Search word: Retrieve verses, illustrations, etc
Studies, Devotionals, Sermons, Illustrations
Old and New Testament.
Timothy 4:7-8 Commentary
fit only for old women.
On the other hand,
for the purpose of
Amplified: But refuse and avoid irreverent legends (profane
and impure and godless fictions, mere grandmothers’ tales) and silly
myths, and express your disapproval of them. Train yourself toward
godliness (piety), [keeping yourself spiritually fit].
Bible - Lockman)
Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives' tales. Spend
your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness.
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: But steer clear of all these stupid
Godless fictions. Take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually
TLB: "Spend your time and energy in the exercise of keeping
spiritually fit. Bodily exercise is all right, but spiritual exercise
is much more important and is a tonic for all you do. So exercise
yourself spiritually and practice being a better Christian, because
that will help you not only now in this life, but in the next life
Wuest: But unhallowed and old wives’ fictions be
shunning. On the other hand, be exercising yourself with a view to
piety toward God. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and the profane and old women's fables
reject thou, and exercise thyself unto piety
HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH
WORLDLY FABLES FIT ONLY FOR OLD WOMEN: tous de bebelous kai graodeis muthous
(1Ti 1:4; 6:20; 2Ti 2:16,23;
4:4; Titus 1:14; 3:9)
Popups that won't pop off!
In general try to keep mouse pointer in left gutter to avoid links. If
multiple popups are open best solution is to Refresh page
(Shortcut = Press the F5 key). If single popups are open pass
pointer over open link and slowly remove to shut. Note that this
problem only occurs in Internet Explorer - consider using Firefox.
are imperatives = commands
outlines 1 Timothy 4:6-16 as follows...
Walk of the Minister. The
Measuring his walk: his
preaching and personal practices.
Mandate for his walk: reject
God dishonoring philosophies and practices.
Maintenance of his walk:
Model for his walk: Paul
Manners in his walk:
regarding study (read); regarding stewardship (do not neglect your
gifts); and regarding steadfastness ("continue").
Wiersbe outlines 1Timothy 4 as follows...
III. The Church and Its Minister
A. A good minister (1Ti 4:1-6)
B. A godly minister (1Ti 4:7-12)
C. A growing minister (1Ti 4:13-16)
outlines 1Timothy 4 as follows...
Instruction Concerning Dangers (1Ti
Description of the Dangers (1Ti
Defenses Against the Dangers (1Ti
Hiebert helps put this next section in
commenting that 1Timothy 4:6-16
The subjective fortification
against error. Having set forth the fact of the coming apostasy,
Paul tells Timothy how to fortify himself and the churches under his
care against error. He is to find fortification through a faithful
ministry (1Ti 4:6-11) and through becoming personal conduct (1Ti
4:12-16). (Hiebert, D. Edmond: First Timothy: Everyman's Bible
Commentary. Moody. 1957) (Bolding added) (Click
for Hiebert's entire outline of
A C Gaebelein
The rest of the chapter consists of
exhortations in view of the threatening apostasy, how these evils may
be combated and remedied. If Timothy put the saints of God in
remembrance of these things, he would be a good minister (deacon) of
Jesus Christ, and be continually nourished up in the words of faith
and good doctrine. To remember the apostolic instructions and to
maintain by them faith and good doctrine effectually counteracts error
and the doctrines of demons. Then profane and old wives' fables must
be avoided and refused, We have an all-sufficient revelation of God;
speculative things of the human mind intruding into things unseen
(Col. 2:18), following the theories, imaginations and traditions of
men, only lead away from godliness, and lead from foolish questionings
into that which is profane. (A believer has no business to investigate
Spiritism, Theosophy, or occupy his mind with things not made known in
the Word of God. We must avoid these things, refuse to have anything
to do with them, else we step upon the territory of the enemy, and lay
ourselves open to his attacks.)
The true exercise must be unto godliness, pious, consecrated living;
and the true exercise is self-judgment, maintaining a good conscience
and communion with God. Bodily exercise by erratic living, abstaining
from meats and other things, profits but little. It is far different
with true godliness. It is profitable for everything, both in this
life and that to come. This is another faithful word and worthy of all
acceptation (1Ti 1:15). And for this doctrine the apostle labored and
suffered reproach; but he had faith in the living God, who as
Saviour-God, by His power and providence, sustains all men. He is the
preserver of all men, but especially of those who believe. As Creator
He is the preserver and benefactor of all men; but for those who
believe He is much more than that. In this God as Creator and Saviour,
preserver and keeper, the believer trusts. "These things command and
teach." It is another remedy against the seducing spirits and
doctrines of demons. None should despise his youth. Timothy was very
young when he joined Paul (Acts 16:1-3), and now after some eleven
years he was still youthful, especially in comparison with Paul the
aged. He urges him to be in his life and walk a model of the
believers--in word, in conduct, in faith and in purity.
These are the evidences of true piety and holding sound doctrine. Then
as to himself and his service, till Paul came, he was to give himself
to reading, which of course must mean the Holy Scriptures, to
exhortation and to teaching. He was not to neglect the gift that had
been bestowed upon him. In his case this gift was a direct bestowal of
prophecy, the voice of the Spirit making it known (as in Acts 13:1).
The laying on of hands by the elders had not communicated the gift. It
was the outward expression of fellowship with the gift imparted unto
Timothy. This gift had to be used and developed like every other gift
of the Spirit. A gift may be idle and neglected, but if rightly used
it will grow and be used in blessing. To do all this and meditate in
these things, be whole-hearted in them, progressing constantly in
godliness, is a safeguard against all error. (1
Timothy - by A C Gaebelein)
Paul gives Timothy several other instructions similar to 1Timothy 4:7 in both first and second
(Do not) pay attention to myths and
endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than
furthering the administration of God which is by faith. (1Ti 1:4)
= do this now! Do it
effectively! It is urgent!) what has been entrusted to you, avoiding
worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is
falsely called "knowledge" (1Ti 6:20)
Comment: The gospel and the
way of truth has been committed to us in all its purity and saving
power. We must guard it against all attempts to distort, dilute or
deny it, for these would destroy it.
(make this your habit =
worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,
(de) introduces a
here between what Paul has just stated Timothy was being nourished by
-- "the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine"-- and
that which will fail to spiritually nourish him -- worldly fables. The
priority must be on God's Word, not man's words. Paul cautions Timothy
to keep focused on the Word, not on things that come from man (reject
profane and old wives' fables); the greatest effort must be put into
God's Word, not man's word.
“Healthy” doctrine will promote spiritual health, but foolish
myths will produce spiritual sickness. As an aside it is worth noting
in regard to spiritual nourishment is critical for every believer,
especially those who minister as pastors. It is an absolute necessity
for the pastor to take care to nourish his own soul on the truths
which he is supplying to others. It is sad but true that it is quite
possible for the pastor to become so busy finding food for his flock
that he fails to nourish his own soul with the food he prepares! In
such a setting, the personal spiritual discipline Paul calls for in
1Timothy 4:7 becomes difficult if not impossible.
Have nothing to do
from pará = aside and
in this word gives a nuance of aversion or repudiation + aitéo
= ask, beg) is literally to ask along side. To seek to turn aside by
asking. As in Mark 15:6, this verb can mean to beg or request (a
prisoner to be freed on the occasion of the Passover). In Luke 14:18,
it conveys the sense of to beg off or of wanting to be excused from a
positive response, in this verse one excusing himself for not
accepting a wedding invitation. Finally, in the pastoral epistles (1,2
Timothy, Titus - see below), the meaning is to decline, refuse,
to refuse to pay attention to, to shun, to avoid, to reject.
In secular Greek
a wrestler was declared the victor when his opponents declined
to engage him upon seeing his unclothed physique.
means to make it your habit to refuse "worldly fables" (this
suggests that we will find them tempting to our fallen nature and must
constantly choose [our choice but enabled by God's Spirit and grace]
to seek to turn aside). With this
command Paul reaffirms his rejection of myth and underscores his
commitment to Christianity's sound doctrine (and sober living).
In a parallel
use in his second letter to Timothy Paul commanded his protégé to
2Ti 2:23 Refuse
foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
Comment: The Lord's bondservant must continually avoid getting enticed into ''which came
first, the chicken or the egg'' type discussions, those things that
are controversial and seriously disputed, and which have no certain
basis in truth. In these situations we are to graciously "beg off"
an invitation to "war over words" with others. Certainly we can
discuss differences of opinions; but our discussions must not
degenerate into heated debates over irrelevant issues.
present imperative) a
factious (one who will not submit to Word or godly leaders and is a
law unto himself with no concern for spiritual truth or unity) man
after a first and second warning, (see note
is used 12 times in the NAS (Mark 15:6 ; Luke 14:18, 19 ; Acts
25:11 ; 1Tim 4:7; 5:11;2Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:10; Heb 12:19, 25 -
twice) and 4 times in the
(1Sa 20:6 - twice, 28; Esther4:8; 7:7). It is translated as follows:
KJV (11) - avoid, 1; excuse, 2; intreat, 1; make excuse, 1;
refuse, 5; reject, 1; NAS (12) - begged, 1; excused, 2; have
nothing to do with, 1; make excuses, 1; refuse, 4; refused, 1; reject,
1; requested, 1.
Paul's command to refuse fables,
indicates that Timothy already has people coming to him with
from basis = a stepping or walking from baíno = to go + belos = threshold,
particularly of a temple) refers properly to one who either was or
ought to have been debarred from going over the threshold or entrance of
the temple. The picture is that which is
trodden under foot and which thus describes that which is the
antithesis of that which is holy or set apart. Bebelos thus
describes that which is accessible to everyone and therefore devoid of
real significance. Bebelos can thus describe that which is
worldly as opposed to having an interest in transcendent (existing
apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material
The meaning of this adjective is nicely conveyed by our English word
profane which describes that which disregards what is to be
kept sacred or holy. The English word "profane" is derived
from the Latin profanus which means "outside the temple, not
sacred" and in turn is derived from pro- ‘before’ +
fanum = ‘temple’.
Here in 1Timothy 4:7, bebelos could be translated “unhallowed”
or "godless" describing the fables which contradict the truth of Word
Bebelos suggests that which is void of all connection with,
or relation to, God. There is nothing sacred about these fables. By
using bebelos Paul is not saying that the fables were
blasphemous per se but that they did not possess the character of
truth and sound doctrine.
The UBS Handbook series adds
that bebelos is...
a word that in its neutral sense
means “accessible” but is used in Greek writings as the opposite of
the word “holy,” hence “secular.” In the present context its primary
meaning is “profane,” that is, devoid of anything sacred, so that it
is not worth the attention of any godly or religious person. (Arichea,
D. C., & Hatton, H.. A Handbook on Paul's Letters to Timothy and to
Titus. New York: United Bible Societies
Bebelos is used 5 times in
the NAS - see below - and is translated: godless person, 1;
profane, 1; worldly, 3. Bebelos is used 6 times in the
Septuagint - LXX
(Lev 10:10; 1Sa 21:4,5; Ezek 21:25; 22:26; 44:23)
Paul used bebelos in chapter
1 explaining to Timothy...
that law is not made for a
righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the
ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill
their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and
homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else
is contrary to sound teaching (1Timothy 1:9, 10)
Observe that bebelos is those whose lives are contrary to sound
Paul used bebelos again in
chapter 6 in a warning...
1Timothy 6:20 O Timothy,
= urgent! do this now!) what has
been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly (bebelos) and empty
chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called
Comment: Again observe that
bebelos describes talk that is contrary to true knowledge
Here are the only other NT uses of
2Ti 2:16 But
worldly (bebelos) and empty chatter, for it will lead to
further ungodliness, (2Ti 2:16-note)
Comment: Once again observe that bebelos
is chatter that is contrary to sound doctrine and thus leads not to
godliness but to ungodliness
Hebrews 12:16 (note) that there be no
immoral or godless (bebelos) person like Esau, who sold his own
birthright for a single meal.
Vincent writes that...
The verb bebeloo means "to profane,
(Matt. 12:5; Acts 24:6, and often in
Derived from belos = threshold (compare to baino = to go).
Hence the primary sense is that which may be trodden. Compare to Latin
profanus meaning before the temple or on the ground outside.
What is permitted to be trodden by people at large is unhallowed,
profane. Esau is called bebelos in Heb. 12:16, as one who did not
regard his birthright as sacred, but as something to be sold in order
to supply a common need. (Vincent's
from mu- [my-]
= to close, keep secret, be dumb <> muô = close [eyes, mouth]
musterion = secret, a mystery;
story, narrative, fable, fiction [Eng., myth, mythology]) (Click
word study on
refers to tales (a tale is a
usually imaginative narrative of an event that often contains
imagined or exaggerated elements) or fables (a fable can refer
to a short fictitious story which teaches a moral lesson but in the NT
"fable" is used only in a negative sense as something to be
avoided because it is false and unreal) fabricated by the mind in
contrast to reality. Muthos
therefore refers to fictional tales in contrast to true
accounts and represents manufactured stories that have no basis in
fact. The Greek and Roman world abounded in stories about so-called
"gods" which were nothing more than human speculations that in vain
(and in error) tried to explain the world's origin and life's purpose
uses of muthos focus chiefly on the contrast of God's Truth and
the world's error/falsehood/lies. It follows that in the NT muthos
always conveys an unfavorable or negative connotation. As noted in
the passages above each of the NT uses of muthos describe
something that is contrary to the truth, whether that truth be the
doctrines relating to Christian behavior or the accounts of Christ’s
life, death, and resurrection.
