The Mystery of Godliness: God Manifest in the Flesh

The Mystery of Godliness, PDF format

“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.”  1 Tim.3:16.

by Shaun Willcock


  This is a beautiful text of Holy Scripture.  There is a “mystery of godliness”, and it has to do with the Son of God Himself, and only Him.  This “mystery of godliness” is Christ Himself, and it is the Gospel of Christ.  We will see how this is so.

  “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness”.  There is no controversy about it.  There is no argumentation; no disputation about it.  Oh, unregenerate men may argue about it, dispute it, and deny it; but for the believer, there is no controversy, no argument: it is true, it is the Gospel truth, and he believes it and loves it and holds firmly to it.

  But why is it said to be “the mystery of godliness”?  What exactly does this mean?

  The rest of the verse tells us what the “mystery of godliness” is.  There are six things said about Christ, in this verse, which form the mystery of godliness, and all six are aspects of the Gospel of Christ.  This is why I said this “mystery of godliness” is Christ Himself, and His Gospel.  The mystery of godliness is Christ; and the mystery of godliness is the good news about Christ to lost sinners.

  I will explain the “mystery” aspect first, and the “godliness” aspect afterwards.   Let us study these six aspects of the “mystery of godliness”.  And may your souls be edified, warmed, and thrilled by the careful study of these things.

“God was Manifest in the Flesh”

  Here the modern Bible versions get it horribly wrong, and provide us with a glaring example of why we should reject these versions as being perversions of God’s Word, not accurate translations of it.  Instead of saying, “God was manifest in the flesh”, numerous modern versions say something along the lines of, “He was manifest in the flesh”.

  For example, the Revised Version says, “He who was manifested in the flesh”.  The Revised Standard Version says, “He was manifested in the flesh”.  The New English Bible says, “He who was manifested in the body”.  The J.B. Phillips New Testament says, “The one who showed himself as a human being”.  And the Good News Bible/Today’s English Version says, “He appeared in human form”.  These are just a few of the many modern versions which utterly distort this lovely text.

  And a distortion it most certainly is!  After all, what is so unique about this statement: “He was manifest in the flesh”?  Nothing whatsoever!  I am manifest in the flesh, and so are you!  Every human being who has ever lived, in fact, has been manifest in the flesh.  This is what we are, as human beings.  We are flesh!

  But that God was manifested in the flesh – ah, there is the mystery of godliness indeed!  There is the greatest wonder of all!  This is the miracle!  This is nothing less than the Incarnation!

  “Flesh”, here, means not merely the human physical body, but the entire human nature in all its fulness.  And “God was manifest in the flesh” speaks of the essential deity, and the pre-existence, of the Lord Jesus Christ.  More about this in a moment.

  But how did such an error come into these modern perversions of the Holy Scriptures? 

  Well, in certain ancient manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, the name of God was often abbreviated, using the first and last letters only.  Now it just so happens that the Greek word for “who” can easily be mistaken for the contracted Greek name of God.  In fact, the only way to distinguish between “God” and “who”, when “God” was written in abbreviated form, was by two little strokes; and thus, when a copyist was copying the manuscript by hand and if he happened to be a bit careless at that point, the name of God could be rendered as the word “who.” 

  Or (which is far worse) if a copyist held to a heresy regarding the Lord Jesus Christ – if he did not believe, for example, that Christ was God manifest in the flesh – he may have deliberately altered the sacred text in this way, in the manuscript copy he was making.

  The vast majority of Greek manuscripts have the correct reading, but a few were altered in this way.  And those few were among the most corrupt manuscripts in existence anyway.  The evidence is overwhelming, therefore, from the Greek manuscripts themselves, that “God was manifest in the flesh” is the correct reading.  And in addition to this vast manuscript evidence, the internal evidence of the text, and the context, reveals that the reading which says “He” or “Who” is a violation of Greek grammatical rules.  For there is nothing special about “He” being “manifest in the flesh”.

