We live at a time when God’s name and the mention of God has become a distinct no-no. Anything to do with God is politically incorrect, unacceptable and impermissible. Because of our doctrine, the practice of our true faith will set us apart from society in general and lead us into godliness (Titus 1:1). God’s people will increasingly come under scrutiny as their deeds more and more are deemed to be dangerous and injurious to society in general. Those who live Godly and Christian lives will come to be thought of as enemies of the state and subject to the most severe penalties.
Surprisingly, those in the world – “so called Christians” – will not experience the same difficulties in the practice of their religion. They will be able to go about celebrating Christmas, Easter and the weekly Lord’s Day without being singled out for persecution. Observing the Sabbath and Holy Days will not be permitted. Preaching the Gospel and teaching from the Bible will be against the law. Openly living Christian lives will put true believers in jeopardy of death. It should not surprise us—Jesus gave us ample warning.
“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time comes, that whosoever kills you will think that he is doing God a service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” (John 16:1-3)
Today, we blend into society fairly well. Sure we get a lot of “Merry Christmas,” greetings by well meaning folks. But that is because we have not yet been singled out and subjected to public ridicule. However, the day will come sooner than we expect when our friends and neighbors will turn on us in a vengeance. They will be convinced that it is we who have betrayed our friendship and their trust. They will be hurt deeply—intensely enough that they will turn on us in rage and kill some of us.
Why? Why will they do that to us? Jesus says it is because they have not known God the Father. And, He says it is because they also do not know Him, the true Jesus Christ. Oh, they know that He was a baby in a manger, that He walked on water, and that He was crucified. They even claim to believe in a resurrection. They know that there was an historical Jesus. But they know next to nothing about who He was, what He believed and stood for, and that He was obedient to His Father in heaven. His principles, His character, His faith, and His love are not understood or believed by this present evil world. Being like Jesus Christ—having Him live in us to the extent that we begin to resemble Him in every way—that is Christianity. And being Christians is the way to putting on Godliness.
“Jesus said, … he that has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
Brethren, how well are we able to distinguish between the God we know and serve – and the “God” that we hear about all the time in public? It is crucial that we understand the difference. The “God” that this world recognizes is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—he is not our “God.” The really important thing is that we know whom we serve. How well do we know God the Father and Jesus Christ (John 16:3)? We certainly commit a grave error if we believe that we know all there is to know about God.
In today’s sermon we will examine the concept of “Godliness,” and how we can go about knowing God better than we do. We would be foolish to compare ourselves to this present evil world and conclude that we are doing so much better than they are and that we’ve got it made. God is holier than we can possibly imagine—He is by far and above, the holiest (Matthew 6:9).
Holiest ('hagiazo')—means that God is in a consecrated class, set apart, and set far above everything else. God is holy or holiness personified. Paul could not even find the words to describe just how holy or how set apart God is:
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33)
For us, Godliness means being like God – as much as that is humanly possible in the flesh – aided by God's Holy Spirit helping us. Peter put it this way:
"As He [God the Father] who has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [and conduct]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1Peter 1:15-16)