Paul used this word two other
1 Timothy 1:4
nor to pay attention to myths (muthos) and endless
genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than
furthering the administration of God which is by faith.
not paying attention to
Jewish myths (an amalgamation of pagan myths and Jewish
extra-Biblical traditions, superimposed on the Old Testament
Scriptures) and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.
(Even some of the Jews had abandoned their sacred Scriptures and
accepted man-made substitutes - see
Peter in testifying to the authenticity of
the events of Scripture (especially the transfiguration in context)
2 Peter 1:16
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales (muthos)
when we made known to you the
power and coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. (The gospel
narratives are not fictional tales, but actual eyewitness reports.
Peter testified that he and the other apostles, James and John,
witnessed the transfiguration - see
Trench traces the evolution
of muthos explaining that...
"logos and muthos began their
journey together (but) they gradually parted company. The antagonism
between these words grew stronger and stronger until they finally
stood in open opposition (as here in 2Ti4:4). This is true of words as
well as of people, when one come to belong to the kingdom of light and
truth and the other to the kingdom of darkness and lies."
light of Trench's comment on logos and muthos, it is
notable that 1Timothy 4:9 emphasizes a "trustworthy statement" which
is literally a trustworthy word (logos) which is a clear contrast with the
(untrustworthy) worldly fables (muthos) in this verse!
for old women (1126)
from graus = old woman + eidos = form, external
appearance) is an adjective which means of or belonging to old women and
which is used only here
in 1Timothy 4:7. This adjective describes the fables, indicating that
their futile, senseless nature.
explains that this phrase indicates that the fables
"are nothing but silly fictions,
fit only for senile, childish old crones to chatter about. When people
bring them to him he is to "refuse," "beg off" dealing with them. To
discuss them seriously would be to give them a dignity which they do
not deserve. The
indicates this as his constant reaction." (Hiebert, D. Edmond: First
Timothy: Everyman's Bible Commentary. Moody. 1957)
Vine comments that...
The adjective graōdēs, “old wives,”
signifying “old-womanish” (from graus, an old woman), is used
here only in the Greek Bible. The article, which precedes the whole
clause in the original, points to the silly stories and myths current
at the time which gave rise to trivial teachings; such myths were
common in Jewish lore. In the rabbinical schools, the history of the
nation was surrounded by profitless legends. These are to be
distinguished from the doctrines of demons (1Ti 4:1) which propagated
Gnostic errors. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
MacArthur explains that...
Women were not usually allowed the
educational opportunity men had, so this phrase comes from such a
situation. That epithet was commonly used in philosophical circles as
a term of disdain for a viewpoint lacking credibility and thus
appealing only to uneducated, unsophisticated, and perhaps senile
matrons. No intelligent man would hear it at all. The Ephesians would
have understood Paul’s use of the phrase. (MacArthur,
John: 1Timothy Moody. 1995)
Some "worldly fables" --
There was a house in Rome that stationed a boy at the doorway of the
mansion to caution visitors not to cross the threshold with their left
foot, for fear that this would be an ill omen! And in Scotland in
prior days it was the funeral custom not to carry out the casket of
the deceased through the front door, but through an opening made in
the side of the house which was subsequently sealed up after serving
its purpose. The belief was that the person's "ghost" was prevented
from re-entering the house because the only door that it knew was
gone. And on and on such superstitious unhallowed beliefs go.
William MacDonald writes
that "old wives' tales"...
make us think of Christian Science,
which was founded by a woman, seems to appeal especially to elderly
women, and teaches fables instead of truth. (MacDonald,
W., & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
ON THE OTHER HAND,
YOURSELF FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS:
gumnaze (2SPAM) de seauton pros eusebeian:
1:4; 6:20; 2Ti 2:16,23; 4:4; Titus 1:14; 3:9) (1Ti 1:4; 2:10; 3:16;
6:11; Acts 24:16; 2Ti 3:12; Titus 2:12; Heb 5:14; 2Pe 1:5, 6, 7, 8)
The NIV renders it "train
yourself to be godly"
Note that the phrase "on the other hand"
is not in the Greek but added by the translators to
emphasize the striking contrast between the preceding negative
commandment and the following positive commandment.
Expositor's Greek Testament
There is here an intentional
paradox. Timothy is to meet the spurious asceticism of the heretics by
exercising himself in the practical piety of the Christian life. The
paradox is comparable to...("make it your ambition to lead a quiet
life")...of 1Th 4:11. The true Christian asceticism is not essentially
somatike (bodily), although the body is the means by which the
spiritual nature is affected and influenced. Although it brings the
body into subjection (1Co 9:27), this is a means, not an end in
Expositor's Greek Testament)
FOR A PERSONAL
For the purpose of godliness
- Literally it reads "beneficial toward", "advantageous for". The
preposition pros shows movement toward an object.
(seautou) from sé = thee + autos = self) is a
reflexive pronoun. The idea of "reflexive" is that it expresses action
directed or turned back on oneself. Clearly it is good to have godly
mentors ("trainers" or "coaches" to keep the athletic metaphor), but
ultimately each believer is responsible for his or her own individual
spiritual training. No one can do it for us, which implies that each
believer must be diligent and disciplined, not somnolent and sporadic!
Jay Adams asks what is the secret
of godliness? In a word - discipline! He goes on to say...
The word discipline has disappeared
from minds, mouths, and pulpits in our culture. Modern American
society hardly knows what discipline means. Yet, apart from
discipline, there is no other way to attain godliness; discipline is
God’s path to godliness. The counselor, therefore, must learn how to
help the counselee to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness.
(Adams, J. E. The Christian Counselor's Manual)
Jerry Bridges emphasizes
personal responsibility writing that...
Timothy was personally responsible
for his progress in godliness. He was not to trust the Lord for that
progress and then relax, though he certainly understood that any
progress he made was only through divine enablement. He would have
understood that he was to work out this particular aspect of his
salvation in confidence that God was at work in him (Php 2:12, 13-see notes
But he would get Paul’s message that he must work at this matter of
godliness; he must pursue it. We Christians may be very disciplined
and industrious in our business, our studies, our home, or even our
ministry, but we tend to be lazy when it comes to exercise in our own
spiritual lives. We would much rather pray, “Lord, make me godly,” and
expect Him to “pour” some godliness into our souls in some mysterious
way. God does in fact work in a mysterious way to make us godly, but
He does not do this apart from the fulfillment of our own personal
J. The Practice of Godliness. Navpress. 1996
- this short but pithy book is highly recommended if you sincerely
desire to discipline yourself for godliness!) (Practice
of Godliness Mp3 - not free)
Vine explains that
"In English end in “-self,”
“-selves.” They are used when the object of a sentence or
clause refers to the same person or thing as the subject." (Vine, W.
Vine's You can learn New Testament Greek!: Course of self-help for the
layman. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
As an aside Paul's call for a
negative, then a positive, reminds one of the "put off's", that
precede the "put on's" (cp Col 3:9-note
and Col 3:12, 13, 14, 1Pe 2:1-note
and 1Pe 2:2, Ro 13:12, Ro 13:13 and Ro 13:14, Ep 4:22 and Ep 4:24ff,
from gumnós = naked, bare,
minimally clothed and descriptive of the common practice of males in
the Greco Roman "gymnasia" source of English "gymnasium",
gumnazo) literally meant to
in the palaestra (a school in ancient Greece or Rome for sports).
As R Kent Hughes adds
The rich etymology of discipline
suggests a conscious divestment of all encumbrances, and then a
determined investment of all of one's energies. Just as ancient
athletes discarded everything and competed gumnos (naked), so
must the disciplined Christian man divest himself of every
association, habit, and tendency which impedes godliness. Then, with
this lean spiritual nakedness accomplished, he must invest all his
energy and sweat in the pursuit of godliness. The lithe,
sculpted figure of the classic Greek runner gives the idea. Stripped
naked, he has put his perspiration into thousands of miles for the
purpose of running well. Even so, the successful Christian life is
always, without exception, a stripped-down, disciplined, sweaty
affair. The understanding that vigorous spiritual discipline is
essential to godliness accords with the universal understanding that
discipline is necessary to accomplish anything in this life.
of a Godly Man - R. Kent Hughes - Excellent read)
No discipline, no discipleship!
No sweat, no sainthood!
No perspiration, no inspiration!
No pain, no gain!
No manliness, no maturity!
Gumnazo - 4v - 1Ti 4:7; He 5:14;
12:11; 2Pe 2:14
Figuratively gumnazo means to exercise so as to discipline
oneself (in the moral or ethical "gym" so to speak) or to exercise
vigorously, in any way, either the body or the mind. It conveys the
picture of the rigorous, persevering, painstaking, diligent, strenuous, self-sacrificing training an
athlete undergoes for a perishable prize, and which the Christian
"athlete" should be willing to undergo for an imperishable prize (1Cor
9:24, 25, 26, 27 see
which in the present context is "godliness" a "prize"
that is profitable for this life and the life to come!
In secular Greek
gumnazo was used figuratively of training for or practicing an
art or profession. It carried the sense not of merely transitory
attention, but of consistent, long-term training that made all its
Just as our physical muscles grow
stronger through exercise, so also the "muscle" of our will is
strengthened by exercise (discipline) in doing right.
Paul gives Timothy (and all who
seek to be "vessels of honor" like Timothy and Paul) a command in the
calls for this to be a Christian "soldier's" lifestyle. There is no
time off, because our enemies -- the world, the
flesh and the devil -- don't take time off. To let down one's guard,
is to make one's self vulnerable to attack. To fail to continually
train oneself spiritually is analogous to ceasing to pedal when riding
a bicycle, such cessation resulting in a loss of stability and risks
serious injury (in one's
spiritual life and on the bicycle!)
Train yourself vigorously and
earnestly in personal holiness and practical piety. (1Timothy
from se = thee + autos = self) is a reflexive pronoun in
the genitive (possessive case) singular and means "of thyself, thine
own self". This reflexive pronoun intensifies the necessity of the
spiritual discipline Paul is calling for from his young disciple
Timothy (presumably the pastor at the church at
Was Timothy a pastor or an evangelist?).
How can Timothy lead others to godliness if he is not himself pursuing
this lofty goal? Dear
pastor (and may you honestly assess yourself), are you taking pains to
"work out" your spiritual growth,
or are you being "distracted (perispao in the
as occurring over and over] = being [passive
drawn or dragged around or in different ways at the same time,
encumbered, drawn every which way by busyness that only yields
barrenness!) with all (your) preparations...worried (merimnao
[word study] = having anxiety,
divided) and bothered (turbazo from turbe = a crowd, a tumult,
figuratively = disturbed in mind -
Worry = inward anxiety, bothered = outward agitation!) about so many
things" like Martha (Lk 10:41) or are you focusing on and consciously
choosing the one thing necessary (Lk 10:42),emulating Mary "who
moreover was listening (imperfect
[pictures this as occurring over
and over]) to the Lord's word (the Way, the Truth, the Life), seated
at His feet"? (Lk 10:39).
Spiritual food ("nourished
on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine" 1Ti 4:6) and
spiritual exercise (gumnazo) are an excellent combination to
assure spiritual vitality! If believers would put as much energy and
enthusiasm into spiritual exercise as they do athletics and
body-building, is there any limit to how much stronger they and their
churches would be?
Christians would do well to learn
from Josephus' use of gumnazo (Josephus originally
was written in Greek before translation into English) in his description of the
mighty and feared Roman
soldiers writing that...
"...their military exercises differ
not at all from the real use of their arms, but every soldier is every
day exercised (gumnazo), and that with great diligence,
as if it were in time of war which is the reason why they bear the
fatigue of battles so easily." (Josephus, F. The Works of Josephus.
To be sure
believers as good soldiers of Christ Jesus are commanded not to
neglect "basic training" or "daily maneuvers", but we are to carry out
these endeavors fully cognizant of and relying upon the truth that we
are to continually be strengthened
"in the grace that is in Christ
Jesus" (2Timothy 2:1-note)
and not by fleshly self effort or by legalistic rule keeping. The
point is that we don’t depend on our own strength, experience, or
expertise. We depend on God’s grace as we "discipline ourselves for
the purpose of godliness".
The writer of Hebrews uses the verb gumnazo in calling saints to train themselves not for
but for growth in discernment writing that
solid food is for the
who because of practice (in other words they make a habit of obeying
the truth of righteousness and thus grow in the grace and knowledge of
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ) have their senses trained (gumnazo
= having been trained at some point in time in the past and still
maintaining their "spiritual fitness" -
perfect tense speaks of the enduring effect of their training) to discern good and
evil. (He 5:14-note)
Wuest renders this verse "But solid food
belongs to those who are (spiritually) mature, to those who on account
of long usage have their powers of perception exercised to the point
where they are able to discriminate between both that which is good in
character and that which is evil.
