Achieving godliness not about rules
What does it mean to be godly? The Bible speaks about godliness being a virtue that every Christian must have. But just what’s the secret of godliness?
While many have proposed different rules for godly living, the reality is that godliness is not obtained by keeping rules. In the past some have suggested godly people avoid certain habits or specific foods, or if you dress a certain way, do certain things and avoid others things that’s what makes you godly.
But those ideas of godliness are not new. When the Apostle Paul wanted to impart wisdom to a young pastor, Timothy, he told him how to deal with those who brag about their religious activities and miss-used the law of God. Then he laid out how church leadership should live and he mentioned some of the very things that we think show someone to be godly today. Finally, Paul lays out what he calls; “The Mystery of Godliness.”
1 Timothy 3:16 says; “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
Follow the flow with me. First Paul says to avoid those who twist scripture and tell you how godly they are. Then he lays out how church leadership should live godly, but he ends by giving the bottom line of godliness.
Realizing many can look godly by their activities, Paul understood it was only by faith in Jesus Christ that anyone is made godly before God. He says; The great mystery of godliness is simply, Jesus! How he came to earth for the purpose of atoning for the sin that separates everyone (even those who do a lot of religious things) from God. He was vindicated by the Spirit throughout his earthly ministry specifically at his baptism when the Spirit fell on him and the voice came from heaven saying; “This is my beloved son…”
And Jesus was seen by angels, even as angels were at the tomb after his resurrection. He was proclaimed among the nations and believed on in the world. So from a tiny place in the ancient world, today the name of Jesus is the best known name in the entire world. Now whoever confesses Jesus as Lord and trusts in him as the atonement for sin, they are justified and made godly.
Paul added one more aspect about the mystery of godliness: Jesus was taken up in glory. In front of many eye witnesses, Jesus ascended into heaven and as they watched him ascend, some angels made a proclamation that should cause everyone to ponder this Jesus. In Acts 1:11 we read; “…Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
This same mystery of godliness, Jesus, is coming back one day and as the ancient creed says; “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”
Although living godly is a wonderful thing, and it’s exactly where faith in Christ will lead you, still the greatest mystery of godliness is simply faith in Jesus. Because when you trust in Christ it will result in an inner change to live a godly life. Have you trusted in the one who is the “great mystery of godliness?”
Pastor Rich Lammay of High Sierra Fellowship is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.