Are you going too fast to make the necessary changes needed? Are you running the “Rat Race” and don’t have time to focus on your spiritual growth? Are you motivated to change? Do you know how to change? Are you I doing all you can to please God and pursue holiness?
God calls us to discipline ourselves for godliness 1 Tim 4:7 “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness”. 1 Pet 1: 16 “because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY”. 1 Cor 9:24 Paul exhorts us to run the race in such a way to win the prize speaking of our spiritual walk. Most of scripture calls us to repent from our sin and pursue holiness (Christlikeness). As a Christian we are all being changed, transformed to the image of Christ. Like a caterpillar changes into a butterfly so the Christian is being changed from his sinful ways to holiness.
God gives us a biblical model for change in Eph 4:22-24. Here is how we change; first we are to lay aside our old self which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit in Eph 4:22. Here we are called to put off the old self or the sin that entangle us. Let’s use anger for example: We are to put off anger as the first step in the change process. Step 2 is found in Eph 4:23, we are to be renewed in the spirit of your mind. That means we need to renew our thinking biblically. We are usually sinning because there is something we believe that is incorrect (believing a lie) and we need to line our thinking up with God’s truth. Practically we would do this by studying scripture passages on anger. Step 3 is found in Eph 4:24, “we are to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth”. So in this example we would put off anger, renew our minds by believing the truth in God’s word about anger and put on the opposite of anger which would be love, kindness, gentleness and self-control (put on the fruit of the spirit).
The put off, renew your mind and put on process is accomplished with the help of other spiritual disciplines. There are three spiritual disciplines I’d like to discuss with you briefly that are usually overlooked and they can be great tools for a Christian in spiritual growth. The first is silence and solitude. It’s very important we spend quiet time (time alone) with the Lord to pray, meditate, read and study His word. It’s in these times we open our hearts to Him in confession and seek His guidance, conviction and wisdom. Jesus modeled this for us. Jesus often went to be alone with the Father. Matt 4:1, 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 4:42
The second spiritual discipline is journaling. Although this is not a command it is modeled in scripture. During your alone time with the Lord it’s particularly helpful if you keep a record of your struggles and successes with sin. Journaling can help keep you accountable, track your progress; it can be a mirror the Holy Spirit uses to reveal to you things about yourself. It can deepen your relationship with Christ and help you see patterns you need to work on in your life. Journaling is a valuable tool for spiritual growth and most the great men of God use it.
Thirdly is the spiritual discipline of fasting. Jesus expected us to fast Matt 9:14-15. There are many different kinds of fasting. The important thing about fasting is that it’s done with the proper motives (see list below):
- To strengthen prayer
- To seek God’s guidance
- To express grief
- To see deliverance or protection
- To express repentance and the return to God
- To humble oneself before God
- To express concern for the work of God
- To minister to the needs of others
- To overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God
- To express love and worship to God
This all sounds like work you might say! It is, but we are commanded by God to put off sin and pursue godliness. This is not optional. This requires us to slow down and have quiet time alone with the Lord on a daily basis. To change and be more like Christ requires both our disciplines and God’s grace. The process is a struggle and requires work but the genuine believer will pursue it because he loves Jesus and understands what it cost Jesus on the cross and the gift that has been given. A truly thankful heart will desire to please the Lord in all things.
These are some of the things we’ve been studying in our Young Single Adults (YSA) group. As we near the end of our book and teaching in spiritual disciplines I pray it’s only the beginning of renewed commitment to the Lord and the lessons we’ve learned will help us grow to higher levels of godliness that we might glorify the Lord in all areas of our lives.