THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS
1Timothy 3:16 KJV: And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
1Timothy 3:16 AMP: And great and important and weighty, we confess, is the hidden truth (the mystic secret) of godliness. He [God] was made visible in human flesh, justified and vindicated in the [Holy] Spirit, was seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, [and] taken up in glory.
In this season of Christmas when the whole world acknowledges the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, it would be fruitful to ponder on the greatness of the mystery of godliness as the Holy Spirit says through Paul in the scripture above.
The Greek Word for mystery means mysterious hidden secret as seen in the amplified translation.
What is the great mystery?
The infinite omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God becomes finite and limited in knowledge and power and placed in the womb of a virgin to be born as a man!
Philippians 2:5-7 AMP: Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] (6) Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, (7) But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
The Lord Jesus Christ allowed Himself to be stripped of His divine attributes to take on a limited human form; His divine attributes were entrusted to the care of the other two Persons of the Godhead: the Father and the Holy Spirit for the 33 years He was here on the earth; after the resurrection, His full divine attributes were given back to Him and He is honoured and glorified again as God as recorded in
Psalms 45:6-7 AMP: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. (7) You love righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with God and hate wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows. [Heb. 1:8, 9.]
Philippians 2:9-11 AMP: Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, (10) That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What then was the purpose of God becoming limited like man and being made manifest as man?
1. To save man from the nature and punishment of sin (Heb. 2:9-15).
2. To make men see what God is really like: His true character of love, righteousness and justice (Jer. 9:24), in stark contrast to Satan (Jn. 10:10) and so destroy the works (sin, sickness, natural disasters etc.) of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8).
3. To make men like God, using the Lord Jesus as a prototype:
Romans 8:29 AMP: For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.
For these purposes to be fulfilled in us, we need to:
1. Be born-again:a spiritual birth that imparts to us God’s life: the divine nature (Jn. 3:3-6; 1 Pet. 1:23; 2 Pet. 1:4).
2. Develop the character of God by the blood (Heb. 13:20-21), the Word (1 Jn. 2:5) and the Spirit (1 Jn. 4:13-14).
3. Do the works the Lord Jesus did and greater (Jn. 14:12) by inheriting the Spirit without measure!
Indeed great is the mystery of godliness!