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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - The Meaning Of Godliness

Tony Evans - The Meaning Of Godliness

Tony Evans - The Meaning Of Godliness
Tony Evans - The Meaning Of Godliness
TOPICS: Godliness, In Pursuit of Godliness

I wanna talk to you about godliness, and I would like to suggest to you that is our assignment. That if you are here today and you have been redeemed, saved, you've been saved for the purposes of becoming godly. We stay busy as people and as ministries doing a lot of things often not tied to the assignment. Good things, even, but wind up with a failing grade when it comes to what the assignment is. Let me tell you about this assignment, because when you first hear it, you may say, okay, yeah, that's the Christian thing, but this is assignment is very important, because 1 Timothy chapter 4, verse 8 says, "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 the life to come".

He says, this assignment, this thing called godliness is not only good for the sweet by and by, it is good for the nasty here and now. He says, for this life and the life to come, because every Christian has two lives, the life you now live and the life you will live. He says, "Godliness is profitable," beneficial, "for this life and the life to come". So, whatever this thing is called godliness, you want it because it has a profit motive to it. He said, it is profitable.

Now, let me tell you what godliness is not before I tell you what godliness is, because that will help you to better understand what it is when you know what it ain't. In 2 Timothy chapter 3, verse 5, we read these words, he says, "Holding a form of godliness, although they deny its power, avoid such men as these". He talks about a form of godliness, something that looks like it, but is not it. The Greek word for form is the word that means shape, or silhouette, or appearance, or shadow, or outline. When you see the shadow of a person, you see their outline without their substance. In other words, the shadow of a person is not the substance of the person, it's just the outline of the person. That's the word for form. You can look godly and there be no substance. You can have the appearance of godliness and there be no reality. You can look the part.

How do you know if you're looking the part versus having the part? He says, "Having the form of godliness, but denying the power". He says, you know it's not godly when there's no power attached to it, because true godliness has power connected to it. This form of godliness you know as religion. Religion gives the impression of something related to God that's real. I mean, you can look religious, you can wear religious clothes, you can use religious vocabulary, you can speak Christianese, you can carry a religious book, the Bible, you can hang out with religious people and there be no power. Many of us knows what it is to go to church for years and not be changed, to be in the vicinity of God and I'm no better for it 'cause I was in the form, and I was at the location, but I was missing the power.

Going to church in and of itself will not have the power to make you more godly like going into a garage will not have the power to turn you into a car. The location in and of itself is not sufficient for the purpose. Godliness is to be associated with power like when Pharaoh's magicians threw down their sticks and they became snakes. It had the form of reality until Moses's snake ate them up, because Moses's snake didn't just have the appearance of a snake, it had power. So, the fact of our godlessness is demonstrated by our lack of power even though we still carry the form. I mean, everything about where you're sitting now fits the form. There are pews here, you know it's a church. There's a cross in front, you know it's a church. There's a pulpit here, there's a preacher here, there's a choir stand here, there have been hymns that are being sung.

If you're looking for form, you've got it. For many people, church is God's donut shop. They want a sweet song, they want a sweet word, they want a sweet atmosphere, only to discover they are no better off having come to the shop because you can have a form of godliness, you can have the look, you can have the paraphernalia of it without its reality and without its power, outline without substance. Ah, but godliness, he says, has power tied to it. So, if you're going through the form and lacking the power, that means we're not yet godly or not yet growing in godliness.

Please, notice in chapter 6 of 1 Timothy, verse 3, "If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sounds words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ and with a doctrine conforming to godliness". He brings up godliness again at the end of verse 5, "Suppose that godliness is a measure of gain". He brings up godliness again in the beginning of verse 6, "But godliness actually is a means of great gain". We're gonna talk about that, we're gonna talk about how to make a profit by being godly. In verse 11 he brings up godliness again, so even in this one chapter we've seen four times already this word godliness. The Greek word theosebeia means reverence towards God.

