Eusebeia

Godliness
Audio MP3 

"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Adapted from a treatise by B.F. Hollister

Godliness appears in Peter’s list of character traits to be added to faith (2 Peter 1:6). The word godliness is translated from the Greek word eusebeia, (Strongs 2150). It is used in the New Testament to express the idea of inner piety, spiritual maturity, or godliness. "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness" (Titus 1:1). Here, Paul states that the standard for godliness comes from a full and applied knowledge of the truth.

The word eusebeia has an interesting history. The first recorded use was by the Greek poet Homer in about 1000 BC. From Homer the word came into use in the classical Greek of Athens (Attic Greek) where it referred to personal piety in the fulfillment of human relationships. It was also used to describe a person who was faithful in fulfilling his duties to whatever Greek gods dominated the city in which he lived. The Attic Greek word always referred to the outward expression of piety, such as the giving of gifts to the god, participation in sacrifices and worship, or making a show of religion in public.

As the word eusebeia began to be used in the koine (common) Greek language, it came to mean "inner piety," or spirituality, a duty which the believer owes to God in the inner man. The principle described in the Titus context is that of the control or filling of the holy Spirit which produces qualities of conformity to Christ.

Piety sometimes has negative connotations, but it is the proper thought when describing a spiritually mature person. It is not a phony facade put on to please or impress. True piety comes from dedication to God and study of His Word. The godly person has not only learned doctrine intellectually, but has also demonstrated that word applied to his or her life over many years.

A Christian who reflects godliness must be dominated by God’s spirit. This is a most difficult task since there are so many distractions in our lives. Godliness means subjecting every thought and word to the will of God. Godliness means being devoted to God, to steadfastly love and reverence Him, and to sincerely and diligently obey Him. Godliness is more profitable than human attainments because by it we gain more even in the present life. Through it we obtain part in the First Resurrection. Godliness also prepares us to do the things that will be required in that future life.

God’s Promises for the Church

Many reject trusting in God, thinking that it interferes with success in this world. However, God has promised His children a hundred times as much in this life as they give up (Mark 10:30). The Bible is replete with promises such as "There is no want to them that fear him [God]. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing" (Psalms 34:9, 10). "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways" (Psalms 91:10, 11). "Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalms 1:3). Consider these promises against the statement of Jesus relative to earthly riches, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

Godliness does not encourage laziness, however. The Apostle says that a Christian should be: "Not slothful in business" (Romans 12:11). He added, "If any provide not for his own ... he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Timothy. 5:8). The proper attitude for the Christian is illustrated by the story of the cobbler who, when asked "What is your business?" replied, "My business is to serve God and I mend shoes to pay expenses while doing so."

Paul, the foremost Christian missionary, moved in the highest circles of Judaism. In Philippians 3:4-7 he described himself as "An Hebrew of the Hebrews." He also inherited from his father the special rights of Roman Citizenship, which he used before Festus, the Roman Governor of Judea, with the words, "I appeal unto Caesar" (Acts 25:11). This he did for the benefit of the Gospel message he preached, not for personal advancement. All such human "gains" Paul renounced to become an Apostle of Christ.

Those who pursue godliness study the Bible with the aid of better translations and discover that God has communicated through it the Divine Plan of the Ages. Paul says that the proclamation of this plan is the present work of the Church, "In order that now may be made known to the governments and the authorities in the heavenlies, through the Congregation [Church], the much diversified wisdom of God, according to a Plan of the Ages, which He formed for the Anointed Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:10-11, Diaglott).

The Benefits of Godliness

There are four fundamental benefits of godliness in this life. The first, the baptism of God’s holy Spirit, is the greatest benefit enjoyed by Christians now. This gift initially came on the disciples at Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection (see Leviticus 23:15-17). Acts 2:1-4 describes a sound as of a rushing mighty wind filling the house and of cloven tongues of fire resting on their heads. Three and a half years later the holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his household when entrance into the Kingdom of heaven was opened up to Gentiles. We cannot fully comprehend what a great thing God has done in giving us this guide. Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). This promise lifts one from the ways of the ungodly and enables one to walk in newness of life. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

