“and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),” 2 Peter 1:6 (AMP)
Steps 5-7 have everything to do with passion. Step 5 is experiencing a loving passion for God. Then Step 6 creates a passion to love fellow believers. And finally, Step 7 focuses on passion for the lost world around us.
Upon graduation from your final exam, you then stand firm against the testing and temptations of the devil and live in the full power of God inside your spirit, which means, you are now ready to begin Step 5. Yes, now you can claim God’s Word that says “you are strong and vigorous, and the Word of God is [always] abiding in you (in your hearts), and you have been victorious over the wicked one.” [1 John 2:14 AMP] Celebrate and rejoice! No longer are you bouncing in and out of obedience, but instead, you are walking consistently in the Spirit and experiencing the victory over the enemy.
In the natural world, this is understood by completing school, getting your diploma, and beginning your life as an adult. New job or career, stability to live on your own, and taking responsibility for yourself are all ahead of you. Phase three of your spiritual life is true maturity with huge challenges and responsibilities now in your hands.
Spiritually, this means it is time to serve the living God. A servant of God fully and completely dedicates himself to fulfill the will of God. Like the knights of old, he fights the good fight, as Paul states. At first, you are a rookie and will make rookie mistakes unless you listen carefully to your leaders and spiritual authorities.
Matthew 5:14-16 (AMP)
14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.
But let’s start with right foundations. In a word, this means fully embracing true devotion to God. You must be steadfast in your focus to love your Lord! It is time to ignite your passion for the Lord your God.
First let’s look at the word, godliness or piety which is confusing and misunderstood by many. But to truly progress in your spiritual maturity you must fully understand and diligently develop true godliness. The Greek word that is translated godliness “refers to piety, man’s obligation of reverence toward God.” [Bible Knowledge Commentary] This means the core of your being must be filled by “a deep, reverential, religious fear; not only worshipping God with every becoming outward act, but adoring, loving, and magnifying him in the heart…” [Adam Clarke’s Commentary]
But you must clearly understand what the Bible means by worship. This Greek word “is from εὐ, well, and σέβομαι, to worship so that the radical idea is worship rightly directed.” Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament continues by explaining, “Worship, however, is to be understood in its etymological sense, worth-ship, or reverence paid to worth, whether in God or man… In classical Greek the word is not confined to religion, but means also piety in the fulfilment of human relations …‘The recognition of dependence upon the gods, the confession of human dependence, the tribute of homage which man renders in the certainty that he needs their favor—all this is εὐσέβεια, manifest in conduct and conversation, in sacrifice and prayer’ (Nägelsbach, cited by Cremer). This definition may be almost literally transferred to the Christian word. It embraces the confession of the one living and true God, and life corresponding to this knowledge.”
Everything depends on your heart, no true spiritual life will happen unless you actually and fully love God. A deep passion must burn inside your soul! You may have started your religious interest in selfishness. Maybe you wanted God to solve your problems, give you peace, have a better life, or a myriad of purely self-centered motives. None of these are valid and the sooner you see that this is hypocrisy the better. Everything and I mean everything hinges on this truth… “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'” [Matt 22:37 (NKJV)]
Is God worth your devotion and love? Do you passionately LOVE God?
Self-dependence and self-reliance are the wicked sins of pride. God resists the proud. But godliness is the complete reliance upon the supernatural guidance, grace, and power of the living God. He is everything to you, and more important than your life, wife, children, job, reputation, and self-respect. There must be a complete and total abandonment of everything that you are and have, by surrendering yourself to His control.
You live only for GOD! He is your all-consuming passion. Everything else you do and say is by His command because this proves you see His worth. What He says in a matter is more valuable than anyone else’s opinion. His wisdom exceeds the experts in any field of science or philosophy. His directions on where you live, who you marry, your future plans, your family choices, and what you do with your money and time are all given up to Him.
Let me prove it.
Our Lord showed us to follow Him in this narrow way of life because He lived it. “I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” [John 12:49-50 (NLT)]
Absolute obedience to the Words and divine guidance of the Father was the one and only thing that Jesus followed. He did not deviate from the Father’s directions. “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does.” [John 5:19-20 (NKJV)]
To add godliness to your life you must make strong and clear choices. You must stop adding your ideas, dreams, wisdom, rational reasoning, and practical applications for your life. Shave down your words and actions to fully comply with His Words! Do not add to His words. Learn to anchor yourself on His instructions. When you ignore His direct commands and call it grace, even when you say you are serving him, you have entered into a dark and broad road of false faith.
BUT JESUS DID MAKE CLEAR CHOICES AND CALLS YOU TO FOLLOW HIM!
The Lord Jesus proclaimed, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” [Matt 10:34-39 (NKJV)]
Remember, Christ was not popular in His country. The community of Jews tried to assassinate Him (Luke 4:28-30). His words were rejected by the majority of His followers (John 6:66). Religious leaders and the vast majority wanted him crucified. He warned us, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” [Matt 5:11-12 (NKJV)] It takes real love to stick to the unpopular and hated leader in town, but the first apostles proved their devotion to Jesus.
The Kingdom of God must consume you. Your prayer must be, “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” Yes, Christ must be your king, your LORD! “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple… So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” [Luke 14:26-27, 33 (NKJV)] A captured slave would resent these words, but a person wholly in love with God will welcome and embrace these words with joy.
Do you love God enough to actually worship Him?
START WITH A PERSONAL CEREMONY WITH GOD
1/ Like a wedding ceremony, willfully proclaim your love for God and become a true disciple. In marriage, you forsake all others and devote yourself only to your mate. Your life from the day of your wedding is forever changed to “we” and no longer “me.” All other relationships drop to secondary status. You build a life and future together. In the same fashion, present your absolute devotion to the Lord Jesus because He is worth leaving everything to follow Him. Give Him all your heart! Do everything in your power to love him with all your mind and strength.
2/ Like the honeymoon, decisively give your body to the Lord. The apostle Paul explains it by saying, “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.” [Romans 12:1 (AMP)]
3/ With every ounce of your strength deepen your relationship by lovingly offering your body every day and hour as a continual sacrifice of total worship and service to Him alone. Remember everyone has a job, they also did so in Jesus’ day. This does not negate this priority of godliness. Our Lord calls us to really love Him passionately. “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”
You must understand that true worship is not singing a few religious songs that you like but diligently giving your life in sacrificial service for your Lord every day. “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.” [Heb 12:28-29 (NLT])
4/ Allow your thinking and life to be consumed with God’s word, God’s ways, God’s ideals, God’s attitudes, and His will. Allow God to fully change you in every way. “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” [Romans 12:1-2 (AMP)]
Remember “perfect” means complete and finished. Press forward allowing God full control of your life, and full access to your mind and heart. Devote yourself to His strength until you find rest by fully depending on your God. Passionately live as a light for the world to see so that God receives the glory.
Once you come to the place that you really love God more than anyone or anything on this planet, you will finally be able to move to the next step of maturity. Only when you become a true worshiper of the Lord, will you be able to add selfless brotherly kindness to your lifestyle.
But for now, focus on exercising your steadfastness and adding godliness to your life.