Volume. XXXiii, No. 19
Sunday, 04 November 2018

From the Pastor’s Heart: How to be Godly

Spiritual godliness has been a dream goal of many sincere and faithful followers of Jesus Christ.  Who does not want to be godly?  There are many ways to speak about biblical godliness.  I am going to explain various aspects of biblical godliness, and to offer some practical helps to attain to godliness.  I’ll begin with four simple descriptions of biblical godliness. 


  1. Godliness is a state of our conditions in living.

Paul exhorts the believers to pray for kings and all in authority, and his reason is that “we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).  Godliness is not a shackle or bondage but a beneficial tool to lead us to a better life.  After all, godliness is profitable to all things with promise of the life now and in the future (1 Timothy 4:8).  Godliness is gain for us (1 Timothy 6:5).  When Jesus comes again, we shall be measured against our holy conduct and godliness (2 peter 3:11). 


  1. Godliness is an attitude and character.

Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).  In other words, godliness must come together with contentment in order that it would benefit the godly.  It is undoubtable that godliness is a character.  2 Peter 1:6 includes godliness within the list of traits of a man of God.  Godliness cannot and should not be an external appearance only.  I am sure that the godly appear to be godly.  However, there are hypocrites appearing to be godly not ungodly internally.  From such a person, we must turn away.  2 Timothy 3:5 says, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”  The power of godliness is demonstrated in everyday life.  A form of godliness could be either its appearance or verbal confession of godliness.  When there is a discrepancy between demonstration and confession of godliness, the power of godliness is denied.  We ought to turn away from such individuals who deny the power of godliness. 


  1. Godliness is definite.

Godliness is definite because it is in accordance with the truth.  Titus 1:1 says, “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.”  All teachings (truths) we must give and receive must be according to godliness (1 Timothy 6:3).  Godliness is very definite in its nature and characteristics.  Thus, we are commanded to follow it by fleeing away from certain things.  In particular, the love of money is not a counterpart of godliness.  The godly are exhorted to flee from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:11).  Read the warning against the love of money in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  The fact that godliness is definite implies that godliness can be measured objectively.  We are not godly because we regard ourselves as godly.  God and others can see and know of our godliness.  One measurement is our attitude towards money, whether we are the lovers of money.  Another measurement is more private and intimate.  Malachi 2:15 says, “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.”  I do not intend to expound the verse.  However, this verse tells us of the importance of home and family life.  More clearly and practically, our marital relationship with our spouses and our spiritual nurturing of our children are good measurements to measure of our godliness. 


  1. Godliness is honorable.

The godly are set apart for God.  Psalm 4:3 says, “But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.”  The godly know when to seek for God, and they will be protected.  Psalm 32:6 says, “For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.” 


Biblical godliness is not a strange subject in evangelical teaching.  All serious believers have shown their interest to know and to attain to godliness, but they simply do not know where they must turn to.  They have been trying to renew their habits of Bible reading, Bible studies, more active Christian services, meditation, and prayer.  Many books have been written to offer more and more information and ideas about spiritual disciplines or Christian discipleship programs.  In some cases, people have looked for more devotional writings, as if devotional writings may increase their spiritual maturity.  Thus, often doing daily devotions (reading devotional writings and spending a bit of time in prayer) is the key to godliness.  Even some freely use and utilize writings of contemplatives and mystics from medieval Roman Catholicism, Jesuit writings, or the writings of the Quakers.  As a result, many believers are led to think of biblical godliness in two unhealthy and wrong perceptions: (1) as long as we do daily devotions with devotional materials, we are godly or we can attain to godliness; and (2) we consider mysticism, asceticism, and legalism, as a sign of godliness. 


However, we must know that such an understanding of godliness is in fact a misunderstanding of biblical godliness.  It is because godliness cannot be separated from the grace of God, and the grace of God is Gospel-centered.  Mysticism, asceticism, or legalism can never be a fruit of the gospel or grace.  For example, legalism is condemned in the books of Romans and Galatians.  Legalism subverts the gospel and obscures the finished work of Christ on the Cross (Galatians 1:6-9; 3:13-14; Colossians 2:11-17).  Probably, I do not even need to list verses from the Book of Romans to denounce legalism.  Mysticism lessens and perverts the revelation of God in the Bible.  The biblical mystery is Christ and His redemptive work, which is the focus of the Bible.  Mysticism in church history has led people to inflated emotionalism and dependence on their feelings and experiences.  They are not nourished by Christ, the head of the body (Colossians 2:18-19).  Asceticism has proved itself to be unfruitful to spiritual godliness, though it may bear a superficial resemblance to biblical wisdom, through the medieval monastery movement.  It has failed to mortify the flesh, and that is the warning from Paul (Colossians 2:20-23).   

Biblical godliness must be grounded in the gospel and the grace of God.  Such godliness helps the believers to join the reverence of God with the love of God, “which the knowledge of His benefits induces,” as John Calvin said in his Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, Philadelphia: Westminster press, 1960, 1.2.1).   


The Puritans and the Reformers produced many devotional materials for their spiritual descendants.  They include Lawrence Chaderton, William Perkins, Richard Greenham, John Downame, and Richard Rogers.  These men became the leading “architects of the Puritan Theology of Godliness” (Joel Beeke and Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans: With a Guide to Modern Reprints, Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007, 288).  In the next few weeks, I am going to write about how to be godly with practical suggestions.  May the Lord help us be godly!



Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • All worshippers are encouraged to join the Ladies’ and Men’s Choir.
  • Precept Seminar on “How to Study the Bible” held on the following Lord’s Days: 11, 18 & 25 Nov @ 2:15 – 4:00 pm. Attendees please bring a pen, notepad, and a set of coloured pencils or highlighters.
  • Those who have completed their Basic Bible Knowledge Course and would like to be baptised, re-affirmed or have their membership transferred please see one of the Elders.
  • Fellowship Lunch: please bring a dish or two for sharing. Your contribution does make a difference and is much appreciated.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Volunteers. Next week: AFG.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Visitors & church activities in the past week.
  • God’s daily provision, guidance & protection in our lives.
  • Working Bee



  • Missions: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Rev Sun Sokha & family (Phnom Penh); Bro Peter Lkayo’s son, Hirlewa (12 yrs old) – funds for laser surgery to damaged retina (Kenya).
  • Uni & Year 12 students: Exam preparation.
  • Ebenezer BPC (Melb) – God’s wisdom & guidance for Pastor Ki & Elder David Yeo as they help our brethren there.





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