16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
In some circles of Christianity today there is a belief that the Christian faith needs to be more about deeds not creeds. This kind of thinking tends to separate Christianity into things to believe and things to do and then they put all the emphasis on the things we need to do. But in this passage Paul makes a connection between godliness, which by nature results in godly living, that is doing the things that are godly, and a simple confession (creed or doctrine) about Christ. True Christianity is not about deeds OR creeds, but about both deeds AND creeds. That being said, we must never confuse the order of how these two work together. The demand of what we are to do (imperatives) does not inform or dictate what we are to believe (indicatives), but what we believe should always inform what we do. Pastor and theologian R.C. Sproul summarizes the issue like this: “The Word and Spirit go together. Doctrine and life go together. To separate them is to frustrate the work of sanctification within us and to grieve the Holy Spirit. To separate them is to avoid the integrated, committed life that pleases God.”