observance of the laws of God and performance of [Christian] duties, proceeding from love and reverence for the divine character and commands.” The word is actually an alteration of the expression “God-like-ness”. It might surprise people that the Greek word from which it is translated in our New Testament actually does not have the root word “God” in it. Rather, it is a word that would be literally translated “good worship”. How then do we get “godliness” out of “good worship”? We can understand how this would be the proper English translation by considering it’s use in passages such as 1Tim 3:16 “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest is the flesh…” In its context, that verse is not simply talking about the fact that God was manifest in the flesh in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, but that God is manifest in the flesh of believers today. God wants to be worshiped today by seeing His character and personality manifest in our flesh as we live in these mortal bodies here on this side of glory. If we would, as many believers do today, limit the definition of worship to what is called “praise and worship” music, then only a few musicians and talented artists would be involved. However, true worship is a day-to-day every-believer activity whereby Jesus Christ lives the Christian life through each Spirit-led believer.

Now going back to our text verse in 1Tim 2:1-5 we see that godliness and honesty are necessary on the part of believers if God will accomplish His desire of seeing lost men and women and boys and girls get saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  We need to live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty because there is only one thing that the One True God is doing in the world today: presenting His Son Jesus Christ as the one mediator between God and men. God became a man in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ in order that man might have a way to come to God. Without the work of redemption that He accomplished on Calvary, there would be no way for any member of our fallen human race to find access to God. Those who have taken advantage of God’s provision of redemption are now the means whereby God reaches others. Thus godliness and honesty on our part is the evidence to the world around us that God is at work in us.

We note also in our text verse that “…Christ Jesus …gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I [Paul – the apostle of the Gentiles] am ordained a preacher, and an apostle …a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”    Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). Not only that but he is the “due time testifier” of the work of redemption that was accomplished when Jesus Christ gave himself a ransom for all. It is not until you come to Paul’s writings that you find in the Bible the information about what our Lord really accomplished on the cross. The information on how God can indeed be manifest in the flesh of human beings today is therefore found in his epistles. There, in Paul’s epistles we find what Paul calls “…doctrine which is according to godliness…” (1Tim 6:3).

Actually, godliness is an action word.  It is not just a form of worship. Neither is it simply adherence to a form of doctrine. Godliness is all of that put into practice. Paul talks about that in 1Tim. 4:8-11 saying “…bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come.  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.”  Godliness is therefore God’s character and personality being lived out through believers as God administers the work of redemption that His Son, Jesus Christ, accomplished on Calvary. Godliness is put in action as we believers rejoice in God’s work on our behalf and reach out to those around us with the same heart desire that God has; i.e. to have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

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