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A GODLY PERSON . . .
by Philip Owen

 

            After twenty-four weeks of looking at characteristics of godliness, we have come to the end of Thomas Watson’s list. And I’m certain that some might be asking what more could be said on the subject. I gave just that assignment to our congregation at Grace Bible Church who came up with many additional suggestions and nearly doubled the list.
 
            Included among the suggestions, in no particular order, were these. A godly person is someone who redeems the time (Eph. 5:15); purifies himself (I John 3:3); always rejoices in the Lord (I Thes. 5:16); sacrifices himself to God (Rom. 12:1, 2); is content (I Tim. 6:8); desires unity (Eph. 4:3); willingly endures chastening (Heb. 12:5-11); has a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psa. 51:17); is sober (I Pet. 5:8); witnesses (Acts 26:22, 23); confesses his sin to God (I John (I John 1:9); and loves the appearing of Christ (II Tim. 4:8). As an addition to Watson’s list, this list provokes us to realize just how all-encompassing is the idea of godliness. And without attempting to extend the list of specifics itself any further, we can see three general lines of thought open up on the topic of godliness.
 
            First, godliness includes all the moral attributes of God. Whatever God is in the perfection of His moral character will be reflected in the life of a godly person. The godly seek to know and understand God for who He is. In the first place, he does so just in order to acquaint himself with Him (Job 22:21). But in the second place, he does so in order to be like Him (I John 3:3). Holiness, righteousness, justness, goodness, truthfulness—all these qualities and more that God is will be manifested in the life of the godly, for to know Him is to be like Him (I John 3:2).
 
            Second, godliness includes all the fruit of the Spirit.  In some sense, this is another way of expressing the first point. For the Holy Spirit of God produces the character of God in the lives of believers who are yielded to Him. The Spirit can produce nothing that is ungodlike but only what is godlike. So the godly person will manifest the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, as recorded in Galatians (5:22, 23). And of course, Paul’s list is merely representative. For any genuine virtue (patience, joy, contentment, perseverance, truthfulness, honesty, etc.) is the fruit of the Spirit of God. It is elucidating to note that the word fruit in Galatians is singular. For although the individual characteristics are many, the fruit is one. When the Spirit of God comes to indwell the life of a believer, all the moral qualities of God (His character) become the believer’s and will be manifested in his life as he is yielded to God (becomes godly).
 
            Third, godliness includes obedience to all the commands and exhortations in the Word. The fact that this is true means that the list of godly attributes could be expanded to include the fulfilling of each one. For example, the Word commands believers to “be careful for nothing” (Phil. 4:6), so the godly are anxious about nothing; the Word commands us to submit ourselves to one another (Eph. 5:21), so the godly have a submissive spirit toward others; the Word exhorts servants to “obey in all things” their masters (Col. 3:22), so the godly employee does what his employer requires unless his demands violate Scripture. The list is extensive.
 
            In conclusion, whatever God is morally the godly person will be, and whatever He commands in His Word (which is always a reflection of His moral character, as well), the godly person will do. To be godly is a life-engulfing responsibility and a blessed privilege.
 

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