What is godliness? What does it mean to be, or become, or remain godly? (The text of a talk I gave 11/16/2013)
So what is the mystery of godliness as outlined in scripture?
In Doctrine and Covenants 19:10 the Lord says, “For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great it is!”
Godliness is the process of becoming more like God, of acting as He would act, of being as He would be – that is godliness.
To be Godly we must be above the pursuits of the world. To be Godly we must rise above what the world tells us is correct and live a higher life. If God himself were here how would He live? What would He do?
Now – we are not perfect and we are not God. Therefore, we will make mistakes. That is why we are here. Whether we like it or not we will sin. But that is why Christ came down to this earth and suffered and died for our sins. He sacrificed Himself that we might repent and become more like Him. Developing godliness in our lives is a key step on the road to obtaining that sure hope of eternal life of which the prophets have spoken.
Developing godliness is a commitment to become like Him. It is a commitment to TRUST in the processes by which we become more like Him, and through which He leads us. It is a commitment to trust in God’s timing.
BECOMING LIKE HIM?
- Doctrine and Covenants 128:24 | Malachi 3:3 | 3 Nephi 24:3 | Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness…
HE IS THE REFINER AND PURIFIER OF SILVER AND GOLD AND MEN
Have you ever looked into a mirror? In a window? Sunglasses? Water on a clear and pristine day? In metal? Or In the eyes of another?
Everywhere we look we see ourselves reflected back. In others we see readily the things about ourselves that we both love and hate. If we see something in another the chances are it is present to some extent, or has been, within ourselves. It is the same with the Lord. He suffered all things in the Garden of Gethsemane and understands all things. As he looks at us he sees his own experience reflected back – that He may have compassion upon us. He knows what we are going through and He knows where we stand in our hearts. Will we be able to stand when he appeareth? Will we be able to abide the day of his coming?
He is refining and purifying us as we speak. It is through the experiences of our lives that He works. He knows we are sufficiently purified when he can see his own image reflected back from the mirrors of our souls. He knows we are pure when our actions become his actions and our attributes mirror his own. He sees our hearts and He knows us.
So HE can see US as we are. If we allow Him to refine us he will be able to see his own image reflected back in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
Developing Godliness in our lives is a commitment to trust ourselves into his hands amidst the refining and purifying fires of our lives – whether those fires come in the form of our dashed hopes and dreams, divorce, heartache, health problems, financial struggles, or any other trial, affliction, or struggle through which you are passing. No matter where you are or what you are struggling through God is there… and just as the refiner of silver never takes his eyes off the silver God will never take his eyes off of you.
But I must ask – When we see HIM will we see ourselves reflected back if we are pure?
- 1 John 3:2-3 | Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
- Moroni 7: 48 | Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
We shall see HIM as HE is BECAUSE WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM. What will we recognize in HIM that we must develop in ourselves? And allow HIM to HELP US develop in our own lives?
If we are to become more like Him then we must begin to learn of Him.
Who is He? What are his attributes? What attributes are we striving to develop in our own lives?
The attributes of God are fully listed in several places in the scriptures: (tell story of research here)
6 Remember faith, a virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
- Faith (the motivating factor behind all action, or inaction)
- Virtue (built through repentance, baptism, forgiveness, enduring to the end –Innocence vs. Virtue: Innocence is a lack of experience. Virtue is remaining pure in spite of experience.)
- Knowledge (comes from experience, study, and application of what we learn)
- Temperance (comes from experience – either from forgetting what we have been taught at times and then remembering it or from bouncing back and forth between the extremes –the goal of learning is to lessen the extremes in time)
- Patience (developed as we experience the heartaches and setbacks of life)
- Brotherly Kindness (developed as we experience hardship that humbles us and receive kindness from others in our moments of need. Stems from empathy and love.)
- Godliness (The process of becoming more like God, of acting as He would act, of being as He would be)
- Charity (The pure Love of Christ – which we cannot possess save we know Him)
- Humility (recognizing our own nothingness before our Maker and all creation at this time)
- Diligence (this is how we endure to the end – being diligent in well-doing and in doing what is right)
And in 2 Peter 1:2-10 we are taught much of the purpose of these attributes:
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (Through these promises: the gift of the spirit and the blessings that come from keeping the commandments of the Lord – then He lists out the attributes of God again:)
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Whom to know IS eternal life)
- John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, (What things? Develop these attributes that they be in you and abound) ye shall never fall:
Now, that is a promise.
So how do we develop Godliness in our lives specifically?
It will be different for everyone. We must let HIM refine US as HE will.
He will give us opportunities to grow and progress.
Will we take them? Or will we waste them – and prolong the days of our probation until it is everlastingly too late?
To be Godly, or develop godliness in our lives, is to commit to the process of refinement that He puts us through. It is to commit to the fires of life and trust that He IS watching us… that He DOES care… and that He WILL uphold us in the end.
No matter how bad our life may be – no matter if we are as Job – losing family, friends, possessions, and health – if we can see the face of God in the end with confidence – what have we truly lost in the purifying and refining fires of life? Nothing.
And what have we gained? Everything. Literally.
It is my testimony that we can develop Godliness in our lives and gain the confidence that when we stand before Him we will know Him because we will see Him as HE is – because we will be like Him!
Promises of seeing God from scriptures.
- Doctrine & Covenants 67:10 And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.
- Doctrine & Covenants 88:68 Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.
- Doctrine & Covenants 93:1 Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;