The Christian Character Trait of Godliness
Sermon Summary
This message delves into what it means to have godliness as a character trait in follower of Christ’s life. It asks the question, “How is it even possible for a mere human being to have godliness as a character trait?” Four reasons are given to support the  possibility of an individual possessing godliness as a character trait. These reasons come from the text of Peter’s second letter found in the New Testament. According to 2 Peter 1:1-4 Godly character flows into a believer’s life through God’s righteousness, His knowledge, His power and His promises. A believer does not possess within his own righteousness, knowledge or power, the ability to live a Godly life. However, God promises to walk with His people throughout their lives and because of His willingness to be present and active in the life of a believer, the believer can actually possess godliness as a character trait. The message ends with the believers responsibility to respond to God’s grace by doing his or her part in living a godly life. 2 Peter 1:4-8.   
 
Small Group Discussion Guide
1. Do you believe it is possible for a person to have godliness as a character trait? If no, why do you feel that way? If yes, what would be some of the characteristics of such a trait?

2. Why do you think godliness, as a character trait, is not pursued by more Christians? Could it be they feel it is an unattainable goal, to difficult or maybe to restrictive to their lifestyle?
Rom 12:2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

3. Peter states that God has provided everything we need for life and godliness. He uses the word through five times. Peter list four things from God through which we have the ability to possess godliness as a character trait. Read the following four verses and see if you can pick out the four things, then briefly discuss how each one contributes to the character trait of godliness.
2 Pet 1:1  Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
2 Pet 1:2  Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Pet 1:3  His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Pet 1:4  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

4. God provides what we need to have godliness as a character trait, however, there are some things we are to do to apply what God has given. Read the following verses and discuss our role in living a Godly life.
2 Pet 1:5  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
2 Pet 1:6  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
2 Pet 1:7  and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
2 Pet 1:8  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.



Full Sermon Notes

Godliness
2 Peter 1:1-8

As we come to the Christian Character trait of Godliness, I know it could be said that Godliness is the over arching trait which includes all others. Love, humility, courage, forgiveness, faithfulness, generosity, etc. I agree, but there is a part of Godliness that has to do with holiness, righteousness and otherness, that is just best described as Godliness.

What do I mean by otherness? God is different and set apart from all others. His holiness has to do with His otherness, and His desire for His people to be set apart and different as well.

The Christian Character trait of Godliness has fallen out of popularity and ironically has even been vilified by some. Somehow, people have come to equate Godliness with spiritual pride, and a desire to be holy, with a legalistic, I'm better than you, kind of attitude. True Godliness is none of these things. True Godliness is so opposite of prideful and legalistic! True Godliness is foreign to any kind of elite, I'm better than you, thinking!

True Godliness is a powerful Christian Character trait we should all desire and seek to have in our lives on a daily basis! When we seek to be Godly in our actions, our attitudes, and our aspirations in life, everything changes! Our very reason for living changes for the better! Our goals change, our priorities change and our definition of success changes. As a result, our peace of mind and our satisfaction in life rise to new levels no matter our circumstances.

By faith we trust God with our past failures and disappointments!
By faith we trust God with our present weaknesses and struggles! By faith we trust God with our future uncertainties and aspirations. We then seek the knowledge of God in order to live the life we know has greater purpose and much greater reward than the life we lived before becoming a follower of Christ.

Now to be sure, the world will not understand and will certainly not applaud your efforts to live a Godly life. They will ridicule and mock. They may even seek to trip you up and take you back down to where they are. Remember misery loves company and human nature will cause others to be jealous of the new life you've found. While there's a part of them that wants what you've got, it's easier for them to try to get you to abandon your new way of life rather than for them to seek to become what you're becoming.

And what is it you're becoming? A new creation. The old has past, the new has come! Now to be sure, we are never to look down upon anyone, for we are but sinners saved by grace. However, the grace that saved us from penalty of sin is also empowering us to overcome the power of sin in our lives. That amazing grace is giving us the strength and knowledge to live a Holy life! A Godly life of righteousness rather than a selfish life of wickedness!  

When I say Godliness is a Christian character trait, you might be tempted to say, but Bro. Larry, Jesus was God in the flesh, He was divine, that's why He could live a Godly life. Yes He was God, but He was also human and He could have chosen to live differently, but He didn't. He chose to live a Godly life. He did this for many reasons, but one important reason was to show us an example of Godly Character! And remember, He prayed and also depended on the Holy Spirit for power and strength! Just as we are to do!

