Exercising Godliness

The work of the Holy Spirit is to remind you. But he can’t remind you of something you never forgot. If you don’t put it in there, He can’t remind you of it. So, part of our job is to hide God’s Word in the memory bank.

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:11, 1 Timothy 4:7


And hello again my dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing Alright today? Well, bless your heart. I’m glad to be back with you. This is your good friend, Bob Cook, and you and I are together once again over the Word of God. The miles drop away and it is as though I were sitting by your kitchen table or sitting beside you as you drive to work, or whatever. And some of you, of course, are listening to the broadcast at the tag end of the day and you’re just so drowsy that you’re about to fall asleep. That’s alright. Dr. Ironside used to say, “If you feel drowsy while I’m preaching, take a little nap. You’ll feel better when you wake up.” Yes, beloved, I have spoken in many people’s sleep. Believe me. That’s Alright.

But if you are conscious, I’m praying that God may bless this broadcast, especially to you, something special for your need and for the hunger of your heart. Talking about godliness, “What manner of people ought ye to be in all holy lifestyle and godliness,” says Simon Peter in his second letter, 2 Peter 3:11. And the last time we got together we were looking at 1 Timothy 3:16, the mystery of godliness.

God walking in your shoes, a mystery to be sure but a blessed continuing miracle of His grace that we poor, guilty, hell-deserving sinners can be justified, adopted into the family of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit and God himself made real through our lives. What an awesome concept. But, hallelujah, it’s true, isn’t it?

Then I was looking at 1Timothy 4:7. Godliness is not something automatic. It’s something that you work at, that you are concerned enough about to work for it. Notice he says to Timothy, “Refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth a little; but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Exercise thyself unto godliness. Now, in order to define the concept for our purposes, godliness is the quality of God in everyday life, the presence of God that is demonstrable in your lifestyle as people observe you. Holiness is a God-ward virtue. Godliness is a man-ward result of that virtue. Godliness, the quality of God in your life.

Now he says, “Exercise thyself toward godliness.” How do you do that? Number one, you have it on your mind. Anything that’s on your mind will modify your conduct, right? Think of a very simple illustration. You’ve driven rather carelessly along a certain stretch of road and sometimes, let’s be frank about it, you haven’t always observed that double nickel 55 speed limit. Well, one day it catches up with you and the cherry top flashing behind you makes you know that you’re in trouble. The gentleman pulls you over and he is so polite. You know, you have to hand it to the state troopers. They, under all sorts of irritating conditions, for the most part, are polite and controlled and gentlemanly. I have to say they do a good job. But anyhow, let’s suppose now that he pulls you over and he says “Let me see your license and your car registration, please.” And you say, “Well, what’s up, doctor?” And he says you were speeding.

And so, you get a summons and you have to pay and you get points on your driver’s license and all of that bit. Well, now then, the next time you drive that stretch of road, I can guarantee you that you are going to have something on your mind, what is it? It’s going to be on your mind that just a little while ago you were driving too fast and you got a ticket here and you are going to be so legal that it’s painful.

The truckers will go by you and other people will go pass you but you’re going to be legal. Now why? Because it’s on your mind. Exercise thyself rather unto godliness, have it on your mind. Decide that it’s important enough to think about. It’s that simple. Whatever is on your mind is going to affect your conduct; as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, the Bible says. “Exercise thyself rather unto godliness.”

And so you’re going to form a habit of asking before you make a decision, before you answer a question, before you engage in even idle conversation with your buddies. Before you enter upon a definite course of conduct, your mind is going to be saying, “Is this godly? Does this honor the Lord?” It’ll make a difference, won’t it? Exercise thyself unto godliness.

What else? Take God’s will as the norm of your life. Otherwise, you’re not going to be satisfied with now and again praying and say, “Lord guide me and help me because I’m in a jam.” If you’re going to take the will of God as the norm of your life, something that always has to be true. And so you’ll come down to that expression that I used so often with my students at the college while I was president — pray your way through the day, pray your way through the day.

