We often hear, and use, the word, "godliness." But do we really understand what the word means? What is the true meaning of godliness from a Biblical perspective?
We are commanded in scripture to live a life of godliness. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:11, "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." Peter writes in 2 Peter 3:11, "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness." We are urged to pray for others that they might live a godly life. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers...be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." So, godliness is a trait that all Christians should strive for and pray for.
Godliness is from a Greek word meaning, "To be devout," denotes that piety which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him." according to Vine. Let us notice several characteristics of godliness as taught in the Bible.
Godliness is quiet. Paul admonishes Timothy to pray, "For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet...life..." (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Quiet, according to Vine, means, "Tranquil:-quiet."
Godliness is peaceable. Paul urges Timothy to pray "For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness...(1 Timothy 2:1-2). Peaceable comes from a Greek word meaning, "Keeping one's seat (sedentary), that is, (by implication) still (undisturbed, undisturbing):- peaceable, quiet." according to Strong. In Hebrews 12:11, Paul tells us that righteousness is a "peaceable fruit. According to James, wisdom is peaceable, as well as pure, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and hypocrisy (James 3:17).
Godliness is serious. Paul tells Timothy to pray "For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). According to Vine, honesty "Denotes 'gravity, dignified seriousness.'" Paul instructed Titus, "In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity" (Titus 2:7). Each Christian should worship and serve God seriously, and reverently. Christianity is not something to be taken lightly!
Godliness is characterized by good works. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." What a contrast with the way many women behave today! But notice that one professing godliness will "adorn" herself (and himself) with good works. See Ephesians 2:8-10.
Godliness accords with truth. Paul writes Titus 1:1, "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness." What is truth? Jesus says God's word is truth (John 17:17; See also 1Thessalonians 2:13). John writes, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 4). He says we are to love in deed and truth (1 John 3:18). Jesus says that true worshippers worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).
This is by no means all of the characteristics of godliness, but is enough for us to get the idea of what true godliness is. One who is godly will be quiet, peaceable, serious, filled with good works, and walk in truth. One who is godly will be "characterized by a Godward attitude" and do "that which is well-pleasing to Him."
*Meredith, Joel. "Commandments." Meredith's Book Of Lists. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, 1980. Print.