Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Discipline for a Purpose

According to 1 Timothy 4:7-8 physical exercise, while beneficial, is no where near as critically important as spiritual exercise! We are also told in Romans 8:29 and 1 John 3:2 that Christians are in the process of becoming like Christ. While believers are in the process of becoming like Jesus, the writer of Hebrews (12:14) teaches us that we are not merely to wait for holiness we are to pursue it. But how? The answer is discipline!

“The word discipline was disappeared from our minds, our mouths, our pulpits, and our culture. We hardly know what discipline means in modern American society. And yet, there is no other way to attain godliness. Discipline is the path to godliness.”

- Jay Adams

Concerning discipline two things must be understood:

  1. Discipline is the necessary key to accomplishing anything in this life.
  2. Discipline without direction and desire is drudgery.

That is true in regards to any kind of discipline, but it is especially true concerning the spiritual disciplines. Discipline is not an end to itself, it’s the means to an end. Referring again to 1 Timothy 4:7-8 we learn that spiritual discipline is for the purpose of godliness.

Definition: spiritual disciplines are those personal and corporate habits of devotion that have been practiced by the people of God since Biblical times and that promote spiritual growth and godliness. Godliness is a Biblical term synonymous with Christ-likeness and holiness.

God uses three change agents to conform us to Christ-likeness.

(1) PeopleProverbs 27:17

(2) CircumstancesRomans 8:28

(3) Spiritual Disciplines1 Timothy 4:7-8

Holiness is gained not by self-effort, but is a gift from God. The pursuit of holiness must be anchored in the grace of God! So, how do the spiritual disciplines help us to become Christlike? By purposefully placing ourselves in the path of Jesus, much like Blind Bartimaeus or Little Zacchaeus.

“Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.”

- Jonathan Edwards

Godliness is not optional for the child of God!

  • 1 Peter 1:15-16 – “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
  • Matthew 11:29 – “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

Learning and following involve discipline (Proverbs 23:12). The word discipline may raise the feeling of severe constraint in some of your minds; suggesting a claustrophobic, restricted life. Nothing could be further from the truth! The spiritual disciplines are the means to freedom. They free us from the encumbrances of this world, enabling us to “run the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Discipline is the price of freedom, and freedom is the reward of discipline.

Ask yourself a couple of questions:

1) Do I want to be Godly?

2) Am I willing, beginning today, to begin a spiritual exercise program that will enable me to become more like Christ?

Admit to God that there has been a lack of spiritual discipline in your life. Ask the Lord to give you the desire and the direction necessary to motivate you to learn and develop these daily disciplines in your life.

Godliness is the goal of spiritual discipline. Remember this, and the disciplines will become a delight instead of a drudgery!

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