Mystery of Godliness

A “mystery” in the New Testament is something that had at one time been hidden but is now revealed to God’s people. Jesus spoke of “the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11, NAS) that He was at that point revealing to His disciples. The apostle Paul used the word mystery 21 times in his Epistles. In each case, the “mystery” involved a wonderful declaration of spiritual truth, revealed by God through divine inspiration.

A mystery is that “which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5)

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory (kjv)1 Timothy 3:16

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (niv)

Chapter 3 of 1st Timothy is about the desired “depth of faith” of church leaders such as deacons and bishops. In fact Paul says they are to be “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” (kjv 1 Tim 3:9)

The New Living Translation says “They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience.”

The “faith” spoken of is faith in the gospel of Christ, a summation of Christ Jesus’ Ministry. Christianity (godliness) is not a system of rules and actions that must be performed to appease a deity, but is the mystery of the godliness of God’s Son, Jesus Christ reflected in us. The mystery of (true) faith is revealed through our obedience to God. It has been said that the godliness mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:16 “refers to the truths of salvation and righteousness in Christ, which produce holiness in believers”

Romans 16:25-26 Now to Him who is able to strengthen you by my gospel and by the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery concealed for ages past [26] but now revealed and made known through the writings of the prophets by the command of the eternal God, in order to lead all nations to the obedience that comes from faith–

The word “mystery”, when used in the New Testament, refers to the things of God that were once hidden but were later revealed through Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). A mystery is that which can only be known through the revelation of God (Romans 16:25–26; Colossians 1:26–27). It is something that in times past had been hidden but is now revealed to God’s people. Jesus spoke of “the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11, NAS) that He was at that time revealing to His disciples.

Mar 4:11 And he (Jesus) said unto them (His disciples), Unto you (diciples of Christ) it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

The apostle Paul used the word mystery 21 times in his epistles: the mystery of God (Colossians 2:2), the mystery of faith (1 Timothy 3:9), the mystery of iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:7), etc. In each case, the “mystery” involved a declaration of spiritual truth, and each is related to Christ is revealed by God through divine inspiration. The New English Translation of 1 Timothy 3:16 speaks of the mystery of godliness as an “amazing revelation” concerning our faith.

Christians pursue godliness when we follow the example of Jesus in dedicating every decision to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)

“Godliness” means “a proper response to the things of God, which produces obedience and righteous living.” Godliness is not a suggestion; it is a command (1 Peter 1:15–16; Hebrews 12:14).

The mystery of godliness is the heart of the Christian faith. In 1 Timothy 3:16 Paul records a summation of Jesus’ ministry. The passage is commonly considered to be about Christ: His incarnation, ascension, proclamation of Him, and the reaction to Him on earth and in heaven.

The godliness of God’s Son is now to be reflected in us. Christianity is not a system of rules and actions that must be performed to appease a deity. At the heart of Christianity is the mystery of godliness—the fact that God took on human flesh to live among the people He created (Philippians 2:5–11).

As a Son, Jesus remained completely obedient to His Father in heaven and then offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice in our place (John 10:18; Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God then raised Him from the dead, thereby conquering death for all who trust in Him (Matthew 28:6; 1 Corinthians 15:3–7, 13–14, 55). Because Jesus took our place, sinful humans may be declared righteous before God and be “born again” (John 3:3). The new birth is spiritual and results in a change of heart that produces true godliness (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 3:8–10). How a life is transformed is the mystery of godliness and is comprehended only through the revelation of God in Christ. “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great” (1 Timothy 3:16).

1 Timothy 3:16 reveals the heart of the gospel, the mystery of “true godliness.” The secret of being godly was hidden but is now revealed. It is to those who believe in Christ that the mystery is made known (1 Corinthians 2:7–14; Colossians 1:27). We come to learn that we of our own volition cannot please God; we must depend on Christ (2 Corinthians 3:5).

As a man, Jesus lived a perfect life (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:21), and so He is a perfect example of how to live. As God, Jesus gives us the power to do what is right. It is only possible to live a godly life—through the power of Christ (Philippians 4:13).

Paul speaks of a discipe yielding to Jesus is necessary for godliness.

Rom 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Rom 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Gal 5:16)

Phl 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Phl 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

1Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Col 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Jesus Himself said: Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Key to godliness is dying to self and allowing Christ to live through us.

The word “godliness” designates the Christian life lived in a response of gratitude to what Christ has done. Therefore, the phrase “mystery of godliness” does not mean “the mystery that is, or consists, of godliness,” but the mystery that makes godliness possible, that provides the very foundation to a Christian life, Christ Himself.

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