I lived in North Carolina for a time, quite close to a very big seminary. In town, you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a preacher in training. I couldn’t begin to guess how many times I was told that I was told that, “I didn’t look like a pastor.” I started replying by asking them what a pastor was supposed to look like, but I never got any answers. I knew what they meant. I didn’t look like all the other pastors in town. I was weighed in the balance of their perceptions and found wanting because I didn’t look like a slicked-faced salesman in a suit and tie. What does the Bible say a pastor ought to look like? Chapter and verse, please.
Paul warns in 2 Timothy 3:5 about false teachers who have a “form of godliness.” They look the part, or at least they look the part of what people perceive the part is supposed to look like. Godliness has a form because there is such a thing as godliness and it can be defined. Godliness is practical piety, or when someone is expressing love and devotion to God by their fidelity to Him in obeying His word and following His Lordship. Godliness is loving the true and living God as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures where the Lord has given us “all things all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” Christians have everything needed to live godly lives, including what actually defines godliness.
The Enemy of souls likes to copy the Lord’s work. There are missionaries of darkness, deceivers who go out into the world, taking the name of Christ and living with a form of godliness defined by the perception of the people he is preaching to. False teachers have a form of godliness, but not the real thing. They are a copy, patterned after what they have seen and heard and perceive a Christian ought to be. It’s all on the outside. They dress in a way that gives the appearance of godliness. Or, they may speak in a way that gives an appearance of godliness. They talk the lingo, and dress the part and sell a product. To the undiscerning eye, they are the picture of what a Christian ought to be. But they deny the power of godliness. They have a form but stumble over shibboleth.
Godliness is not an abstract but it’s something real, with genuine power. 2 Peter 1:3-8 shows us that knowledge is connected to godliness. How can you be a godly person if you don’t know what it means? But godliness is more than knowledge. There is a genuine love of Christ, wrought in the heart by the effectual working power of the Spirit of God. Without being made a partaker of the divine nature, you’ll never escape the corruption of the world. Are you a godly person? Does your life characterize a person who loves and is dedicated to the Lord Jesus?