III. EXERCISING OURSELVES UNTO GODLINESS
First Timothy charges us to exercise ourselves unto godliness (1 Tim. 4:7-8). Godliness is a Christian life, a godly life, that expresses God as the issue of God’s dispensing, and this is a mystery. This godly life needs our exercise.
A. Bodily Exercise Profiting for a Little
Paul said that bodily exercise is profitable for a little. The bodily exercise profits for a few things and only for a small part of our being. Furthermore, this implies that it profits temporarily, for a little while. The word "bodily" indicates that the exercise unto godliness must be the exercise of our spirit. Paul pointed out that the exercise to which he is referring is not the exercise of the body. Surely, he would not exhort us to exercise our soul. The exercise to which he is referring must be the exercise of our spirit. Even he says that you need to exercise yourself. "Yourself" is not the self in the body or in the soul; it must be the being in our spirit.
B. Godliness Being Profitable for All Things
Paul said that "godliness is profitable for all things" (v. 8). Godliness here is actually the exercise of our spirit. This is not an apparent revelation but an implied revelation. Paul said that bodily exercise profits for a little, but godliness profits for all things. This godliness must be the exercise of our spirit, which, in contrast to bodily exercise, is profitable for all things. "For all things" refers to things that are not only of one part of our being but of all parts—physical, psychological, and spiritual, both temporal and eternal.
1. Of the Present Life
The promise of the present life, a life that is in this age, is like the promises in Matthew 6:33; John 16:33; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:8-10; etc. Here the present life does not mean our physical life, because the word here is zoe, referring to the divine, uncreated life of God. We have zoe in this present age. The exercise of our spirit which carries out godliness is profitable for all things, carrying with it the promise of the present divine life which we have received and which we are enjoying.
2. Of the Coming Life
The promise of the coming life, a life that is in the next age and in eternity, is like the promises in 2 Peter 1:10-11; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:7, 17; 21:6-7, etc. Godliness is profitable for all things of the present life and also of the coming life, referring to our spiritual life, not our physical life or soulish life.
(Basic Lessons on Life, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)