7 Keys to Understanding the True Value of Biblical Piety Today

Updated Jun 12, 2024
7 Keys to Understanding the True Value of Biblical Piety Today

While "piety" is recognized and understood within Christian contexts, the term is not as commonly used in everyday conversation among Christians today. Contemporary discussions might favor words like "faithfulness," "devotion," or "spirituality" to describe similar concepts. However, "piety" remains a significant term in theological discourse, historical texts, and certain denominations or traditions within Christianity. 

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1. What Is Biblical Piety?

Piety, with its profound implications, is not merely a theoretical concept but a transformative force that shapes our interactions with others, our approach to challenges, and our decision-making process. It instills virtues such as patience, kindness, humility, and a steadfast commitment to God’s commands, influencing our character and relationship with the Lord.

Beyond mere religious practices or rituals, piety is crucial in cultivating a loving relationship with God. It reflects Christ’s image through a deep and reverent devotion and obedience to His Word, resulting in a deeper faith and closeness with our Creator. 

Peter’s journey towards godliness encapsulates the essence of piety. From a flawed individual to a bold and influential witness, he discovered forgiveness of sins, restoration with Jesus, whom he denied, and empowerment by the Holy Spirit for ministry. Peter’s exhortation to holiness echoes the call to piety: 

“Be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.” - 1 Peter 1:16

A pious life embodies sound doctrine, the teachings of Jesus. Peter exhorts us to “make every effort to add to your faith – goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins” (2 Peter 1:5-9).  

Piety is faithful devotion to God.

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2. Piety in Your Personal Prayer Life

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” -  Colossians 4:2

Prayer is unparalleled by any earthly communication system as a divine connection with heaven. While significant, the experience of seeing a child on the other end of a phone video or in a Zoom meeting with people worldwide pales compared to the miraculous gift of prayer.

Heartfelt prayer is a cornerstone of biblical piety where believers constantly dialogue with God, developing eyes that see His majesty, holiness, and sovereignty and ears that listen to His voice, often through the pages of Scripture.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Holocaust survivor, poignantly asked, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" Prayer can become a one-sided, self-seeking quick fix, like a spare tire used only in emergencies. In contrast, continuous pious prayer surrenders our will and desires to God, trusting Him fully. E.M. Bounds beautifully expresses this: “As we walk with God through the avenues of prayer, we begin to mirror His likeness. Unconsciously, we become living testimonies of His beauty and grace to others.”

David’s prayers in the Psalms encompass model prayers, from thanksgiving (Psalm 138) and worship (Psalm 145) to guidance (Psalm 25), intercession (Psalm 20), petition (Psalm 4), and repentance (Psalm 51). Scripture praying is an added strength when talking with God, who divinely inspired the text. I believe God holds a special regard and attentively listens when we pray His word back to Him. 

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16  

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diverse group bible study serious; what is biblical piety and how is it relevant to our modern lives?

3. The Power of the Bible

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

Scripture's big picture provides practical guidance, making it relevant and applicable in all aspects of daily life, including relationships, finances, spiritual conduct, and work ethics. Scripture is the moral compass for righteous living.

Regular personal Bible study is not merely a suggestion but a pivotal step toward guarding against sin. Through the pages, we discover God’s expectations for us as His children. His character, values, commandments, and promises catalyze personal transformation, renew the mind, and develop a growing relationship with God. 

Group Bible study is more than just a gathering of individuals. There’s camaraderie and support within a network of friendships that enhance honorable living, strength, and inspiration. Attending a church that preaches a biblical message significantly enhances individual and small group spiritual growth.

God’s Word teaches us how to avoid sin. For example, King Solomon, the wisest man of Israel by way of God’s favor, humbly said, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). Yet, when he didn’t guard his heart but began to cherish the things God called sinful, his wisdom became dull. Rebellion towards God gripped his heart. His blatant disobedience resulted in sin’s natural consequences of just punishment on him and the nation (1 Kings 11-16; 2 Chronicles 10-18). 

God’s Word in our hearts will keep us from sin. 

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4. Worship as a Way of Life

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you.” -  Psalm 63:1 

Worship goes beyond a Sunday morning song service to a lifestyle that reflects Jesus through a surrendered life. Each day brings opportunities to worship God. Reading God’s love letter and listening draws us to His presence. Doing what it says shows our love for Him. Filling our minds with songs of praise lifts our spirits above obstacles and challenges. 

The foundation of worship includes both public and private expressions through prayer, praise, reading Scripture, serving others, and obedience. Surrendering to God’s will and living uprightly is the core of piety and genuine worship.

