Discipline in the Christian life is often viewed as drudgery. I know this mindset well since I became a Christian at a young age. Sometimes to this day I struggle to regularly read my Bible and pray. When this happens, I’ve learned it is easy to then proceed to beat myself up for not praying or reading the Word of God. [bctt tweet=”The spiritual disciplines are a means of growth in the grace of God.” username=”servantsofgrace”]
The Goal of the Spiritual Disciplines
[bctt tweet=”The spiritual disciplines help Christians to live consistent and faithful lives before the Lord.” username=”servantsofgrace”] The Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 4:6-15 teaches Timothy what a Gospel-shaped life looks like. Both paragraphs in this section (vv.6-10 and vv.11-16) open with a call for Timothy to speak certain truths to the congregation. The focus of the passage isn’t only on the congregation but also on how Timothy through his teaching and lifestyle can help the Church persevere in the face of false teaching.
Dr. Donald Whitney said, “The spiritual disciplines are the God-given means we are to use in the Spirit-filled pursuit of godliness.”[i] Throughout the history of the Church, the men and women God has used most for His glory are those who are godly. Paul says in 1st Timothy 4:7 that believers are to “train themselves for the purpose of godliness.” When an athlete trains for an event he does so to further his goal of becoming a champion. The same is true in our walk with God. The goal of discipline is to grow to become like Jesus since such growth is a gift from God (John 17:17; 1 Thess. 5:23, Hebrews 2:11).
As Dr. Whitney rightly notes, the spiritual disciplines are a means God uses in the life of the believer to grow him/her in godliness. [bctt tweet=”The Holy Spirit uses the means of grace to conform Christians into the image of Christ.” username=”servantsofgrace”] Charles Spurgeon said, “I must take care above all that I cultivate communion with Christ, for though that can never be the basis of my peace- mark that- yet it will be the channel of it.”[ii]
Paul in 1 Timothy 4:6-15 was teaching young Timothy about the importance of being shaped by the Gospel. His words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:6 are not optional, they are a command. [bctt tweet=”Holiness is to define and mark out those who claim to be children of the Holy One. ” username=”servantsofgrace”][bctt tweet=”The spiritual disciplines assist Christians in their desire to become like Jesus.” username=”servantsofgrace”]
The Fuel for the Spiritual Disciplines
[bctt tweet=”The fuel for spiritual disciplines is the final reward of being completely like Christ.” username=”servantsofgrace”] Within the spiritual disciplines, there is freedom from self-centeredness in disciplines such as worship, service and evangelism. These disciplines challenge God’s people to keep their perspective Godward, even as they seek to reach the lost, and strengthen God’s people.
Discipline for its own sake is unprofitable. Discipline must have direction and the object of that pursuit should be the goal of godliness. [bctt tweet=”A disciplined Christian is not a joy-killer but a pursuer of joy in God.” username=”servantsofgrace”] The disciplined Christian delights himself/herself in the Lord. As God’s people come to understand that discipline is not drudgery but a blessing from God and a means of His grace, they will increasingly reflect Him in all of life.
[i] Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, Co, NavPress, 1991), 17).
[ii] C.H. Spurgeon, “Peace by Believing,” in Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1864; reprint, Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 1970), vol.9, page 283.