The vitality of
your spiritual life depends on your "diet". Are you taking in
solid food so that you will be able to recognize these false teachers and
not "be carried away (like the clouds which are borne along by the
wind in the use of this same verb [parastepho] in Jude 1:12) by varied
and strange teachings" (see note
Christian author Jerry Bridges
rightly says that
It is impossible to practice
without a constant, consistent and balanced intake of the Word of God
in our lives.
Donald Whitney wrote that...
As we engage in the spiritual
disciplines of the Christian life, the Holy Spirit molds us more into the
character of the Master. Probably the most common reason for the lack of
spiritual growth among Christians is inconsistency with the spiritual
disciplines. We don't grow in grace if we fail to use the God-given means
for growing in grace. It's a simple fact: Those who grow the most and the
fastest are those who place themselves in the channels of grace such as
the intake of God's Word, prayer, worship, service, evangelism, silence,
solitude, journaling, learning, fasting, and so on.
Paul had the correct balance
between grace and disciplining himself for godliness writing
by the grace of God I am what I am, and
His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all
of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
For all intents and purposes, the many
imperatives in 1Ti 4:12, 13, 14, 15, 16 supply the why’s and the
wherefore’s of the exhortation to godliness.
R Kent Hughes writes that...
discipline is the key to becoming
proficient at anything, whether it be painting, music, writing, calculus,
basketball, golf, chess or the sublimest of arts—fly fishing. Discipline
is what separates the achievers from the also-rans. And this is doubly
true in spiritual matters, because man’s sinful nature naturally
gravitates to foot-dragging in things spiritual. This is why the Apostle
Paul unabashedly admonished his young disciple, Timothy, to “train
yourself to be godly” (1Ti 4:7). The very word “train” has the smell of a
good workout. “Gymnasticize (exercise, work out, train) yourself for the
purpose of godliness.” Spiritual sweat is a major component to leading a
godly life. No man or woman has ever become godly without it. Moreover,
discipline is not antithetical to grace. Paul, as the preeminent apostle
of grace, wrote, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to
me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I,
but the grace of God that was with me” (1Corinthians 15:10). (Disciplines
CALLS FOR COMMITMENT
In the ancient
games, victory depended on the athlete’s commitment to rigorous training. Every
runner entered strict training under the watchful eye of an official.
Marathon runners were known to work out for years—lifting weights,
running laps, regulating sleep, restricting their diet. Self-control
means we must exercise mastery over our lives, foregoing some
pleasures, pursuing other disciplines, all for the sake of winning. No
athlete ever achieved the level of Olympic competition without a
commitment to pay the price of rigorous, daily training. In the
same way, no believer ever achieves genuine godliness without a
commitment to pay the price of the daily spiritual training which
God has designed for our growth in godliness. We
must be committed to the basic spiritual disciplines of the Christian
Study, prayer, and
meditation) in order for godliness to
be cultivated and grow. Peter associates the call to commitment
with spiritual growth (including growth in godliness) his
second epistle writing...
Now for this very reason also (now
that you know that have the spiritual resources - everything necessary
for life and godliness, His precious and magnificent promises, a
partaker of His divine nature, escape from the corruption of this
world -- you are responsible to work out your own salvation), applying
all diligence (making every effort with eagerness, earnestness,
willingness, zeal), in your faith (note that faith is like the roots
that sink into truths Peter has mentioned previously -- it is faith
that shows itself to be real in obedience to these truths) supply
moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and in
your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance,
and in your perseverance, godliness; 7 and in your godliness,
brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if
these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither
useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having
forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore,
brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling
and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will
never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal
kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly
supplied to you. (2Pe 1:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-see notes
1:9; 10; 11)
Samson is an example of a believer
who did not practice discipline (Jdg 13:1, 14:1, 15:1, 16:1ff- see notes
and the godliness that comes from such discipline.
Instead of disciplining himself for godliness by keeping his body
under control, Samson lived to please his
and the consequences were tragic. Even more tragic, is that Samson's
sad career has been duplicated by many Christians, including those in
key leadership positions, all of whom are deceived, occasionally even
defending their sins and lack of self-control as “enjoying freedom in
Christ.” The tragedy is that their so-called “freedom” is really the
worst kind of bondage.
A W Tozer...
It will require a determined heart
and more than a little courage to wrench ourselves loose from the grip
of our times and return to biblical ways. But it can be done. Every
now and then in the past Christians have had to do it. History has
recorded several large-scale returns led by such men as St. Francis,
Martin Luther and George Fox. Unfortunately, there seems to be no
Luther or Fox on the horizon at present. Whether or not another such
return may be expected before the coming of Christ is a question upon
which Christians are not fully agreed, but that is not of too great
importance to us now.
What God in His sovereignty may yet
do on a world-scale I do not claim to know. But what He will do for
the plain man or woman who seeks His face I believe I do know and can
tell others. Let any man turn to God in earnest, let him begin to
exercise himself unto godliness, let him seek to develop his powers of
spiritual receptivity by trust and obedience and humility, and the
results will exceed anything he may have hoped in his leaner and
magazine reminds us of an important principle
wire give out no musical note; but fasten the ends, and the piano, the
harp, or violin is born (Ed: Put some tension on it!). Free
steam drives no machine, but hamper and confine it with piston and
turbine and you have the great world of machinery made possible. The
unhampered river drives no dynamos, but dam it up and we get power
sufficient to light a great city. So our lives must be disciplined
if we are to be of any real service in this world.
from eu = well +
sebomai = reverence. Sebomai is in turn derived from "seb" which
refers to sacred awe or reverence exhibited especially in actions)
literally means "well worship" and describes reverence or awe that is
Godliness comes from the old English word "Godlikeness"
which means to have the character and attitude of God. It is manifest
by devotion to God which results in a life that is pleasing to Him.
And how does one maintain such a state of godliness? Such a life is
impossible without a continual intake of the pure milk of the Word,
and a consistent submission and obedience to that Word empowered by
Eusebeia - 15x in 15v in
Study Paul's uses to glean his
wisdom on what godliness looks like and how it is attained - Acts 3:12;
1Ti 2:2; 1Ti 3:16; 4:7, 8; 1Ti 6:3, 5, 6, 11; 2Ti 3:5;
Titus 1:1; 2Pe 1:3, 6, 7; 3:11 - For more of Paul's wisdom on
godliness see also Noun - Theosebeia = godliness in 1Ti 2:9, 10,
verb eusebeo 1Ti 5:4
is true religion that displays itself in reverence before what is
majestic and divine in worship and in a life of active obedience which
befits that reverence. Eusebeia is a term used, not of God, but
of men. Eusébeia is that piety which is characterized by a
Godward attitude and does that which is well–pleasing to Him.
Godliness is a right attitude and response toward the Living God
and manifest itself in a preoccupation from the heart with holy and
sacred realities. It is respect for what is due to God, and is thus
the highest of all virtues.
David Daniels writes...
In 1Ti 4:7, 8, Paul commands his
young disciple to discipline himself for the sake of godliness. Paul
warns that many people get involved in activities ("godless myths and
old wives' tales") that give the appearance of spiritual maturity but
really have no eternal value. The only worthwhile goal, he writes, is
godliness—a character conformed to God's character. But such
conformity comes only through discipline.
In this passage, the term to discipline or to train is the Greek word
gymnazo, from which we get gymnasium and gymnastics. Literally,
it means "to exercise naked." Unlike modern competitors who don
protective padding and equipment, ancient athletes would strip away
clothing and accessories that might prevent them from performing their
best. The Christian also must habitually strip away anything that
hinders the goal of godliness. (Discipleship Journal)
Godliness is not "letting go
and letting God." There is no such thing as drifting into godliness.
In fact the "stream of tendency" (our enemies - the world, the flesh,
the devil) flows against us! It is vital to remember that growth in
godliness calls for strenuous involvement on our part. Beloved, how are you doing in your
growth in godliness? Are you making every effort, every day, to
Godliness is not talking godly but living godly. Godliness is a practical
awareness of God in every aspect of life. Godliness reflects an
attitude centered on living out one's life in God's presence with a
desire motivated by love for Him and empowered by His grace to be
pleasing to Him in all things.
Godliness is that inner attitude of reverence which seeks to
please God in every thought, word or deed. Godliness is living
one's life with a "Coram Deo" mindset, ever as before the face of God.
Godliness is a practical
awareness of God in every area of life—a God-consciousness.
Ungodliness is living our
life as if God does not exist. Godliness is seeing all of life
through the lens of God as the focal point of my life.
Fairbairn writes that...
practical piety or godliness
requires when properly cultivated the full bent and strenuous
application of the mind.
As someone has well said...
The rich are not always godly, but
the godly are always rich. (And we might add, not only in this present
life but in the life to come and for ever!)
John Piper writes that...
Godliness...means a love
for the things of God and a walk in the ways of God." (Read the full sermon
George Meisinger writes that...
Godliness is godly living,
living according to the will of God. It is the kind of obedience that
results from walking in the Spirit (Romans 8:4-note)
(Meisinger, George: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal V1)
Godliness that overcomes the
craving for material wealth produces great spiritual wealth...
Godliness is another way of
describing holiness, sanctification, and Christlikeness. To put it in
other terms, the purpose of the spiritual disciplines is intimacy with
Christ and conformity (both internal and external) to Christ.
Practices. A spiritual discipline
is something you do, not something you are. Disciplines should not be
confused with graces, character qualities, or the fruit of the Spirit.
Prayer, for example, is a spiritual discipline, while joy, strictly
speaking, is not. As practices, the spiritual disciplines are first
about doing, then about being. The spiritual disciplines are right
doing that leads to right being. That is, the purpose of doing the
practices known as spiritual disciplines is the state of being
described in 1 Timothy 4:7 as “godliness.” Thus the discipline of
prayer, rightly practiced, should result in godly joy. So while they
should not be separated from each other, it is important to
distinguish the practices known as the spiritual disciplines from the
fruit that should result from them.
Biblical practices. We may not properly call just anything we do a
spiritual discipline. Regardless of the benefit we may derive from a
given activity, it is best to reserve the biblical term “discipline”
for practices taught by precept or example in the Bible. Otherwise,
anything and everything will eventually be called a spiritual
discipline. Someone could claim that washing dishes—which, admittedly,
ought to be done in the presence of and to the glory of God (1 Cor.
10:31)—is as spiritually beneficial to themselves as prayer is to
others. But if we allow this, what basis for disagreement over what is
and what isn’t a spiritual discipline will exist except personal
experience and preference?...Only the spiritual disciplines found in
Scripture are “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for
reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the
man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2Ti
3:16–17). And “every good work” for which Scripture makes us
“adequate” and “equipped” would certainly include “the purpose of
Means to godliness, not ends. A
person is not automatically godly just because he or she practices the
spiritual disciplines. This was the error of the Pharisees, for
although they prayed, memorized Scripture, fasted, and practiced other
disciplines, Jesus pointed to them as the epitome of ungodliness.
Godliness is the result of God’s Spirit changing us into
Christlikeness through the means of the disciplines. Apart from faith
and the right motives when practicing them, the disciplines can be
dead works. The purpose for practicing the spiritual disciplines
is not to see how many chapters of the Bible we can read or how long
we can pray, nor is it found in anything else that can be counted or
measured. We’re not necessarily more godly because we engage in these
biblical practices. Instead, these biblical practices should be the
means that result in true godliness—that is, intimacy with and
conformity to Christ. (A God Entranced Vision of All Things)
Christ came into the world to open
a new gymnasium for godliness. And he said in 1 Timothy 4:8, “Bodily
exercise is of some value, but working out in the gymnasium of
godliness holds promise for the present life and the life to come.” If
it feels good to run ten miles and lose five pounds, it feels a
hundred times as good to conquer Satan by the power of Christ and
break free from some unloving bent in our personality. (MONEY-
CURRENCY FOR CHRISTIAN HEDONISM)
J I Packer adds that...
Godliness, to the Puritans,
was essentially a matter of conscience, inasmuch as it consisted in a
hearty, disciplined, ‘considerate’ (thoughtful) response to known
evangelical truth, and centered upon the getting and keeping of a good
J. I.. A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian
Life. Crossway Books. 1994)
Charles Stanley writes that
Godly people order their lives
around godly counsel. They seek friends with fellow believers, not
with the lost. They get enjoyment, encouragement, and refreshment from
the Word of God. Godly people will successfully stand the storms of
life, are fruitful, and prosper in all they do. Godly people are
contented. They are not anxious or fretting. A sweet quietness marks
them. The beginning of being a godly person is receiving Jesus Christ
as Savior. That’s the foundation to build on. (Stanley, C. F. In touch
with God. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
J.C. Ryle (1816-1900 -
read a short biography),
in the introduction to a book of biographical sketches of Christian
leaders such as George Whitefield and John Wesley made the following
They taught constantly the
inseparable connection between true faith and personal holiness. They
never allowed for a moment that any church membership or religious
profession was the proof of a man’s being a true Christian if he lived
an ungodly life. A true Christian, they maintained, must always
be known by his fruits; and those fruits must be plainly manifest and
unmistakable in all relations of life. “No fruits, no grace,” was the
unvarying tenor of their preaching. (Christian Leaders of the
Eighteenth Century. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth.) (Bolding added)
"There is no effective spiritual
ministry apart from personal godliness, since ministry is the overflow
of a godly life."
quotes J. Oswald Sanders who wrote...
