1 Timothy 4:6-8 “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
The focus for our study today will be the teaching given to us in scripture, commanding us to “train for godliness”. In this particular passage, it not only commands us to train for godliness but it says, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” So what we see is that while there is a physical exercise, in like manner there is also a spiritual exercise that ought to be practiced by those who are followers Jesus Christ. There are many people who are so concerned about their physical health, they spend time, money and effort ensuring their physical self is in good shape. What the Bible tells us is that although this is of some value, there is a greater value in being concerned about your spiritual self, in fact there is value in every way as it holds the promise for the present life and also the life to come. Your outwardly exercise is only beneficial in this world and does nothing to help you in being spiritually fit.
This is a vitally important exercise that every Christian should practice; training yourself for godliness, in other words “spiritual exercise”. If training is required, then it means there needs to be an effort from your part.
So this leaves us with two questions. How do we go about this spiritual training and if the end goal of “spiritual exercise” is “godliness”, then what is godliness?
So lets begin by looking at what “godliness” means and then discuss how to get there by spiritual training. Godliness is quite simply genuine Christianity. It is a real, vital and practical relationship with God Almighty. It is beholding God and making Him the treasure of your life. Having a reverence and fear of God. Godliness comprehends a genuine fear because without the reverential fear of God there is no genuine spirituality in your life. Godliness also means that you have the saving knowledge of God, and along with this saving knowledge comes a love towards God. How can you love something you don’t know? This is why the knowledge of God through His word is important, in order to establish a relationship with God which leads to godliness. Through this genuine love of God we do those things that brings glory and honor and praise to God our Father in heaven. Our thoughts rise to God, our affections are spiritually placed on God, He becomes the object of our worship, He becomes everything to us and as we gaze upon His face as we become more and more like him. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” So, a genuine godliness is something that is practical; it will always lead to a holiness of life and conversation.
So now that we understand what it means to be godly, let us look at how you can train yourself for godliness through spiritual exercise and training. First and foremost you must begin by having a strict and impartial look into your own heart and seek out what it is that is most likely to prevent you from advancing in godliness? Look carefully at your habits and what it is that you do in secret, when no one is watching. Does it reflect the life you live on the outside? Are there habits that you need to break? Are there people, activities, companions, conversations or personal pursuits that prevents your advancement to godliness? Are you feeding your soul with the right food?
In fact, a story was once told of a great man and his dying camel which will illustrate this point further.
“A great man had a camel that was wasting away, until it seemed at the point of death. “See,” cried he, to the simple son of the desert, “here is my camel: I have tried cordials and elixir, balsams and lotions. Alas! all are in vain.” The plain man looked at the hollow sides, the staring bones, the projecting ribs. “Oh, most learned philosopher,” said he, “thy camel needeth but one thing!”
“What is it, my son?” asked the old, wise man, eagerly. “Food, sir – good food, and plenty of it.” “Dear me,” cried the philosopher, “I never thought of that!”
– (Author unknown)
Likewise friends, is your soul starved? Are you addressing the real and true issue of your spiritual condition? Are you dealing with the true problem of ungodliness in your life and feeding yourself the right food? Start by giving your starved soul more prayer, more communion with God and more meditation on the word of God. Examine yourself and find out the root cause for your lack.
Begin by bringing discipline into your life. It must be a determined effort of yours to correct, mold and perfect your character. This is a lifetime process. This “discipline” is your spiritual training and one that pursues God’s will for your life, doing those things that brings glory and honor to God our Father in heaven. It must be a daily practice and commitment to live a godly life. This inner transformation must begin in the mind. In fact Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world , but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
This spiritual training of memorizing, meditating, reading scriptures, praying and daily practicing the precious truths of the Bible will transform you inner self as you begin to set your focus on Jesus Christ. Just as you would discipline yourself for physical exercise, so do the same for your spiritual exercise. When we form new habits of obedience and conform to the will of God, our sinful habits and patterns of behavior begin to change. When we put these new attitudes and behaviors to practice through our daily spiritual training, then it becomes easier and easier to live a life that is pleasing to God. When we spend time reading the word, studying scriptures and spending time with God in prayer, the Holy Spirit can then apply this knowledge into our inner person, all the scriptures we have learnt and allowing Him to speak to us through prayer. If you neglect this spiritual training and neglect disciplining yourself, then you will not grow in being Christ-like and grow in godliness.
It is important to remember that godliness is not achieved in a day. It is a daily duty and part of the sanctification process until the day we meet Christ and see Him as he is and then be like Him. 1 John 3:2 says “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” What a great promise and hope for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
So I encourage you today to live a life of obedience and yield to the power of the Holy Spirit. Train yourself in godliness, for godliness is of value in every way. I urge you not to just stop at training yourself in godliness but to excel in all godliness. We are to be holy in every aspect of our conduct, not just to certain religious areas of our life. Instead let holiness be a way of life that affects everything you do, it must be a lifestyle rather than mere conformity to a list of rules.
Hope you have been blessed by this teaching and consider bringing spiritual discipline into your lives; training yourself for all godliness. Be blessed and glorify God in all you do.
R. Newton (The profit of godliness)
Essex Congregational Remembrancer (The believer exercising himself unto godliness)
Soul Food (biblehub.com)
Bible (English Standard Version)