  Thus the reading in our great and good King James Version is the correct one.  There is nothing unusual about a mere man being manifest in the flesh, for this is true of all men who have ever lived; but God being manifest in the flesh is a wonderful miracle indeed!

  As stated previously, “God manifest in the flesh” speaks of the essential deity, and the pre-existence, of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It refers to God the Son alone – not to God the Father nor to God the Holy Spirit, but to God the Son. 

  As God the Son, He was invisible, just as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are; but when He took a human nature, God was manifest to the sons of men: He could be seen, and touched: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:1-3).

  Over seven centuries before the Lord Jesus was born, the great prophet Isaiah prophesied and said:  “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa.7:14).  And what does “Immanuel” mean?  Matt.1:23 tells us: it means “God with us”.

  GOD WITH US!  For GOD was manifest in the flesh!  Think about this wonderful name: God with us.  The eternal God, the invisible God, the Lord God Almighty, the great I AM – manifest in the flesh as a man!  He who was always God, from all eternity, without beginning, was “made of a woman” (Gal.4:4), took to Himself a human nature, and was manifest in the flesh!

  Of Him Paul the apostle wrote: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Phil.2:6,7).  He who was in the form of God (for He was God), and who thought it not robbery to be equal with God the Father (for He, as God the Son, was equal with God the Father), made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men!

  John the apostle wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1); “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (v.14).  The Word who was with God (as a distinct divine Person, the Son with the Father), and the Word who was God (of the same divine essence, and therefore God Himself, God the Son), was made flesh – He was incarnated – and dwelt among us!  God, the Almighty, eternal, invisible God, was manifested in the flesh!

  1 Jn.3:8 says, “the Son of God was manifested.”  And Heb.2:14,16 tells us that He partook of flesh and blood: not of the nature of angels, but of the nature of the seed of Abraham.

  In Lk.1:35 we find these beautiful words addressed to Mary by the angel Gabriel: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”  What do these words mean?

  The Son of God was eternal – He had always existed.  God had always existed in His three Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  But now, God the Son assumed a human nature into union with His divine nature.  This is very important, and must be properly and clearly understood: He did not become the Son of God in Mary’s womb, for He had always been the Son of the Father!  The eternal divine Son of the eternal divine Father.  But in Mary’s womb, God the Holy Spirit fashioned the human nature, which is called “that holy thing”; and then the eternal Son took that human nature into union with His divine nature.  Thus He who was and is always God, became man as well;  and thus was God – God the Son – manifested in the flesh, incarnated, having become Immanuel: “God with us”!

  God was manifest in the flesh!  As Isaiah said in another place: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isa. 9:6).  The eternal, divine Son was given to us, given to the world, and was born as a human child from a human mother.

  This is the mystery of godliness indeed!  Miracle of miracles, that God would become man, and dwell among us!  The first aspect of the mystery of godliness, then, is nothing less than the Incarnation of God the Son: the fact that God the Son became in addition, Son of man, with a human nature, and thus fully God and fully man, perfect God and perfect man!

  Think of what is involved in these words describing the Incarnation: “God was manifest in the flesh”.  When we express this truth, what exactly are we expressing?

  We are stating that the eternal Son of the eternal Father was born of a virgin; for in no other way could He be born without a sinful nature, which is passed on from father to son.  His Father was God, and the mother of His humanity was Mary, and He had no sinful nature.  Therefore, when we speak of “God manifest in the flesh”, we speak of the virgin birth of Christ.

  And furthermore, when we speak of “God manifest in the flesh” we are then also stating that in this lovely Saviour, in the Person of this Jesus, there was a perfect union of two natures – the divine nature and the human nature.  His divine nature, as God, was united to a human nature, as man, so that in truth He is now, and forever will be, both God and man!

  And this, then, is the “mystery of godliness”: that God was manifest in the flesh; that God the Son was born of a virgin without a polluted sinful nature; that the divine and human natures were united in one Person.

  Why, then, is it called a “mystery”? 

  It is a mystery because, although the Lord has revealed it to us in His Word, and we must believe it and never doubt it, yet exactly how the Lord did this is a mystery to us mere mortals. 