An example from Billy Graham’s life demonstrates piety by his commitment to preaching the Gospel and maintaining personal integrity. Known for his large-scale evangelistic crusades, Graham's life and ministry were marked by his dedication to spreading the message of Jesus Christ. The message would have failed if his life didn’t measure up to God’s Word.

In 1948, during a revival meeting in Modesto, California, Graham and his team established the "Modesto Manifesto," a set of ministry principles such as financial transparency, sexual purity, and honest reporting of their evangelistic successes. This transparency protected their ministry's reputation and demonstrated their reverence for God's commandments. Graham’s life of holiness, with his mission of preaching the gospel, highlights a pious life. 

Worship as a way of life arises from a mind and heart transformed by obedience to God’s commands, standing in contrast to the world’s values.

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5. Serving with Humility

“Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” - Matthew 6:1 

Jesus, who proclaimed, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13), exemplified extraordinary humility. Despite His divine nature, He became a servant, the ultimate example of humility. 

Philippians 2:6-10 tells us to embrace the “same mindset” as Jesus, who did not view equality with God as a means for personal gain. Instead, Jesus humbled Himself, taking on the role of a servant and human form. He further humbled Himself by obeying even unto death on the cross. This attitude Jesus exemplified is within our reach, empowering us to emulate His humility and serve others.

Another example of Jesus’ humility is the night before His ultimate act of humility in crucifixion, He washed the disciples’ feet: "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (John 13:15). True greatness is not measured by status or power but by how much we serve others.

Piety (being like Jesus) fulfills the second greatest commandment, “love your neighbor.” Serving others is piety at work, whether serving meals at a homeless shelter, mentoring youth, helping an elderly neighbor with transportation, or volunteering for a church ministry.

We can have the same humble mindset as Christ.

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Diverse group of friends; what is biblical piety and how is it relevant in our lives today?

6. Christian Fellowship

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” - Acts 2:42

Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost led 3000 people to salvation. A significant part of spiritual development came through Christian fellowship, the apostles' teachings, sharing communion, worship, and prayer.  We can be inspired by their example and strive for the same level of devotion and spiritual growth.  

There is nothing quite as sweet and endearing as a like-minded fellowship where “each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5). Such fellowship keeps us in unity, sharing questions and doubts, finding affirmation, and learning how to forgive and get along with each other in the body of Christ. 

Sharing fellowship involves love in action. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).  And Romans 12:13 continues, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” 

Being together at church, in a small group, or sharing meals fosters good fellowship within the body of Christ, pleasing God. This kind of fellowship cannot be fully shared with those who are not believers. The key to loving fellowship is oneness with Jesus through the Spirit and with the Father, providing a unique unity as partners in the gospel (Philippians 1:5) for God’s glory.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  Helen Keller

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Giuseppe Lombardo

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7. Living out Your Faith

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” - Philippians 1:9-11

In Matthew’s account of John the Baptist, he calls people to live out their piety and “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Obedience to God is a vital part of devotion and piety. Living out faith is demonstrated by our actions—the visible fruit of repentance. 

The story of Adam and Eve vividly illustrates how sin severed their connection with God in Eden. It underscores the importance of obedience as the key to pious living. Adoration, in turn, serves as the bridge to obedience. And obedience, ultimately, is the life that brings honor to God. 

Remember, God cannot dwell where sin resides. That's why Jesus paid the penalty of sin on the cross out of His immense love. By living a holy life, we bring pleasure to God. And in return, receive His blessings and favor.

Living out your faith is borne out through purity in heart, mind, and body. Our behavior, words, and actions reveal love for Jesus as fruits of righteousness. Living a pious life is being dedicated to God’s will and pleasure.

As Dale Carnegie said, “Pay less attention to what men say. Just watch what they do.”

Christ’s return motivates uprightness and devotion. “When Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). Through living a pious life, Jesus is reflected. Consistent prayer, meditation in God’s Word, humbly serving others to share the love of Jesus, and choosing fellowship with like-minded believers will bolster a faithful, devoted, pious life that honors God.

As Blaise Pascal said, “The serene, silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world, next to the might of God.”

SWN authorJudy McEachran loves to worship the Author of life and love. She is an ordained pastor and gifted musician who writes and speaks to encourage believers. She pastored churches in the Midwest and after retirement moved to Arizona. She is humbled not only by the gracious love of God but by her devoted husband, two sons, and ten grandchildren. You can visit her website at God Secrets that Impart Life. Find her music on YouTube. Judy’s natural musical giftings invite worshippers into the presence of the Lord.

Originally published Friday, 07 June 2024.