Godliness is a beautiful trait that must be added to our lives (2 Pet. 1:6).
Paul wrote to Timothy: "But have nothing to do with worldly fables only for
old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of
godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is
profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and
also for the life to come" (1 Tim. 4:7-8). In order for godliness to have a
fertile field in which to develop, it is necessary that we keep such things as
would corrupt and uproot the growth of the pure fruit. Thus, Paul tells
Timothy to avoid "worldly fables fit only for old women." Fables, myths, or
tales that are "profane" or "worldly" must be avoided since they are
side-issues and have nothing to do with sound doctrine. Rather, they detract
from the faith.
On the other hand, we must "discipline" ourselves for the purpose of
godliness. The word discipline (gumnazo) is defined "to exercise vigorously,
in any way, either the body or the mind . . . of one who strives earnestly to
become godly, 1 Tim. 4:7" (Thayer, p. 122). We do not have time for fables;
our time is to be consumed in the exercise of self for godliness. The ardent,
strenuous efforts are to be put forth with respect to godly living. The reason
stated is "for bodily discipline is only of little profit." This passage is
usually applied to the taking of physical exercise such as calisthenics, etc.
It is emphasized that there is some profit in physical exercise. It is sad,
though, that it is limited in that it develops only part of a person - the
outer man which, regardless of how much we care for it, will pass away.
However, the context would indicate that the exercise or discipline to which
Paul here referred would be in the realm of following rigid rules regarding
the body that were advocated by the Jewish ascetics. Such things as abstaining
from certain foods and any extreme form of bodily discipline has little
profit, indeed. In Colossians 2:20-23 as Paul discussed some of the Gnostic's
rules about the body, he said that such rules "are of no value against fleshly
indulgence." The point is that there is no particular godliness involved in
following such rules. Godliness does demand that we discipline our bodies to
refrain from that which is sinful (Rom. 8:13,19). The reason is that we might
be servants of righteousness.
But the main point that we want to talk about is the statement in v. 8: "but
godliness is profitable for all things." So we must ask, "What is godliness?"
It is from the word eusebia of which Thayer says, "in the Bible everywhere
piety towards God, godliness" (Thayer, p. 262). This form of the word is found
15 times in the NT and, in the KJV, is translated "godliness" 14 times and
"holiness" once (Acts 3:12). "Eusebia is the right attitude of God and to
things divine, the attitude which does not eliminate God altogether, and which
gives God the place he ought to occupy in the life and in thought and in
devotion . . . eusebia gives God the right place, and worships God in the
right way" (Barclay, New Testament Words, p. 107). Thus, godliness involves
the right attitude of mind toward God and right kind of action toward God and
divine things. It involves believing God (taking him at his word) that leads
to full obedience to him in whatever he requires. This is what Paul says is
profitable! Let us look to see in what ways godliness is profitable for us
I. Godliness Is Profitable For All
1. Godliness is profitable for all races. The gospel is designed to save both
Jews and Greeks (Rom. 1:16). Among the Gentiles it is for the "Greeks and
barbarians, the wise and the foolish" (v. 14). The reason is that "there is no
partiality with God" (2:11). Thus, "God is not one to show partiality, but in
every nation the man who fears him and does what is right, is welcome to him"
(Acts 10:34-35). Thus, when one is baptized into Christ, he becomes a child of
God and the spiritual descendant of Abraham and "there is neither Jew nor
Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26-29). God is totally color
blind as he looks upon his creatures. (We, too, must have this characteristic
of godliness.) The gospel is for all, and godliness is profitable for people
of all nations, races, and colors. In our striving to be like God, we must
seek to carry the Word to peoples of all nations everywhere.
2. Godliness is profitable for all ages. There is no one too young to begin to
learn about God, and there is none too old to be saved.
a. The young need the profit that comes from godliness. "Remember also your
creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years
draw near when you will say, 'I have no delight in them... (Eccl. 12: 1).
Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me;
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matt. 19:14). Thus, there
is some pointed teaching in God's word concerning the conduct of the young.
"Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and
peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart" (2 Tim. 2:22). The
application is to all, but those who are young are especially indicated in
this passage. The young person must "flee youthful lusts" - those desires that
are common to the young person. But it is not all negative; the young person
must avidly pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace from a pure heart. Let
us instruct the young in such areas as this from the time that they can know
what we are talking about.
