Some Characteristics of the Godly Man
Godly men are a select remnant set apart from the general population of the sons of Adam (Rom 11:5). God has chosen to make Christ known through these clay pot vessels to whom He has shown mercy and within whom He permanently dwells by His Spirit (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11; 9:15, 18, 20, 23; Gal 4:6; 2 Tim 1:14). Who is the godly man? How did he become distinct from the ungodly? What makes the man of God different?
First, the godly man is chosen for adoption into God’s family before the foundation of the world (Rom 8:15, 23; Eph 1:4–5; 1 Jn 3:1, 10). His name was written in the Lamb’s book of life before Creation (Rev 13:8; 17:8). This image bearer of Christ represents His Creator, Redeemer, and Life-giver. He is an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor 5:20). His interest is the kingdom of God. His delight is the advance of King Jesus’ rule and reign in this world.
Second, the godly man was born in the flesh (natural man) as a son of Adam, the first man created by God (Gen 1–2). He was born with Adam’s original sin (Ps 51:5; Rom 5:12–21). He was a slave to sin (Rom 6:6) and spent his days loving the darkness of the domain of sin (Jn 3:19; Col 1:13), where dominion belongs to Satan (Acts 26:18), the father of all the children of the devil ((Jn 8:44; 1 Jn 3:10).
The distinction of the godly from the ungodly, the justified from the unjust, was always the plan of God, predetermined from eternity (Acts 2:23). The separation of the righteous from the unrighteous pre-dates Creation and is manifest in space and time, almost from the beginning (Gen 4). The distinct partition required One who would thoroughly sunder the two groups. Jesus Christ, the incarnate God-man is the One who divides them (Lk 12:51; Jn 1:14).
The elect, redeemed man is set apart at the time of his new birth (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). This act of being born again is the baptism (Acts 2:38; 10:45), regeneration (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), and indwelling by the Holy Spirit. Thus, we learn how the godly man is distinguished from the natural man. He is the recipient of the Spirit of Christ, the gift of God, who permanently abides in the soul of those called as saints (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:2). He will never leave nor forsake His beloved (Heb 13:5). One man, the godly man, has Christ living in Him by the Spirit (Gal 2:20). Another man, the ungodly man, does not have the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9), does not believe in Christ because He does not belong to Christ (Jn 10:26).
Third, there are any number of characteristics that make the godly man different. Let us consider a sample of those characteristics.
- The godly man loves God because he is the recipient of God’s love before Creation (Eph 1:4–5), at the Cross (Rom 5:8), and by the Spirit (Rom 5:5; 2 Cor 5:5). He is first loved by God, and then he is recognized by his love for God (1 Jn 4:19), for his brethren in Christ (1 Thess 4:9; 2 Thess 5:3; Heb 13:1), for his neighbor (Lev 19:18; Mt 5:43; 19:19; 22:39), and even for his enemies (Mt 5:44; 6:27, 35).
- The godly man is a man of God’s Word. The implanted seed of the Word gave this man new life (Mt 13:23; Jn 6:63; Rom 10:17; Jas 1:21), and it continues to grow in his mind and heart (2 Pet 3:18). God’s Word in written form, the Bible, is this man’s delight (Ps 1:2). It is the Word of truth that sets him free from bondage to the lies of the evil one (Jn 8:32, 44).
- The godly man is a man of faith. Faith is a gift of God granted to those who have received the gift of God’s Spirit, the free gift of salvation (Acts 2:38; 10:45; Eph 2:8–9; Phil 1:29). He is a believer in Jesus Christ by God’s doing (Acts 16:31; 1 Cor 1:30). To the degree set by the Author of his faith (Heb 12:2), this man has a measure of faith that increases by the grace of God given to him (Rom 12:3). His faith is observed by the fruit of the Spirit’s work in him (Gal 5:22), through the works prepared for him (Eph 2:10), without which there is no proof of faith’s genuineness (Jas 2:14–26).
- The godly man is a spiritual man who is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:16–17). He has been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), and his heart being renewed by the Spirit means that his affections for the world have been transformed to the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:14; 12:2; 2 Cor 4:16), the things of heaven (Col 3:2). His spiritual eyes are fixed on Jesus (Heb 12:2), for whom he possesses spiritual zeal to serve with his whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.
- Being a spiritual man, the godly man is a man of prayer. He gives thanks for everything (1 Thess 5:17–18). Without ceasing, Christ Jesus is in his view, on his mind, and stirring his heart. Thus, he is instant with ejaculatory praise, needful supplications, and ever-present requests for direction. His prayers are fervent with both joy and solemnity.