“Spiritual ends can be achieved
only by spiritual men who employ spiritual methods”
R. C. Sproul
in Pleasing God, warns about the tragic disassociation of sound
doctrine and godly living, explaining that believers
"must reject a false dichotomy
between doctrine and life. We can have sound doctrine without a
sanctified life. But it is extremely difficult to progress in
sanctification without sound doctrine. Sound
doctrine is not a sufficient condition to produce a sound life. It
does not yield sanctification automatically. Sound doctrine
is a necessary condition for sanctification. It is a vital
prerequisite. It is like oxygen and fire. The mere presence of oxygen
does not guarantee a fire, but you can’t have a fire without it." (Sproul,
R C: Pleasing God. Tyndale House, 1988
) (Bolding added)
Whitney writes that
"Godly people are
disciplined people. It has always been so. Call to mind...heroes of
church history...they were all disciplined people. In my own pastoral
and personal Christian experience, I can’t say that I’ve ever known a
man or woman who came to spiritual maturity except through discipline.
Godliness comes through discipline." (Spiritual
Disciplines for the Christian Life. page 15. NavPress, 1991
man or woman lives above the petty things of life, the passions and
pressures that control the lives of others. The godly individual seeks
to do the will of God making the kind of decisions that are right and
noble, not taking the "easy" path simply to avoid either pain or
trial. That's Biblical godliness!
did not take for granted the godliness of his spiritual son
Timothy even though Timothy had been his companion for a number of
years and had "followed (Paul's) teaching, conduct, purpose,
faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions and sufferings..."
Nevertheless, Paul still felt compelled to charge Timothy to "train
himself to be godly.” It follows, that if Timothy needed this charge,
then surely believers also need it today. Are we listening? When was
the last time you heard a series on the pursuit and practice of
godliness? Could our failure to discipline ourselves in this vital
area explain at least to some degree our failure to be salty salt and
clear, bright lights (Mt 5:13, 14, 15, 16-see notes
in a society that is growing darker and more ungodly by the day?
In summary, Biblical Godliness....
(1). Necessitates effort on our
(2). Must be pursued (1Ti 6:11)
(3). Can be faked (2Ti 3:5-
John Angell James writes...
there is a second passage well worthy the attention of all young
converts, I mean where Paul exhorts Timothy thus, "Exercise yourself
unto godliness." 1 Tim. 4:7. The word in the original is very strong,
and might be rendered by a free translation, "practice gymnastic
exercises in religion," like the ancient competitors in the Olympic
games. We say also of soldiers in the early stage of their training,
"they are practicing their exercise." They are being trained in what
they do not previously know, and cannot perform without being taught;
and to learn which, and do it well, requires a great deal of labor. So
it is with the Christian, he must in all that concerns true godliness,
learn his exercise, and be often thus engaged. True godliness, and
progress in piety, cannot be acquired without great pains. As a man
cannot be at once a good soldier, while he is a young recruit, and
before he has been drilled upon the parade ground, so no one can be an
eminent Christian as soon as he is converted, and before he has been
at his drilling. Self-improvement in knowledge by the student, and in
business by the tradesman, are the result of great painstaking. No one
can expect advancement without labor. It is astonishing and sad, to
see how little concern there is among many to improve themselves in
true godliness. (John Angell James. Christian Progress)
William Kelly, Plymouth Brethren writer...
From old-wives’ fables Timothy was to turn away. But, says Paul,
“exercise thyself unto piety.” Service of Christ is admirable; yet
there is no greater danger if piety be neglected personally. It is of
prime moment that this be kept up in the soul, as otherwise the
comfort and joy as well as the sorrows and dangers of His service are
Piety (godliness) is spiritual exercise and demands as constant
vigilance, as holy self-restraint, as complete subjection to the
revealed will of God, even as training for the games called for
habitual abstinence from every relaxing habit and for daily practice
toward the end in view. How little the latter goal! How transcendent
Keep the Goal in
View - Bible scholar William Barclay (Ed
of his walks through the meadow with his bull terrier Rusty. Whenever
his dog came to a shallow creek, he jumped in and started removing
stones, one by one, dropping them haphazardly on the shore. This
pointless activity would go on for hours.
Barclay says that Rusty's strange behavior reminds him of some
self-proclaimed experts on the Bible. They expend enormous energy and
countless hours trying to interpret obscure passages, but all their
effort does nothing to edify themselves or others.
Through the years I have received long letters from people like that.
Some show me how to know exactly who the Antichrist will be. Others
claim to have found the key to certain Bible mysteries by studying the
meaning of names in the lists of genealogies.
Apparently there were some teachers in Ephesus who were trying to
impress the believers by weaving myths and fables into their
interpretation of the Bible. But what they taught did nothing to
promote godliness. It was therefore as pointless as Rusty's stone
Paul said to Timothy, "Exercise yourself toward godliness." That's the
most important goal to keep in view as we study the Bible. —Herbert
Vander Lugt (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Oh, grant us grace, Almighty Lord!
To read and mark Thy holy Word,
Its truths with meekness to receive,
And by its holy precepts live. —Boddome
Don't study the Bible to be able to quote it.
Study it to obey it.
Inductive Bible Study)
><> ><> ><>
Godly Exercise - Fitness advocate Jhannie Tolbert
says you don't need a treadmill or specialized equipment to get a
great physical workout at home. Tolbert uses a toolbox for stepping
exercises, lifts soup cans to work his shoulder muscles, and employs
other common household items in his daily training. He says you can
stay fit at home using a low-tech approach. Other trainers agree and
encourage people to use jump ropes, chairs, brooms, and even bags of
groceries in conditioning routines. They see exercise as a matter of
will, not wealth.
The same principle holds true with spiritual fitness. While Bible
dictionaries, commentaries, and other books are helpful, we can begin
spiritual training with nothing more than the Bible and the guidance
of the Holy Spirit. Paul urged his protégé Timothy: "Exercise yourself
toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness
is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is
and of that which is to come" (1Timothy 4:7,8).
It requires no money to study a Bible passage or memorize a verse. We
don't need special equipment or materials to pray for a friend, give
thanks to God, or sing His praise. We just need to begin where we are,
with what we have, right now.—David C. McCasland (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Just as the body will grow strong
With exercise each day,
So too, we grow more like our Lord
By living life His way. —D. De Haan
Godly exercise is the key to godly character.
><> ><> ><>
Waiting For The Weekend -"Good morning! Only 1
more day until Friday!" Our local traffic reporter counts down to the
weekend for his morning radio audience. Many in his audience are
likely thinking all week about hitting the bike trail, heading for the
beach, or teeing off in the morning mist.
Paul told Timothy that physical exercise does profit us "a little" (1Ti 4:8). Regular exercise and recreation can help to restore our
perspective, to tone up our muscles, and to recharge our batteries.
But Paul said that "godliness is profitable for all things, having
promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (1Ti
The trouble is that many Christians today emphasize physical exercise
almost to the exclusion of spiritual exercise. Paul also said,
"Exercise yourself toward godliness" (1Ti 4:7). Regular spiritual exercise
such as prayer, Bible study, walking in the Spirit, sharing Christ
with others, serving others, and living a pure and holy life are
"profitable" for both time and eternity.
Looking forward to the weekend is fine. And there's nothing wrong with
biking, swimming, golfing, or other forms of recreation. But remember,
the greatest profit comes from exercising "toward godliness." —D C Egner
Used by permission of Our Daily Bread)
A healthy body, healthy mind,
Should be the Christian's goal;
But it is more important still
To exercise the soul. —Bosch
To keep spiritually fit, feed on God's Word and exercise your
><> ><> ><>
Training For Life - When Dean Karnazes completed the 26.2-mile
New York Marathon in November 2006, it marked the end of an almost
impossible feat of endurance. Karnazes had run 50 marathons in 50
states in 50 days. This exceptional athlete’s ultra-endurance feats
include: running 350 continuous miles, mountain biking for 24 hours
straight, and swimming across San Francisco Bay. That level of fitness
requires relentless, dedicated training.
Spiritual fitness, Paul told Timothy, also takes much more than a
relaxed approach to live a God-honoring life. In a culture marked by
false teaching, along with extreme forms of self-indulgence and
self-denial, Paul wrote:
Exercise [train] yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise
profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having
promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come (1Ti
Our bodies and our minds are to be dedicated to God and prepared for
His service (Ro 12:1-2). The goal is not spiritual muscle-flexing but
godliness—a life that is pleasing to the Lord. Vigorous study of the
Word, focused prayer, and bodily discipline are all part of the
How well we train greatly affects how well we run our race of life.—
David C. McCasland (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Just as the body grows in strength
With exercise each day,
Our spirit grows in godliness
By living life God’s way. —D. De Haan
Godly exercise is the key to godly character.
Steven Cole asks...
What is discipline? What does it entail? I want to sketch what it is
and is not. Then I’ll show how to implement it.
A. What discipline is and is not:
(1) Discipline is an ongoing process, not a quick fix. The verb
is a present imperative, pointing to a process. This means that you
can never say, “I’ve arrived!” It’s like staying in shape physically:
You can do it for 25 years, but the day you quit you start getting
flabby. You’ve got to keep at it. So, no matter where you’re at
spiritually, 1Ti 4:7 applies to you. It’s a lifetime process.
(2) Discipline involves hard work. “We labor and strive.”
(“Strive” is a better reading than the KJV’s “suffer reproach.”) It’s
a word used of wrestlers in an athletic contest, giving every ounce of
strength to defeat their opponent. This means that discipline doesn’t
come naturally! It’s not something some people are just born with.
It’s not a spiritual gift.
By definition, discipline means acting against your feelings because
you have a higher goal. We’re being encouraged in our day to live by
our feelings. If we violate our feelings, we might do some sort of
psychological damage! But if you’re disciplined, even though you feel
like that piece of chocolate cake, since your goal is to lose weight,
you deny your feelings. Or, you feel like sacking in; but your goal is
to be godly, so you roll out of bed, grab your Bible, and spend time
with the Lord. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always feel good!
Discipline is something in which both God and you must be involved.
“Self-control” is a fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:23). That is, when the
Spirit of God controls you, He gives you the ability to control
yourself. Thus God does it, and yet Paul can tell Timothy, “Discipline
yourself ...” You have a responsibility in the matter. It boils down
to the question, “Are you willing to pay the price?” If athletes put
themselves through years of hard work and training to get a silly gold
medal, shouldn’t we be willing to pay the price to be godly?
(3) Discipline means discarding hindrances. Paul tells Timothy
to “have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women”
(1Ti 4:7). Some translate it “old wives’ tales.” It refers to the
stories an old woman might pass on to her grandchildren. Paul was
ridiculing the “endless myths and genealogies” of the false teachers
(1Ti 1:4). The Greek word for “discipline” is gymnazo, from which we
get “gymnasium.” It came from a word meaning “naked,” because the
Greek athletes would strip off their clothing so as not to be hindered
from their purpose of winning their event. The point is, if we’re
going to train ourselves for godliness, there are hindrances we have
to strip off. We have to say no to things that hinder us from our
purpose. Of course that includes all sin; but also it includes things
that may be all right in and of themselves, but they don’t help you
grow toward godliness. It certainly means controlling the TV set!
(4) Discipline means keeping your eyes on the goal. The goal is
fairly clear: “godliness” (in the Greek) has the nuance of “reverence
for God.” So it points to a person who is growing in conformity to God
in his character and daily life because he has fixed his hope on God
(4:10). He takes God seriously and recognizes the practical
implications in terms of developing a godly thought life, godly
speech, and godly actions. The way we move toward that goal (in the
words of Heb. 12:2) is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus so that we
become more and more like Him, especially as we endure the trials God
uses to make us more like Him.
(5) Discipline means managing your time in line with your goals.
This point is not directly in the text, but it’s a logical necessity.
An athlete works his schedule around his goal. He says no to many good
activities so that he can say yes to his daily workout. As Annie
Dillard has pointed out, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we
spend our lives” (Reader’s Digest, [7/92], p. 137). And how we spend
our minutes and hours is how we spend our days. The goal of godliness
demands that you spend time each day alone with God in His Word and
prayer. It’s not a question of having a schedule. You have one! We all
have the same number of hours in our day. We all make time to do what
we want to do. The question is, Is your schedule in line with your
goal of becoming a godly person?
(6) Discipline is not opposed to the grace of God. Many people
resist discipline by saying, “That’s legalistic!” It can become
legalistic if your motive is wrong. But if your motive is to love and
please the God who gave His Son for you, it’s not legalistic. Grace
doesn’t mean sloppy living (1Co 15:10).
