Goodly Versus Godly
The definition of "goodly" for the purposes of this discussion is the Archaic or the ancient or the Old Testament, biblical use of it. That definition is “attractive, excellent or admirable”.
In contrast, the definition of the word “godly” that we are using is “the quality or practice of conforming to the laws and will of God without any known resistance. If resistance is made known, it is immediately corrected.”
Godly is the practice, the habit, not just an occasional occurrence, of following and obeying the will of God without any known deviation in thought, word and deed.
In many social circles it is popular to be involved with certain charity organizations. And that is the only reason some people are contributors or volunteers: because it is the ‘in’ thing to do according to their peers. Some years ago, it seemed to be a ‘thing’ for many Hollywooders to adopt children from foreign countries. Another trend was to rescue abandoned animals from the impound or the shelter.
Some of these good deeds were probably goodly but not godly. It is admirable (one of the synonyms for goodly) to bring a child from a life of poverty into a country, a home and a life that far exceeds anything they would have ever known in their native land. It feels good to rescue an animal that was destined to be put down. Instead of their life coming to an untimely end, they find themselves on the gravy train, living in the lap of luxury.
People feel good about themselves when they are able to make a significant difference in someone else’s life. But every seasoned believer knows that goodly does not always mean godly. Not every act of kindness yields considerable results.
Some good deeds or acts of kindness are useless. They don’t make a positive difference in any way. An example of this is a group that I belong to makes blankets, hats, mittens and also purchases items like socks, gloves and so on. The group partners with organizations that serve the homeless community and others in need. We enjoy getting together to make or purchase the things and donating them. Most of the places and people who receive them are very grateful and appreciative. Not too long ago it was discovered that one of the places that we had donated to threw the items in the dumpster in back of their building. What we viewed as a good deed was useless. No one benefited from our efforts, our time or the money we spent to purchase and/or make the items.
That was a useless endeavor. But there are also actions that are perceived by most as very spiritual and godly but they are actually evil. Matthew 7: 18-23 records Jesus’ warning on this very subject. This is the AMP version.
18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore, by their fruit you will recognize them [as false prophets].
(In other words, What are they producing? What are the results of what they are saying and doing?)
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’
23 And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’
This says that disregarding the commands of the Lord is wickedness. There are people who are in the limelight preaching, performing and practicing. But the Spirit of the Lord is telling them to sit down, submit themselves to a wise, spiritual leader or mentor and learn some things. But they are hearing and obeying ego, pride, zeal and immaturity more than they are hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord.
Years ago people talked a lot about the permissive will of God as opposed to the perfect will of God. Meaning that there were some goodly pursuits that the Lord will allow folks to do and persist in but those things were not the perfect will of God for their lives. In my immaturity and ignorance, I never believed that there was such aa thing as the permissive will of God. And I got sick of hearing people talk about it. You know how it is when a saying or a phrase gets popular it seems like EVERYBODY is saying it. Not only was I irritated that so many people were saying it, I was doubly agitated because I didn’t believe that such a thing existed. In my mind a thing is either the will of the Lord or it isn’t. If something is not the perfect will of God, then it is not the will of God at all, or so I thought. Then one day I was listening to a recorded message that Kenneth E. Hagin had preached. I believe this ‘permissive will’ phrase became popular because of him. He was so well respected and well regarded in ministry. He passed away in 2003. In the message he said he had pastored different churches for a total of 12 or 13 years. I forget the exact number. During the course of a conversation with the Lord, the Lord said to him that he never called him to pastor. The Lord allowed him to do it and blessed him while doing it and blessed the ministry and the people but that was not his perfect will for him. It was his permissive will. At the time of this conversation the Lord was having with Brother Hagin, the Lord had called him and directed him into his true calling. It wasn’t going as well as Brother Hagin expected and he was questioning the Lord about it. I learned something that day. I was completely wrong in my way of thinking.
The point here is that during the 12 or 13 years of pastoring, Brother Hagin was praying, fasting, visiting the sick, praying healing and restoration for scores of people. The ones that Jesus talks about in Matthew 7 that are mentioned above were completely out of the will of God. They were not in His perfect will and they were not in His permissive will. How do we know that? Because Jesus said, “I NEVER knew you.” That indicates that these spiritual do-gooders were operating out of their own will and their own desires. They never consulted the Lord about what to do next or where to go next. They only did what brought them attention, glory and whatever else satisfied their flesh and/or egos.
