Revive Our Hearts Podcast

How to Develop Godliness and Brotherly Love

Leslie Basham: On the road to godliness there are no shortcuts. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We want to go to a retreat or a conference or read a book or go to a counselor or hear a message or have some sort of mystical experience—get zapped. We don’t want to do the hard work to get the end result. That’s why so many of us stay spiritually flabby.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, January 18. Physical exercise does you some good, but there’s something far more worthwhile. Nancy shows you what it is as she continues in the series, Adding to Your Faith.

Nancy: Some of you have heard me say before that since I was a little girl my goal in life has always been to be a godly old lady. I have found that the old part comes easier than the godly part.

We come today in our study of 2 Peter to a discussion of that trait, that grace of godliness. What does it look like? What does it mean and how do we get there? I’m not going to do justice to the subject of godliness in ten minutes or so, but let’s look at 2 Peter chapter 1. We’re in that paragraph, verses 5 through 7, where we’re reading about seven graces or qualities that we are to add to our faith.

The foundation is faith and Peter says,

Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness [or perseverance], and steadfastness with godliness.

So we’ve come to the fifth of these seven qualities and it’s this word godliness. This is something that we all ought to aspire to—to be godly. What does that look like?

As you study out the different uses of this word, it has to do with devotion to God, piety toward God, living a life that is pious or morally good. It’s right worship. It’s having a right attitude toward God that is evidenced in a right kind of life, a devoted life, a life of reverence and worship and awe toward God.

Of course, that results in the desire to please God in every area of our lives. That comes out of the way we live, the way we talk, in our priorities. The godly person is a person who has oriented his whole life around Christ. It’s the picture you have in Psalm 16:8 where David says, “I have set the LORD always before me.” It’s a God-centered life.

As I was studying this, I remembered a phrase that I’ve heard used before. I don’t know if you’re familiar with this. It’s the Latin phrase Coram Deo. The word Coram is the Latin word for face and Deo the Latin word for God. It’s a phrase that means before God. Living your life Coram Deo is living your life before the face of God.

I like something that Dr. R. C. Sproul said about living Coram Deo. He said,

We don’t segment our lives, giving some time to God, some to our business or schooling, while keeping other parts to ourselves. The idea is to live all of our lives in the presence of God, under the authority of God and for the honor and glory of God. That is what the Christian life is all about.1

Now that description from Dr. Sproul seems very different than what I often see to be the case in the way many Christians are living. You know how it is. We have a segment of our lives—it’s our Christian life, our spirituality, our church life, our religion. But then we have our work life and our family life and our recreation and our hobbies and of course me—my personal time, my life. It’s all these categories of which the Lord is one.

Well, godliness means there are no categories. It’s just living all of life—whether you eat or drink or whatever you do—for the glory of God and in the presence of God. Peter tells us in this passage what that process is. It starts with faith and on your faith you build virtue and then you build knowledge and self-control and steadfastness. And out of those qualities will flow godliness.

See, we’d like to jump ahead to the godliness without getting the steadfastness because we know that comes through trials and we’re not real interested in those. Or without having self-control because that means I might not be able to eat my third piece of dessert just because I want to. We don’t want the self-control or the steadfastness, but let me be godly. You can’t skip over the first qualities and go to godliness.

Now let me speak for just a moment about the process of godliness or the price of godliness. In 1 Timothy chapter 4, the apostle Paul said to his son in the faith, Timothy, “Train yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Some of your translations will say exercise or discipline yourself for godliness. In fact, the Greek word that’s translated “train yourself for godliness” is the word from which we get our English word “gymnasium.”

Well, I’ll just tell you. I was a straight-A student pretty much all the way through school, but the one class I couldn’t stand was gym class. P.E. I’m not into that stuff. And yet Paul is using that word picture here of a place where you go to train your body. You go to get physically fit. You go to the gym. You go to work out. You go to exercise, to discipline. And that means sweat.

It means pressing through the pain. It means enduring, and it doesn’t mean just going one time. I think I could handle that. But it’s not just one workout session. It’s going back again and again and building up those muscles and building up your endurance. He says that’s what you have to do if you want to be godly. You keep going back to God’s gymnasium. You exercise. You train.