And discipline, though it sounds restrictive, is the only way to true
freedom. Someone who has disciplined himself to play the piano or
speak a foreign language is free to do things I am restricted from
doing. As we saw last week, Paul talks about enjoying God and then
moves on to talk about discipline. They go hand in hand. The
disciplined Christian enjoys God in ways the undisciplined person
(7) Discipline is not driving yourself relentlessly. Some
people get obsessed with discipline to the point that they can’t relax
or enjoy time off. We need the balance of Scripture which teaches that
God rested after His labor, and so should we. He made our bodies to
require sleep. We’re not good stewards if we drive ourselves until we
burn out, either physically or emotionally.
Often our problem is that we mess around when we’re supposed to be
working, so we feel guilty when we try to relax. A disciplined
Christian will work hard when he works and thankfully take time for
rest and recreation when it’s needed. As far as the Lord’s work goes,
it helps me to remember that God is the Savior of the world; I’m not.
By His grace, I can labor and strive for His purpose, but I can also
relax and not worry that somehow His purpose will flounder without me.
(8) Discipline is not being so rigid that you are insensitive to what
God is doing. This point also comes from the balance of Scripture, not
directly from our text. It’s good to be disciplined for the purpose of
godliness, but the flesh can abuse that good goal by becoming so rigid
that you miss what God is doing. For example, you’re having your
devotional time and your toddler bounds into the room and says,
“Daddy, look what I did!” You say, “Go away! Can’t you see that I’m
reading the Bible!” You’re not being disciplined; you’re being rigid
and insensitive to your child. Jesus always did the Father’s will, but
He always had time for people who interrupted Him (Mark 5:21-43).
B. How we implement discipline:
(1) By being constantly nourished in the truths of the faith
(1Ti 4:6). The verb is present tense; the meaning is, we must
continually feed on God’s Word, or “sound doctrine.” As we saw last
week, spiritual warfare involves your mind, and your mind affects your
morals. So it’s crucial that you feed your mind on God’s Word through
every means—by hearing it preached; by reading, studying, memorizing
and meditating on it. God’s Word shows us what God is like and how He
wants us to live. There is no such thing as godliness apart from
constant nourishment from God’s Word of truth.
If you’re not a reader, learn! God saw fit to record His truth in
written form. Almost anyone can learn to read. That may be a necessary
step in disciplining yourself for godliness. Meanwhile, get the Bible
on tape and listen to it daily. If you don’t have a regular time in
the Word, set a realistic goal and stick with it. Start out with 25
minutes a day reading the Bible and 5-10 minutes in prayer. When
you’re consistent, you can increase the time. But you need spiritual
nourishment from the Word as much as you need to eat. Also, we
implement spiritual discipline ...
(2) By being obedient to the truths of the faith (1Ti 4:6).
“... which you have been following ...” We aren’t supposed to learn
God’s Word for the purpose of filling our heads. It is to change our
lives. So we always should come to God’s Word with the prayer, “Lord,
show me how this applies to me, and enable me to obey it!” It may be a
wrong attitude or thought I need to change. Maybe my speech isn’t
honoring to God. I may need to change my behavior. The Word often
confronts my selfishness. Remember, the goal of the Christian life is
not happiness and fulfillment. It is godliness and becoming a good
servant of Christ Jesus (1Ti 4:6). But the beautiful irony is that as
we pursue that goal, God blesses us with true joy and fulfillment,
because godliness holds promise both for the present life and for the
life to come (1Ti 4:8).
Marla and I both had an Italian sociology professor in college who
used to say, “Class, whenever I feel like exercising, I go and lie
down for two hours until the feeling goes away.” A lot of us can
identify with that! Exercise is discipline and discipline is hard
work, and who likes hard work?
And yet, like it or not, discipline is essential for godliness. And
godliness is essential because eternity is certain. There are no
shortcuts, no easy, effortless ways to godliness. But if you have
fixed your hope on the living God who is the Savior, can you do
anything less than discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness?
1. If you knew you had one year to live, how would your life be
different? How about one week? Where’s the balance between an eternal
perspective and long-range goals?
2. What are some “good” (not sinful) hindrances to discipline you
3. How do we find the balance between being disciplined and being
4. Jesus was disciplined, but never seemed to be in a hurry. How can
we do likewise in our busy culture? (Copyright
1994, Steven J. Cole, All Rights Reserved)
also for the life
Amplified: For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but
godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything
and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also
for the life which is to come.
Bible - Lockman)
KJV: 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.
NLT: Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much
more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: Bodily fitness has a certain value, but
spiritual fitness is essential both for this present life and for the life
to come. (Phillips:
Wuest: For the aforementioned bodily exercise is of some
small profit, but the aforementioned piety toward God is profitable
with respect to all things, holding a promise of this present life and
of that about to come. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for the bodily exercise is unto little profit, and the piety is to
all things profitable, a promise having of the life that now is, and
of that which is coming;
FOR BODILY DISCIPLINE IS ONLY OF
e gar somatike
gumnasia pros oligon estin (3SPAI) ophelimos:
(1Samuel 15:22; Psalms 50:7, 8, 9, 10, 11,12, 13, 14, 15; Isaiah 1:11,
12, 13, 14, 15, 16; 58:3, 4, 5; Jeremiah 6:20;
Amos 5:21, 22, 23, 24; 1Corinthians 8:8; Colossians 2:21, 22, 23; Hebrews 13:9)
(gar) is a conjunction which serves as a marker of cause or
reason between events and in this case introduces an explanation for the
exhortation "discipline yourself for godliness".
The King James Version of 1Ti 4:8KJV
does not adequately communicate Paul’s thought. He is not despising
bodily exercise. Rather, he is making a comparison between bodily
exercise and spiritual exercise. It’s fine to discipline your physical
body; it will help you for a few years. But it’s far better to
discipline yourself spiritually, because it will put you in good stead
not only in this life, but also in the life to come. We ought to work
much harder at godliness than we do at our games!
The great evangelist, George
Whitefield, once told of seeing some criminals riding in a cart on their
way to the gallows. They were arguing like a bunch of kids going on a
trip about who should sit on the right hand of the cart. Here were men
condemned to die that very day, but their focus was on who got the best
seat on the way to the execution!
But isn’t that exactly like everyone
who is living for this life rather than for eternity? You see people in
our beauty-obsessed culture who are health nuts. They eat all the proper
foods. They take vitamins and minerals. They work out to keep in shape.
But the fact is, they’re going to die. All their efforts may extend
their lives a few years, if they don’t get cancer or die in a car crash
or some other way. But they’re foolish because they’re living as if this
life is all there is and as if they can extend their lives indefinitely.
One of the reasons we’re so spiritually flabby is that we’re caught up
with the temporal. We tend to think that we and others will live
forever. But we won’t. The Puritan preacher, Richard Baxter, used to
say, “I preach as though I might never preach again, and as a dying man
to dying men.” The Bible is clear that as members of the fallen human
race, we’re all in that cart, on the way to the gallows. We’d better be
preparing for what lies beyond. Because eternity is a fact, we should
discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. (Full
(somatikos from soma = body) means corporeal as opposed to
noncorporeal. It refers to that which pertains to the body and thus to
bodily discipline, lying in
abstaining from certain meats, keeping set fasts, watchings, lying upon
the ground, going barefoot, wearing sackcloth or haircloth, abstaining
from wine or marriage, is of little advantage, the mind and soul of man
is not bettered by them: the apostle doth not altogether despise these
things, some of which may be useful (moderately used) to make us more
fit for prayer, especially upon solemn occasions; but these are not
things wherein religion is to be put, and alone they are of no avail.
“But godliness is profitable unto
all things;” but godliness, which lieth in the true worship and
service of God, out of a true principle of the fear of God and faith in
him; or (more generally) holiness of life in obedience to God’s
commandments, is of universal advantage; “having promise of the life
that now is, and of that which is to come;” not from any
meritoriousness in it (Ed: In other words we do not gain favor
with God.), but from the free grace of God, which hath annexed to
it not only the promises of health, peace, and prosperity, and all good
things while we live here upon the earth, but also the promises of
salvation and eternal happiness when this life shall be determined.
(Matthew Poole's Commentary)
= exercise) is a noun referring properly to the exercise of the body in
the palaestra. In context gumnasia could refer to training such as seen
in asceticism. Gumnasia therefore could be interpreted as referring not
just to simple physical exercise (one possible interpretation) but to
the exercise of conscientiousness relative to the body as is
characteristic of ascetics and consists in abstinence from matrimony and
certain kinds of food. This latter meaning would certainly be compatible
with Paul's description in 1Ti 4:3 of...
men who forbid
marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be
gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. (Comment:
One has to ask whether Paul would assign even a "little profit" to such
fleshly activities! See Hiebert's note below.)
Two views are taken as to the meaning
of "bodily exercise." Many take it to mean physical exercise,
gymnastics, athletic training. On this view Paul uses it as an
illustration from the physical realm to contrast the superiority of
discipline in godliness. Others regard it as a reference to asceticism,
the mortification of the body for religious purposes, as in the
abstinence from marriage and meats. This view is more in harmony with
the context where asceticism has been dealt with and its undue
exaltation is deprecated.
While Paul eschewed (avoided
habitually especially on moral or practical grounds) unreal and extreme
forms of bodily discipline, he did not disapprove of it in every
form. He acknowledged that it profited "for a little." Paul himself
disciplined his body to keep it in subjection (cf 1Cor 9:24, 25, 26, 27-note)
and was "in fastings often" (2Cor 11:27). Keeping the body with all of
its desires and passions under discipline is worth something, is in fact
a part of a true life of godliness. But it is only a small part, for
true godliness has its seat in the spirit, not in bodily
discipline. Godliness is not achieved through a rigorous
mortification of the body in order to control the spirit, it is rather
the spiritual in control of the body. (Hiebert, D. Edmond: First
Timothy: Everyman's Bible Commentary. Moody. 1957)
(oligos) means puny in extent, degree, number, duration or value.
The Greek phrase pros oligon could be translated "for a little
time" or in other words "for this transient life". KJV
translates it "profiteth little," which is probably a bit
too negative. God has given us our bodies as a stewardship to care for,
so some attention to exercise is certainly in order. In light of time
and eternity, the believer's proper perspective is that physical
exercises are of some value now, but spiritual exercises are
far more valuable yielding benefits now and forever.
Paul is exhorting
Timothy (and us) to avoid the American obsession with “body-sculpting”
in the gymnasium in place of "heart molding" in the arena
of real life. It is much easier to pick up a set of barbells than to lay
down one's "rights" in order to follow Christ!
some interesting thoughts writing that...
Bodily exercise profits a little - it
has some value; or, the idea can be translated bodily exercise is good
for a while, while exercising unto godliness is good for all eternity.
Spiritual development and physical development share some similarities;
with each, growth only comes with exertion and proper feeding. (1 Timothy 4)
Barth Campbell rightly notes
The difficulty in establishing a
consistent and effective physical exercise program is well known. The
effort required to block out time for exercise three or four times a
week sometimes seems insurmountably difficult, and therefore many
individuals remain sedentary and physically unfit. Yet the benefits of
physical exercise are significant for those who persevere in their
efforts to exercise and eat healthy foods. Paul maintained, however,
that those who train themselves in godliness, that is, for the purpose
of attaining that quality, will find far greater rewards.
Devotion to God and the development
of Christlikeness have recompense for this life and the life to come.
Great effort, however, is required. Like the athlete in training, the
believer must discipline the body and its actions (by devotion to prayer
and avoidance of sin) and habitually consume vital and wholesome
“nutrients” (through study of the Word of God).
On this passage Stauffer perceptively
remarks, “This is not contempt for the world. It is insight into the law
of life that the better is the enemy of the best, so that even what is
right and good may have to be renounced.” (Rhetorical
Design in 1 Timothy 4)
Alva J. McClain adds that...
Toward this present life on earth,
there have been two extreme attitudes: Some have wrongly regarded this
life as the only thing worth-while, scoffing at the idea of anything
higher and beyond. Thus, according to the consistent Marxians, there is
no substance to the promise of “Pie in the sky, By and by.” Others, also
wrongly, have scorned the present life as of small or no account, even
arguing that salvation consists in getting loose from it altogether. On
this philosophic road, at various stages, were the Hindu religionists,
the monastics of the middle ages; even Plato, and a few theologians who
should have known better. Over against these one-sided emphases, the
Bible, with its unerring philosophic balance, recognizes certain genuine
values in both the present life and that which is to come. Life on the
present earthly stage is of course not the best; but it is “good” (Gen
1:31). The Bible writers are never hard put, as Plato was, to explain
how the eternal world of spirit ever became entangled in the web of
physical existence. (A
Premillennial Philosophy of History)
from ophelos = profit in turn from ophello = to heap up,
accumulate or benefit) means useful, profitable,
helpful, beneficial. It refers to that which yields advantageous returns
gives an important caveat that...
we must never think that the “body”
and the “soul” can be separated when it comes to Christian living. What
a believer does with his body is as much a part of the spiritual life as
what he does in his devotional time or how he uses his talents or his
money (e.g., 1Co 6:18, 19, 20, 2Co 5:15). The artificial division we make between “physical” and
“spiritual” is not biblical. Presenting our bodies to the Lord is
a part of our “spiritual worship” (Ro 12:1-note;
and what we do with our bodies will have a direct bearing on how God
will reward us one day...
