Editorial – Primitive Godliness

Notwithstanding the widespread declension of faith and piety, there are true followers of Christ in these churches. Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord’s second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God’s special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world.” The Great Controversy, 464.

If you are not going to be deceived by the “false primitive godliness” by which most Christians will be, thinking that the whole world has been converted (see Selected Messages, Book 3, 427, 428), then we must know what primitive godliness is to be able to tell the difference between the true and the counterfeit.

What is primitive godliness?

Concerning the early Christians, Ellen White wrote, “The early Christians were indeed a peculiar people. Their blameless deportment and unswerving faith were a continual reproof that disturbed the sinner’s peace. Though few in numbers, without wealth, position, or honorary titles, they were a terror to evildoers wherever their character and doctrines were known. … It was for the same reason that the Jews rejected and crucified the Saviour—because the purity and holiness of His character was a constant rebuke to their selfishness and corruption. From the days of Christ until now His faithful disciples have excited the hatred and opposition of those who love and follow the ways of sin.” Ibid., 46.

Notice that primitive godliness involved (1) blameless deportment, (2) unswerving faith, (3) their doctrines were a terror to evildoers, (4) they had the same qualities of character that made Jesus a hated person—purity and holiness of character. God’s people in the great closing work of the gospel will have the same characteristics. Are you praying and striving for this every day? This can only be achieved by dying to self and allowing Jesus to have full control.