Godliness

“Paul, a slave of God, and Apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of the elect of God and the knowledge of Truth which is according to godliness, with the hope of eternal life which was promised by God who never lies from the ancient times,”

(Titus 1:1-2)

What does it mean when Paul writes that these things (the faith of the elect and the knowledge of Truth) is “according to godliness?” And, to begin with, what is “godliness” in the first place? It is indeed one of those terms we all use a lot, but often do not stop to define. So, what does it mean to be “godly”?

The word that Paul uses is εύσέβεια (eusebeia), and its dictionary definition (BDAG, 2000) means to have an “awesome respect for God.” The word’s root is σέβω (sebo), which refers to the way that one expresses his or her devotion to her God, noting that this typically carries with it liturgical notions connected to public worship, not just to private devotions. The eu prefix simply adds the notion of “good” or “valuable.” So “godliness” is very literally a good devotion to God…or perhaps to make the idea God-centered rather than man-centered, it is a devotion to God that is pleasing to Him.

In short, then, building up of faith and the knowledge of the Truth must be done in a way that is “according to godliness” or it must be given in a manner that is in harmony with the godliness — the devotion — that God considers pleasing or acceptable. And, to infer from the corporate nature of godliness, it is something done in the context of the body of Christ.

Fools are want to say that they can have a relationship with God apart from the church. Unless they are talking about a relationship of judgment, then they are wrong. This does not mean, as the Romanists would assert, that the church mediates grace. What it does mean is that God expects us to live out our faith as part of a faithful local body of believers…and if we do not, our actions (and lives) cannot be considered godly by any stretch of the imagination.

Yet, how many professing Christians think that God loves them just the way they are and that they are fine pursuing their own ends on the Sabbath day rather than pursuing God and the worship of the gathered congregation.

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your own pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, holy to Yahweh, and honorable; honor it from doing your own things and finding your own pleasure and speaking words, then you shall delight in Yahweh and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth; I will feed you with the inheritance of Jacob your father, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”

(Isaiah 58:13-14)

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