  How exactly could the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity (Isa. 57:15) become a man in time?  How could the infinite God become a finite man?  How could the One who fills heaven and earth (Jer. 23:24) reside in the womb of a woman?  How were the divine and human natures united exactly?  How did the virgin conceive?  How precisely did God become man?

  I do not know; you do not know; no man knows.  These things form the mystery.  We could say, then, and not paradoxically, that it is a revealed mystery!  It has been revealed, inasmuch as it has been declared to be so, in Holy Scripture, and we are to receive it by faith; but the “how” has not been revealed.  It remains a mystery.  With God all things are possible, and He did it; but how He did it, He has not willed for us to know.

As the lovely hymn puts it so well:

Let earth and heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity;
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made man.

He laid His glory by,
He wrapped Him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s Name.

See in that Infant’s face
The depths of Deity,
And labour while ye gaze
To sound the mystery

In vain; ye angels gaze no more,
But fall, and silently adore.

Unsearchable the love
That hath the Saviour brought;
The grace is far above
Mankind’s or angel’s thought:
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

  And each one of the other five aspects of the Gospel, mentioned in our text, declares Christ to be “God manifest in the flesh”.  Although this is the first one, and although the other five all reveal further aspects of the “mystery of godliness”, they all also point to the truth that Christ is “God manifest in the flesh”, as we shall see.

“Justified in the Spirit”

  Again, every part of this verse is about the Lord Jesus Christ: He is God who was manifested in the flesh, and also, He was “justified in the Spirit.”   And this being justified in the Spirit, another aspect of the “mystery of godliness”, declares Him to be “God manifest in the flesh.”  So what does it mean?

  Firstly, Jesus was justified in the Spirit when the Holy Spirit fashioned His human nature in Mary’s womb; for in this way it was preserved holy, free from original sin.  And thus He was “justified” (meaning, in this context, made righteous) in or by the Spirit.

  Secondly, He was justified in the Spirit when the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form as a dove upon Him at His baptism; for by that wonderful event the Holy Spirit declared, He testified, that Jesus was the Son of God.  He was thereby justified before men, declared to be the Son of God by a miracle.

  Thirdly, Jesus performed miracles (such as casting out evil spirits) “by the Spirit of God” (Matt. 12:28); and Acts 10:38 says that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”  By the mighty miracles which the Lord Jesus performed in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit thereby justified Him as well, in this sense, that by these very miracles He declared Him to be, indeed, the Son of God and the Lord’s Messiah!

  Fourthly, Jesus was “justified in the Spirit” when the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead.  For throughout His ministry, men railed at Him, hated Him, called Him a sinner, said He was under the devil’s power, etc.; and He was put to death as a common criminal; but when the Spirit raised Him from the dead, this was His justification!  This was His vindication in the sight of all those wicked men.  His resurrection declared Him to be, in truth, the Son of the living God (Rom. 1:4).

  When He rose from the dead, it demonstrated to the world that God had fully accepted His atoning sacrifice, that He really was who He claimed to be, and that He was raised again for the justification of His people (Rom.4:25), precisely because He was who He claimed He was!

  Fifthly, He was “justified in the Holy Spirit” when, after His ascension to heaven, the Holy Spirit came down in mighty power upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost, and they went out and preached everywhere, and performed miracles in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:1ff., Mk. 16:17-20); thereby justifying Him, or vindicating Him, before those who had hated and rejected Him.  For the same Holy Spirit who had enabled Him to perform such mighty miracles, now enabled them to do the same (Acts 1:8)!

  And sixthly, “justified in the Spirit” could refer to His divine nature, as distinct from His human nature.  We could read it this way: God was manifest in human nature, and justified in His divine nature.  For by His divine nature He was raised from the dead, justified (or acquitted) from all His people’s sins, and declared to be (or testified as, or justified as) the Son of God with power.

  In all the above ways, therefore, His being justified in the Spirit declared Him to be, in truth, God manifest in the flesh!

