Character, springing from holy principles in the heart, is of great price in the sight of God.
Godly character . . .develops God’s purpose, manifests the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and proves the existence of a work of grace.
We find, therefore, that character is constantly placed before us in the Word of God. This we are required to notice, to trace it up to its source, and to mark its design.“But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself.” Psalm 4:3.
WHO ARE THE GODLY?
The godly are those who are characterized by godly sincerity:
whose word maybe taken,
whose professions may be believed,
whose promises may be trusted,
who are transparent in their lives.
The godly are those who experience godly sorrow.
They know that they sin.
They feel the bitterness of sin.
They are sorry, very sorry for their sins.
They confess their sin, loathe themselves on account of it, and weep and mourn over it.
They enjoy the pardon of sin.
No one ever sorrows over sin after a godly sort–but the soul whose sins are pardoned.
Conviction leads to confession;
confession springs from faith; and
faith has to do with the precious blood of Christ.
Confessing sin, with the eye fixed on the blood of Jesus–always brings a sense of pardon into the soul.
The godly are those who exercise godly fear. They fear to sin, not so much because they are afraid of Hell–as because they fear to offend God, and grieve his loving Spirit. They walk cautiously and carefully in the world, not trusting to themselves–but depending on God’s grace alone.
The godly are those who love purity. They are taught by God’s word, and are induced by God’s grace–to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts–and to live soberly, and godly, and righteously, in this present world.
The godly are those who often suffer persecution. Indeed the apostle declares, “If any man will live godly in Christ Jesus–he shall suffer persecution.” And most godly people find this to be true, in a greater or less degree. However, this is their comfort–that suffer as they may, the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation.
WHAT IS TESTIFIED OF THEM? “The Lord has set apart the godly for himself.” He has distinguished them from others, and placed them on one side, as peculiarly his own. They are for himself, to walk with him in holy friendship and fellowship. To be his portion and peculiar delight. They reflect his excellencies and publish his praise. They proclaim his name on earth and dwell with him forever in Heaven.
But WHEN did he set them apart? In the council and covenant of eternity past, when he chose them in Christ, gave them to Christ, and predestined them to the adoption of children by Christ. Also, in the day of his power, when he quickened them by his Spirit, brought them out of the world, proclaimed a jubilee in their hearts, filling them with love, joy, and peace. In eternity He passed the irrevocable purpose–and in time he executed it.
We are bidden therefore to observe, consider, and feel assured, that the godly are the Lord’s special people, set apart for himself. So esteem them highly for the Lord’s sake, and treat them kindly as his children–though they may be poor, illiterate, and despised by the world. Carefully to copy their example, catch their spirit, and choose them for our companions, as God has for his.
Observe, Real religion is likeness to God. Grace always conforms man to God’s moral excellencies. It makes him holy, merciful, righteous, and loving. Just in proportion as we resemble God–are we godly. It is not our knowledge, gifts, or attainments; it is not even our convictions, sorrows, or joys; but our godlikeness, which decides our state.
We were ungodly by nature; if we are not ungodly now–then it is because grace has produced a supernatural change. If we are not at all like God–then we are in our natural state, still dead in sin, and under condemnation!
The godly are a peculiar people. Grace has made them so, and grace will keep them so. They are unlike their former selves–and they are unlike the world around them. Sin is the object of their hatred–and they ardently desire holiness. To be perfectly like God in all his moral excellencies, is the highest object of their ambition.
God’s peculiar ones should be observed. Not with the eye of envy, or jealousy–but with the eye of love and admiration. We should know or acknowledge them. We should so know as to prefer them, because God prefers them, and because, if believers–we shall dwell with them in the presence of God forever.
Our greatest honor is to be set apart for God. Nothing can exceed this. What a wondrous declaration is that made concerning Israel of old, “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” HIS PECULIAR TREASURE! O the honor conferred on sinful mortals . . .
to be chosen of God,
to be set apart for God,
to be the objects of the highest love of God!
But this honor have all his saints!
Holy Spirit, make me truly, thoroughly, visibly godly; give me the inward witness that God has set me apart for himself; and enable me so to live and act on earth, that all who see and observe me, may be convinced that I am one of those whom the Lord has set apart for himself–that they may glorify God in me!