Admittedly the goal of human life is an approach to realizing a likeness to God. In the Old Testament the focus seems to be on man’s compliance with divine commands (Ecc. 12:13) and covenant-keeping (Exo 19:5 and Gen 17:10). Examples of godliness have appeared that are not related to either commandments or covenant. The happiness that comes from being forgiven is a measure of godliness, just as the happiness of the peacemaker is a measure of godly status.
Commandment-keeping and covenant (such as circumcision) have not surfaced as reliable or effective means to achieve godliness, the first due to human brokenness and the latter due to its purely physical nature. A new standard must be available since the call to holiness is to be found on both Testaments especially in view of the claims of Christ to be the Way, Truth and Life and his provision of a way past the essential obstacle between man and God. With the atonement Christ proved that godliness could only be achieved through divine help. Godliness must therefore be redefined as possessing characteristics that belong to God and not merely as claiming to have responded to Him.
The Godly Individual
The term man of God is to be applied to all believers because of their adoption into God’s family. Such persons have qualities that separate them from unregenerate humans. They are first of all faithful. They are all flawed persons. They recognize that Christ as the template for human beings is in certain aspects separate from human beings. When they contemplate their path to God’s ideal they are aware of an infinite gap between Creator and creature.
How Much Like Christ?
Christ does not hold forth a family likeness other than identity since all notions of human performance can never approach Christ’s. Since compliance with covenant has changed and obedience to the Law is no longer the primary demand we turn to the two demands of the scriptures: be and do.
The call for a change of identity rests on a divine act. Unlike Israelite process of becoming God’s people through complete compliance with the law humans become godly by God’s will and graceful intervention. No-one can stand before God and claim to be His child on the basis of obedience to any set of regulations or instructions. On the contrary humans become children of God by means of faith alone.
We can never be God-from-God, saviour of the world, sinless sacrifice, and head of the church.
Do as I say and Do as I do
Since men cannot claim to have done all what has required from earliest times it is left only for us to find our likeness to God in (1) cherishing our identity as sons and (2) imitating the Son of God. Instead of an unreliazable set of commands two things bring us to genuine godliness: faith in the Son of God and loving as He loved us.
The Holy Spirit fully empowers us to do what Christ did: deeds of love, compassion, and power. Herein lies the most secure version of godliness. Performance of legal requirements is bound to be broken and incomplete at some point.