Pray when you wake up. Say good morning to Lord, not just good Lord morning. Pray before you greet the family or your roommates if you’re in college. Pray before you start your first job of work in the day. Pray before you answer the phone. You don’t know who’s on the other end of the wire. Pray before you open a letter. You don’t know if it’s a bill or a check. Pray before you make a decision. Pray before you go on a date. Pray your way through the day. Yes, why? Because you bring God into the process of normal living. Godliness becomes the norm of your everyday life. That’s how to work at it. Exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

Another thing that you and I want to remember is that there ought to be immediate confession and forgiveness when you get out of line. Don’t wait until a day or a week or a month has gone by and then try to get next to God. It will be harder then. The minute that you’re aware of stepping out of the will God in anything, confess it and let the Lord Jesus Christ cleanse you from it. Yes, that’s the meaning of 1 John 1:7, “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, keeps on cleansing us from all sin.”

That verb “cleanse” that’s in the linear form of the verb in your original Testament means “keeps on cleansing us from all sin”. It’s a constant walk with your blessed Lord where he keeps you clean. “You who are kept by the power of God through faith and to salvation,” says Peter. Now, make that a lifestyle. If you want to be godly, make this what we’re talking about a lifestyle. The minute that you’re aware of being out of God’s will in anything; a selfish thought, a wrong reaction of some sort, whatever it may be, you’re aware of having stepped outside of God’s will and the faithful indwelling Holy Spirit is telling you about it.

That’s part of his job. He’s letting you know. And when that happens right then and there, right then and there, you ask the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and ask him to cleanse you from that sin. That’s how you make godliness a way of life. There was an area on one of the mission fields of the world where a visitor observed that this particular tribe of people was in a perennial state of revival.

Visitors who came casually in were brought under conviction of sin and the community itself was working and living together in a continual state of God-glorifying renewal. The Spirit of God was wonderfully real in all that was going on. And so the question was asked, “What causes all of this?” And the answer was given — we are walking in the light, my brother. As soon as we are aware of being out of God’s will in anything we confess it and forsake it.

Pretty good idea, wouldn’t you say? Pretty good idea. Godliness means make walking with God the normal procedure, not unusual, but normal procedure in your life. Exercise thyself rather unto godliness. Well, how else? Well, obviously, and you’re waiting for me to get to this, many of you who love God’s Word. It is the Word of God that makes a difference in your life, your attitudes and the very atmosphere of your daily living. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse or modify his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy Word. Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”

Reading, meditation and memorizing of the Word of God makes a difference in your lifestyle. No question about it. And so, if you’re going to work at being godly that means feed on the Word of God — read it, meditate on it, memorize it, put it into the computer so that the faithful Holy Spirit can crank out the Word of God when you need it, remind you of it. “He shall bring all things to your remembrance,” Jesus said, “whatsoever, I have spoken unto you.”

The work of the Holy Spirit is to remind you. But he can’t remind you of something you never forgot. If you don’t put it in there, he can’t remind you of it. So, part of our job is to hide God’s Word in the memory bank, that conscious memory, and then even better, the unconscious mind, that layer of cells around your cerebellum that is called the unconscious mind. That’s where you hide the Word of God eventually so the Spirit of God can bring out his truth and his will when you need it.

Exercise thyself unto godliness means read God’s Word everyday, meditate on it, chew it over and think about it until it speaks to you, and then memorize portions of it, so the Holy Spirit of God can bring them out into consciousness when you’re in need of them. Exercise yourself unto godliness.

It’s profitable, he said, not only in this life, but also in the life which is to come. Here’s a reference then to what we were talking about before. When everything has been burned up in this old world of ours, at that last great conflagration of judgment about which Peter is speaking in his Second Epistle, what’s going to be left? It’s profitable in the life to come. It will be left. It will be there if you’ve been godly.

There are a couple more thoughts that we want to get at before we leave this concept. And I’ll be back with you on another day, God-willing, to speak about them.

Dear Father, make us godly people, the kind that are real, the kind that are spontaneous, the kind that glorify Thee, in Jesus name. Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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