We want godliness to just happen. We want to go to a retreat or conference or read a book or go to a counselor or hear a message or have some sort of mystical experience—get zapped. We don’t want to do the hard work to get the end result. That’s why so many of us stay spiritually flabby. We don’t develop spiritual muscles because godliness requires constant vigilance. Constant diligence. Working out spiritually. Serious, purposeful, continual training.

Sometimes you won’t feel like you’re making progress, but you keep training. Training for the purpose of godliness knowing that ultimately you will see the fruit and you will reap the benefits.

So how do you do that spiritually? Well, you’re doing it all the time. You’re training yourself either for godliness or for ungodliness.

  • It’s in the books you read.
  • It's in the music you listen to.
  • It's in what you talk about with your friends.
  • It's in what you do with your free time.

Are those things helping you move toward greater godliness? Are you devoting large amounts of time, excessive amounts of time in your day to recreation, to hobbies, to television, to secular magazines, to computer games? Then don’t expect to be making progress in godliness. You see, when I have some free time, I have a choice.

You say, does that mean you have to read your Bible every waking hour? No, but it does mean that I need to be making choices to get input into my mind and heart and life that will push me toward godliness. Things that will make me think pure thoughts about God, that will direct my thinking Godward.

You say, "That sounds like a lot of effort." It is. But there’s a promise that comes with the pursuit of godliness. First Timothy, chapter 4, “Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value . . .” Physical exercise has some value. The old King James says there, “Bodily exercise profiteth little.” My dad, who was not much more into exercise than I am, used to say, “but it does profit a little,” but very little comparatively. Because Paul goes on to say, “While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (verses 7-8).

You see, physical exercise has some profit, but it’s only for the physical body and it’s only for here and now. But the exercise toward godliness has the promise of profit not only for your body, but for your soul and your spirit and your mind and your emotions. It will profit you in every area of your life and not only in this life, but also for all of eternity. It’s worth it to go to the gym, spiritually speaking, to get conditioned, to get trained, to develop endurance, to develop godliness.

So here are some questions to think about:

  • Is your heart orientation and inclination toward things that are godly? Are you oriented toward God? Is your heart devoted to God?
  • Is your life God-centered? Is He what you think about, what you dwell on, what you seek after?
  • Is the essential orientation of your life heavenward or earthward? Eternal or temporal?
  • Are you training to be godly? Are you exercising yourself? Disciplining yourself to be godly? How are you doing? What are you doing?

As I came to this passage last January and God began to speak to my heart about making every effort to be godly, to develop spiritually, to grow spiritually, the Lord brought to my mind some specific things that I felt would help me pursue godliness. They may not be what you need. You may need something totally different. But some steps and some changes in my priorities and some changes in my schedule.

I asked, as I’ve shared earlier in this series, some friends who love me and care for my soul and want to hold me accountable, will you help me in this? I could have gone months or maybe years without ever saying, I need help in these areas. But I just decided I don’t want to stay where I am. I want to press on. I want to be a godly old lady. And by God’s grace and His power and His promises, I will be. Not anything in me, but God is making the inclination of my heart more and more toward Him.

But it comes at a price. It comes at training. It comes at saying no to some other things that you might use to fill your time. Now do I do that perfectly? No, not by any long shot. But am I in a process toward it? Yes, and that’s what Peter calls us to. Pursue godliness. Train yourself to be godly. For godliness is of value in every way as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with the second half of Revive Our Hearts. The apostle Peter says we need to add to our faith and Nancy’s been explaining what that means. We hope that adding to your faith will be a lifelong habit and that you’ll continue pondering on the truths Nancy’s been providing.

So when you donate any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we’ll say thanks by sending the series Adding to Your Faith on CD. We’ll also include the helpful booklet, Making the Most of Your Time—perfect reading in January. Donate at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Now back to Nancy.

Nancy: Some of you know that I’m from the city of Philadelphia. That’s where I grew up. And I assume you know what Philadelphia means—the city of brotherly love. We come today to a word in our study of 2 Peter that is this word philadelphia—brotherly affection or brotherly love.

We’ve been looking at this series of qualities, this list of graces that we are to add to our faith. Seven qualities we are to add to our faith. Peter is telling us this is something you have to work at—not just for a little while. This is a lifelong effort and pursuit.

Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and then virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness (2 Peter 1:5-6).