Here is the definition of godliness, godliness may be defined as a lifestyle that consistently reflects the character of God. Godliness is a lifestyle, it's not an event, it's a way of living, a lifestyle, it's the way you roll, it's how you operate. It is a lifestyle that is consistent with the character of God. Now, watch this. Godliness assumes you agree with something. So, I don't wanna make this assumption, but this assumption is everything. Godliness assumes that you agree and do not disagree with God. Now, that may sound like a simple statement, but it's deeper than it sounds. You can't be godly and disagree with God. If you're disagreeing with God, you cannot be godly, because once you disagree with God, you have made yourself your own idol.

Once you say, "I don't think God's right on this one," you just judged God. And if you judge God, you became god. Another god is an idol, so you just built a monument to yourself when you disagreed with God, which means you cannot become godly. Godliness assumes what the scripture says when it says, "Let God be true, and every man a liar". That when God and I disagree, I'm wrong. When God and my peeps disagree, they're wrong. When God and my professors disagree, they're wrong. When God and the rich folk disagree, they're wrong. One of the things that keep us from godliness is that we keep debating God, which will automatically block any hope of ever becoming godly. You can't be disagreeing with the person you're trying to be like. Godliness is a lifestyle that is consistently reflecting the character of God.

So, before we go any further, you've gotta decide what God says is right, what I think that disagrees with it, how I feel about it, how long I've been dealing with it, what my friends say about it, how I was raised in it is all wrong when it disagrees with God. Unless you start there, the hope of experiencing both the concept and the provision and the power of godliness is lost. That's why he said in verse 3, "The doctrine conforming to godliness," doctrine means teaching. He says, "Timothy, I want you to teach the principles that are related to bringing people into conformity, to likeness, to godliness," because he's already said anything else is a doctrine of demons, chapter 4. 'Cause a lot of folk are being taught by the devil and don't know the devil is their professor. But the devil becomes your professor when the people he uses are getting you to disagree with God.

Godliness means that I am living my life in light of his presence. There is a consciousness of God's presence, and that presence is affecting me. That's why people are not experiencing more of God, because they don't live in his presence, they visit his presence. See, and as long as you're a visitor, you can leave. Where you live is where you hang out. God has visiting hours on Sunday morning for most people. And so, we give God the visiting hours, but we don't live in his presence, and therefore we don't become, we visit him. Holiness, that is this unique recognition of the uniqueness of God, living in light of his presence brings you now on the highway to godliness. Here's the godly person, the godly person is obsessed with God's presence. They're obsessed with pleasing God, because they're ever-conscious of where he is.

I'm gonna tell you where he is in a moment, but they're ever-conscious of where he is, and they have become obsessed with that, consistently evaluating things from his perspective. What does he think about that? How would he feel about that? What would he say about that? That's constantly on their mind, whether they're saying it or not, they're constantly reflecting on him and on his influence on their everyday life. God becomes the sun of their solar system where the planets of all their actions revolve around him.

Now, let me tell you the enemy of godliness. This'll stop godliness in its tracks and also regress you, chapter 2, verse 16 of 2 Timothy says this, "But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness". The enemy of godliness is worldliness. Godliness has an enemy, it's worldliness. He says, "Worldly chatter," worldliness. What does worldliness mean? It's that system, headed by Satan, that leaves God out. Worldliness simply means you leave God out. You don't have to be a criminal to be worldly. All you gotta do is leave God out of the equation and you just became worldly. He says, "Avoid worldly chatter," that is, communication that is void of God's perspective, because to be godly means I am pursuing and proceeding. I'm not trying to mix oil and water, diesel and unleaded, I am seeking to have this consistent experience of God being at work in my life.

When God's people leave God out and still try to suck the air of the world, all you're doing is sucking in more death because you're operating in an environment you were never created for, not once you've been converted, not once you've been redeemed. If you're not a Christian, then you don't have this new environment. If you are a Christian, that is your environment, God is your environment. That's why I'm using the word to become obsessed with God, because it is your new environment, and the reason why we often stay defeated for so long is 'cause we're sucking air in a place we don't belong. It's like the Bible says, "Bad company corrupts good morals". You hang around with the bad people long enough, you gonna become one of the bad people because your environment will suck you in.