Some believers today smile at the spiritual
disciplines of the saints of past ages, and perhaps some of these
disciplines were extreme. But there is no substitute for physical,
mental, and spiritual discipline if you want to be a winning Christian.
After all, Jesus calls us to a life of discipleship (Lk 14:25, 26, 27,
28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35); and
discipleship and discipline go together “Discipline is the soul of an
army,” George Washington wrote to the Virginia regiments in 1759. “It
makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem
to all.” (Wiersbe, W. W. Be What You Are : 12 intriguing
pictures of the Christian from the New Testament. Page 129. Wheaton IL:
OUR ALLOTTED TIME
Why should we be about the
business of disciplining ourselves for godliness?
Puritan writer Thomas Watson has this to say in answer...
Our time allotted to us is short. Job
compares our life to a swift runner, Job 9:25, "My life passes more
swiftly than a runner." The poets painted time with wings. If time
flies—we had need run! The night of death hastens—and there is no
running a race in the night!
This shows us that the business of true religion is no idle thing; we
must put forth all our strength and vigor. Religion is a race; we must
run and run. It is a hard thing to be a Christian. Alas, then, what
shall we say to those who stand all the day idle? If we look at many
professors—and we would think they had no race to run. They put their
hand "in their bosom," Proverbs 19:24. Is that a fit posture for him who
is to run to it? If salvation would drop as "a ripe fig into the mouth
of the eater," Nahum 3:12, men would like it well; but they are loathe
to set upon running a race. Never think to be favored upon such easy
The life of a Christian is not like a nobleman's life. The nobleman has
his rents brought in by his steward, whether he wakes or sleeps. Do not
think that salvation will be brought to you—when you are stretching
yourselves on your beds of ivory. If you would have the prize—run the
race. The passenger in the ship, whether he sits on the deck or lies on
the couch, is brought safely to shore; but there is no getting to the
heavenly port without towing hard. "Zaccheus ran to see Jesus," Luke
19:4. If we would have a sight of God in glory, we must run this race.
We cannot have the world without labor, and would we have heaven without
If the life of Christianity is a race, this may justify the godly in the
haste which they make to heaven. Psalm 119:60, "I made haste and delayed
not to keep your commandments."
Carnal spirits say, "What need do you have to make such haste? Why are
you so strict and precise? Why do you run so fast? Fair and softly—a
more easy pace will serve."
Oh—but a Christian may reply, "Religion is a race. I cannot run too
fast, nor hard enough!" If any had asked Paul why he ran so fast and
pressed forward to the mark, he would have answered that he was in a
Here is that which may justify the saints of God in their zeal and
activity for heaven: they are racers, and a race cannot be run too fast.
The blind world is ready to judge all zeal as madness; but have we not
cause to run with all speed—when it is a matter of life and death? If we
do not run—and run hard—we shall never obtain the prize. If a man were
to run for a wager of three or four million, would he not run with all
celerity and swiftness? 1 Samuel 21:8, "The kings business requires
If any should say to us, "Why so fast? Why so much praying and weeping?"
we may say as David, "The king's business requires haste! God has given
me a race to run, and I must not linger or loiter!" The haste which
Abigal made to the king, 1 Samuel 25:34, prevented her death and the
massacre of Nabal's family. Our haste in the heavenly race will prevent
damnation. This may plead for a Christian in his eager pursuit after
holiness against all the calumnies and censures of the wicked.
Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything,
To do it as for Thee.
All may of Thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean
Which with this motive, “For Thy sake,”
Will not grow bright and clean.
This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.
BUT GODLINESS IS PROFITABLE FOR ALL
e de eusebeia pros panta
ophelimos estin, (3SPAI)
: (1Ti 6:6; Job 22:2;
medieval poet wrote this pithy ditty...
And be merry.
And give not for this world
Resources on Godliness...
Spurgeon - 1 Ti 4:8,9 The Profit of Godliness in
Spurgeon - 1 Ti 4:8 The Profit of Godliness in the
Life to Come
Spurgeon - 1 Ti 3:16 The Great Mystery of
Godliness - Pdf
Spurgeon - 2 Ti 3:5 The Form of Godliness without
Spurgeon - Ps 32:6 Prayer, The Proof of Godliness
The Godly Mans Picture - Thomas Watson
But - Introduces the
striking contrast between the value of discipline of our physical
bodies and our spiritual lives.
from eu = well +
sebomai = reverence. Sebomai is in turn derived from "seb" which
refers to sacred awe or reverence exhibited especially in actions)
literally means "well worship" and describes awesome respect accorded
If anyone advocates a different
doctrine, and does not agree with sound (healthy, wholesome, giving
spiritual health) words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the
doctrine conforming to godliness (eusébeia)."(1Ti 6:3)
Any doctrine that
does not encourage, promote and in the end result in godly behavior is
not based on Scripture. Conversely, a godly life is a good indicator one
is being fed healthy, wholesome doctrine.
What accelerates and excites the beat
of your heart (your
"control center") beloved? Is it racing after godliness or worldliness?
(see Mt 6:24-note)
In his second
epistle to Timothy Paul warns his young disciple of the subtle,
seductive danger of fake eusébeia, for
certain men (and they are always in our midst) were
holding to (present
= as their lifestyle or habitual
practice) a form (morphosis = outward appearance) of godliness (which is
really godlessness! It is rank hypocrisy, cp Jesus scathing
denunciation of the hypocritical Pharisees - read all of Mt 23:1ff but
especially Mt 23:25, 26, 27, 28), although they have denied (perfect
denied at some point in time and still deny ~ speaks of the permanence
of their denial) (denial = a conscious, purposeful action of one's will
to say "no" to) its power (dunamis
= inherent power = a godly life has inherent power like "dynamite"!);
command to continually turn away from) such men as these (cp the effect
of leaven - 1Co 5:6, 7, 8, Ga 5:9 and 1Co 15:33). (2Ti 3:5-note)
renders 2Ti 3:5...
"They will keep up a make-believe of
piety and yet exclude its power.”
offers this pithy rendering...
They will maintain a façade of
‘religion’ but their conduct will deny its validity.
These men, like
the pious, religious Pharisees, have an external appearance suggesting
godliness but lacked the "real thing". They may have made a
profession that they believe in Christ, but by their ungodly behavior,
they show that they do not possess "the mystery of godliness" and
thus are living a lie. They have no holy fruit in their life to testify
to the fact that the Holy Spirit (holy begets holy) dwells in their earthly
"tabernacles". They may have been reformed, but never
regenerated. (cp Jn 3:3, Titus 3:5, 6-note) They
may profess but do not possess Christ (cp Titus 1:16-note). They want to be religious and to
have their sins at the same time, a dichotomy genuine God glorifying godliness will not
Paul warns Timothy
of purveyors of unsound (false) doctrine...
depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness
is a means of gain. But godliness actually is a means of great
gain, when accompanied by contentment.
(1Ti 6:5, 6)
Simply stated these pseudo-saints
peddled their phony professions of piety for personal profit. Times
haven't changed much have they?
(autarkeia from autarkes from auto = the same,
himself + arkeo = to suffice or be sufficient, to be contented or
satisfied) actually means an inner sufficiency that keeps one at peace
in spite of outward circumstances. Paul using the related word
Not that I speak from want; for I
have learned to be content (autarkes) in whatever
I am. (Php 4:11-note)
satisfaction (contentment) is a "fruit" of godliness in the heart, not wealth
in the hand. Dependence on material things will never bring genuine
As MacDonald says
to have real godliness and at the
same time to be satisfied with one’s personal circumstances is more
money can buy. (MacDonald,
W., & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
In Paul's last
mention of godliness in first Timothy, he charges his young protégée
imperative = make
it your habit to continually seek safety in flight) from these
things (such as "love of money"), you man of God and
("run swiftly in order to catch", move rapidly and decisively toward the
continually press on decisively toward) righteousness (what is right
before God and man), godliness
(eusébeia), faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. (1Ti 6:11)
Comment: Note the good, godly pattern,
to flee and pursue. And then
continually pursue so you will continually flee! How? By
grace through faith not by legalistic constraints be they subtle or
From this verse
again (as alluded to earlier) it becomes quite clear that godliness
is not achieved automatically but involves fleeing from evil and toward
good. Discipline and diligence are to be the man of God's life long
twin watchwords if he
desires to possess the lofty, long lived prize of godliness.
overemphasizes the human effort and responsibility called for in the
pursuit and growth in godliness, believers must continually be aware
that we as mere humans cannot train ourselves to be godly without the
teaching and training ministry of the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us.
Since the Spirit is holy, He will continually hold us to the highest
standard of spiritual excellence as He teaches, rebukes, corrects, and
trains us. And since He teaches and trains us through God's word of
truth, we must consistently expose ("marinate", saturate) ourselves to the word
of God if we are to grow in godliness. In his introduction to Titus,
Paul makes this association clear writing that "the knowledge of the
truth...leads to a godly life" (Titus 1:1NIV-note) In
other words, believers cannot grow in godliness without the knowledge of
the truth, truth which is found only in the Bible. And remember that Paul is not
referring to just "head" knowledge which puffs up with pride and
arrogance (cp 1Co 8:1, Is 5:1, 47:10), but is referring to spiritual knowledge taught by the
(growth "in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"
- 2Pe 3:18-note)
and obeyed from the heart without hesitation, protestation or excuse,
that too even motivated by the Spirit (cp Php 2:13NLT)!
In the last NT
mention of godliness in the NT Peter teaches that this attribute is the heart and soul
of Christian character writing that
Since all these things are to be
destroyed in this way (heavens passing away, earth burned up), what sort
of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness
(in other words "godliness" fosters a
Godward mindset and outlook or "uplook") and
the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be
destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
(2Pe 3:11, 12-notes)
from ophelos = profit in turn from ophello = to heap up,
accumulate or benefit)
means useful, helpful, beneficial. In most of western society, when we
hear the word "profit", we think of a good financial return, as on an
investment or a stock, especially an excess of returns over expenditure.
As used by Paul the reference the spiritual "return" in excess or our
expenditure or cost to discipline ourselves, as directed by the Word and
empowered by the Spirit.
All things (3956)
(pas) means every without exception, which includes one's entire
well-being, physical and spiritual as well as temporal and eternal. This
promise (recalling that God stands behind the promise) should serve to
motivate us to press on when we don't feel like disciplining ourselves
J Vernon McGee
Those who argue that a Christian can
fall into sin and can always come back to God on easy terms, are right.
But, my friend, a godly life pays off not only down here, it will pay
off in eternity. The Prodigal Son lost a great deal by going to the far
country, and any Christian who lives a careless life rather than a godly
life will find that even in eternity he will pay for it. Are you as
anxious about godliness as you are about physical exercise, about
athletic events? The physical ends at the end of this life, but
godliness is carried over into the next. (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
William MacDonald writes
As far as this life is concerned,
godliness yields the greatest joy, and as far as the life which is to
come is concerned, it holds promise of bright reward and of capacity
to enjoy the glories of that scene. (MacDonald,
W., & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Warren Wiersbe writes that...
Phillips Brooks said, “The great
purpose of life—the shaping of character by truth.” Godly character and
conduct are far more important than golf trophies or home-run records,
though it is possible for a person to have both. Paul challenged Timothy
to be as devoted to godliness as an athlete is to his sport. We are
living and laboring for eternity. (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
SINCE IT HOLDS PROMISE FOR THE
PRESENT LIFE AND ALSO FOR THE LIFE TO COME:
epaggelian echousa (PAPFSN) zoes tes nun kai tes
(Dt 28:1-14; Job 5:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26; Psalms 37:3,4,16, 17,
18, 19, 29; Ps 84:11; Ps
91:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Psalms 112:1, 2, 3; Ps 128:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; Ps 145:19; Pr 3:16,
Eccl 8:12; Is 3:10; 32:17,18; Is 33:16; 65:13,14;
Mt 5:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; 6:33; Mt 19:29; Mk 10:19,20; Lk 12:31; Lk 12:32;
Ro 8:28; 1Co 3:22; 2Pe 1:3,4; 1Jn 2:25; Rev
“Having promise of life, that which
now is, and that which is to come.”
Holds - Is
indicating the promise continues to be good, year in and year
(epaggelia from epí = intensifier or meaning upon +
aggéllo = tell, declare) is a declaration to do something with the
implication of an obligation to carry out what is stated. With the
exception of the use in Acts 23:21, the reference is always to God's
(nun) is a temporal marker designating a point of time, not past
or future, but right now. Literally it is the "now" life.
