"BUILDING BLOCKS OF CHARACTER: GODLINESS!"
Written and preached by David P. Nolte




2 PETER 1:5-11


Seems like you can't turn on the TV without seeing some new and absolutely revolutionary piece of exercise equipment. Each one of them, of course, renders all others obsolete. Each one claims that with a minimal effort, and only 20 minutes a day, you can shape your sagging putty into well etched muscle. Nothing wrong with physical exercise, in moderation. Paul acknowledges that, saying, "physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV). Exercise in godliness far excels mere physical exercise. Godliness is another building block of character. But how does that play out in life? What does it mean, and if we'd seek to be godly, what is the demand?
  1. IF WE'D BE GODLY WE MUST BE IN RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD:
    1. The word translated, "godliness" means "proper worship; giving God His due; seeking to please Him in every respect!" The New Living Translation uses the phrase, "knowing God better." Godliness is a right attitude toward, and a right relationship with, God Himself.
    2. Godliness involves:
      1. Reverence, awe; respect and holy fear because we recognize His Greatness.
        1. Psalm 5:7 (NIV) "But I, by Your great mercy, will come into Your house; in reverence will I bow down toward Your holy temple."
        2. Psalm 95:6 (NIV) "Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."
      2. Desire to glorify Him: He is worthy of it!
        1. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV) "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
        2. 1 Peter 4:11 (NIV) "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
        3. Our songs, recreation, language, attitudes, associations: do they glorify Him?
      3. An obedient spirit:
        1. If He commands it, we do it!
        2. If He forbids, we don't do it!
      4. Giving God first place:
        1. In the use of our time
        2. In the use of our money
        3. In the use of our talents
        4. In all our decisions
    3. No one is godly who is irreverent, who fails to glorify God or who is disobedient and rebellious, and who puts anything ahead of God! No 2 ways about it!
    4. A couple was leaving church and the wife asked, "Did you see that awful purple hat Mrs. Abernathy was wearing?" He said, "No, I'm afraid I missed that." She asked, "What did you think of that gorgeous orange dress Mrs. Lane had on?" He said, "I didn't notice that, either." "Well, she asked, "did you happen to notice the cardigan sweater Mrs. Berry was wearing?" "Nope," he said. "Oh, for land's sake!" she retorted, "A lot of good it does you to go to church!" One is prone to wonder why she went! Was it really out of proper reverence for God? Was her motive for going to church godly?
  1. IF WE'D BE GODLY WE MUST BE IN RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WORLD:
    1. This is not a reference to the geographical, physical world! It refers to the secular society, culture, the philosophical system which omits and opposes God!
    2. Godliness in reference to the world involves:
      1. Shunning the sinful values, desires and passions which are stimulated by the world:
        1. Paul wrote to Timothy saying, "For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness." 1 Timothy 6:10-11 (NLT).
        2. He wrote further, "Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts." 2 Timothy 2:22 (NLT).
      2. Refusal to accommodate to godless standards:
        1. Paul's counsel is, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is." Romans 12:2 (NLT).
        2. Writing to Titus, Paul reminded him, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age," Titus 2:11-12 (NIV).
      3. An awareness of its temporality:
        1. John wrote in 1 John 2:17 (NIV) "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."
        2. Peter reminds us, "But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terribl/e noise, and everything in them will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be exposed to judgment. Since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives you should be living! You should look forward to that day and hurry it along - the day when God will set the heavens on fire and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world where everyone is right with God." 2 Peter 3:10-13 (NLT). No "Left Behind" in that text.
    3. No one is godly who manifests the character of this world:
      1. 2 Timothy 3:2-5 (NIV) says, "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."
      2. James 4:4 (NIV) says, "don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."
      3. John writes, "Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world." 1 John 2:15-16 (NLT).
    4. Aesop tells the story of the war between the birds and the beasts. The bat tried to belong to whichever group was winning. If the beasts prevailed, he laid claim to being a beast. If the birds prevailed, he lied that he was a bird. His hypocrisy was soon discovered and he was rejected by both groups, with the result that he has to hide himself, coming out only after dark. People who try to be of the world and of God are just like that bat and will truly be rejected by both sides.
  1. IF WE'D BE GODLY WE MUST BE IN RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS:
    1. Godliness means giving God His proper place and pleasing Him; it also means keeping the world in proper perspective; but it also means recognizing our responsibility to our fellow man!
    2. Godliness in reference to others involves:
      1. Proper respect: Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT) says, "Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself."
      2. Service: Jesus taught in Matthew 20:26 (NIV) "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,"
      3. Forgiveness: Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) urges, "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
      4. Apology when that is needed. "If you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God." Matthew 5:23-24 (NLT).
    3. No one is godly, no matter how religious, who has no regard or concern for his fellow man! John makes that clear, "If someone says, 'I love God,' but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, Whom we have not seen? And God Himself has commanded that we must love not only Him but our Christian brothers and sisters, too." 1 John 4:21 (NLT).
    4. I once met a girl in an evangelism class I taught. We were talking about the need to care for others and to share our faith with them. She put her hand up and said, "Well, as far as I'm concerned, if I'm saved, that's all that matters. If others are lost, it's their problem." Her general attitude toward others was arrogant and indifferent. Not a godly attitude.

Until we stand in humility before our God; put the world in proper perspective; love our fellow man, all our religion is vain! Jesus calls us to yield our wills to His this morning so that He can produce a godly character which is pleasing to Him! That means we must cease to live for the temporal; quit striving after our own rights and wants; and we must begin in earnest living in obedience to Jesus! It takes a changed heart. It takes full surrender to His way and will.

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