The great value for godliness in the lives of the young is seen in Ephesians
6:1-3 where Paul pointed out that obedience to parents has a promise attached
to it. That promise is "that it may be well with you, and that you may live
long on the earth" (v. 3). This is quoted from the Lord's requirement of
Deuteronomy 5:16. The wise man indicated the profit of godliness by saying,
"The fear of the Lord prolongs life. But the years of the wicked will be
shortened" (Prov. 10:27). He further said, "The fear of the Lord leads to
life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil" (Prov. 19:23). The
young person who is godly is promised a longer life. He is going to profit in
every way by his godliness. Later in our study we shall observe how we profit
by the living of a godly life. Brethren, let us look to the very fertile
fields of young people as those who will profit by godliness. I feel that so
often we overlook the great work that can be done here. I have found in my
work that the most receptive age group to the gospel is those of college age.
We have had more baptisms from that group than from any other. Our
"Crossroads" brethren have seen the tremendous opportunity among young people
and have concentrated their work in college areas. All of us should learn the
value of the young person to the cause of Christ. What a great and rewarding
work this can be!
b. Godliness is profitable for manhood and womanhood. Godliness brings real
strength to men and women in the promise of life as they face the problems of
work, family, and community relationships. Godliness will make one a better
husband and father (Eph. 5:25 ff.; 6:4). It will make one a better wife and
mother (Eph. 5:21-24; Tit. 2:4-5). It is by godliness that a man and woman
form the closest of all earthly ties - the marriage bond. It is only by
godliness that this bond can be properly maintained. It is by godliness that
we deal properly with others at work and with our neighbors. Truly, godliness
is profitable for men and women in the very throes of life.
c. Godliness is profitable for the elderly. As the years pass and the sight
grows dimmer and the body more frail, it is truly comforting to know that our
God is with us and will sustain us and carry us through to victory. The wise
man says that "the gray head is a crown of glory if it is found in the way of
righteousness" (Prov. 16:31). The key to it all is "if it is found in the way
of righteousness." By our godliness we have a deep fellowship with the Father
and his son (John 14:23). Nothing can be more rewarding to an older person
than knowing "him and the power of his resurrection" (Phil. 3: 10). The
psalmist prayed, "And even when I am old and gray, 0 God, do not forsake me" (Psa.
71:18). God promises, "Even to your old age, I shall be the same, and even to
your graying years I shall bear you up" (Isa. 46:4) Thus, the psalmist can
say, "The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a
cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the
courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age" (Psa. 92:12-14).
How precious to see an older person walking with the Lord with the sweetness
of God's loving kindness reflected in his soul. On the other hand, how sad it
is to see one growing old without the Lord. It is heartbreaking! Godliness is
so profitable for old age. It takes one by the hand to lead him through the
valley of the shadow of death. Godliness is profitable for all ages.
3. Godliness is profitable for people in all financial brackets. In life there
may be a great difference in the financial power of people. But there is a
final leveling power that is coming to all: death. In death the rich man has
no more than the poor man. "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we
cannot take anything out of it either" (1 Tim. 6:7). This reminds us of Job's
statement: "Naked came I out of my mother's womb; naked shall I return
thither." When the gospel addresses a man, it addresses the fact that all are
sinners - rich and poor alike. The gospel has exactly the same demands of the
rich and the poor. Everyone must be saved by faith on the basis of God's
grace. The wealth of a person does nothing to influence God's treatment of
him. All of his benevolent deeds do not buy him any favor with God. James
could say, "But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high
position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation ('on a level with the
poor,' Williams), because like flowering grass he will pass away . . . so too
the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away" (Jas. 1:9-11).
Therefore, none is so rich as not to need godliness; none is too poor not to
be made rich by it. James further said, "Listen, my beloved brethren: did not
God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom
which he promised to those who love him?" (Jas. 2:5).
How does the poor man profit by godliness? James says that he is elevated to a
high position (1:9). That position is seen in Ephesians 2. This chapter shows
that all are dead in trespasses and sins (v. 1). It also shows us the immense
wealth of our God. He is "rich in mercy" (v. 4). He has "surpassing riches of
his grace" (v. 7). In chapter one Paul speaks of "riches of his grace, which
he lavished upon us" (vv. 7-8). When the poor man comes to Christ, he comes to
one who can "supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ
Jesus" (Phil. 4:19). Because of his surpassing riches, God takes the poor man
and saves him by his grace (Eph. 2:4). But he does something else. He has
"raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavenlies in Christ
Jesus" (v. 6). This saved man now has a position of fellowship with Jesus -
seated with him. Truly, he is elevated to a high position.
But how is the rich man brought low? Well, before he can come to God, he must
empty himself of any self-sufficiency. He must humble himself before God,
recognizing that he is nothing and has nothing so far as God is concerned.
Thus, he becomes "poor in spirit" in order that he might enter the kingdom of
God. He is blessed in this humiliation. So, he is to rejoice in his being made
low in order that he, too, might be saved by God's grace and raised up to sit
with Christ in heavenlies. This is the occasion of his rejoicing.