After we pray we're going to look at a powerful piece of God's Word concerning the Christian Character of Godliness. It's found in 2 Peter 1:1-8 Let's pray and ask God to teach us by His precious Word today!
PRAY.

1Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;

6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;

7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This passage tells us emphatically we can live a Godly life and it gives us the reasons. You might ask how in the world can a mere human being possess Godliness as a character trait. The first four verses tell us what God has done in order to give us this ability and the second four tell us what our response should be. So having a Godly character should be the goal for every follower of Christ! I pray everyone of you will embrace the character trait of Godliness as a priority in your life.

Let's look at the reasons a mere human being can actually possess Godliness as a Character trait!

Reason #1 we can possess Godliness as a character trait…

His Righteousness


1Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

Notice Peter said "to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, have received a faith as precious as ours. It's not by my own righteousness or goodness. And when he says "who have received a faith as precious as ours," he's talking about how non-jews had been given the same opportunity to have faith in God! Jesus had opened the door for all who would receive what God offered!

The reason a Godly person is not puffed up with pride is they know their righteousness is not their own, but is an undeserved gift of grace from a righteous and holy God! A Godly person knows their faith is a gift from God through His Son Jesus Christ and was the costliest gift ever given!
Paul echoed Peter's words in his letter to the Ephesian church.

Paul, you might remember, was a recipient of God's grace and certainly needed it. He had been a very prideful Pharisee persecuting Christians. After meeting Jesus his testimony changed from look at what I've done to look at what Jesus has done for me!
Listen to how he put it in Ephesians 1:1-8...

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love

5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

God is such a good God! That HE lavished on us will all wisdom and understanding!! He pre chose us! He chose to love you before you chose to love Him! It's amazing how Paul and Peter were on the same page when it comes to Godliness. In fact, this takes us to our second reason it's possible for a mere human being to possess the character trait of holiness...

Reason #2 we can possess Godliness as a character trait…

His Knowledge


2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

It's not my own spiritual knowledge or wisdom that gives me access to Godliness. It's His knowledge and wisdom. One of the most troubling trends in our modern day society is the belief that our own beliefs, our own knowledge, our own wisdom are what matters most. People don't think they need God and the Bible! God's Word, is considered by many to be an outdated book of irrelevant rules and regulations. We are turning more and more to teachers who teach that self is god and your own wisdom is ultimate.

Here's a quote from a New Age teacher who was considered the most spiritually influential man in the world just two years ago...

"In the stillness of your own Presence, you can feel your own formless and timeless reality as the un manifested life that animates your physical form."  Eckhart Tolle

Is there an interpreter in the house? I'm a bit confused.
Oprah Winfrey is a follower of Eckhart Tolle.
Here's another new age philosopher's thinking...

"You have a very powerful mind that can make anything happen as long as you keep yourself centered."
--Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Ok, centered on what? That's what is so troubling to me. If we are centering on ourself, our own desires, our own goals, then we will stop at nothing to get what we want. And self worship leads to self destruction.

My question would be this…Have all of our education and new age philosophies made our world a better world and a safer world, or have we simply used our new found knowledge to find more sophisticated ways to fulfill our selfish wants and desires. Since we've abandoned God's Word as the standard for society, are we  now more civil, less barbarian, and more at peace? Are our families more stable? Are we safer? Do our youth have a greater hope for their future? I think we all know the answer to these questions.

Let me read what Peter said again...

2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Grace and peace can be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord! What an offer!!! God Himself offers us His wisdom and His knowledge, but we so many times turn it down and pretty much state, "I'll figure this out on my own!"
Now please know this, I'm not advocating being none-thinkers or intellectually lazy, or not being willing to ask the tough questions.

I believe God gave us our brain to use our brain, but I also think He has offered to aid us in our quest for knowledge and to guide us to truth! Why would you not want that kind of help?
Refusing God's offer of knowledge would be like becoming the lead researcher in a cutting edge nuclear science lab and being offered full access to the former lead scientist's lifetime of research saying, "No thanks, I'm just going to start from scratch!" If I worked there I would give my resignation and move far, far away!

When we center our lives around God and His Word, grace and peace will be ours in abundance even if the world around us is in great turmoil. Why? Because we have the knowledge God is ultimately in control and He is guiding us and protecting us. Therefore we make decisions based on our knowledge of God's Word rather than on our fears and circumstances. I love the way the writer of Proverbs stated it in Proverbs 1:1-7...