So, godliness is this lifestyle that becomes consistent with the character of God, that's what it is. 2 Peter chapter 1, verse 3. 2 Peter 1:3 says, "Seeing that his divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and excellence". Let me read that again, verse 3 of 2 Peter 1, "Seeing that his divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence". Guess what he just told you? Everything you need to be godly, you already have. He says, "Seeing his divine power has given you everything pertaining to life and godliness". Everything you need to become what God wants you to be, you have it already.

When you accepted Jesus Christ, if indeed you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit fertilized your human spirit. The Holy Spirit fertilized your human spirit and quickened you and made you alive. The problem now is your growth cycle, because the job of the devil is to abort the conception. In the same way mothers abort their newly conceived children, Satan seeks to abort the growth of the spiritual life within you so that godliness is never achieved or limitedly achieved or periodically achieved. The more God possesses you... you see, his divine power has given you everything, his divine nature. You have a new nature. Let me use another word, maybe this will help us. God has given you a new appetite. You have a new appetite. Your nature defines your appetite. For example, you don't have to teach pigs to like slop, it's in their nature. They don't have to learn to grow on slop, they gravitate to slop. It's their nature.

You ever see a dog turn and eat its own vomit? That's nasty stuff, except that it's in its nature. That's not something you and I'd do, 'cause that's not natural to us. The new you that is the redeemed you, the saved you, the new nature in you is hungry for God, starving for God, dying for God, 'cause that's the divine nature. Every true believer has divine nature, and that nature is being starved to death 'cause God can't get enough of God. God wants all the God he can get so he can grow God in you, he can grow God in me, but if God doesn't get fed God, we wind up weak because it's his nature in us. So, here we go. Here is my challenge.

Oh, by the way, just so you know, everything you need to become godly, what God wants you to be you already have, and batteries are included. God not only gave you the provision, coming with it is the power to be and to live life in a way that explodes godliness. That's why you know your appetite. One of the ways God confirms your redemption is by giving you a desire for him or making you miserable when you don't have it. One thing about a spiritual Christian, they hurt when God hurts. When they make God sad, they get sad. When they make God smile, they're full of joy, why? 'Cause God and me on the same page. When you lose your appetite, you're sick. You lose your appetite for an extended amount of time, something wrong with you, 'cause that's why the doctor always wanna know, "How's your appetite"? 'Cause your appetite dictates your health.

So, if there's little hunger for God, for his Word, to spend time with him, to include him, if there's little hunger for that, that's 'cause sickness has set in, or maybe you're not alive at all and have never been born again. But here we go, here's what we're gonna do. Here's my challenge to me, to you, and to us. I want you for this year to work on a godliness degree. I just showed you where God says, "The godly person gets great gain". So, if the profit motive is a motivation for you, I want to offer you a doctorate degree in godliness. However, the higher you go in your degree, the more things you gotta move out of the way so you can get it.

You can't carry on the same program and get a degree unless you're gonna take all your life to do it. You got to adjust some things, 'cause the degree is worth staying up all night or to not looking at this TV show or not doing that or skipping that or not partying over here, 'cause I gotta get this degree, I gotta get out of here. In the way of sports language, how bad do you want it? Or do you wanna do like some folk who spend all their lives in school and never wind up with a degree? They just pick a class here and a class there. Here a class, there a class, everywhere a class, class. A little God here, a little God there, here a God, there a God, everywhere a God, God, but they never wind up with paper that's profitable. There's profit to godliness, he says.

God's goal for his people is godliness. Another way of saying it is God-likeness. God wants his people to progressively increase in their character and conduct, attitudes and actions, to reflect who he is and what he is like. At the heart of spiritual growth is that we are becoming more like God in how we function and how we think, because he is rubbing off on us now that he indwells us by his Spirit. So, the question we have to ask in terms of whether we're progressing in our Christian life is, am I being more like God? Are other people seeing me think, function, and act more like God based on his Word because I'm becoming more godly?
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