Therefore, to the rich and poor alike Jesus says, "Do not lay up for
yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where
thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or
steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt.
6:19-21). Truly, godliness is profitable for all financial brackets. We all
stand on equal footing as we come before our Lord.
4. Godliness is profitable for people of all educational backgrounds. We must
remember that "the foolishness of God is wiser than men" (1 Cor. 1:25) and
that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written,
'He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness'; and again, 'The Lord
knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless'" (1 Cor. 3:19-20).
God has chosen the simple things so that all can understand his way of grace
and be saved by it. He also has chosen the "foolish" things in order that we
cannot boast of our wisdom and greatness before him. Once again, all men must
humble themselves; they must empty themselves of their worldly wisdom in order
to allow the Lord to save them. Perhaps the reason that many of those with
worldly wisdom never come to the Lord is that they are not willing to cast
aside their human achievements and bow at the cross of Jesus so that they can
be saved by his grace.
II. Godliness Is Profitable In All Ways
1. Godliness is profitable physically. The wise man pointed out the need of
keeping this teaching by saying, "For length of days and years of life, and
peace they will add to you" (Prov. 3:2). Wisdom says, "For by me your days
will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you" (9:11). One way by
which godliness helps to prolong life is that it keeps us from dissipating
morals and habits. Drugs, alcohol and immorality work to destroy the physical
body. Godliness regulates our behavior so that we do not engage in
"sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable
idolatries . . . excess of dissipation" (1 Pet. 4:34). Godliness bids us to
"flee fornication" and youthful lusts." It teaches me that my body is "a
temple of the Holy Spirit" and that I must "glorify God in my body" (1 Cor.
6:18-20). 1 must present my body "as a living sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1). Thus, I
will refrain from habits that are destructive to this body which belongs to
May I make an earnest plea to my brothers who use tobacco? It has been shown
most emphatically that cigarette smoking is linked to lung cancer and heart
disease. With every cigarette you are shortening your life by some fourteen
minutes. Why do that which is taking precious minutes of service to God away
from him? You will agree that suicide is sinful - it destroys God's temple.
But destroying the body by degrees is accomplishing the same thing over a
period of time. If we can do something that will help us have longer time to
serve him, let us do so. Remember, God does not demand anything of us in our
serving him that will destroy our bodies. Godliness truly is profitable.
2. Godliness is profitable mentally. One of the outstanding benefits of
Christ's way is that it demands the use of the mind. He demands that we think,
reason, understand, and believe. He teaches that our thought process controls
our actions (Matt. 15:19-20). The reason so many are bound for Hell is that
they "walk in the futility of their mind, being darkened in the understanding,
excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them,
because of the hardness of their heart" (Eph. 4:17-18). Please observe the
power of the mind in binding man in sin through this negative thinking. On the
other hand the Christian is to program his thinking in a positive way: ". . .
true . . . honorable . . . right . . . pure . . . lovely . . . good repute . .
. let your mind dwell on these things" (Phil. 4:8). This is genuine "positive
thinking" and it leads us to say with Paul, "I can do all things through him
who strengthens me" (v. 13).
The proper use of our minds will lead us to search, to study his word, and to
believe God. The Christian is one so "who by reason of use has his senses
exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14). For this reason "though
our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day" (2
Cor. 4:16). The intellect is a vital part of our service to him because
service demands faith, and faith is a function of the intellect. Our faith
grows by our hearing God's word, and this, too, is a function of the mind.
Therefore, we can say most emphatically that godliness is profitable mentally.
3. Godliness is profitable emotionally. Each one of us from time to time must
face circumstances that tax us emotionally. That such is a national problem is
seen in the large number of counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists who
are constantly busy with emotionally disturbed people. This is not to suggest
that qualified counselors do not serve a vital and needed purpose - they do.
However, Jesus Christ offers to us an emotionally stable form of life.
Godliness offers that which is psychologically sound from every standpoint. It
offers a faith to sustain us. Jesus said to the apostles, "Let not your heart
be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me" (Jn. 14:1). He can help
eliminate the troubled heart that we all have from time to time. I have
sometimes bogged down in the slough of despondency. I have been at that low
point where one feels that the world is against him. I have felt the sorrow of
severed relationships that once were precious. I have cried out in anxiety
because of my own sins. But "thanks be to God for his wonderful gift!" I can
be free from all these fiery darts of Satan. He lifts me up from the pit!
a. Jesus can eliminate the guilty conscience. He urges us to come with
confidence to the throne of mercy that we may find grace to help in time of
need (Heb. 4:14-16). He tells us that the blood of Jesus is constantly there
for the Christian so that as he repents and confesses his sins, he will have a
continuing relationship with the Father (1 John 1:7-9). How precious it is to
know that every sin of our past lives has been hidden in the depth of the sea
of God's forgetfulness. We do not have to lie down on our pillow at night with
the guilt of any sin upon us. We can take all our sins to him and he will
b. Godliness also helps to eliminate worry from our lives. We have, perhaps,
all worried about where the rent or the next bag of groceries would come from.
