The divine qualities of godliness and holiness are to be seen in us by others as we serve and follow Christ. To follow Him means to express union or likeness to Him in service. Our Lord said, “Whoever serves Me must follow Me” (Jn. 12:26 NIV). When we admire someone we want to be like that person. Hence, Paul advises his followers to “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). We do well to realize that we serve and worship our Lord Jesus Christ by following Him, by imitating Him, by being like Him in godliness and holiness. If we are to do this, it would be desirable to know what holiness and godliness are. Holiness (hagiasmos in Greek) signifies separation to God as well as the resultant state of being so separated. Godliness (eusebia) is doing that which is well-pleasing to God. While it is an oversimplification, we can say that holiness refers to our being, or our character, while godliness refers to our doing, or our behavior. But we would distort the whole truth if we emphasize holiness as only being, and not doing. Such an approach yields “regulations (that) indeed have an appearance of wisdom ... but they lack any value” (Col. 2:23). True holiness is produced when we “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit ... out of reverence for God” (2 Cor. 7:1).
Timothy was told this: “Train yourself to be godly” (1 Tim. 4:7). if we recognize that the word “godliness” may be derived from “godlikeness” we gain some insight into its meaning. To become like God requires training: “The mature (believers) … by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:14). To do this requires knowledge and there is a “knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness” (Ti. 1:1).
When we do not willingly act in a godly way, we may have to be trained to do so by discipline: “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness” (Heb. 12:10). Godliness is far more than being outwardly moral, ethical and religious, for that would be “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). People who embrace such a pattern of life will be “always learning and never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). It is easy to get into such a pattern which men call “pietism” – an affectation of godliness. We are warned against it!
We see both holiness and godliness in worship in Hebrews 13:15-16. Holiness leads us to “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of our lips.” But if we stop there, we are committing israel’s sin; they honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him (Mt. 15:8; isa. 29:13). If our hearts are near Him, we will go on and “not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:16).
Let’s pray that our lives may reflect the godliness and holiness that comes from being followers of Christ.
By Alan H. Crosby
|Where Worship And Service Meet
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org