[word study]) describes the state of one who is possessed of vitality or
is animate. In the Greek writings of Homer
zoe meant ‘living’ referring
to ‘substance or property’, without which there would not be life. After
Homer it means existence as opposed to death. Note that
refers to the higher principle of life in contrast to the Greek word
bios which refers to the means of life or to that which sustains and
supports life here.
assures one of real life both here and hereafter.
Life in its truest and best
sense now and hereafter (2Ti 1:1-note).
Length of life now so far as it is really good for the believer;
life in its truest enjoyments and employments now, and life
blessed and eternal hereafter (Mt 6:33; Mk 10:29, 30).
advantage of godliness is that it has attached to it the "promise
for...life" on this present earthly existence and in our coming
oneself for godliness is indeed worthy of all our effort for...
by taking care of today we provide
for tomorrow—or at least prepare for it. The call of Scripture is
“Today, if you will hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts as when
they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness.” (He 3:7,
The children of Israel miserably failed and wandered about in the
wilderness for forty years because they failed to daily take care
of their hearts so that they could keep their eyes on the Lord and
trust in Him. The trials they faced were opportunities for growth and
the glory of God, but because they failed to daily discipline their
lives for godliness, they spent their lives going in circles in the
wilderness (cf. 1Ti 4:7b). (J.
Hampton Keathley, III - The Seven Laws of the Harvest -
Recommended Reading!) (Bolding added)
War Cry magazine reminds us of an important principle
A loose wire give out no
musical note; but fasten the ends, and the piano, the harp, or violin
is born. Free steam drives no machine, but hamper and confine it with
piston and turbine and you have the great world of machinery made
possible. The unhampered river drives no dynamos, but dam it up and we
get power sufficient to light a great city. So our lives must be
disciplined if we are to be of any real service in this world.
control the length of our life,
but we can control its width and depth.
control the contour of our countenance,
but we can control its expression.
control the other person’s annoying habits,
but we can do something about our own.
control the distance our head is above the ground,
but we can control the height of the contents we feed into it.
us do something about what we can control
and leave all else in the hands of God!
Lawrence - Life’s Choices, Multnomah Press)
The Scriptures are
replete with the benefits of godliness...
Psalm 37:3-4, 16-19, 29
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart...
Better is the little of the righteous
Than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked will be broken;
But the LORD sustains the righteous.
The LORD knows the days of the blameless
And their inheritance will be forever.
They will not be ashamed in the time of evil
And in the days of famine they will have abundance...
The righteous will inherit the land
And dwell in it forever.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
Do not be wise in your own eyes.
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.
Psalm 128:1 (A Song of Ascents.)
How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
Who walks in His ways.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
Say to the righteous that it will go well with them,
For they will eat the fruit of their actions.
And the work of righteousness will be peace,
And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.
explains the significance of this promise of life noting that...
Here is no guarantee for the worldly
prosperity of the godly. But it does make for "a true well-being in this
life and obtains life's real good, since it places man in right
relations to God and the world, and fits him for the true enjoyment of
all earthly good" (Harvey). It also insures the highest well-being in
the life to come. "The pursuit of piety is not hampered by the
interposition of death. This great change only bestows upon it its
ultimate and perfect reward" (Lilley). (Ibid)
W E Vine
explains that godliness...
has promise of this life
because it brings the highest present happiness; the one who exercises
himself in godliness enjoys communion with God, and goes from strength
to strength. He learns to know his God, and this knowledge brings to him
the divine power which has granted him “all things that pertain to
life and godliness” (2Peter 1:3-note).
His life becomes filled with Christ and, Christ is magnified in his
body. That is how godliness is profitable in this life.
For this very reason it is also profitable for the life
that is to come. For the believer who so lives here will have the
greater capacity to serve the Lord in His eternal kingdom hereafter (Ed
note: not all commentaries agree with this statement, although it
certainly is a possibility that cannot be excluded). If we only realized
this more we should devote ourselves more strenuously to be godly now,
making it our highest aim, our great ambition, to be well pleasing to
Him. Could we but actually see what is wrapped up in those words “having
promise of that [life] which is to come,” we should certainly keep
before us the prize of our calling in Christ, and determinedly abandon
everything that is inconsistent with His will." (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
To come (3195)
(mello) means to take place at a future point of time, or a time
yet in the future or yet to come.
Although Paul is
clearly contrasting spiritual “exercise” with the bodily exercise, he
does not condemn physical exercise but only emphasizes that spiritual
discipline pays dividends in this life and in the life to come. In
essence Paul was saying something like...
"Timothy, there’s nothing wrong
with going to the gymnasium in Ephesus (they had an incredible
and working out every day. But please put as much discipline into your
spiritual life as you do your physical life. It will produce more
Jesus said, "Truly I say to you,
there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or
father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, 30
but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present
age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and
farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal
life. (Mark 10:29-30 )
Marvin Reid comments...
Just how godliness entails the
promise of life is not exactly clear. The statement may mean that the
Spirit-lead motivation which leads one to pursue godliness results in
experiencing life as God intends, both for the present and the future.
Theologically, the expression reflects the eschatological orientation of
Christian experience by drawing a distinction between the present and
the future. In the earliest Christian communities, some stress existed
over the question of Christ's return. The Pastoral Epistles reveal that
the church at Ephesus approached a critical juncture with the escalation
of theological heresy and libertinism. 1 Tim. 4:7 offers an
encouragement for godliness to Timothy as a pastoral leader in this
historical context. (An
Exegesis of I Timothy 4:6–16)
Wise Buy - I read with
interest the newspaper ad about a thermostat that automatically adjusts
the temperature of a house to the appropriate level, day or night. If
what the ad claims is true, the thermostat will pay for itself in energy
savings within 1 year. When I multiply that savings by the projected
life of the unit, it is obviously to my advantage to buy it. Yet
interestingly enough, I find that I'm hesitant to spend the money today
to purchase the unit. But why, if it is such a value?
This question has a spiritual counterpart. I find that at times I can be
slow to expend the faith needed to make wise long-range spiritual
investments. Even though I know God stands behind every claim He makes,
my reluctance to trust Him reveals how self-centered I can be.
Because even believers in Christ can become spiritually shortsighted and
unwilling to pay the price of commitment to the Lord, Paul reminded
Timothy to make every effort to be an example to the believers "in word,
in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1Ti 4:12). That
requires effort and discipline, but the apostle was convinced that
anyone who chooses to invest in godliness will find that his decision
more than pays for itself both in this life and in the life to come (1Ti
4:8). — Mart De Haan
What holds me back? Some earthly tie?
A thirst for gain?
A strange entanglement with life? A pleasure vain?
Dear Lord, I cast it all aside so willingly;
The path of true discipleship I'll walk with Thee. —Adams
Following Jesus costs more than anything —
except not following Him.
><> ><> ><>
In Our Daily
Walk, F B Meyer writes the following devotional on 1 Timothy
4:7-8 entitled "Spiritual Gymnastics"...
THE RELATION of the body to religion
has always engaged the attention of thoughtful religious men. Human
opinion has oscillated between two extremes. On the one hand, some have
considered that the body was the seat of sin, and have set themselves to
degrade and debase it with every indignity and torture. This conception
has influenced devoutly-intentioned people in the East, and also in
Western monasticism. But sin must be dealt with in the heart and soul,
where it has its inception and spring. It is easy to macerate the body,
whilst the pride of self-mortification is undetected. If we deal with
bad thought and evil suggestion, we shall not have so much trouble with
the body, which is only the dial-plate, registering the workings within.
The other extreme was represented in the Greek religion. The temples
that stand in ruins: the superb works of art which have survived the
wreck of centuries; its poetry and literature, sustain and illustrate
the supreme devotion of the Greek mind to beauty. The Christian position
differs from both. To us the body is the temple, the instrument, the
weapon of the soul. The Holy Spirit quickens our mortal body by His
indwelling, and in the faces and lives of holy men and women we may
trace the growing results of the inward power and beauty of pure and
undefiled religion. It is good to care for the body, but only as we
should care for a complex and fine piece of machinery which is to serve
us. There are gifts in us, which we must not neglect, or it will go hard
with us when we meet our Master, who entrusted them to our stewardship.
Probably the trials and temptations of life are intended to give us that
inward training which shall bring our spiritual muscles into play. In
each of us there is much unused force; many moral and spiritual
faculties, which would never be used, if it were not for the wrestling
which we are compelled to take up with principalities and powers, with
difficulty and sorrow. The Apostle bids us take heed to ourselves, and
to live in the atmosphere of uplifting thought and of self-denying
ministry (1Ti4:13, 14, 15).
PRAYER - Mould us, O God, into forms of beauty and usefulness by the
wheel of Thy providence, and by the touch of Thy hand. Fulfil Thine
ideal, and conform us to the image of Thy Son. AMEN.
><> ><> ><>
What does it mean to discipline
ourselves? How does one do this? Here is an answer from the Biblical
I. THE NATURE OF THE DUTY WHICH
THE TEXT RECOMMENDS.
1. This duty includes a strict and
impartial inquiry into our own hearts, as to what may be therein likely
to prevent our advancement in godliness.
2. This duty requires an habitual
attention to the duties of the closet.
3. This duty involves the exercise of
much holy watchfulness and care in the ordinary pursuits of business, so
that they may not be permitted to take away the heart.
4. This duty will call for occasional
communion with our Christian friends.
5. This duty requires an earnest
solicitude for the right improvement of our respective trials.
6. This duty demands of us a careful
avoidance of such companions, conversation, and pursuits, as we have
found in time past to be injurious to the advancement of personal piety.
II. THE MOTIVES WHICH SHOULD
INDUCE US TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THIS DUTY.
1. We shall do well to remember that
no great advancement will be made in godliness without this exercise.
2. Let us seriously consider that our
progress in true godliness will make ample amends for whatever
difficulties we may have to encounter in its attainment.
3. There is much reason to believe
that this exercise unto godliness will never be sincerely made in vain.
4. It is of importance to consider
that unless we exercise ourselves unto godliness, so far from making
further advances in the Divine life, we shall go backward, not forward.
5. It is worthy of our serious
regard, that so far as we feel an unwillingness to exercise ourselves
unto godliness, we give affecting proof of the want of a principle of
godliness in our hearts. (Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
><> ><> ><>
Bishop Stevens writes on "The law
of spiritual growth"
The man who is content to pass along
with an aimless existence; or, only seeking daily supplies for daily
needs, never looking hopefully into the future, and never seeking to
excel; does injustice to his higher nature, and grovels on a plane but
little elevated above the demands of animal existence. No aim can so
call out all the powers of the human mind, and soul, as the aim after
God-likeness. For what is godliness? Is it not God-likeness? a seeking
to be like God? Yet the question at once arises, How can man be like
God? God is infinite, man is finite. Yet with all this disparity, the
Bible exhorts us to set the Lord always before us, and to grow up into
His likeness. What may be termed the physical attributes of God, those
which pertain to Him as Maker of all things, Ruler over suns and
systems, the Upholder of the universe; these man can neither comprehend
nor copy, they are beyond his reach. It is God’s moral qualities that we
are to copy and emulate. All of God’s moral attributes are comprised in
His holiness. For holiness is moral perfection. As applied to God, it
means that wholeness and completeness of the Divine nature, from which
nothing can be taken, to which nothing can be added. It includes,
therefore, truth, love, mercy, goodness, and the like; because the
absence of either would mar the wholeness and completeness of the Divine
character. The presence of every virtue is needed to make complete the
full circle of holiness, and they are all found in perfect fulness in
God. The man, then, who sets before him. self the aim to be God-like,
places above him the grandest aim that a created mind can reach after.
Godliness, then, as spoken of in the text, is only another name for
holiness in action, i.e., practical piety. But you may say this holiness
or godliness is not attainable.
It is not to the full extent of the
original which you are told to copy, because there are two elements in
God’s holiness which can never exist in man so long as he tabernacles in
the flesh — the complete absence of sin, and the presence in full
perfection of every virtue. The result of this godliness will show
itself in a variety of ways. It will give a man the victory over
himself. The cultivation of this holiness will enable a man to overcome
the world. This godliness, so grand in itself, and in its results, can
be secured only by exercising ourselves to attain it. It does not come
of itself, nor by retired meditation, nor by earnest prayer, nor by
diligent reading of God’s Word. All these things are aids and adjuncts,
but none of them, nor all combined, will give us godliness. It is the
result of moral principles put into active exercise; and demands the
full bent, and strenuous exertion of the mind. There is much meaning in
the original word which the apostle here uses, and which is translated
“exercise.” The literal rendering is — Be gymnasts in godliness. The
idea, then, of the apostle is, that in order to attain unto godliness,
we must be moral gymnasts, willing to use as severe discipline; to
undergo as painful privations; to bear as torturing an exercise of flesh
and blood; as the gymnast did, who trained himself to win the wreath of
ivy at the Isthmian festival, or the garland of wild olives which
crowned the conqueror at Olympia. And why should we not: The aims are
infinitely higher, and the rewards are infinitely greater. The arena in
which we are to perform this exercise is in the Church of God. Thus true
religion is a very personal and practical thing. Personal; because it is
thyself that is to do the exercise; it is an individual act, and no
amount of exercise done by those around you in the same family, the same
Church, can avail to your benefit. It is thyself that must be the moral
gymnast in this spiritual conflict. And it is practical; because the
things in which we are to exercise ourselves unto godliness are all
around our daily life. And to this repressive work, which demands
constant exercise, there is to be added an aggressive work; a watching
of opportunities for good, a going out into the field of active
Christian exertion. Moral powers, like the muscles of the body, are
developed by exercise. The unused arm shrivels up; the unused hand loses
its cunning; the unused brain loses its force. Our moral character is a
thing of growth, and of slow growth; first the blade, then the ear,
after that the full corn in the ear. Character is principle put into
practice and developed under trial. (Bishop Stevens.)