We have worried about our health. We have worried about our children, and
quite often, about myriads of insignificant things. Paul wrote, "Be anxious
for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses
all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"
(Phil. 4:6-7). As Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount, he said, "Do not be
anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink? or 'With
what shall we clothe ourselves?' (Matt. 6:31) Instead, seek first the kingdom
of God and his righteousness and do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow
will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of itsí own" (v. 34). Only
by a deep, abiding faith in God can we develop this armor against worry. John
wrote, "this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith" (1 John
5:4). Certainly we can say that godliness is profitable emotionally.
c. Above all, we can say that godliness is profitable spiritually. As we have
seen, godliness is profitable because it gives to us a faith to sustain us and
the forgiveness of all sins. Godliness gives to us a God to serve. Jesus said,
"Man should not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of
the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). When man's stomach is filled with food, when
his body is enraptured with pleasure, there is still a longing of soul that
nothing physical can satisfy. As Paul expressed it in our opening text,
godliness "holds promise for the present life." It is promise of the abundant
life of which Jesus spoke, "I came that they might have life, and might have
it abundantly" (John 10:10). You can live an abundant life! But, friend, that
life is only in Jesus Christ.
III. Godliness Is Profitable At All Times
1. Godliness is profitable for the everyday living of this present life. "But
godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present
life and also for the life to come" (1 Tim. 4:8). In writing to the
Philippians, Paul spoke of three great attributes that every Christian ought
to possess: joy, peace, and contentment. He tells us how to have all these
traits. He tells us to "rejoice." But he does not stop there. He tells us of
the only relationship in which we can rejoice - "in the Lord." There can be no
genuine joy elsewhere. Nehemiah expressed it centuries ago when he said, "For
the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10). When we have the joy of the
Lord in our lives, we are strong. Satan cannot rob us of our spirituality when
it is guarded by joy. Just as a husband and wife who are truly happy with each
other will not seek love elsewhere, even so one who knows the joy of Jesus
will not seek the companionship of the devil.
He tells us how to have peace. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by
prayers and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to
God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7). We pray with sincere
faith in Jesus' promises to us. Because we believe him, we believe that he
will hear us. We believe that our sins are forgiven. We believe that he will
never leave us nor forsake us so that we can confidently say, "The Lord is my
helper, I will not be afraid" (Heb. 13:5-6). In godliness we have "peace like
Paul tells us how to have contentment. He said, "For I have learned to be
content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in
prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being
filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need" (Phil.
4:1112). What was the secret that Paul had learned? "I can do all things
through him who strengthens me" (v. 13). He had contentment through Jesus
because he knew that "my God shall supply all your needs according to his
riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (v. 19). He knew that "if God be for us, who
can be against us?", and that all things work together for good to those who
love God" (Rom. 8). Godliness brings joy, peace, and contentment into our
lives. It is profitable for this present life.
2. Godliness is profitable for the life which is to come. It is only by
godliness that I can be with God eternally. He has made it possible by his
grace for me to have a right standing with him. I have the responsibility of
maintaining that right standing by walking in the light and allowing the blood
of Jesus to cleanse me of my sins. This "walking in the light" can be equated
with godliness - the right attitude to God and to things divine. By God's love
and power, I can have eternal fellowship with him in Heaven. Peter describes
our new dwelling place in 2 Peter 3:11-13. He shows that this present world is
to be destroyed. Since it is to be destroyed, "what sort of people ought you
to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of
the day of God?" Please observe the demand for holy conduct and godliness on
our part. By this kind of living in fellowship with him "according to his
promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness
dwells." Our new dwelling place beyond this earth is "an inheritance which is
imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to
be revealed in the last time" (1 Pet. 1:4-5). Therefore, godliness- will carry
us through life and will help see us through the valley of the shadow of
death. God will lead us safely through to the other side where we can hymn his
praises forever while eternity rolls on and on.
After Paul had spoken of the need of godliness and that it is profitable in
all ways, he said, "It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance"
(1 Tim. 4:9). Let us rely on it; let us live by it. We will have a better life
now and eternal life with Jesus in the new heavens and new earth. Our prayer
is that the Father will grant us to live in all godliness before him all the
days of our lives.
Forrest D. Moyer, 1988
By Forrest D. Moyer
From Expository Files 20.5; May 2013