Discipline is a word that conjures thoughts from our childhood. But, as Christians, the word discipline should take on a whole new meaning. Always remembering, discipline without direction is drudgery. In Paul’s words, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” For the next few weeks, we are going to explore, spiritual disciplines, specifically, Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism and stewardship.
For now, let’s discuss spiritual discipline. God will grant Christlikeness when he calls us to our eternal home. Until that time, we must pursue it. God has not called us to impurity, but to holiness. Many believers feel that Christian discipline is drudgery, so they shy away from it. Pastor and author, Donald Whitney, gives this example, “Dino Kartsonakis is a famous Christian pianist. His technique is described as fluid and brilliant. The first song he learned at age five was “At the Cross.” When he was taking piano lessons, he had to practice scales, he might have thought, ‘This is monotonous playing scales.’ But let’s suppose he is visited by an angel and he is taken to see a young man playing in Carnegie Hall. He is in awe as he listens to the artist play. Then the angel reveals to him that the man in Carnegie Hall will be him.” The practicing of scales takes on a whole new meaning. There is joy, purpose and direction. It is the same with spiritual disciplines as we embrace them, we find joy in drawing closer to our Lord and Savior.
It’s crucial to point out, the pursuit of or accomplishment of spiritual disciplines do not qualify us to enter heaven. We are qualified and sanctified to enter heaven by the blood of Jesus Christ and belief in Him as our Lord and Savior. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14) The presence of the Holy Spirit brings a hunger we have never felt before. That hunger must be fed. By developing spiritual disciplines of Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism and stewardship, we will experience joy and growth. God will honor our commitment and He will bless us as we bless others.
The spiritual disciplines found in the scriptures are sufficient for knowing and experiencing God and growing in Christlikeness. This is clearly stated in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Whatever spiritual benefits that one might say are gained by doing things outside the scriptures are merely, “feel good” activities that are not on the path to Christlikeness. As we take this journey, each discipline will focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ and the truths of the gospel will restore our souls.