There is a saying, “You might get by, but you won’t get away.” One sister remarked to me how she used to think and pout before the Lord about people, supposedly Christians, who were behaving poorly, in a manner unbecoming for a believer, and seemed to be getting away with it. This is Matthew 7: 21-23 AMP again.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’
One of my natural dad’s favorite sayings was, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” There will be people standing before the Lord, just like the ones described in Matthew 7 who will declare that they didn’t know what was expected or required of them. They will want to be excused from their lawlessness based on that declaration.
Power, giftedness, anointing and authority are likely to be used wrongly when a person lacks humility and spiritual understanding. Look at the Corinthian church as an example.
1 Corinthians 14: 36-38
36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
(The Corinthian church got carried away with themselves. Paul is asking them if they are now thinking and acting like they are the originators of the Word of God or that they are the only ones who have received the truth of God. They had begun to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. They were tremendously blessed with spiritual gifts and they began to celebrate and exalt themselves rather than to celebrate and exalt the Lord.)
37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
(They started believing that they were better than any other fellowships and that they had a deeper understanding of spiritual matters than any other group of believers. The Spirit of the Lord was working mightily with them and His presence was evident among them. But they began acting like the folks Jesus is talking to in Matthew 7. They quit hearing and operating according to the word and will of God. They became impressed with the gifts God had given them and were using the gifts without the Lord’s order, instruction or direction.)
38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
(This was another verse my dad was fond of quoting. Except he would add the word ‘still’ at the end of it. Meaning, if you choose to be unlearned and not knowing. If that is your decision and you want to continue in that state of being, have at it. Go right ahead. Paul was saying that what you need to know and should know has been provided for you. It isn’t hidden. It is all right here out in the open. If you choose to be ignorant, go ahead. I won’t try to stop you. Because making that choice says something profound about that person. It told Paul trying to enlighten a person who obviously chooses ignorance over knowledge when knowledge is rich, plentiful and readily available - - - trying to school that person, mentor that person, enlighten that person is a waste of time and breath. Paul was saying, “I won’t do it. Let them be ignorant still. Let them stay in that state or condition if that is what they choose. I will not drain myself of energy trying to get a pig out of the mud when the pig is telling me he likes mud and wants to stay in it. I won’t keep pulling and tugging on that one when there are plenty of others who do want out and will receive and quickly act on the Truth that is shared with them.)
Believers are charged with being good stewards over everything the Lord has given us. Our bodies, our time, our resources, our influence, our spiritual gifts, our voices, our words and so much more. Our responsibility is to engage in the godly pursuits not just those things that are goodly. Remember the definition we are using for goodly is attractive, excellent or admirable. A lot of what people are doing looks good. It is attractive. It draws attention and accolades. People pat them on the back for their contributions. A lot of what is done is excellent. Their projects boast the latest technology and the highest natural standard of distinction. The causes they champion are admirable. They are worthy causes that boost the local economy and get them and their community featured on the nightly news. Those are goodly things.
Acts 5:17-29 AMP shows the difference when godly is happening instead of just goodly.
This is what you may experience when you follow closely the will of God.
- Religious folks won’t like you. (17)
- Their attacks against you are unwarranted and excessive. (17)
- They will use whatever power or influence they have to shut you up, discredit you and embarrass you. (18)
- They will go way beyond what is normal behavior and speech to lash out at you. (18)
- God will send you divine assistance. (19)
- God will provide specific instructions. (20)
- Those who feel threatened by your obedience and fidelity to the Lord will form an alliance against you. (21)
- What God does for you and through you will confound and confuse them. (24)
- God will make sure they hear about and see your successes in the Lord. (25)
10. At some point they will realize you are no ordinary individual serving an extraordinary God and they will have to acknowledge those facts publicly. (26)
11. They will still try to act like they are in charge. (27)
12. They will try to get you to stop talking about Jesus, who He is and what He has done. (28)
13. They will blame you for the wrong that they have done or created. (28)
14. You will stand strong in the Lord, remain faithful and receive eternal rewards. (29)
Concentrate on what is godly. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He directs our efforts and pursuits. He is never wrong. He is trustworthy. Engage in what is godly, not just goodly. Many activities are attractive, excellent and admirable but they have no eternal value. We are living this life, to live again. Everything here is temporary. We are to focus on what is eternally significant. Be godly.
Colossians 3:17 NASB Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.