This is our last session in the series so before giving you the final step to the New Spiritual You which ties everything together, let's review the first 9 steps we have studied and discussed.
Review - The purpose and reward of spiritual disciplines
The main idea we have tried to get our spirits around is that our personal goal as Christians is to become more like Christ in every area of our lives - this is the substance of the new spiritual you - you become more like Jesus Christ and these spiritual disciplines facilitate that goal.
7But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
- I Timothy 4:7-8
Here Paul explains that Christ-likeness is godliness because God in human form is Jesus and so to be like Christ is to be like God since Christ is God. Note that he says, "Discipline yourselves for the purpose of godliness" in the passage in I Timothy 4. Not simply disciplining the body (as in "working out" ) but getting the body/flesh under control. Not depriving the body (asceticism) which does not accomplish much spiritually in Christ.
What he means is the discipline to train the spirit within you so that you are able to enjoy the promise (results) that come from this kind of spiritual training regimen.
This is how it works:
- Spiritual training = Godliness/Christ-likeness
- Godliness = The experience of God
- The experience of God = Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.)
- Godliness perfected = Eternal life in the world to come
Why spiritual discipline?
It develops godliness/Christ-likeness within us which in turn produces the fruit of the Spirit which in turn provide us with a first taste of the experience of eternal life. It is the means, not the end.
The more godly I become, the more I am able to experience the existence that awaits me after death. Why is this worth striving for? The more confident I become about life after death, the less I fear living a godly life here and leaving this place when the time comes.
Review of the ten spiritual disciplines
Godliness, then is developed by exercising "spiritual disciplines", not just physical disciplines. So far we have looked at 9 spiritual disciplines that help cultivate godliness in us as faithful Christians. The foundation is personal discipline without which the others are not possible
A conscious drawing nearer to God by conforming our lives to His will and way. In the pursuit of godliness we are continually drawing nearer to Him as an ongoing action.
Getting rid of the things that hamper our relationship with God (both physical and spiritual). Simplicity is constantly making room for God in our lives.
3 & 4. Stillness and solitude
Making the time to be alone and quiet before God. It is not stillness and solitude of the body, it is stillness and solitude of the heart before the Lord.
Learning to let go and let God lead your life. The more we surrender our fears, plans, sorrows, people and failures to God , the more He surprises and blesses us.
Calling out to God, not for things, but for the knowledge of His will. The answer to this kind of prayer is what brings peace.
The knowledge of what God has done for us produces gratitude and this gratitude naturally leads us to humility. Humility is expressed by sitting on the urge to promote self, standing up on behalf of others and bowing low before God.
The discipline of self-control is the battle over who will dominate our lives, the Spirit or the flesh. This war is fought in 3 second battles.
Sacrifice is giving up the urge to save or to gratify self in the interest of another. To sacrifice because of Christ is the truest and highest manifestation of Christ-like character.
We did not do a session on this step or discipline until now because perseverance is the companion of all the other disciplines. The dictionary defines this word to mean:
"to try hard and continuously in spite of obstacles and difficulties"
(Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary).
The Greek word (PROSKARTERISIS) sometimes translated by the English word "STEADFASTNESS" means to be devoted to standing ready. Paul, in Ephesians 6:18, says we should be on the alert with all perseverance. Peter explains the stepping stones to the highest virtue, Christian love, but note what discipline he mentions just before godliness - the virtue we have been studying and aspiring to:
5Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
- II Peter 1:5-6
My point with all of this is that we must persevere in cultivating each of these steps or disciplines in order to perfect them (they become a natural part of our Christian character) and we must persevere in order to maintain them (or fall to the ever-present temptations of this world).
10 steps to the new spiritual you which will be a person who will be able to serve God as Christ did.
6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- II Peter 1:6-8
and a person who will be able to love others as Christ did.
You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
- John 15:3
This is who the new spiritual you will become and be able to do!
- Which of the disciplines do you find the easiest to practice/implement in your life? Why?
- Which of the disciplines have created the greatest changes in your life? In what way?
- If you were to teach this course would there be steps you would add or delete? Which ones? Why?
- In your opinion which is the most difficult step/discipline to maintain? Why?
- Give a brief testimonial about how this course has changed your life in Christ for the better.