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Friday, April 29, 2011

Training for God 4

Today I'm reading Philippians 2:12-13. "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

Jay Adams continues his observations about "Godliness Through Discipline" by saying that God has given us the capacity to develop habits. We become more mature spiritually through daily practice of our spiritual disciplines (prayer, Bible study, fellowship, worship, etc.). If you practice what God tells you to do, the obedient life will become a part of you. You have already 'practiced' something. You have already developed some unconscious patterns. But practice itself is indifferent. It can work either as a blessing or as a curse, depending upon what you have practiced. It is what you feed into your life that matters, just line input into a computer. A computer is no better than the data entered into it. The end product is good or bad according to what raw material is provided. In 2 Peter 2:14 Peter speaks about people whose hearts are "trained in greed." Trained is the same word that Paul used - the gymnastics word. A heart exercised in greed is one that has faithfully practiced greed so that greediness has become natural.

Since God has made us with this capacity for habit we each must take a hard look at the patterns we have allowed to develop in us. Pattern by pattern we need to analyze whether what we're doing has developed from practice in doing God's will or from practice in doing something else. Discipline first requires self-examination, a crucifixion of the old self and following Jesus in new ways by the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit. The biblical way to godliness is not easy or simple, but it is the solid way.

When you discipline yourself for godliness you don't have to do it alone. "It is God who works in you." (Philippians 2:13) It takes nothing less than the power of the Spirit to replace sinful habits with righteous ones. We can never say "I've made it." There's always more work to do in our hearts. By God's grace we continue to walk the road of discipleship every day.



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