“Seen of Angels”

  The Lord Jesus Christ was “seen of angels.”  Well, you might say, “Of course He was!  For as God He dwelt in the highest heaven, surrounded at all times, as He sat on His throne, by the holy angels which He had created, who sang His praises and did His bidding.”  And this is very true. 

  But the meaning of these words, as used here in 1 Tim. 3:16, is that He was seen by angels during His earthly ministry, when he had come in the flesh and was doing His Father’s work on earth as Son of man.  The holy angels worshipped Him!  “And again, when he [the Father] bringeth in the firstbegotten [the Son] into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Heb. 1:6).  

  A vast choir of holy angels sang praises to God when He was born, and were seen and heard by the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem; and an angel of the Lord brought them the good tidings of great joy, that Christ had been born (Lk. 2:8-14) – that God was now with men in the sense that God had now been manifest in the flesh!  And when He had grown and was about to embark on His ministry, Jesus suffered temptation from Satan in the wilderness, and angels came and ministered to Him (Matt. 4:11).  The incarnate God was ministered to by the angels which He Himself had created at the beginning of time!

  And later, as He suffered the agony of Gethsemane, an angel came and strengthened Him there (Lk. 22:43), preparing Him for the trials He was about to endure, and the suffering of the cross to crown it all.  And when in triumph and victory He rose from the grave, angels were there as well!  For they rolled away the stone that covered the tomb’s entrance, and they waited for the women to arrive at the empty tomb, and told them that He was not there, for He had risen (Matt. 28:2-7; Lk. 24:1-7).  And then, as he ascended into heaven He was met by the holy angels, two of whom came to His disciples and spoke to them afterwards, telling them He would return one day in the same manner as they had seen Him go; and as (among other things) this means He will return with the holy angels, it is evident that when He ascended, angels accompanied Him as He ascended back to His Father in triumph and glory (Acts 1:9-11; Matt. 25:31; Mk. 8:38).

  And ever since, as He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, the holy angels see Him, as they surround His throne, sing His praises, and do His bidding.

  Thus the point of this statement in 1 Tim.3:16, that God, who was manifest in the flesh, was “seen of angels”, is to teach us that the holy angels gave testimony to the truth of God incarnate: they added their own voices as witnesses to this great truth.  God manifest in the flesh was seen of angels!  And not only seen, but praised and magnified by them.

  And if the holy angels did this for Him, it shows who He was, and is.  For the holy angels worship God alone.

“Preached unto the Gentiles”

  The Gospel of Christ was taken to the nations of the world.  It was preached to them, and has continued to be preached to them down to this very day.  And a vital aspect of the blessed Gospel which is preached throughout the world, is that “God was manifest in the flesh”!  This is essential to the message of the Gospel – for if Christ had not come, if the Son of God had not taken human nature and become a man, there would be no Gospel to preach!  The good news, the glad tidings, is “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim.1:15).  And why, precisely, is this good news?  It is good news because He is God as well as man!

  What would be good news about a mere man dying on the cross?  There would be no good news in that!  The death of a mere man on a cross could not save a single soul from eternal damnation for sin.  But the good news is that Christ Jesus, who is God manifest in the flesh, came into the world to save sinners by dying for them on the cross!  The thing which makes the Gospel the Gospel, is the incarnation of the Son of God.  “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn. 3:16)!  “Unto us a Son is given” (Isa. 9:6)! 

  Man could do absolutely nothing to save himself.  The good news is that God came to save sinners.  God took the initiative, and God did it all!  God accomplished for man what he could not accomplish for himself! 

  Those wolves in sheep’s clothing, today, who deny the deity of Christ, and say that He was merely a very good man, have ripped the very heart out of the blessed Gospel.  They are preaching a Christ who is nothing more than a great example, a martyr, a good man.  But if we want salvation, oh then we need so much more!  We need a Saviour who can truly save us from our sins (Matt. 1:21) – and no mere mortal man can do that!

  We need a mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5), a “daysman”, which is to say an umpire or mediator, “that might lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:33) – upon the offended God, and upon offending man!  We need One who is both God and man!  We need a sinless, perfect Saviour – and only One who is God as well as man can be such a Saviour!

