"Help, Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men." Psalm 12:1
The term "godliness" or "godly" has really left the vernacular of modern evangelicalism. I am not sure when it started to leave our mouths but the assumption is that it left our theology first. When the Psalmist says "For the godly are no more" I had to ask myself "what does it mean to be godly?"
What is "godly?" P. Brown and C.H. Towner describe it as this:
"In pagan literature, godliness meant showing proper caution, fear or reverence towards the gods. Such piety involved the offering of sacrifices and other cultic activities. It also meant honouring the gods by respecting elders, masters, rulers, and all the orders of life thought to be under the protection of the gods. When this terminology was used in the Bible, a different notion of fear or respect was intended. The one true God, as creator and redeemer, requires an active obedience to his revealed will and a personal devotion that surpasses lip-service, mere trepidation, or bare admiration (e.g. Pr. 1:7; Is. 11:2; 33:6; Lk. 2:25; Acts 10:2; 22:12). Pre-eminently, Jesus is the godly One, whose prayers were heard because of his ‘godly fear’ or ‘reverent submission’ to the Father (Heb. 5:7). His death and heavenly exaltation makes it possible for others to offer to God, through him, acceptable worship or service, ‘with reverence and awe’ (Heb. 12:28)."
So then that brings up a second term that has really been lost in the new millennium "ungodly" It can simply mean the opposite of Godly but I like how The new Bible Dictionary describes it
"Ungodliness (Gk. asebeia) brings the wrath of God, because it involves suppressing the truth about God, worshipping created things rather than the Creator, and pursuing unrighteous relationships and behaviour (Rom. 1:18–25; 1 Tim. 1:9–11). It is a condition from which we can only be rescued by trusting ‘him who justifies the ungodly’ (Rom. 4:5; cf. 5:6; Tit. 2:11–14). Godliness is most frequently mentioned in the Pastoral Epistles, where Paul uses the terminology to counter its misapplication by false teachers (1 Tim. 6:3–10; 2 Tim. 3:4–5). Positively, it is a God-honouring manner of life, issuing from a true knowledge of God and his grace in Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 3:16; 4:7–10; 2 Tim. 3:10–12; Tit. 1:1; 2:11–12). A genuine devotion to God transforms relationships and behaviour in every context. See *Fear, *Holiness."
Lord today we thank you for Jesus who was 'godly" for us so that we can approach you as his children. Father would you empower us to become more "godly' than we were yesterday and thank you for continuing to forgive our "ungodly" actions and motives. As we draw near to your grace may it burn away the "ungodly" nature that infects our soul.
Bibliography. C. Brown (ed.), NIDNTT 2, 1976, pp. 90–95; P. H. Towner, ‘The Goal of our Instruction’, JSOT, 1989, pp. 147–154; J. J. Wainwright, Eusebeia: Syncretism or Conservative Contextualization?’ EQ 65:3, 1993, pp. 211–224.
D.G.P. (1996). Godliness. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., pp. 422–423). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.