When someone is spoken of as living a worldly life, it is meant that he lives in a worldly manner, or in a manner like the world. Likewise, when someone is spoken of as living a godly life, it is meant that he lives in a godly manner, or in a manner like God. To many this is a hard saying, but it is possible for man to live just such a life; in fact, it is the only right way of life. A godly life is the only true life. Such a life is demanded by the Scriptures. We are to live “soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” (Titus 2:12)
God’s dear children are told to be “followers of him.” (Ephesians 5:1) In some translations this reads, “Be ye imitators of God,” and in some others, “Be ye mimickers of God.” From this we understand that to be a follower of God is to live or act in a manner like Him. Again, it is said of those who abide in Christ, that they should walk “even as he walked.” (1 John 2:6) Our manner of life should be as was the life of Jesus. It is said of Christ that He, “when he was reviled, reviled not again.” (1 Peter 2:23) Although He was treated most shame fully by His enemies, He did not seek to avenge Himself. When insulting remarks were made to Him, He gave no reply. To live a godly life is to live in the same manner. When Christians are reviled, they bless; when they are persecuted, they suffer meekly and patiently. When Jesus was being put to death by His enemies, He prayed the Father to forgive them. When a man who had come to take Jesus had his ear cut off, Jesus in His tender compassion healed this bitter persecutor’s wound. This is the true spirit of godliness.
The full standard of godliness is attained to only when the whole tenor of the life is in simplicity and godly sincerity. The apostle Paul said that his rejoicing was this: “the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our [conduct] in the world.” (1 Corinthians 1:12) A godly life is wholly free from ostentation; every act is done in purest simplicity and truest sincerity. As God scrutinizes every act by His all-seeing eye He discovers no impure motive, as vain-glory or lifting up of self; for all is in godly sincerity.
The grace of godliness in the Christian character is capable of cultivation and increase. There is a law in both the material and spiritual that exercise is conducive to growth. The Spirit-filled apostle said, “Exercise thyself… unto godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) In the Emphatic this reads, “Train thyself for piety.” Here is something for every soul that has any aspiration to be more godly in life. Train yourself for piety. To become of deeper piety and more godly is the joy of the Christian heart. By training we become more pious. The lawn tender forms an espalier by intertwining the branches of the vine. He keeps intertwining them as they grow, and by such training forms a latticework of shrubbery. The soul intertwined with the meek and lowly life of Jesus will form a character of deep piety and sincere godliness. The daily life should be intertwined with the life of Jesus. Let there be no reaching out for anything outside of Him. For a proper development of the Christian graces there must be a constant training or intertwining of the soul with God. This linking more tightly is the result of growth, and growth is produced by exercise, and exercise consists in reading the Scriptures, in prayer, and in deep thought or heart-communion with God. The athlete takes such exercises and eats such foods as will most properly develop and strengthen his muscles. The soul that has any longings for more of God must exercise to have its yearnings gratified. To be conscious of a growing up into Christ, to feel the soul intertwining more and more with the life of God, is fullness of joy and perfect happiness.
Christian reader, is there an ardent flame of pure love in your heart? Do you walk with Jesus in a devout, trustful, reverential spirit? Do you oftentimes find your mind contemplating the wonders of creation and the glories of salvation? Is your soul habituated to breathe in the atmosphere of heaven deeply? Is that holy awe filling you? Is that tender sensibility of spiritual things filling your heart? Is that fine, keen edge upon your soul that gives such avidity for holy things? Is to become more godly a sincere desire of your heart? Then diligently perform all the duties that belong to a godly life. Some give great diligence for a time and make spiritual gain and then lose it all in a day of slackness. But do not slack, be constant, be persevering, be encouraged. reach forth, press forward—and the prize of meekness, peace, and godliness will crown your life.