  Thus, this aspect of the Gospel, as well – that Christ was preached unto the Gentiles – declares Him to be “God manifest in the flesh”.

  And furthermore, the very preaching of Christ to the Gentiles is, in itself, a vital part of the “mystery of godliness”.  Consider this carefully:

 In Eph.3:3 Paul says, “he made known unto me the mystery” – which is nothing else but “the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4), “the mystery of the Gospel” (Eph. 6:19),“the mystery of the faith” (1 Tim. 3:9), “the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mk. 4:11), “the mystery of his will” (Eph. 1:9), and “the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16).  All these are scriptural phrases for the Gospel of Christ.

  And Eph.3:5 says that this mystery of the Gospel “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit”, that is, to the extent that it was now revealed, and with the clarity with which it was now revealed, by the Holy Spirit, to the apostles of Christ, who then made it known to others.

  And note that, in particular in this place (Eph. 3), Paul is referring to that aspect of the mystery of the Gospel which we are considering, from 1 Tim.3:16: the fact that Christ was “preached to the Gentiles”!  For in Eph. 3:6 he writes, “That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel”.  It was a mystery to the people of the previous ages.  Yes, the Old Testament Scriptures certainly said much about it; the prophets prophesied of it; but very few of the children of men knew it – to most of mankind it was a mystery.  And furthermore, exactly when and how it would come to pass was a mystery even to those who knew it would one day be accomplished: the mystery of the Gentiles becoming fellow-heirs, with the Jews, of all the blessings of the Gospel; the mystery that the Gentiles would become part of the one body with the Jews – the Church, the body of Christ – and partake of His promise in Christ.

  And wherever this blessed Gospel has been preached to the Gentiles, the elect among them have believed it (Acts 13:48), and have been saved from their sins – as the next part of our text says, the fifth aspect of the mystery of godliness:

“Believed On in the World”

 The elect among the Gentile nations have believed on this wonderful Saviour!  This lovely Christ, who alone can save men from their sins!  This God manifest in the flesh is, truly, the sum and substance of the Gospel, and has been believed on by people the world over.

  All those who believe on any other “christ” have believed a lie, the imagination of men’s hearts, a satanic deception.  There are many false gospels being preached, and many false christs are presented to men.  But none of these will save.  Only faith in the true Christ of God, who is God manifest in the flesh, will save!  There is no other.

  And that He was believed on in the world was a miracle in itself – for the world by nature hates Him and wants nothing to do with Him.  By nature no man wants this Man to reign over him (Lk. 19:14). 

  Here then is the mystery in this, and why this is also a part of the “mystery of godliness”: how are we to explain the fact that so many, throughout the world, have believed on Him?  How is it that Gentile sinners, lying in great spiritual darkness, would believe on a Jewish Saviour?

  How is it that a few simple fishermen and others, a tiny band of despised men, could go out into the world, and turn that world upside down with their message (Acts 17:6)?  How indeed, could the world even receive their message, considering that it is utterly incomprehensible to sinful men, nothing but foolishness to them, and is opposed to their wicked natures?

  There is only one explanation: the power of God!  The Lord gives the gift of faith to His elect; and then, and only then, they believe on Him (Eph. 2:8,9).

  This aspect of the Gospel, then – of the “mystery of godliness” – also declares Christ to be “God manifest in the flesh”.  For if He was not, there is no way He would have been so believed on in the world.  This is a miracle, performed by God the Son Himself, who came in the flesh!

“Received Up into Glory”

  This wonderful verse describes so much about the Lord Jesus Christ and His glorious Gospel of salvation.  Here is the Gospel in a nutshell.  From all eternity He was God; and then, in the fulness of time, God was manifest in the flesh; and as the God-man, He was justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world.

  And then finally, He was received up into glory – the glory of heaven, from where He had come!  He returned, and was received up into the realms of glory after completing the work which His Father gave Him to do (Jn. 17:4).  Having finished that great work, He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, crowned with glory and honour, basking in the glory which He had with His Father before the world was  (Jn.17:4,5)!