There is a benefit that precedes the receiving God’s holy Spirit. The godly must first be justified by faith. This could not happen until after the ransom had been provided at Calvary, and then accepted by God. This provides for the release of believers from the Adamic death penalty (Acts 17:30, 31). The fullness of justification results in a change of lifestyle from a sinful course of life to one following after righteousness. This must continue to be a steadfast pursuit even though opposition will be encountered and sacrifice will be involved. This is brought out in Romans 12:1: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

A third benefit is that the Bible is opened up to the godly so that its teachings direct and illuminate their lives. It is the mirror referred to in 2 Corinthians 3:18: "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

The fourth great benefit of godliness is the effect that God’s provisions have on the life and character of the individual. Instead of continuing in the tarnished image of Father Adam, they are transformed into the image of Christ. Over time, they have developed in them faith, courage, integrity, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness and Godlike love for neighbors and all men (2 Peter 1:5-8).

Collateral Benefits

Those who enjoy the basic benefits of godliness also obtain the additional benefits of spiritual freedom, peace, security, power, and riches. Paul says, "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is" (1 Timothy 4:8).

Amongst the citizens of the world, freedom is a precious commodity. Men have fought and died for the right to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Great strides have been made throughout the world in civil, political, economic, and religious freedom. Yet true followers of Christ are the only ones who are truly free. They are free from the slavery of sin and free from fear of the afterlife. The godly desire to do only good and their lives are thus lived by a higher standard. They meditate day and night on the perfect law of liberty, and are Jesus’ disciples, striving to do whatever he commands. Jesus promised, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ... If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:32, 36).

Some in the world have never known peace in their lifetime. Strife and uncertainty are common elements of a worldly life. However, it is different for the Christian who pursues godliness. Jesus made that clear when he said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).

The world today is obsessed with security. Many are willing to trade personal freedom for security. During the past five years, many have lost financial security. But despite devastating conditions surrounding them, God’s children are both safe and secure: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early" (Psalms 46:1-5).

To have a position of honor and power is one of the great desires of human nature today. However, the reality is that godliness is the most honorable and powerful undertaking. Solomon asserts, "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor" (Proverbs 12:26). Paul boasts, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).

We are arrayed against wicked spirit beings who influence the ruling positions over this evil world. However, we are promised victory over them. We shall show them the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10; 6:12). The godly are called on to conquer self, and promised strength to overcome all opposition to their self-discipline (Proverbs 16:32).

Incredible spiritual wealth is promised to those who truly live godly lives. "All things are yours ... [because] ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s" (1 Corinthians. 3:21-23). The Psalmist adds that all the beasts of the forest, the cattle on a thousand hills, the world, and the fullness of it, are all God’s; and since Christians are God’s dear children, all of God’s vast wealth is theirs, and is being used for their everlasting good (Psalm 50:10, 12).

Promises for Eternity

"In my Father’s house are many mansions ... I go to prepare a place for you ... I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2-3).

"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:16, 17).

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4). But even after considering the promises, we must agree with 1 John 3:2: "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."

Since Christians are to be like Christ, the Scriptures describing his glory will further disclose our hope for the future. We learn that Jehovah used mighty power to raise Christ from the dead, made him heir of all things, and set him at His own right hand far above all other created beings, making Christ the head over the Church, his body and bride. Christ is now far above the glorious estate he had before he came to earth and became a man. His first estate was in God’s form and as God’s agent, the Logos, and he created the earth and all things. Christ is now on the divine plane of being, made of expressly the same bright, shining, glorious substance of which Jehovah’s own person is composed (John 1:1-3, Acts 22:6, Acts 26:13, Ephesians 1:19-23, 1 Timothy. 6:15, 16, Hebrews 1: 2-4).

Of the godly Church, Paul used the same extravagant language: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit: for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10).

"When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:54, 55).

To contemplate the future exalted estate and position of Christ and his Church is breathtaking. To consider the tremendous work they are to do in the Millennial Age is equally thrilling. From 1 Corinthians 6:2 we learn that the saints shall judge the world. Revelation 20:4 tells us that John saw in vision that the saints "lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." That reign will be over all mankind, for Jesus said, "All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28, 29, partly RSV). This judgment is not condemnatory, but corrective. The prophet Isaiah says, "for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9).

One of the greatest promises to the Church is that each will awake in Christ’s likeness: "When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad" (Psalm 126:1-3).

The pursuit of godliness is the noblest effort one can make in this life. Jesus described the benefits this way: "Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life" (Matthew 19:28, 29).