Godliness Defined

1 Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. 2 O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You.” —Psalm 16:1-2

WHAT is the Christian life supposed to look like? We often talk of holiness, moral purity, and sanctification, or setting ourselves apart for service to God. But what exactly is godliness?

The word actually means piety, or reverence, toward God. How does David exhibit piety toward his Father? He says to Him, “You are my Lord,” using the word “Adonai,” which means “master.” How well David understood the role of God!

He also contrasts himself with God, saying that apart from God’s helping him, his own goodness is nothing. He recognizes that his righteousness is imputed to him from the Lord.

So piety, or godliness, begins with God doing a work in us that shows itself through us. But as we’ve seen with Israel, and even with King David himself, even those through whom God has done much don’t always do the will of God. Do Christians ever act ungodly at times?

Many people these days believe that godliness can be whatever they want it to be. But in Luke 6:46, we read: “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things which I say?” We can’t make up our own definition. Godliness is willing submission to our Lord and Master. It isn’t begrudging or obligatory submission. It’s submission that begins where David did, in essence: “For in you, God, I put my trust. I believe you know what is right, and I willingly submit to your will.”

Easier said than done? Do you ever feel like you’ve blown it and exalted your own will and desires above His? Is that godliness? God’s response, as it was with David, is to bring us to the point where we realize that His will is the very best way for us to live after all, and then we are glad to submit to it.

This is where true godliness begins. God does a work in us, and as we grow and walk with Him, we find that His way is far better than our own will and desires, and we are thus instilled with a genuine love-based willingness to submit to Him as our Lord and Master, to whom no human master could ever compare!

Excerpt from “Beside Still Waters” now available on Amazon.