  He came from glory, and He returned to glory.  But with this great difference: when He came from heaven’s glory, He came as God; but when He returned to heaven’s glory, He returned as God and man, wearing a nature He did not have when He left heaven on His mission.  He returned in triumph, dressed in our nature, our human nature, “the man Christ Jesus”, and yet still God! 

  Having been manifest in the flesh, God the Son will never lay aside that human nature.  It is forever united to His divine nature, and with both natures He will return to earth one day, and with both natures He will reign throughout the endless ages of eternity over His redeemed people!

  And so we see that in this aspect of the Gospel, too, Christ is declared to be “God manifest in the flesh”.  For He was received up into glory as God manifest in the flesh.  He was taken up into heaven because He is Son of God and Son of man, who returned to the glory He had, as God, with His Father before the world was.

Practical Application of this Doctrine

  We may now examine the answer to the question posed at the beginning: Why is it called “the mystery of godliness”?

  It is called this because the Gospel of Christ is the doctrine of godliness.  For His Gospel teaches us how to worship Him; how to serve Him and live for Him; how to live godly lives in Him.

  This doctrine – the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ – promotes godliness in the Lord’s people.  Even the deepest and most mysterious doctrines of the Gospel of Christ (such as the first one given in our text – “God manifest in the flesh”) promote godliness in the lives of true Christians.  For the more we enter into the mysteries of the Gospel; the more we enter into the doctrines of the Gospel; the more we understand them; the more we understand exactly who Christ Jesus is, as God and man, and what He did, in leaving the glories of heaven and taking a human nature, so that He could be born as a child in this world of sin and sorrow, grow up to manhood, and then enter into His public ministry, with all His suffering, reproach, and pain, finally dying an agonizing death on the cross, then rising from the dead and ascending to heaven – the more we understand all this, and what our Lord went through for us, the more we are moved to live godly in Christ Jesus; to live in a  way that pleases Him who did so much for us!

  Our hearts go out in love to Him; we are overcome with love and wonder at His great love for us, which carried Him through such things on our behalf; and then our hearts recoil from the thought that it was our sins which made Him come in the flesh, and die such a death.  And the last thing we want to do is sin against Him.  “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19); and our love for Him makes us detest sin, and desire more than anything to live godly lives, well pleasing to Him.

  Thus the understanding of Christ and of His Gospel, and the contemplation of it and the meditation on it, promotes godliness in His true people.

  This same great truth is also taught in Titus 2:10-14: “Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”  Take note of the connection: God’s grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly; even as we dwell upon, and contemplate, the fact that Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to Himself a peculiar people.  Paul very plainly connects living godly in Christ Jesus with what Christ did for us.  For if Christ came to redeem us from iniquity, and purify us, then how can the child of God continue living ungodly?

  If we truly are redeemed by Him, then we will want to live soberly, righteously, and godly.  For He has given us new natures, which love Him and His law, and desire to please Him in all things.  His grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts!

  And likewise, this is the meaning in 1 Tim.3:16.  The doctrine of the Gospel is the doctrine of godliness; for although it is a deep doctrine, and in some ways a mysterious one, yet the study of it and the meditation on it promotes godliness in His true people.

  If you are a child of God, this is the effect it will have in you, as you meditate upon these things, dwell upon them, and digest them.  And may you do so with joy, wonder, awe and reverence.  May you live godly in Christ Jesus, your Lord and Saviour, God manifest in the flesh, who came into this world for you, lived for you, died for you, rose for you, ascended for you, intercedes for you, and is coming again for you!

Shaun Willcock is a minister, author and researcher.  He runs Bible Based Ministries.  This pamphlet was first published in February 2017.  For other pamphlets (which may be downloaded and printed), as well as details about his books, audio messages, articles, etc., please visit the Bible Based Ministries website; or write to the address below.  If you would like to be on Bible Based Ministries’ email list, please send your details.

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