Summary: Godliness is not something that happens over night. It takes work and discipline. It takes exercise!
Do you remember the last time you left a service all fired up to change? You were determined to be different. "This time," you said, "I mean it; I am going to become the person that God wants me to be!" "No Really! I'm going to change! I won't give in to that temptation. I will read my Bible every day. I'll pray every morning when I get up and every night when I go to bed. I'll be more conscious of the lostness of people.” Then a few days go by and we are the same as we were before we went to worship in the first place!
It's like when you first became a Christian. Do you remember the day that you were baptized? Your desire, your dedication, your determination was at its peak. Later, however, maybe a few days, maybe a few weeks, maybe even years later, you begin to wonder what happened. You are not as dedicated, your decision has been forgotten, your determination is just not as determined.
I think sometimes that we want instant godliness, but I want to let you in on a secret. "Instant Godliness Won't Happen!" When you listen to those people we claim to be the most godly people, they say, "I have not arrived. I am not at all what I need to be.." We may have instant pudding. We may have instant potatoes and instant coffee. All of that may be great and wonderful, but "Instant Godliness Won't Happen!"
The Bible is very clear, however, about how godliness does come.
1 Timothy 4:6-10 6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
"Exercise yourself to godliness;" Train yourself in godliness; "Discipline yourself to become godly." No matter how you say it, it is understood that time is involved. Those who go to the Olympics train for years. Boxers exercise constantly. Any athlete requires rigid discipline and it takes time. How can we think that it would be any different for Christianity? for Godliness? And honestly, it is worth whatever time it takes.
We need to realize that there is no option about being godly. We are commanded by the Lord do be godly, and to discipline/train ourselves to be so. We are told in the scriptures to be holy, for the Lord is holy; to be perfect like our Father is perfect. It is certain that we will never reach that level in this life, but it needs to be our goal! We need to become more like God each day, living lives that are reflecting our Lord to others. The goal of training to be godly in this life is to think, say, desire, and do what He wants us to.
But how do I train or discipline myself. That is the question that we need to answer! A characteristic involved in Exercise, or training is Work. The end result has never been easy. If you want a nice house, it requires work. If you want a nice garden, it requires work. Anything with any real quality requires work and usually hard work. It means daily effort. It means it will not come easy, neither will it be instantly.
Honestly, if there was a pill that I could take that instantly gave you bible knowledge and instantly made you godly, I would want to be one of the first ones in line to get that pill, but such a pill does not exist. So we all need to get to work on ourselves. We need to realize that we are “works in progress.” We are all under construction, training in Godliness!
For the next few minutes I want to talk about how you can train or exercise in godliness.
1.) Training in godliness requires self- evaluation.
Lamentations 3:40 Let us search out and examine our ways, And turn back to the Lord;
Most of us do not like to examine ourselves because we do not want to see anything wrong with ourselves. I remember when I first became a Christian. Part of me was so afraid of reading the scriptures because I didn’t want to see how much I needed to work on and how wicked I truly was before I became a Christian. But we need to look in the mirror of the scriptures, because only God’s word will reveal to us the blemishes that we have in our lives that need fixed.