Ours is an undisciplined age. The old disciplines are breaking down … Above all, the discipline of divine grace is derided as legalism or is entirely unknown to a generation that is largely illiterate in the Scriptures. We need the rugged strength of Christian character that can come only from disciplines
~V. Raymond Edman~
Good morning. Paul instructed Timothy to discipline himself for the purpose of Godliness (see, 1 Timothy 4:7). As we approach this morning’s devotion, let us pray that our hearts and minds are open to receiving the truth of what God reveals to each one of us through His Holy Spirit. In this series, we will be working through the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. These articles are based on the Book by Donald S. Whitney Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.
Spiritual disciplines are an integral part of the Christian worldview and experience. Whitney writes:
First, we must understand what we shall become. The Bible says of God’s elect, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). God’s eternal plan ensures that every Christian will ultimately conform to Christlikeness. We will be changed “when he appears” so that “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). If you are born again (see, John 3:3-8), this is no vision; this is you, Christian, as soon as “he appears”.
Spiritual discipline in the Christian life moves us toward fulfilling our calling and election in Christ. As Whitney continues: We aren’t merely to wait for holiness; we’re to pursue it. What are we pursuing that requires certain attention, certain disciplines? For the college student striving to obtain their degree, they discipline themselves to studying, researching, applying practical principles and concepts as a means to obtain the degree of study they are engaging in. In certain career fields, there are disciplines of competency for the individual to not only grasp and understand, they are to implement in practical course of business. So, too, in the Christian life, there are specific practical disciplines we come to understand and begin to live out day-to-day.
Our strive for Christlikeness is the crucial key for our own spiritual growth. And, without Christ and His infinite atonement, we are not able to see the Lord (see Hebrews 12:14). Furthermore, it is by and through the power of the Holy Spirit that generates new hungers toward holiness. We begin to hunger for the inspiration of the Bible. The Savior even testified to the fact that we are not to live by bread alone, we are to live by the words that proceed from God (see, Matthew 4:4). It is because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we begin to desire and pursue after holiness.
The goal of spiritual perfection is to develop and live out practical disciplines of the Christian life. However, we must understand what the personal spiritual disciplines are.
Whitney outlines what the purpose for spiritual disciplines:
- Practices found in scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ
- These are activities not attitudes and therefore are practices one engages in and maintains
- They are biblical based and are modeled within the pages of Scripture
- These spiritual disciplines are sufficient for a person to come to know and experience God in their every day life
- These spiritual disciplines are, what Whitney refers to, derived from the Gospel and not divorced from the Gospel of Jesus Christ
- The spiritual disciplines are the means to achieving Godliness – or, Christlikeness – through the transformation process of spiritual maturation in the Christian life
The ultimate goal, according to Whitney, of the spiritual disciplines for the Christian life is Godliness – that is, closeness to and conformity to Christ.