1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

2for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight;

3for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair;

4for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—

5let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—

6for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.

7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Enough said! Let's look at the third reason it's possible for a mere human being to possess the character trait of Godliness...

Reason #3 we can possess Godliness as a character trait…

His Power


3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Peter is clear, God's power has given us everything we need for life and godliness! And, again, through our knowledge of Him! Have you noticed how many times the word through is used. Five times in the first four verses. God's righteousness, God's knowledge, and God's power come through God to us. These are not things we can generate or create on our own. We must never forget, we are created by God in His image. Every time in history humans have attempted to create God in their image tragedy has followed!

God created us in His image. He wants us to do good and He has offered His divine power in order for us to have everything we need to live a Godly life. Even when our circumstances look impossible and we may have little or no resources to accomplish the vision God has given us, He will make a way… Paul put it this way in his letter to the Philippian Church...

12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

God gives us the strength to do what He has called us to do! He gives us the power to accomplish what we could never do on our own! In our flesh we are weak, but as we have talked about in the last few weeks, God's power is made perfect in our weakness. When we are weak He is strong. Sometimes we are physically weak, sometimes emotionally weak, and sometimes spiritually weak. However, God gives us His power to compensate. Paul put it this way to young Timothy in 2nd Timothy 1:7-10...

7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

8So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,

9who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

This takes us to our fourth reason a mere human being can possess the Character trait of Godliness...

Reason #4 we can possess Godliness as a character trait…

His Promises


3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

God has made some amazing promises to His children. These promises were made because God has called us by His own glory and goodness! In other words, it was the glory and goodness of God that motivated Him to make promises to His children. God is a good God who keeps His promises and because of His faithfulness to keep His promises we know that through these promises we have the ability to "participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires!"

There are many promises in God's Word to us. There have been books written just on the promises. But I want to share with you one promise in particular that is the reason we are able to  participate in the divine nature of God and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.


It is a promise made by God in the Old Testament many times and repeated in the New Testament. Paul quotes the promise during his discussion with the Corinthians about being yoked together with unbelievers. This passage is found in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

14Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

Paul is not saying we are not to be friends with unbelievers, or try to reach them by building a relationship with them, but he is saying we are not to be yoked together with them in their wicked activities. In other words, we don't go along to get along. We don't involve or entangle ourselves in the evil behaviors they are caught up in. If we act the same way and do the same things then how will they see Jesus in us.

This is especially important when it comes to marriage and business partnerships. Why? A follower of Christ and a nonbeliever will have tremendous differences of opinion in the way they conduct business and live life. Building a good marriage has challenges even in the best of circumstances, adding the mix of belief and unbelief sometimes causes a marriage to fail. Not always, but more often than not! Let's read on...

15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

Belial is another name for Satan and it means worthless. Again, you must remember, Paul is not saying we turn our back on people who are not believers, we just don't engage in the same activities. Back in Corinth, many of these non-believers were a part of pagan temples, and Christ followers were not to be a part of those activities. Let's read on...

16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

And there's the promise! “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
What a powerful promise!!
God Almighty lives with us, walks with us and is our God and we are His people!
As a result, our lives should be different.

17“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

18“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

1Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Perfecting Holiness out of reverence to God!
In other words, I don't want to be holy or Godly to try to earn my way to God. I could never be that good. But I want to live a Godly and holy live out of reverence to God and in gratitude for all that God has given me throughout His Son Jesus Christ!
He died for me I'll live for Him!!

Never, ever forget, we are not better than the worst pagan on the planet. Believers are not better than non-believers, but we are better off because we have been made right with God through His grace, His mercy, His righteousness, His knowledge, His power, His promises!
So we can have the Christian Character Trait of Godliness and we want non-believers to know God loves them just as much as He loves us and wants to save them from the corruption of the world!

In closing, I will simply read to you what you and I should do since THROUGH God we have been made right with God. God has done His part, now here's what we're to do...

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;

6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;

7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let's Pray!!

Pre sermon workup
ETS: God has given us the ability to live Godly lives!
ESS: Having a Godly character should be a goal for every follower of Christ!
OSS: I want everyone of you to embrace the character trait of Godliness as a priority in your life.
Probing Question: How is it even possible for a mere human being to have Godliness as a Character Trait?
Unifying Word: Reasons
Transitional Sentence: Let's look at the reasons a mere human being can actually possess Godliness as a Character trait!