“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:5-9).
James makes it very clear that faith alone does not prove that a person is saved. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). Peter affirms this by stating that godliness must be added to if it is to be the Biblical definition of believing faith. Faith without godliness will not “endure unto the end” (Matthew 24:13) and neither is God pleased with it (Hebrews 11:6). Godliness literally means to be devoted to God, so we see that faith and godliness are vital for true Christian devotion to the Lord.
How can we add godliness to faith? Is it doing some good work that merits blessings from God? That might be the outcome of godliness in action, but it is not how it is added to our spiritual life. It begins with reading, studying and contemplating the Scriptures. “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). It is in the word of God that we come to an understanding and appreciation of the “mystery of godliness” which finds it centre in the Lord Jesus Christ. How devoted are we in achieving this goal? Are we truly interested in searching the Bible so that we can learn more about the one who came as God manifest in the flesh? “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). Those who do so find that they are “fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).
Faith without godliness is simply religion pretending to be Christianity. True faith is increased by living in accordance to the revealed word of God as found in the Scriptures. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). True faith is not dormant or sterile, and it cannot tolerate inactivity but desires to glorify God through good works and righteous living. “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20). Once we find the truth, we follow it, live it and share it. Godliness honours and glorifies the Lord by putting faith to work in our daily experience.
How different the modern church would be if it added godliness to faith! Gone would be the entertainment, dances, bingo and other worldly events to bring in the lost. If godliness was reintroduced our churches would know the unmistakable power of God. Sadly, though it appears some try to live righteously, by and large believers today only have a “form of godliness” rather than the real thing (2 Timothy 3:5). The “form” (outward appearance) might titillate the flesh, but it can never do our relationship with God any good and will corrupt the soul. The “form of godliness” only leaves people empty, spiritually weak and devoid of assurance. No wonder they find that going to church is a waste of time and effort! There is nothing real about false godliness for it hardly ever agrees with what is written in the Holy Bible. If Christians are not taught that godliness is needful for faith and practice they will continue to live the way they did before coming to Christ.
It used to be only woman who coloured their hair, eyes and fingernail, but now even men are doing the same. They think that natural beauty can be enhanced by cosmetics and colorants. If we woke up with pink hair, green eyelids and purple lips we would rush off to the hospital for treatment! That is what false godliness is like. Almost everything in the world and the church today is “putting on the Ritz”, that is, it is all show and no substance. It is amazing to see just how much people “show off” in every day life, but the exact same spirit is in the church too. The “emerging church” is like an athlete flexing his muscles to impress the crowd, but fail to have the power to perform the simplest task. Godliness is the power of faith and will profit us by making us fit for Heaven. “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Here is how we can be “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). Godliness is not proven my what we say we can do or how we look, but by simply putting what we believe into action.
Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:6 that “godliness with contentment is great gain”, yet how few believers today avail themselves of such riches but mope around in abject spiritual poverty and powerlessness? The fact is that they love the world so much that they are unwilling to go all out for the Lord. They are happy to have as little faith as possible to gain Heaven. They are content to follow their poster boy preacher who never condemns unrighteousness nor calls for holiness. They want to hear about health, wealth and freedom to do as they please. Yet these preachers are damning the souls of their adherents. “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3-5). Godliness must be added to our faith rather than all the fluff and stuff that is part of the modern church’s way of doing things. We need to get back to the Scriptural way of living for the Lord. We need to get back to godliness!