Female Runner Silhouette, Woman Running into sunset, colorful su
by Brian Shilhavy

Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Physical fitness and training is a huge business in our culture today, as we become a more sedentary population in the age of science and technology. During biblical times, the apostle Paul often referred to athletic events that were a part of the Roman culture and the precursor to today’s Olympic Games:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

Athletes must prepare and implement a specific plan to train physically in order to compete successfully. Likewise today, many of us who lead sedentary lifestyles must make specific plans to stay physically fit through regular exercise, or our health will deteriorate.

But Paul told Timothy that training to be godly was far more beneficial for one’s health than physical training. He stated that physical training was only of some value, whereas godliness has value for all things. Physical training is only good for as long as your body lasts in this life, while godly training has value both in the present life and also in the future life to come. This principle is especially true in our modern society, as we exalt and emphasize the physical realm, and either ignore or deny the spiritual realm altogether.

So what is “godliness?” It is a lifestyle that honors God as the Creator of all things; a lifestyle that is lived out of a correct doctrine of who God is, and who Jesus is. Notice how Paul starts chapter 4 in his first letter to Timothy:

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. (1 Timothy 4:1-7)

So godliness begins with correct thinking; correct teaching that starts with a foundation of understanding that Jesus is our Creator and our redeemer. False teaching begins with the foundation that there is no God, and that life is a part of the evolutionary process. One doctrine leads to godliness and health, the other leads to ungodliness and death.

There are two spiritual kingdoms in the world today: the Kingdom of Light ruled by Jesus in the spiritual realm, and the kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan in the spiritual realm.

We are all members of one kingdom or the other.

The kingdom of darkness in its current modern form is built upon a foundation of evolution that worships science and technology. The Kingdom of God is built upon the firm foundational truths contained in the Scriptures, the ancient writings of the Bible, which teach that God is the Creator of all things, and that Jesus is the mediator between God and man offering eternal salvation through his sacrificial death on the cross.

We enter the Kingdom of God through spiritual rebirth.

Just as it takes discipline to become physically fit, so too it takes discipline to become godly. If you never exercise, you just naturally become flabby and fat without too much effort.

The same is true spiritually. If you don’t make any effort to study God’s word regularly, and spend time with him in prayer regularly, you will just naturally become ungodly without much effort. The result is that you will look just like those walking in the kingdom of darkness.

But if we train ourselves to be godly, we will naturally clash with the kingdom of darkness, and suffer persecution:

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:12-17)

We are very fortunate that we do NOT have to be godly to be loved and accepted by God. He loves us with an unconditional love, simply because he created us and sent Jesus to die for our sins.

But if we want to find purpose and meaning in life, fulfilling God’s specific plan for why he created us, then we need to make a commitment to go into training to become godly people.

It doesn’t happen naturally.

Each day you should take time to spend with God, letting the Holy Spirit direct your thinking into the truths of God’s word, and applying the scriptural principles to your own specific life and situation.

Just as there is pain, suffering and self-denial in training to be an athlete, so too there is pain, suffering, and self-denial in becoming godly. It takes training in faith to go against the crowd that is walking in the darkness, and who will mock you and even attack you for being godly.

But it’s worth it! Have you begun the ultimate training program yet?

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-11)

 

Equipped to Love:
Building Idolatry-free Relationships

Equipped to Love by Norm Wakefield book cover image

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