It is quite the trend these days to define many New Testament concepts such as worldliness, godliness, holiness, reverence, and others (sometimes even modesty!) as exclusively internal.
This is a convenient premise, as this allows them to say that no external act done in the name of Christ may be condemned. In short, it is way of justifying all sorts of evils from irreverent worship to plunging neck-lines. In short, they accuse us conservatives of error when we attempt to criticize such actions, because we are “stressing too much the externals.”
First of all, true conservatives do not dismiss the importance of genuine internal piety towards God. We are against hypocrisy in the Christian religion, and pray that the Lord Jesus would save us from this sin also. Yet it is a logical fallacy to say because internal piety is essential behind the external acts of reverence and holiness and godliness that therefore those external acts are irrelevant in the discussion. In fact, what relevance at all would it have for us to know that the internal religion was the matter of sole importance? How would be able even to begin judging whether anything was worldly, godly, impious, reverent, immodest, modest or any thing else? Why would these categories even be relevant to us if we were not able to judge between them?
In fact, Paul himself (in a round-about way) acknowledges the external character of godliness in 2 Timothy 3:1-7. He says,
1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (ESV)
Isn’t it interesting now that the younger evangelicals and fundamentalists even deny the appearance of godliness?