- The godly man listens to God’s Word, prays for alignment into conformity with Christ (Rom 8:29) and sings songs of praise to the three Persons of the Trinity (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). In short, the godly man worships God in Spirit and truth (Jn 4:23–24), wherever he is located and whenever he is moved by the Spirit.
- The godly man remains in his body of death (Rom 7:24), until the days appointed for him by God are complete (Ps 139:16). Hence, he sins in the flesh despite the resurrection status of his soul (regeneration). He suffers in a civil war between his sinful flesh and the sanctifying Spirit of God (Rom 7; 1 Pet 1:2). He confesses there is no good thing in his flesh (Rom 7:18); hence, he puts no confidence in his flesh (Phil 3:3). He hates his sins against the One who faithfully loves at all times (Prv 8:36). This man cries out, “Abba, Father…O wretched man that I am!”
- The godly man is sincere in his humility before God and man. He professes the total depravity of man (Gen 6:5; Is 64:6; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:10–12, 23; Eph 2:1–3, 12), even as he confesses to be the chief of sinners (1 Tim 1:15). He confesses his sins (Jas 5:16; 1 Jn 1:9) and boasts in the Lord Jesus Christ in the same breath (1 Cor 1:31). He knows the truth about himself (wretched) and the truth about his Savior (glorious).
- The godly man speaks the truth in love (Eph 4:15). He is not ashamed of his deficiency at religion and his infinite failures to gain favor with God. For this reason, he preaches Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 1:18, 23; 2:2, 4), while other churchmen occupy themselves with gender identities, political conspiracies, and propositions for material prosperity.
- The godly man lives with blessed hope for the future of the kingdom of God now at hand (Col 1:27; Titus 2:13). He is an investor in heaven, today, who looks for a future return (Mt 6:20). Led by God’s Spirit and by His grace, this man lays up his earthly treasure by taking the mammon of unrighteousness to finance the mission of Christ’s church (2 Cor 8–9). The godly man does not waver in his belief that God will fill heaven with his friends in eternal habitations (Lk 16:9). Knowing that God owns everything (Ps 24:1), the godly man recognizes he cannot lose in the test of stewardship. He stores up his treasure in heaven, by means of his Master’s infinite resources, tapped by faith and poured out in love.
- The godly man waits upon the Lord (Ps 37:9; Is 30:18; 40:31), even as he waits for the Lord to summon him home (Phil 1:23). He knows his Master is coming soon (Rev 3:11; 22:7, 12). He readies himself for the day of accounting at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10). This man’s ambition is to please the Lord (2 Cor 5:9), so his quest is faithfulness in anticipation of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful slave…enter the joy of the Lord (Mt 25:21, 23).”
- The godly man is a walker. He walks in faith by the power of the Spirit (Rom 8:4; 2 Cor 5:7; Gal 5:16, 25), who directs his steps (Prv 3:5–6). He walks with God in a manner worthy of his calling (Eph 4:1). He walks in the light of truth (Jn 12:35; Eph 5:8; 2 Jn 1:4; 3 Jn 1:3), knowing the kindness and severity of God (Rom 11:22). He knows his destination, and he is sure of the Way (Jn 14:6).
- The godly man does not know who is elect of God and who is reprobate, although he looks for fruit from these respective trees. In the land of the living, all things are possible with God (Mt 19:26; Mk 10:27; Lk 18:27), so he fosters his relationship with both sinners and saints. He is a friend to both, loved by one, but either secretly or openly despised and rejected by the other (Jn 15:18–25).
- The godly man knows that true godliness is great gain to himself, his family, his fellow church members, and even his city (1 Tim 6:5–6). His light shines before neighbors and enemies in the midst of great darkness (Mt 5:16). Some hate his light for its prowess to expose evil (Eph 5:11). Others are drawn to the light by the irresistible grace of God, who employs the man of God to do His bidding. As an imitator of God (Eph 5:1) and exemplary brethren (1 Cor 4:16; 11:1; 1 Thess 1:6; 2:14; Heb 6:12), he disciplines himself (1 Tim 4:7) in sound doctrine (1 Tim 6:3) and all pragmatism (1 Tim 4:8).
- Our limited survey of the characteristics of the man of God ends with the joy of the Lord being the godly man’s strength (Neh 8:10), to labor in love and as unto the Lord (Eccl 9:9; 1 Thess 1:3; 5:12). He finds the yoke of God to be easy (Mt 11:30) because the godly man is the blessed man (Mt 5:3–11), who works hard (Acts 20:35; Rom 16:6, 12; 1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8; 1 Tim 5:17; 2 Tim 2:6), despite his being an heir to all the spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus and beneficiary of all that is reserved for him in heaven (Eph 1:3; 1 Pet 1:4).
In conclusion, you have a test set before you. Examine yourself. Are you this man?
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 10, 2022