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05 September, 2013

Exhortation to Godliness

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Excerpt from the book  "The Godly Man's Picture & A Godly Wife"

..........1. Godliness is our spiritual beauty

"The beauties of holiness" (Psalm 110:3). Godliness is to the soul, what the light is to the world-to illustrate and adorn it. It is not greatness which approves us in God's eye-but goodness. What is the beauty of the angels-but their sanctity? Godliness is the intricate embroidery and workmanship of the Holy Spirit. A soul furnished with godliness is filled with beauty, it is enameled with purity. This is the clothing of wrought gold which makes the King of heaven fall in love with us. Were there no excellence in holiness, the hypocrite would never try to paint it. Godliness sheds a glory and luster on the saints. What are the graces-but the golden feathers in which Christ's dove shines! (Psalm 68:13)

2. Godliness is our defense
Grace is called "the armor of light" (Romans 13:12). It is light for beauty, and armor for defense. A Christian has armor of God's making, which cannot be shot through. He has the shield of faith, the helmet of hope, the breastplate of righteousness. This armor defends against the assaults of temptation, and the terror of hell.

3. Godliness breeds solid peace

"Great peace have those who love your law" (Psalm 119:165). Godliness composes the heart, making it quiet and calm like the upper region, where there are no winds and tempests. How can that heart be unquiet-where the Prince of Peace dwells? "Christ in you" (Col. 1:27). A holy heart may be compared to the doors of Solomon's temple, which were made of olive tree, carved with open flowers (1 Kings 6:32). The olive of peace and the open flowers of joy are in that heart.

"I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete." John 15:11. Godliness does not destroy a Christian's joy-but refines it. His rose is without prickles, his wine without froth. He who is a favorite of heaven must of necessity be full of joy and peace. He may truly sing a sonnet to his soul and say, "Soul, take your ease" (Luke 12:19). King Ptolemy asked someone how he might be at rest when he dreamed. He replied, "Let piety be the scope of all your actions." If anyone should ask me how he should be at rest when he is awake, I would return a similar answer: "Let his soul be inlaid with godliness."

4. Godliness is the best trade we can engage in

It brings profit. Wicked men say, "It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it?" (Mal. 3:14). To be sure, there is no profit in sin: "Treasures of wickedness profit nothing" (Proverbs 10:2). But godliness is profitable (1 Tim. 4:8). It is like digging in a gold mine, where there is gain, as well as toil. Godliness makes God himself our portion: "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance" (Psalm 16:5). If God is our portion-all our estate lies in jewels! Where God gives himself, he gives everything else. Whoever has the castle, has all the royalties belonging to it. God is a portion that can be neither spent nor lost. "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" (Psalm 73:26). Thus we see that godliness is a thriving trade.

And as godliness brings profit with it, so it is profitable "for all things" (1 Tim. 4:8). What else is profitable, besides godliness? Food will not give a man wisdom; gold will not give him health; honor will not give him beauty. But godliness is useful for all things: it fences off all troubles; it supplies all needs; it makes soul and body completely happy.

5. Godliness is an enduring substance

It knows no fall of the leaf. All worldly delights have a death's-head set on them. They are only shadows and they are fleeting. Earthly comforts are like Paul's friends, who took him to the ship and left him there (Acts 20:38). So these will bring a man to his grave and then take their farewell. But godliness is a possession we cannot be robbed of. It runs parallel with eternity. Force cannot weaken it; age cannot wither it. It outbraves sufferings; it outlives death (Proverbs 10:2). Death may pluck the stalk of the body-but the flower of grace is not hurt.

6. Godliness is so excellent that the worst men would like to have it, after they die

Though at present godliness is despised and under a cloud-yet at death all would like to be godly. A philosopher asked a young man whether he would like to be rich Croesus or virtuous Socrates. He answered that he would like to live with Croesus-and die with Socrates. So men would like to live with the wicked in pleasure-but die with the godly: "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!" (Numb. 23:10). If, then, godliness is so desirable at death, why should we not pursue it now?

E. There are only a few godly people

They are like the gleanings after vintage. Most receive the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:17). The devil keeps open house for all comers, and he is never without guests. This may prevail with us to be godly. If the number of the saints is so small, how we should strive to be found among these pearls! "But a remnant shall be saved" (Romans 9:27). It is better to go to heaven with the few-than to hell in the crowd! Christ's flock is a little one. "Don't be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom!" Luke 12:32

F. Consider how vain and contemptible other things are, which people void of godliness, busy themselves about

Men are taken up with the things of this life, and "what profit has he who has labored for the wind?" (Eccles. 5:16). Can the wind fill? What is gold but dust (Amos 2:7), which will sooner choke than satisfy? Pull off the mask of the most beautiful thing under the sun-and look what is inside. There is care and vexation! And the greatest care is still to come-and that is to give account to God. Worldly joys are as fleeting as a bubble floating down the stream.

But godliness has real worth in it. If you speak of true honor, it is to be born of God; if of true valor, it is to fight the good fight of faith; if of true delight, it is to have joy in the Holy Spirit. Oh, then, espouse godliness! Here reality is to be had. Of other things we may say, "They comfort in vain!" (Zech. 10:2)