Now what’s the next one? Add to your godliness brotherly affection or brotherly love. You see if we had been writing the list, well sometimes I wonder how I would have written list. What would I have included? What order would I have put them in? But I’m not the one who was writing it. It’s God who inspired the writing of this.

I wonder if we might not have put godliness as the ultimate. I mean that seems to kind of make sense. But as I’ve been meditating on this passage, I realized that godliness in one sense is not an end in itself. Now it is in another sense. But in one sense you don’t have godliness until you live it out in the context of human relationships.

See, I think if godliness were at the end, we would think, oh, I can just go live in a cave and be spiritual all the rest of my life. So he follows up and he says, "Out of your godliness let there flow brotherly affection." This is a word that has to do with the love of Christians for one another. Brotherly love that flows out of a common spiritual life.

What’s our common spiritual life? You may not have much in common at first appearance with some other Christians in your church. But the fact is, you have the same Father. You are related to each other. We are brothers and sisters in the family of God. We are fellow children in God’s family. To have brotherly affection means to love the others in my family. Affection for God’s children.

It’s a word that has to do with friendship. It’s a quality that runs deeper than just passing someone in the aisle at church and saying, “Hi, how are you doing?” Friendship goes deeper than that. It has to do with the way we talk to and about other believers. It has to do with being sensitive to the needs of the people around me.

Isn’t it amazing how we can live with people, work with people, go to church with people, be in the same ministries together, know people for years and not really know what they’re struggling with? Not know who they are. It’s being sensitive to where other people are, sensitive to the needs of other believers and proactively trying to meet those needs.

How can I serve you? It’s getting out of my own self and into the lives of other people. It has to do with cultivating relationships, not being a Lone Ranger Christian. A willingness to sacrifice for them.

I know as soon as we start talking about friendship there will be those who are lonely, who feel estranged, who feel like Lone Rangers, thinking, "I go to church and no one speaks to me. No one gets into my life. I’d like to have a friend like that." I think especially in our hearts as women there’s this longing for true friendship, for true relationship, for intimacy.

The danger is that we sit and wait for someone to come and be that to us and Peter is saying here, be a friend. Give brotherly affection. Don’t wait for someone to give you brotherly affection. Give it to others.

Romans chapter 12, verse 9, “Love one another with brotherly affection.” There’s that term. Outdo one another in showing honor. "How can I lift you up? No, you first. No, you first. No, you first."

First Peter chapter 1, verse 22, says,

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love [there’s that phrase], love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

I’ve been thinking recently about how this whole thing of brotherly affection and friendship, how important it is, because it creates in the body of Christ a climate where people can afford to get honest with each other, where they can get real, where they feel safe. You know, sometimes people would rather tell their problems to someone at a bar than they would someone at church because the people at the bar are going to accept them and come around them and help them, so I’m told. I’ve never been there. I’m not sure.

Sometimes I know there’s a sense that if I say something to someone at church about what I’m struggling with, about an issue in my life, an issue in our marriage, first of all the whole church is going to be talking about it. Secondly, they’re going to reject me, and there’s this fear of getting real. I think that’s because we haven’t been in the body of Christ in our churches really cultivating friendship—brotherly affection.

We need each other. I can’t deal with the root issues in my life—the things that are obstacles to me becoming like Christ—I can’t deal with those by myself. I’m not intended to deal with them by myself. I need you. I need my friends. I need other believers who come around me and say, we’ll help you. We’ll hold you accountable. We’ll listen. We’ll pray for you.

We’re not going to be likely to share those real heart issues with each other if we haven’t cultivated an atmosphere of brotherly affection and friendship. That trust is birthed out of friendship and affection, getting to know each other, and creating an atmosphere where people feel like they can afford to get honest.

I really think if there were more true brotherly affection, more true godly friendship between believers, there would be less need in the church for professional counselors, for pastors to do all the counseling. There would be more victory over sin. There would be more freedom in areas of our lives because out of that godly friendship, that brotherly affection, can flow some real genuine help and grace in each other’s lives.

I’ve seen it happen in my life. I’ve been the recipient of it. I’ve been able to give it. But it comes out of brotherly affection and friendship.

