Paul goes on to tell us that we have to exercise ourselves unto godliness (1 Tim. 4:7). This word exercise is a translation of the Greek word which means all kinds of exercise in the Olympic sphere. In the ancient time, in the Olympic games there was much bodily exercise. However, we Christians need to have another kind of exercise, exercise unto godliness. To exercise ourselves unto godliness is to exercise our spirit that the mystery of godliness might be touched. In order to prove that this exercise is the exercise of our spirit, we have to go to 2 Timothy where Paul says that God has given us a spirit that is strong, loving, and sober; such a spirit is with a strong will, a loving emotion, and a sober mind (2 Tim. 1:7). We all have to exercise ourselves unto godliness. We have to exercise our spirit because the very mystery of godliness is right in our spirit, as 2 Timothy 4:22 tells us that the Lord is with our spirit. The Lord Jesus is the very mystery, and this mystery is in our spirit! If we are going to express this mystery, if we are going to practice this mystery, then we all have to exercise our spirit.
What is it to exercise ourselves unto godliness, and how can we exercise ourselves unto godliness? Let us suppose that while a few single brothers are living together, one comes in and starts to talk about some worldly things. While this brother is talking about worldly things, right away the others have to exercise their spirit not to join that talk. If they join that talk, they will fall into a snare. By saying, “O Lord Jesus,” they exercise their spirit. Right away, this exercise unto godliness will help that brother come back to his spirit.
Another illustration is with a husband and his wife. We all know that there is nearly not one couple on this earth that has never exchanged words. All the husbands are experts and all the wives are specialists in exchanging words. In exchanging words between husband and wife, no one would lose the case. The more they say, the more they have to say. The more they argue, the more they have to argue. Learn to exercise yourself unto godliness. Suppose that after a meeting a married brother goes back home, and his dear wife suddenly becomes unhappy with him. He should not ask her, “Why are you unhappy?” This is not exercising unto godliness. This is exercising unto the exchanging of words. He should not use his tongue, but use his spirit! Then he will be exercised unto godliness, and after two minutes his wife will be happy.
If the elders in the churches do not know how to exercise themselves unto godliness, there will be many things which will cause them to be unhappy with others All the elders have a lot of opportunity to be offended by others. In the church life, nothing is so troublesome, so burdensome, as the eldership. To be an elder is not an easy thing; it is a heavy task. The elders have to learn to exercise themselves unto godliness. If one elder would say to another that he did not agree with what the other mentioned, then this elder does not exercise himself unto godliness. The other elder right away has to exercise his spirit. Otherwise they will argue, fight, and kill the spirit. Eventually the church life will be deadened. For the church life, all the elders have to learn how to exercise themselves unto godliness.
Before we say anything, we have to exercise our spirit. Before we say anything, we have to exercise ourselves unto godliness. Then our spirit will lead us. Whatever we say will be a kind of godliness. Whatever we say will be God manifested in the flesh. This is the exercise unto godliness. We all have to learn this. In everything we have to exercise ourselves unto godliness. Before we go shopping, we have to exercise our spirit unto godliness. We have seen clearly that we have a mingled spirit. So we must walk, have our daily life, and have our whole being according to our spirit. This is one aspect.
The other aspect is more practical. Before doing anything we have to exercise ourselves unto godliness. Even if we are going to put on our necktie, we have to exercise ourselves unto godliness. In practice, just to walk according to spirit is not so adequate. We all have to exercise ourselves unto godliness. The most prevailing way is to call on His name. I assure you from my experience that this really works. We must practice this in our daily life. Even if we are going to comb our hair, we have to say, “O Lord Jesus, I am combing my hair.” If so, there will be a kind of godliness with our hair. Godliness is God manifested in humanity, and this is worked out by exercising ourselves. This is practical and can be practiced in our daily life. If all of us exercise ourselves unto godliness in such a way, we will be a real testimony; we will have a harmonious church life which will be prevailing.
Do not be occupied with doctrine. Be preserved in the central lane, which is Christ and the church, the mystery of God, the mystery of Christ, and the Triune God dispensing Himself into our being in our regenerated spirit. We only care for this. We are drinking all the day of this Triune God in our spirit, and whatever we do, we exercise ourselves unto godliness. This is the practical way to live out Christ in our daily walk for the church life. This will be our practical testimony, the harmony in our church life, and a shame to the enemy. This will be a real glory to our Christ. This will bring in the kingdom. This will pave the way for the Lord to come back, and this will tell the whole universe that this is not a religion, but a practical Christ lived out of all His lovers. This kind of church life is what the Lord is after today.
Our burden, commission, and mission is to have such a church life upon the earth today in all the major cities. We do not expect to have a big number or a mass movement. We do expect, however, that in the major cities a good number of Jesus lovers will live by Christ in such a practical way, exercising themselves unto godliness. In every aspect of their life, in every aspect of their daily walk, God is manifested. There is godliness in every aspect of their daily life.
Spend time to fellowship and pray; then you will get the enlightenment and a type of eternal warning. Never be trapped or distracted by any other teaching. We only care for God’s mystery, God’s economy, Christ and the church, and the Triune God dispensing Himself into us. We only care for drinking Him. We only care for the exercise unto godliness. Brothers and sisters, this is what the Lord is after today. This is the real recovery that the Lord wants. The full recovery of the Lord today is just a proper church life in which we live by Christ and exercise ourselves unto godliness.
(The Two Great Mysteries in God's Economy, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)