Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 14, 1966
NUMBER 10, PAGE 6b-7

Form Without Godliness,

Edd Holt

"The Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land" (Hos. 4:2), because though "holding a form of godliness" they have "denied the power thereof." (2 Tim. 3:5)

Christ was the manifestation of godliness. The New Testament is "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13). In it "His divine power hath granted unto us all that pertains to life and godliness." (2 Pet.1:3). Thus "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." (Titus 2:11,12).

THE POWER OF GODLINESS is generated by the practice of the teaching of the New Testament. "Exercise thyself unto godliness: for bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come." (1 Tim. 4:7,8). Godliness in our lives makes us the "salt of the earth." It helps make it "in season" for preaching the doctrine of Christ, Godliness is like electricity in a way. It is the power that makes Christians "the light of the world." From God it has come through the means of certain transformers to us. From God-- through Christ (Matt. 1:23)--through the Holy Spirit (John 16:14)--through the "apostles and prophets" (Eph. 3:1-5)--into the New Testament, "the doctrine which is according to godliness" (1 Tim. 6:3). Here we have ''all that pertains to life and godliness. "But the light is turned on when we practice what is preached by the New Testament. Godly living "adorns the doctrine" (Titus 2:10); but "ungodliness and worldly lusts" cause "the name of God and His doctrine" to be blasphemed. (1 Tim. 6:1-3). Godliness in the lives of men has the power to "prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Rom. 12:1-2)

FORM WITHOUT GODLINESS. There is much formality in the world today but there is not much godliness. Many are "holding a form of godliness"--something they call godliness or Christianity, but they have "denied the power" of godliness. The denominationalism and ritualism of today is far removed from the "simplicity and purity" that is in Christ. Contrast the super-organized -- bureaucratic -churches of men with the simple New Testament church with its elders, deacons and members. Contrast the clergy called "the cloth" because of more formalism -- who love "the chief seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the marketplaces," who wish to be called "Reverend" and "Father" (a thing none of us should do) -- (Psa. 111:9; Matt. 23:9); contrast such things with the simple fishermen who first preached the perfected gospel of Christ. Jesus would say, "Woe unto you... Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matt. 23:27-28). The great controversy was on then, and it is on now.

DEFINITIONS OF DEATH. "As the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead." (James 2:26): There is form to the body without the spirit but there is no power to it. There is form to faith without works but it is a dead form. From appearances the world is very religious today--but it is mostly form--the power of godliness is not in it. "The body without the spirit"--"faith without works"--"a form of godliness without the power"--"theory without practice"--DEATH.

CREEDS WITHOUT CHRIST. Many are holding to some form of creed but they have denied the power of the gospel of Christ -- the Christian's creed. They say, "We believe in the New Testament all right" but they deny its power to save (Rom. 1:16) and that it completely furnishes the man of God unto every good work (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Outwardly they appear to hold onto it but actually they deny its power. Instead of saying "The word of God is quick and powerful"--"living and active" (Heb. 4:12), they say, "It is a dead letter." They make void the word of God by their traditions and creeds.

A FORM OF REPENTANCE is preached but the power of godliness is denied because repentance is not practiced. Repentance from sin is preceded by "godly sorrow" and it is followed by a reformation of life. It demands that "the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts." Repentance itself is the change of mind or will through which a man goes when he gives up his own will and accepts the will of God; alter which he can say, "Not my will but thine be done." When men repent toward God "the pleasure of Jehovah will prosper in their hands." But today men talk of and profess repentance but remain "self-willed." Many preachers preach repentance and then deny the power of it by doing in worship and work what pleases themselves and not God.

A FORM OF CONFESSION. The religious world of today says that "everybody ought to have some sort of creed." And they hold to some form of confession. But they deny the power of godliness by the things they believe and confess. Instead of "contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" they hold to some form of the creeds of men -- the doctrines and commandments of men. And instead of the simple confession of faith in Christ (Acts 8:37, Matt. 16:16), they confess to believe what the Bible does not teach.

A FORM OF BAPTISM. Most all of the denominations hold to something they call "baptism." They do not all know that baptism is a burial (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12), but they insist on what they call "baptism." It is a part of the form of godliness that they preach and hold onto. But they deny the power of godliness by saying that baptism is nonessential to salvation. They say "there is nothing to it." But the Bible does not talk that way. The "one baptism" outlined in "the unity of the spirit" (Eph. 4:3-6) is a condition of salvation. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). Peter said, "Repent and be baptized...for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38). Saul of Tarsus, a believer who had repented, was told to "Be baptized, and wash away thy sins." (Acts 22:16). "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27). "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? (Rom. 6:3)

A FORM OF NAME. Though the religious world, for the most part, prefers the various denominational names, they still want the world to think that they are "Christians." They like to think that they make up the "church of Christ." They hold to the name after a fashion, but deny the power thereof. They say, "There is nothing in a name." But salvation is in the name of Christ. And "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

A FORM OF CHURCH. As we said before "the world is too churchy." There are too many religious bodies. "There is one body" and "but one body" in the "unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:3,4: 1 Cor. 12:20). The doctrines of men say, "Everybody ought to belong to some church." This is a form they hold to but they deny the power of godliness by belittling the church of our Lord. They say that the church is non-essential, and that the church can't save you, and "one church is as good as another." By these they deny the place of the church of the Lord in making known to the world the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10,11) . They deny that the church has anything to do with saving the world (I Tim. 4:16).