So here are some questions:

  • Do you genuinely care for the people of God? Are you fond of them? Do you enjoy their company?
  • Are you cultivating healthy, rich relationships with other believers? Do you think of other believers as your brothers and sisters?
  • Are you kind to and considerate of your fellow believers?
  • Do you assume the best of other believers? Are you quick to believe a negative report?
  • Do you speak charitably, do you speak well of other believers?
  • Knowing that they’re weak, knowing that they haven’t arrived, knowing that they’ve got blind spots, but how can I put the best possible spin on them? How can I see them in the best possible light? Assume the best about them?

Now that doesn’t mean we cover up faults that we ought to be helping each other to deal with. But I want to assume the best of other believers.

  • Are you quick to serve and minister to their needs whenever possible?
  • Are you hospitable? Do you welcome God’s people into your home? Do you receive others as Christ has received you?

Don’t you agree that we need a good dose of brotherly affection, godly friendship in our churches? I need those kinds of friends. I’m very blessed to have those kinds of friends. I need to be that kind of friend.

Then we come to the last of these qualities—the peak, the pinnacle, the apex of it all. It’s the outflow of all these other qualities. And what is it? Love. Agape. God’s love. That other-centered, selfless, sacrificial, serving, giving love that always has the best interests of the other person at heart.

It’s the kind of love that doesn’t necessarily give people what they want all the time, but it gives them what they need. For God so loved the world that He gave us all a bunch of money, that He gave us all good health. No, God so loved this fallen, broken, needy world that He gave a Savior. He gave us what we needed.

Now you hear a lot of talk about love today among believers, and I think the problem is that we want to start here. We just want everybody to love everybody. But true agape love is the pinnacle. It’s the fruit. It’s the outcome of a diligent building process that we’ve been talking about.

It’s the result of adding these other qualities to our faith. You can’t have genuine love apart from faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness and brotherly affection. As you add these qualities to your faith, you’ll find that you will grow in love. Love for God. To love the Lord your God with all your heart. That is your calling. That is your mission. That is the supreme objective of our lives. To love Him with all our hearts and then to love others with His love.

In Colossians chapter 3, where the apostle Paul gives a long list of virtues that we’re to clothe ourselves with: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and then he says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (verse 14). If you’re not becoming more loving, then you’re not on the right track.

Your diligence in the Christian life is not just so that you can be this good, strong, amazing Christian. It’s so you can be more loving. I think about how I’d like to be known. I’d love people to think I was a lover, a lover of God, a lover of people. I want to be pressing on toward love.

  • Is your life characterized by that kind of love?
  • Do you love God?
  • Is your love for God evidenced in your obedience of His commands?
  • Do you love your family?
  • Do you love your church family?
  • Do you love the lost?
  • Do you love harsh people?
  • Do you love rude people?

Now that doesn’t mean that you ignore their failures. God may want to use you as an instrument of grace and blessing and help in that person’s life. But you can’t be that instrument in other’s lives if your ministry is not flowing out of love. So Paul says, “Above all these [things], put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been describing brotherly love. It’s just one of the qualities we’ve been studying as part of the series, Adding to Your Faith.

Well, I hope you’ll experience some sisterly love as thousands of women converge on Chattanooga for True Woman ’10. Nancy’s here to tell you more about it.

Nancy: God uses a variety of means to speak to our hearts through His Word. He uses your pastor. He uses personal Bible study and programs like Revive Our Hearts. And sometimes it’s valuable to get away from the normal routine and hear from God for an extended time.

I’ve found that God can use concentrated opportunities like this to speak to our hearts in a big way. That’s why women are preparing to meet together and seek the Lord March 25-27 at the True Woman conference in Chattanooga.

I’m trusting that as women come together to learn God’s purposes and seek His will, they will come away truly changed. They’ll return to their homes and their churches with a renewed sense of purpose and vision for their lives as women.

So would you join me in Chattanooga? Pastors James MacDonald and Voddie Baucham will be there along with my friends, Kay Arthur, Mary Kassian, Jennifer Rothschild, Fern Nichols and other speakers who are ready to help you discover your purpose as a true woman for your generation.

Dannah Gresh will also be there leading a teen track as we seek to pass on biblical truth to the next generation of women. If you sign up for the True Woman conference in Chattanooga before January 31, you’ll receive a discount for early registration. So get more information right away at ReviveOurHearts.com.

You’ll also find information for the True Woman events coming up later this year in Indianapolis and Fort Worth.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1 R.C. Sproul. Table Talk, November 1992, p. 31.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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