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Grace Notes

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A GODLY PERSON IS HEAVENLY
by Philip Owen

 

            Godliness would be an unfathomable mystery to us were it not for the fact that God has gone to the trouble of revealing to us the facts that we can be godlike in character and behavior and what the nature of that godlikeness is.  Furthermore, since the Word of God exhorts us to godliness, it behooves us to discover what it has to say on the subject and to devote ourselves to actually being godly in thought, word, and deed. Thomas Watson observed that among the attributes of a godly person is that he is heavenly.
 
            The apostle Paul stated the same truth in this fashion: “For our conversation [“citizenship”] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). Perhaps the best way to describe a “heavenly” person, one whose citizenship is in heaven, is to note the contrasting catalogue that Paul provides in the verses preceding the one just quoted: “For many walk . . . that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (vv. 18, 19).
 
            A heavenly person is, rather than an enemy of the cross of Christ, a friend of the cross of Christ. Godliness, heavenly character, begins and ends at the cross. The heavenly person knows his salvation is rooted in Christ’s vicarious work of suffering and death. And he never strays from that fundamental truth. He finds himself continually kneeling at the cross, knowing that forgiveness, cleansing, sanctification, power, and every other blessing are rooted in that work of grace. When all is said and done, Christ crucified is his continual testimony and the theme of his life.
 
            A heavenly person is one whose end, rather than destruction [“utter ruin”] is utter blessing. The destiny of a godly person is certain and blessed. Such Spirit-conferred confidence gives the heavenly person a peace and assurance that results in expressions filled with thankfulness and behavior filled with gratitude. His life is not motivated by fear or attempts to bargain with God, but with righteous living in the thankful assurance of his certain end.
 
            A heavenly person is one whose god is not his belly [“appetite”] but whose God is the Lord of heaven and earth. He is controlled, not by what he wants, but by the will of God as revealed in the Word of God. With absolute inevitability, the natural man follows his own appetite; he does what pleases him. Even at times when he appears to do something generous or even self-sacrificial, there is an element of selfishness in it because, without the Lord, he cannot truly honor God in anything he does. The heavenly person, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, can truly serve the will of God, can truly, for Christ’s sake, forsake his own will, and truly glorify his Savior and Lord.
 
            A heavenly person is not one whose glory is in his shame, but whose glory is in righteousness. The ungodly are proud of things of which they should be ashamed. They glory in sin. To be heavenly is to have the mind of Christ and to rejoice in righteousness. The lost have a general contempt for righteousness (at least on some level), the heavenly take pleasure in doing righteousness and in those that do so (contra. Rom. 1:32).
 
A heavenly person, rather than minding earthly things, minds things above. The natural man is consumed with this world, being successful, getting ahead, maintaining financial security, being applauded by the greatest number of people possible, enjoying life, etc. A godly person has his sights set on eternity. He willingly foregoes natural advancement, human applause, and the experience of many natural pleasures for the sake of his Lord and eternity. In short, as a citizen of heaven, his life is hidden in Christ. Christ is his life. For him to live is Christ. Heaven is his hope, his happiness, his home.

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