“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. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.” (1 Timothy 4:8-9)
I felt a strong conviction earlier this week while at the gym. The verse above was in a section of reading that Makinze and I were in over the weekend. It came to mind at the gym and I thought to myself, “I have had a steady workout plan in place for over ten years, but some days I do not spend as much time or effort training myself in godliness.” Endless hours have been spent in the gym, while I can easily become lazy in my pursuit of becoming godly.
I would dare to guess that I am not the only one who feels this way. Godliness is a foreign word in the Church today. Why is that? If Paul says that physical training is good, but training in godliness is better, why do we spend thousands of dollars on the gym memberships without spending a dime on our godliness? Let’s face it: we spend more time shopping for the matching shoes, tank tops, shorts, or leggings than we do even thinking about our godly character. We would be wise to change our priorities!
I want you to realize Paul’s tone in our verses above. When Paul says, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance,” that is your cue to listen closely. He would not include that sentence if he was not serious about the sentence before it. He was letting Timothy know that godliness was something to spend time and effort on. This is not a popular sermon topic for preachers, today.
You must destroy any thought in your mind that training yourself to be godly is legalistic or that it is a way to earn grace. When God says, “Be holy, because I am holy,” in 1 Peter 1:16, He is not telling us that our holiness has to save us. No, God is urging us on. He is cheering for us. He is really saying, “I have saved your soul, so go and act like it!” This is what experiencing grace does to our soul. I think we have watered down grace in modern Christianity, causing us to not fully grasp it. Grace does not give us an excuse for our sin. Instead, grace empowers us away from sin. Titus 2:12 says that grace “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness.” Grace creates godliness. It does not excuse ungodliness.
So, how do we train ourselves to be godly? I think it can look many different ways for many different people. I want to give us three quick steps that we can begin doing right now. If we would devote time to these things, my belief is that our godliness would grow. This, Paul says, “has value for all things.”
Prayer is an obvious step, but one that we cannot neglect. We have the ability to talk to the King of the universe, and yet we fail to make time for it. Think about that for a second. We never miss a chance to do bicep curls on Fridays, but we place no priority on praying to God. Healthy biceps have some value, but communing with God has value for all things.
If you want to be godly, talking with God would be a great place to start. We become like God as we hear the heart of God. I believe that if you would make time for prayer, God would love to meet you there. I believe He would even love to speak to your heart. God would teach us in godliness if we would give Him the time to do so. Make time for prayer today. Not just a quick ten seconds before every meal, but also a time set aside solely for that purpose. If you have the gym on the schedule, why not put prayer on there as well?
This is a step that can be more challenging for some people than others. Some people love to read, while some people cannot stand the thought of it. Whichever side of the fence you find yourself, you must make reading a priority. We have the very words of God on physical pages, put together in a book. The Bible is a massive grace of God. Never take it for granted. If reading is a struggle for you, I would challenge you to make time for it today. I believe God would love to meet you there in the Scriptures. He raises the dead to life. He holds the world in His hands. Giving you a supernatural desire to read His Word is easy for Him.
Paul says in Titus 1:1 that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ to “further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” Our knowledge of the truth leads to godliness, which is exactly what we are after. We cannot have knowledge of the truth without reading the Bible. We cannot rely on others to teach us. God wants to teach us. He does that in His Word. Make time to read it!
3.) Kill your sin
If we would spend time and effort killing our sin, instead of trying to live with it and manage it, our godliness would look much different. Our light to the world would shine much brighter. Somehow, we have found ourselves in a place of overlooking sin. We say, “God has covered us by grace, so we do not have to worry about those ‘little’ sins that are lingering around.” I would like to send that thought straight to hell for us. Your sin was created to kill. That is the only job it has. It will kill you if you do not kill it.
Matt Chandler says that the way we handle sin in Christianity today is like living with a pet lion. We think that we can tame the lion. A lion is meant for one purpose: to kill things. You do not take something created to kill and treat it as a pet. At some point, no matter how much you think you have tamed the lion, it will become what it was created for and try to rip you to pieces. Your leash around its neck will not hold. The crazy thing is that even when the lion rips off one of our arms, we still keep it around. “Surely, he won’t do that again. I will keep him in the cage longer next time.” Chandler would tell you to take the lion to the street and put it to death. The same tenacity is needed in our fight against sin.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:29, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Sin was created to kill. We treat it as if it is cuddly and cute. Jesus says to gouge out an eye if it is a source of repeated sin. This has nothing to do with earning God’s favor. It has everything to do with killing what is intended to kill us. If someone broke into your house and intended to kill you and your family, you would fight that person to the death without thinking twice about it. Sin, dear friend, is more damaging to you than any intruder could ever be. Fight it to the death.
Grace does not give us an excuse to live with a lion. Grace opens our eyes to see the danger of the lion, and it gives us the urgency and strength to put it to death. What is it that you are allowing to linger around in your life? What are the sins that you believe you are managing and controlling, when in reality they are controlling you? In love, I challenge you to kill those sins today. Spend time and effort killing your sin, whatever the cost. You may keep them caged up and on a leash for a season, but they will always turn on you. They are meant to kill. Remove them from your house.
“That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
This verse comes directly after the two verses we started with. Paul says that we labor and strive. Is this to earn grace? No! It is to grow in godliness, which has value for all things, holding promise for the present life and the life to come. We have put our hope in the living God! Let us act like it! I am done with spending time and effort on physical training without giving the same intensity to spiritual training. I hope and pray that you will join me. Physical training has some value. Godliness has value for all things.