Godliness is an inner quality of heart that reflects the nature of God and pleases Him, not an outer hypocritical façade to impress others. A godly person is sensitive to God, having a mind-set of willing submission to His purposes or will, and they “hunger and thirst after righteousness…” (Mt 5:6). Having a right belief in and attitude toward God, (from which comes right actions outworking the nature of God) godly people display His characteristics – as manifested in the combined fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22,23). They are not independent agents but instead rely on and refer all things to God, knowing He is working out the affairs of their lives in love. Such people are disciplined enough to deny themselves anything that is not consistent with their Master’s values while giving themselves to living as they believe Jesus would (Col 3:5). They also follow Jude’s advice to build themselves up in the faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, stay in God’s love, show mercy and bring others to salvation (Jud 1:20-23).
Godliness involves living according to Christ’s teaching and intentionally managing the influences upon our lives so we are not contaminated by sin, lead astray by temptation or suffer the subtle erosion of love for Him (Jas 1:27; 2 Pet 1:4). The source of godliness is God Himself, with Jesus being our role model of how we are to live (1 Jn 2:6). The Bible sets out the ethical principles that are the foundation of good morals and behaviour. “The knowledge of the truth leads to godliness” for “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him…” (Tit 1:1; 2 Pet 1:3,4).
Godliness results from walking in step with the Holy Spirit
flowing through them (as obedient channels) coupled with faith which was the means of the change (Act 3:12,16). Cornelius was described as devout and God fearing, his godliness being shown through care for his household, good works, prayers and the willingness to follow divine instruction (Act 10:2,7).
We are instructed to pray for those in authority – that they will govern fairly so we can live peaceful lives and grow in godliness and holiness, putting aside all evil practices (1 Tim 2:2, 4:7,8, 6:11; 2 Pet 3:11). In regard to this world, ‘godliness with contentment’ is a great asset; while in the spiritual realm we have a personal responsibility: “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…Train yourself to be godly…Make every effort to add godliness and other virtues to our faith” (Phil 1:27; 1 Tim 4:7,8, 6:6; 2 Pet 1:5-9). “The grace of God…teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives”. This way of life is in total contrast to “scoffers who follow their ungodly desires” (Tit 2:11,12; Jud 1:18). “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” living in the light of Christ, which is characterized by what is good, pure and honourable, then we won’t stumble (2 Tim 2:19; 1 Jn 2:10,11).
Suffering and temptation are both necessary for godliness to be developed, with the Bible stating, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). Only testing reveals the genuineness of our profession. By coming into a greater understanding of His ways and character, we learn to walk in harmony with Him and know His hand of approval on our lives, however the theory must be outworked. Godliness is more about inner heart attitude than the outward keeping of rules.
“In the last days people will…have a form of godliness but deny its power” endeavouring by their own strength to attain good outward standards, yet because their hearts are fill of corruption they will be denied access to heaven (2 Tim 3:1,5).
See also: character, choice, daily walk, fruit (of the Spirit), goodness, heart, holy/holiness, input, put on/put off, righteousness, ungodly.