What does the Bible say about godliness?

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In its simplest sense, piety is devotion to God or to religious practices. While godliness in our society can be seen in both a positive and a negative light, I want to present it in a biblical light. What does the Bible say about godliness, and is it something we should seek today? On closer inspection, I believe you will find that this trait of godliness is not only desirable but also necessary.

What godliness is not

When some people think of godliness, they think of shutting themselves away from everything in the world and using that as proof of their devotion to God. There may be people God has called to do this, but I can confidently say it’s probably not you. You are called to make a difference where God has positioned you. Your godliness should be something that identifies you as different from the world, but it shouldn’t take you out of the world. In other words, godliness is something that should be displayed, not in an arrogant way, but in a way that demonstrates who God is and points people to Christ. That’s what Jesus said.

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its support and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16

3 verses to understand what the Bible says about piety

The word godliness itself is not used very often in the scriptures. However, if we use the definition of godliness as devotion to God, then the Bible says a lot about it. Let me show you three different uses of this word that will hopefully expand your understanding of its meaning.

1 – Piety as justice.
“Be careful not to practice your piety before men in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1 (RSV)

The Standard Revised Version (RSV) is one of the few translations that uses the word godliness here. When you consider other translations, you get an idea of ​​the scope of this word and what it means.

  • VIN – Righteousness
  • KJV – Almsgiving
  • NKJV – Charitable acts
  • NLT – Good Deeds

In this verse, the use of godliness is related to your righteous living or good deeds. On the surface this may initially seem like a contradiction because Jesus just said a few verses earlier for your light to shine before men and now he says to be careful not to do your good deeds in front of others. The difference here is motivation. A person who truly walks in godliness does good deeds and righteous deeds to bring glory to God, not attention to himself. So one way to think of godliness is righteousness or righteous living.

2 – Piety as piety.
“And when Peter saw him, he said to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you look at us, as if it were by our own power or by our piety that we made it work? – Acts 3:12 (RSV)

Again, the RSV uses the word piety, but the RSV is not the only one as other translations also use this word. If so, what does that mean? In this verse, godliness refers to godliness. The reason either of these words are acceptable is that they have similar meanings. Here is a definition of godliness that I found on Bible.org, which will help you understand godliness better.

“Enoch walked with God; he enjoyed a relationship with God; and it pleased God. We could accurately say that he was devoted goodbye. This is the meaning of godliness. The New Testament word for godliness, in its original sense, conveys the idea, a personal attitude toward God that results in actions that please Him. This personal attitude towards God is what we call devotion to God. But it’s always devotion in action. It’s not just a warm, emotional feeling about God, the kind of feeling we can feel when singing a great hymn or a modern worship choir.

I hope you are starting to see the picture here. Godliness is righteous living and righteous actions that flow from a devotion to God that is based on our love for him and stems from our relationship with him. True godliness comes because you love God, not because you fear him.

Jesus replied, “Whoever loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. – John 14:23

3 – Piety works backwards.

“These indeed have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and harsh treatment of the body, but they are of no value in controlling self-indulgence.” – Colossians 2:23 (NRSV)

“These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, godly self-sacrifice, and severe bodily discipline. But they do nothing to overcome a person’s evil desires.” – Colossians 2:23 (NLT)

This verse provides a different truth about godliness. True godliness must flow from the inside out and not from the outside in. This was the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day. However, it is still a problem that exists in many people’s lives even now.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the platter, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! inside of the cup, so that the outside can also become clean.” – Matthew 23:25-26

Many people focus on the outside of the cup and their godliness ends there. Their devotion to God is only at a superficial level. When they are in church or in the public eye, they look godly. However, when the public eye is not present, neither is their devotion to God. Let me say this as I feel, “that’s not godliness.” True piety is when the outer life is only the reflection of an inner transformation. Without it, all you really have is hypocrisy. If you desire to be devoted to God, make sure that the devotion comes from within your heart, for that is where true piety begins.

What does godliness look like in your daily life?

As we consider what the Bible says about godliness, let me ask you. What should godliness look like in your daily life? Here are four things that should be present in your life if you are truly living a godly life.

1 – Holiness

2 – Obedience

3 – Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.)

4 – Humility

If you’re wondering why I would choose these four to represent godliness, it’s simple. All of these elements are born from within and work their way outward. If you are going to be devoted to God, you will live holy. You will walk in obedience. The character of God will be formed in you. You will walk in humility. When you add it all up, it equals godliness.

What does the Bible say about godliness? – Final Thought:

I hope you have a good starting point for understanding what the Bible says about godliness. As you can see, godliness is devotion to God, but it must go beyond a superficial level. It must spring from your love for God and flow from your relationship with him. The last thing I’m going to tell you is this. If you’re really walking with God, you don’t have to try to be godly, you’ll want to be godly. Therefore, concentrate on developing your walk with God, and from this will flow your piety and devotion. As you approach him, he changes you. This, my friend, is the beginning of godliness happening in your life.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/COROIMAGE


Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher and co-founder of the Bible Study Club. He is the author of Pursuit of the goal that will help you understand how God leads you in his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How to Meet Your Biggest Challenges and Win in Your Christian Life. Do you want to go further in your walk with the Lord, but can’t get over the things that keep getting in your way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and ultimately become the man or woman of God you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry, please visit clarencehaynes.com.

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