Vol.XVI No.IX Pg.5
November 1979


Robert F. Turner

"Godliness" is sometimes incorrectly explained as "God-like-ness" or having the quality of God. The word, eusebeia, does denote an affinity for Go an things of God; but Moulton and Milligan, Alford, and other Greek philologists note that the word was common among the Greeks, and that it denoted "an operative, cultive piety rather than of inherent character." That means it is a characteristic subject to cultivation, or is produced, rather than inherent. Vine says, "that piety which, characterized by a God-ward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him." (emph., rft.)

Put simply, a "godly" person wants to please God, and he does that which God has revealed as His will for man. The results is "godliness."

Living "godly" in this present world (Titus 2:11-f) puts one in the role of pilgrim, "looking for a city" and doing all things "as unto the Lord." Aware of past sins and of present imperfections, the godly man confesses his constant need for the Savior, his High Priest and his offering for the remission of sins. Such an attitude and manner of life is called "walking in the light" (1 Jn. 1:7).

We are fully aware that this "fellowship with God" would be impossible but for Christ and His sacrifice of Himself for us, hence it is a wholly unmerited blessing. But the "godly" individual is not created so against his will, nor apart from his effort. The "God" standard is eternal, the "means" by which godliness is attained was in God's eternal purpose, and in the fullness of time was perfected; but the individual must hear, believe and obey the voice of God to be "godly" or have "godliness."

Vine says, "In 1 Tim. 6:3 'the doctrine which is according to godliness' signifies that which is consistent with godliness, in contrast to false teachings; in Tit. 1:1 'the truth which is according to godliness' is that which is productive of godliness ...etc." A godly person doesn't just happen to be that way, nor is he particularly elected, called or blessed. He puts his trust in Jesus Christ, and works hard to "deny ungodliness and worldly lusts." He uses the means God universally provided to cultivate and produce the result.

The godly man is acutely aware that godliness is not a static condition attained, but is a movement, a manner of life. An "honest man" may stumble at some point, but his conscience stabs him and he makes correction. He is not content to keep quiet and reap the ill-gotten gain. Nor will a godly man condone a way that is contrary to the way of God. He may sin — he will sin — but his very character cries out in protest, and he makes correction. His inner guidance system is "locked on" to the way of God and he wants to keep it that way.

Can a godly man become ungodly? Oh yes! (2 Pet. 2:1, 4, 20-22) But the remedy for fear is love, perfected by abiding in God. To this end the godly man studies his Bible, prays, meets with fellow saints for worship, and works to save others. He has little time to worry about temporal matters, for heaven and eternity are in view.