Godliness: Walking with God


Dan Petty

The word godliness, or piety, occurs relatively few times in the Bible, but the idea is found throughout Scripture. The Bible says that Enoch and Noah “walked with God,” a statement that well expresses the idea of godliness.

Godliness has both an inward and an outward dimension. Outwardly, godliness manifests itself in our conduct. Informed by God’s grace, we learn to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Tit. 2:11-12).

But at its core, godliness is an attitude—a God-ward attitude of love and godly fear. If piety is only outward in character, it can degenerate into an empty “form of godliness” with no real power (2 Tim. 3:5). True godliness will, of course, always manifest itself in conduct that is pure and undefiled, but such outward conduct ultimately issues forth from a heart that is truly directed toward God. Before there can be godliness in our lives, first God must be in our hearts.

How can godliness be nurtured and developed in us? God has provided everything pertaining to life godliness, and we can become partakers of his nature. But diligence is needed (2 Pet. 1:3-5). Meditation on God’s word is essential. “I will meditate on your precepts and regard your ways” (Ps. 119:15). Prayer is essential. It is both our source of strength and closer communion with God, as well as our expression of trust and confidence in him.

As believers, we confess with Paul that the “mystery of godliness” is great. The mystery of godliness is God’s revealed secret which produces in us the life of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16). Godliness is developed when we do all things in such a way as to nurture our faith in God and in the Christ who came in the flesh and was taken up in glory. When we come to believe the gospel message of Jesus and him crucified, we are compelled to turn to him in love and reverence.

What’s in it for me? What is its value? Godliness is described as a means of gain, but not the kind of gain expected from the world’s point of view (1 Tim. 6:6). Though it requires discipline, it is profitable for all things, both in this life and in the life to come (1 Tim. 4:7-10).

The surpassing value of godliness is that we can live our lives in hope. And this is a hope that we cannot enjoy without having a relationship with God. This fact—the fact that this world is temporal and passing away, and that our hope is centered on the living God and the life eternal which only he can give—is why we focus on godliness and holy conduct (2 Pet. 3:11-13). This is why we strive to walk with God.