2 Pet. 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 4:8
Ok, so now we come to the last of the virtues which are listed in today’s passage and aren’t listed in Galatians. We need to know what this is, because we can’t know if we have it if we don’t recognize it. From the Timothy verse we learn that although physical training (or exercise) is useful for some things, this one virtue “has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” It’s has practical value in the here and now and will serve you well in the hereafter.
Believe it or not, I actually have some sources outside the MacArthur study notes! The best resource I’ve ever seen is The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges, one of my favorite authors and one who has several books on my recommendation list on the side. He’s one of the few authors I’ve read about whom I can actually say I agree with every word he’s written, and he revolutionized my thinking on grace, the Law, and the Gospel. A lot of what I’m about to say comes from his book on the subject.
We tend to think of godliness as synonymous with holiness or righteousness, and there’s truth in that. They're similar, but there’s a different emphasis. “Holiness” literally means to be “set apart” or “different,” from what’s common. If most people are doing X (like having sex before marriage), then we do non-X. Righteousness is basically being “right,” having a right relationship with God and others based upon doing what’s right towards them.
Godliness refers to the orientation of our life. It means that everything centers around God. It’s not so much referring to keeping a set of rules but having the Lord as our focus. Yes, we want to please him, and that means we do what he tells us to do. But someone could be following the “rules,” at least on the outside, and not be godly at all. If you’re conscious of Jesus “looking over your shoulder” while you’re doing an activity, then you get the idea. It’s a sense of his presence, plus it’s ordering your life around his priorities and doing everything with him in mind.
You see, we tend to divide up everything into three categories: “Sacred,” “Secular,” and “Sinful.” Sacred activities would include reading my Bible, going to church, etc. Sinful activities are pretty obvious, or at least they should be.
But what about “secular” activities like eating or going to a movie or going for a walk with my dogs or working at a job? Well, as near as I can tell, this middle ground we’ve got between sacred and sinful is something either A) we’ve made up ourselves or B) holdovers from Old Testament type of thinking. Paul said “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” If you can’t do X for the glory of God, then you really need to ask yourself if you ought to be doing it. As Abraham Kuyper put it, "There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, 'Mine!'"
This is not to say that we can’t have fun. Fun is part of our life in Christ. He’s the author of everything good in our lives, and part of that is the enjoyment and excitement we find in our daily experiences.
Let me illustrate. I love hockey. It’s my favorite sport--quite frankly, it’s the only one I keep up with. When I watch a hockey game on TV, I should be able to do so to God’s glory. I can thank him for the skills he’s given the players. I thank him for the enjoyment and excitement of watching a good game. If I can’t “bring Jesus into” a certain activity, then I shouldn’t be doing it. If I can, then there’s nothing to feel guilty about.
That’s what true godliness is: Placing my Lord at the center and having everything revolve around him. That includes “fun” activities, work, my relationship with my wife, eating, driving, and anything that’s not sin.
At least that’s how I see it.
Father God, everything should revolve around you. Everything in my life falls under the heading of “This belongs to God.” Does it? Are you the center of everything?