1 Timothy 3:16a, Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh (own Greek translation).
For millennia, men have sought true piety—true godliness, most to no avail. The mendicant monks of early Christianity thought piety to be the abandonment of all material possessions. No, that is more neoplatonic than Christian by any means. What is piety? It is the same word for “godliness” and “devoutness”: ἐυσέβεια (eusébeia). These mendicants and many like them searched for godliness/piety within themselves, but it was in front of them the entire time—not within themselves, but from without. For what does the text say is the mystery of godliness? “He who was manifested in the flesh.” Only Jesus Christ, then, has true piety and godliness. Thus, true piety is found in Christ alone; it is not in us and the things we do. Therefore, true piety can only come from faith in Christ. He makes us pious—He makes us godly; it is not a platitude we can attain by ourselves. The Scriptures do not give us a formula for piety and godliness. Christ alone is pious and godly, and we are clothed with Him in Baptism (cf. Galatians 3:27). Thus, true piety is not something we achieve by our futile works; it is a condition gifted to us when Christ baptises us in His Holy Spirit.