Godliness – Not By Our Own Strength

Image 1 One excellent book on the topic of godliness is Willem Teellinck’s (d. 1629) The Path of True Godliness.  The following lines give a great snapshot of this discussion.

“We must therefore begin to practice [godliness], not in our own strength, which means absolutely nothing, but in the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is the strength of our life and by whom we can do all things.  [Here Teellinck quotes Eph. 6.10, Phil. 3.3, 2 Cor. 3.5, and 2. Cor 9.8).”

“Take careful note of this, for surely many a man begins the practice of godliness and then gives up in discouragement and withdraws from his work.  Since he began it in his own strength, he makes a mess of things.  It’s exactly the same thing as when a little child, in his own strength, wants to build a big castle.  It is a fact that our own strength means nothing in the building up of the Christian life.  Unless the power of the Almighty comes upon us, we cannot build anything that will last.  That is why we call it godliness; it reminds us that without God and his holy help we would never be able to accomplish this work.”

“How the devil tries to keep this fact hidden from the eyes of men!  That is why there are found everywhere so many who now and then put on holy airs as if they henceforth want to be godly, but you see after only a short time they have returned to the world, having so very quickly lost interest.  This happens because they began in their own strength; therefore, they found their work too much for them and quickly tired of it because they found no more joy in it.  Therefore, all students of true godliness who wish to begin this work well and truly wish to bring it to completion must renounce their own strength.  They must surrender themselves entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is ‘the Author and Finisher of our faith’ (Heb. 12.2)….”

That’s worth reading a few times for sure.  By the way, RHB has Teellinck’s book on sale for $11 right now.

shane lems

4 thoughts on “Godliness – Not By Our Own Strength”

  1. Thank you for this! I never understood Romans until I understood this concept, and once I asked for the Holy Spirit’s help, it was truly miraculous how my will was strengthened and how my heart was changed so that I could actually do the impossible: live a life of godliness, purity, and righteousness through and in Christ and because of what Christ has done. Christ enables us to do the seemingly impossible things he commands of us (“Lazarus, come out.”).


    1. MB – thanks for that note. Sometimes people who know this truth take it for granted or forget about it, so it’s good to hear your perspective. All of us should always remember that we do not grow in godliness on our own or by our own effort. Again, thanks much for the comment. shane


  2. I have always found the instruction about not “doing it in our own strength” to be impractical and nonsensical. In the end we are the ones “doing” or “not doing” something. More needs to be said about how our doing is done well. The filling and fruit of the Spirit are the most helpful metaphors here. And even that boils down to this: a simple prayer for God’s help to honor Christ today, in this moment, in that situation, with this decision, etc. I don’t know what it could mean beyond this.


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