><> ><> ><>
Dr. Beattie on The advantages of
1. “Godliness is profitable,” as it
tends greatly to alleviate the sorrows of life.
2. Godliness is profitable because it
imparts sweetness to the enjoyments and an additional relish to the
pleasures of life. It is a libel on piety, to represent it as something
gloomy and morose.
3. “Godliness,” because it confers
upon its possessors pleasures peculiarly its own, “is profitable.”
4. Godliness is profitable, as it
disarms death of its terrors and the grave of its gloom.
5. “Godliness is profitable,” for it
prepares its possessor for eternal glory.
><> ><> ><>
C H Spurgeon on The profit
of godliness in this life: (full sermon
Profit of Godliness in this Life)
With regard to this life, let it be
remarked that the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ neither undervalues
nor overvalues this present life. It does not sneer at this life as
though it were nothing; on the contrary, it ennobles it, and shows the
relation which it has to the higher and eternal life.
There are many who undervalue this
life; let me mention some of them to you. Those undervalue it who
sacrifice it to indulge their passions or to gratify their appetites.
Too many for the sake of momentary gratifications have shortened their
lives, and rendered their latter end bitterly painful to themselves.
Some evidently undervalue their
lives, because they make them wretched through envy. Others are richer
than they are, and they think it a miserable thing to be alive at all
while others possess more of this world’s goods than they. Oh poison not
life by envy of others, for if you do so you miserably undervalue it!
The slaves of avarice undervalue their lives, for they do not care to
make life happy, but pinch themselves in order to accumulate wealth. The
miser who starves himself in order that he may fill his bags may well be
reasons with in this way: “Is not the life more than the meat, and the
body than raiment? So also do they undervalue it who in foolhardiness
are ready to throw it away on the slightest pretext. He that for his
country’s sake, or for the love of his fellow-creatures, risks life and
loses it, truly deserves to be called a hero; but he who, to provoke
laughter and to win the applause of fools, will venture limb and life
without need is but a fool himself, and deserves no praise whatever.
Yet there can be such a thing as
overvaluing this life, and multitudes have fallen into that error. Those
overvalue it who prefer it to eternal life. Why, it is but as a drop
compared with the ocean, if you measure time with eternity. They
overvalue this life who consider it to be a better thing than Divine
love, for the love of God is better than life. Some would give anything
for their lives, but they would give nothing for God’s love. It appears
from the text that godliness influences this present life, puts it in
its true position, and becomes profitable to it.
I. First, let me observe that
GODLINESS CHANGES THE TENURE OF THE LIFE THAT NOW IS.
It hath “the promise of the life that
now is.” I want you to mark the word — “it hath the promise of the life
that now is.” An ungodly man lives, but; how?
He lives in a very different respect
from a godly man. Sit down in the cell of Newgate with a man condemned
to die. That man lives, but he is reckoned dead in law. He has been
condemned. If he is now enjoying a reprieve, yet he holds his life at
another’s pleasure, and soon he must surrender it to the demands of
justice. I, sitting by the side of him, breathing the same air, and
enjoying what in many respects is only the selfsame life, yet live in a
totally different sense. I have not forfeited my life to the law, I
enjoy it, as far as the law is concerned, as my own proper right: the
law protects my life, though it destroys his life.
The ungodly man is condemned already,
condemned to die, for the wages of sin is death; and his whole life here
is nothing but a reprieve granted by the longsuffering of God.
But a Christian man is pardoned and
absolved; he owes not his life now to penal justice; when death comes to
him it will not be at all in the sense of an infliction of a punishment;
it will not be death, it will be the transfer of his spirit to a better
state, the slumbering of his body for a little while in its proper couch
to be awakened in a nobler likeness by the trump of the archangel.
Now, is not life itself changed when
held on so different a tenure?
“Godliness hath the promise of the
life that now is.”
That word changes the tenure of our
present life in this respect, that it removes in a sense the uncertainty
of it. God hath given to none of you unconverted ones any promise of the
life that now is. You are like squatters on a common, who pitch their
tents, and by the sufferance of the lord of the manor may remain there
for awhile, but at a moment’s notice you must up tents and away.
But the Christian hath the promise
of the life that now is; that is to say, he has the freehold of it;
it is life given to him of God, and he really enjoys it, and has an
absolute certainty about it; in fact, the life that now is has become to
the Christian a foretaste of the life to come.
The tenure is very different between
the uncertainty of the ungodly who has no rights and no legal titles,
and the blessed certainty of the child of God who lives by promise.
Let me add that this word seems to me
to sweeten the whole of human life to the man that hath it.
Godliness hath the promise of life
that now is; that is to say, everything that comes to a godly man comes
to him by promise, whereas if the ungodly man hath any blessing
apparent, it does not come by promise, it comes overshadowed by a
terrible guilt which curses his very blessings, and makes the
responsibilities of his wealth and of his health and position redound to
his own destruction, working as a savour of death unto death through his
wilful disobedience. There is a vast difference between having the life
that now is and having the promise of the life that now is — having
God’s promise about it to make it all gracious, to make it all certain,
and to make it all blessed as a token of love from God.
II. THE BENEFIT WHICH GODLINESS
BESTOWS IN THIS LIFE.
Perhaps the fulness of the text is
the fact that the highest blessedness of life, is secured to us by
godliness. Under ordinary circumstances it is true that godliness wears
a propitious ( favorably disposed) face both towards health and wealth
and name, and he who has respect to these things shall not find himself,
as a rule, injured in the pursuit of them by his godliness; but still I
disdain altogether the idea that all these three things together, are or
even make up a part of the promise of the life that now is. I believe
some persons have the life that now is in its fulness, and the promise
of it in its richest fulfilment, who have neither wealth, health, nor
fame; for being blessed with the suffering Master’s smile and presence,
they are happier far than those who roll in wealth, who luxuriate in
fame, and have all the rich blessings which health includes.
Let me now show you what I think is
the promise of the life that now is.
I believe it to be an inward
happiness, which is altogether independent of outward circumstances,
which is something richer than wealth, fairer than health, and more
substantial than fame. This secret of the Lord, this deep delight, this
calm repose, godliness always brings in proportion as it reigns in the
Let us try and show that this is even
A godly man, is one who is at one
with his Maker.
1. It must always be right with
the creature when it is at one with the Creator.
But when godliness puts our will into
conformity with the Divine will, the more fully it does so, the more
certainly it secures to us happiness even in the life that now is. I am
not happy necessarily because I am in health, but I am happy if I am
content to be out of health when God wills it. I am not happy because I
am wealthy, but I am happy if it pleases me to be poor because it
pleases God I should be.
2. The Christian man starting in
life as such is best accoutred (outfitted, furnished) for this life.
He is like a vessel fittingly stored
for all the storms and contrary currents that may await it. The
Christian is like a soldier, who must fain go to battle, but he is
protected by the best armour that can be procured.
3. With a Christian all things
that happen to him work for good.
Is not this a rich part of the
promise of the life that now is? What if the waves roar against him,
they speed his bark towards the haven?
4. The Christian enjoys his God
under all circumstances.
That, again, is the promise of the
life that now is.
5. I am sure you will agree with
me that the genuine possessor of godliness has the promise of the life
that now is in his freedom from many of those cares and fears which rob
life of all its lustre.
The man without godliness is weighted
with the care of every day, and of all the days that are to come, the
dread remembrance of the past, and the terror of the future as well.
6. And as he is thus free from
care, so is he free from the fear of men.
7. Moreover, the fear of death has
gone from the Christian.
This with many deprives the life that
now is of everything that is happy and consoling.
Another application of the text is
this. There is a bearing of it upon the sinner. It is quite certain,
O ungodly man, that the promise of the life that now is belongs only to
those who are godly. Are you content to miss the cream of this life? I
pray you, if you will not think of the life to come, at least think of
this. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
><> ><> ><>
C H Spurgeon on The profit
of godliness in the life to come (Full sermon
Profit of Godliness in Life to Come):
There is another life beyond this
fleeting existence. This fact was dimly guessed by heathens. What was
thus surmised by the great thinkers of antiquity, has been brought to
light in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I. GODLINESS CONCERNING THE LIFE
TO COME POSSESSES A PROMISE UNIQUE AND UNRIVALLED.
1. I say a unique promise, for,
observe, infidelity makes no promise of a life to come. It is the
express business of infidelity to deny that there is such a life, and to
blot out all the comfort which can be promised concerning it. Man is
like a prisoner shut up in his cell, a cell all dark and cheerless save
that there is a window through which he can gaze upon a glorious
2. No system based upon human merit ever gives its votaries (devoted
admirers) a promise of the life to come, which they can really grasp and
be assured of. No self righteous man will venture to speak of the
assurance of faith; in fact, he denounces it as presumption.
Godliness hath a monopoly of heavenly
promise as to the blessed future. There is nothing else beneath high
heaven to which any such promise has ever been given by God, or of which
any such promise can be supposed.
Look at vice, for instance, with its
pretended pleasures — what does it offer you?
And it is equally certain that no
promise of the life that is to come is given to wealth. Nay, ye may
grasp the Indies if ye will; ye may seek to compass within your estates
all the lands that ye can see far and wide, but ye shall be none the
nearer to heaven when ye have reached the climax of your avarice.
There is no promise of the life that
is to come in the pursuits of usury and covetousness.
Nor is there any such promise to
personal accomplishments and beauty. How many live for that poor bodily
form of theirs which so soon must moulder (slowly decay) back to the
Nor even to higher accomplishments
than these is there given any promise of the life to come. For instance,
the attainment of learning, or the possession of that which often stands
men in as good stead as learning, namely, cleverness, brings therewith
no promise of future bliss.
“Godliness hath the promise of the
life that now is, and of that which is to come,” but to nothing else
anywhere, search for it high or low, on earth or sea, to nothing else is
the promise given save to godliness alone.
II. I pass on to notice, in the
second place, that THE PROMISE GIVEN TO GODLINESS IS AS COMPREHENSIVE AS
IT IS UNIQUE.
In the moment of death the Christian
will begin to enjoy this eternal life in the form of wonderful felicity
in the company of Christ, in the presence of God, in the society of
disembodied spirits and holy angels.
III. I have shown you that the
promise appended to godliness is unique and comprehensive, and now
observe that IT IS SURE.
“Godliness hath promise”; that is to
say, it hath God’s promise. Now, God’s promise is firmer than the hills.
He is God, and cannot lie. He will never retract the promise, nor will
He leave it unfulfilled. He was too wise to give a rash promise: he is
too powerful to be unable to fulfil it.
IV. This promise IS A PRESENT
You should notice the participle,
“having promise.” It does not say that godliness after awhile will get
the promise, but godliness has promise now at this very moment. When we
get a man’s promise in whom we trust, we feel quite easy about the
matter under concern. A note of hand from many a firm in the city of
London would pass current for gold any day in the week; and surely when
God gives the promise, it is safe and right for us to accept it as if it
were the fulfilment itself, for it is quite as sure.
You cannot enjoy heaven, for you are
not there, but you can enjoy the promise of it. Many a dear child, if it
has a promise of a treat in a week’s time, will go skipping among its
little companions as merry as a lark about it. When the crusaders first
came in sight of Jerusalem, though they had a hard battle before them
ere they could win it, yet they fell down in ecstasy at the sight of the
holy city. When the brave soldiers, of whom Xenophon tells us, came at
last in sight of the sea, from which they had been so long separated,
they cried out, “Thallasse! Thallasse!” — “The sea! the sea!” and we,
though death appears between us and the better land, can yet look beyond
V. This promise which is appended
to godliness is A VERY NEEDFUL ONE.
It is a very needful one, for ah! if
I have no promise of the life that is to come, where am I? and where
shall I be?
Oh! how much I want the promise of
the life to come, for if I have not that I have a curse for the life to
come. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
for free. It is an
easy to install and simple to use Bible Verse pop up tool that allows
you to read cross references
in context and in the
Version you prefer. Only the KJV is free with this download
but you can also download a free copy of
which in turn offers
that work with
including the excellent, literal translation, the English Standard
Version (ESV). Other popular versions are available for
purchase. When you hold the mouse pointer over a Scripture reference
anywhere on the Web (as well as offline in Word for Windows, email,
etc) the passage pops up immediately.
can be disabled if
the popups become distractive. This utility really does work and makes
it easy to read the actual passage in context and not just the chapter
and verse reference.