SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE

By Pastor Mike Andrews

What is spiritual discipline, and why is it so important?

What usually gets in our way of this discipline? Romans 3:9-18 gives answer to those questions. 

Spiritual discipline makes us spiritually fit. I Timothy 4:7-8 says "Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”  1 Tim 4:7-8. What is the literal meaning of “train” here? Matthew Poole said “Bodily discipline, lying in abstaining from certain meats, keeping set fasts, watching, lying upon the ground, going barefoot, wearing sackcloth or haircloth, abstaining from wine or marriage, is of little advantage, the mind and soul of man is not bettered by them: the apostle did not altogether despise these things, some of which may be useful (moderately used) to make us more fit for prayer, especially upon solemn occasions; but these are not things wherein religion is to be put, and alone they are of no avail.”

Godliness is the prerequisite to all effective ministry. “Godliness” refers to the act of being devout and living a good, reverent life toward God and others because of what Christ has done in us. It means living out our disposition, respect, and reverence to Christ in all aspects of our life. It is responding from our worship of Christ with the authentic desire to know Him in a greater way. This creates our desire to be pious, which is rearranging our priorities, mindsets, and character to line up with God's character and to be able to see the importance of virtue, then be equipped to use it to value others. This is the essence of real piety, to be "souled out" as in our soul is bought by our Lord and we respond with our lives to say it is real and true to my Lord

Ungodliness is the complete opposite! It’s:Irreverence, Immorality, seeking sin, wicked, and outrageous behavior. These bad characters come from not reverencing God which lines us up with the desires of the world, preventing us from being a blessing to others and glorifying our Lord and Savior. Ungodliness can be ignoring the orphans and widows, letting our tongue do as it pleases, or even the heinous acts of child molesting and murder. When we are not worshiping Him, we are engaging in pride and then we will engage in sin. Matt 7:6 (they reject the treasures in Christ). Psalm 73:8-11 (They are mockers and haters of God). 2 Peter 3:3-4 (Followers of their own desires). 1 Tim 6:3-5 (False teachers who try to gain favor).

Godliness is something....Believers are to imitate……….Eph 5:1. To lead a quiet and peaceable life………….1 Tim 2:2. That is a mystery to the world and to the church at times……1 Tim 3:16. Results in great gain, when accompanied with contentment……..1 Tim 6:6. Every man of God should pursue…….1 Tim 6:3-5. We have a divine resource that has an endless supply…… 2 Peter 1:3. We exemplify as we await our glorious home in Heaven…........2 Pet 3:11-12 

What does spiritual discipline do for us?

It helps us focus on running the race of life. I Corinthians 9:24 says "In a race everyone runs, but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win." Matthew Poole said this “The apostle presses all his former discourse by minding them of the difficulty of getting to heaven, and of the obligation that lay upon them to be the first in the spiritual race. To this purpose he fetched a similarity from what they saw daily, in the practice of those who frequented those games by which the Romans and Corinthians were wont to divert themselves. They had several, known by the names of the Olympian, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games, the latter of which were most proper to Greece. At these games there were several that ran races, either on foot or on horseback: and several that wrestled. The reward was a crown, or garland: and for those that ran, we read that the crown or garland was hung up at the end of the race, and those who, running on foot or on horseback, could first lay hold upon it, and take it down, had it, so as though many ran, yet but one had the crown. So, he saith, it is as to getting to heaven; men might think it was a light matter, but they who would have the crown of glory must run for it, and it was a work which required so much striving and labor, that not many would have that crown: which is the same with that which our Savior said “For many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Luke 13:24 

Spiritual discipline strips away the nonessentials. Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”. What things hold us or you back in your walk with God? Why are you hanging on to them? Is there a cost to spiritual discipline? 1 Cor 9:25-27 says “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Godliness is not just another character; it is a description of who we are to be in our entirety. Godliness is a basic, foundational character upon which the other characters rest. Godliness summarizes the essence of character in general as applied to our entire lives as Christians. Godliness summarizes the Fruit of the Spirit from God's work in us. We all have the ability to be good or be bad, to take what Christ has given us and use it, or ignore or even perverse it. This not just about our reputation and ambassadorship in Christ, it is how we must be if Christ has a hold on us! “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Cor 5:20-21. Kent Hughes calls Godliness “Spiritual sweat” He also says in his book “Disciplines OF A Godly Young Man “Men, we will never get anywhere spiritually without a conscious shedding of the things that are holding us back. What things are weighing you down? Your lusts? Your habits? Your attractions? Your fears? Your hatred? Your friends? Your girlfriend? The call of discipline demands that you throw them off. The question is: Are you man enough?” Godliness only comes from our submission to God, which produces love, kindness, gentleness. This happens when we are changed by what He has done. You have to ask yourself, "Am I doing this? If not, why not?"

 

Repentance and Forgiveness

by Stanley D. Gale

While an accurate understanding of forgiveness can be discerned by studying the vocabulary found in Scripture, in another sense it takes sixty-six chapters to plumb the depths of forgiveness. Even then, we cannot fully comprehend it because we will grow in our understanding and appreciation as we study God’s Word and seek His wisdom for its application. One of the questions that relates to forgiving another has to do with the place of repentance as a requisite for granting that forgiveness.

“IF HE REPENTS, FORGIVE HIM.”

Is hearing an expression of repentance by the offending party necessary for the granting of forgiveness by the one wronged? Can a debt of sin be canceled apart from recognition of some degree of remorse on the part of the offender? Should it be?

A pastor friend was wronged by another pastor, totally blindsided and slandered. My friend intended to pursue conciliatory efforts with the offending pastor but said this: “I forgive him and I pray that he will one day repent.” Is my friend putting the cart before the horse by forgiving without first hearing an expression of repentance and, in so doing, cheapening grace?

We want to form our opinions from the Word of God. A key passage to consider is found in Luke’s gospel: “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17:3–4). Is our Lord laying out a requirement that we discern repentance before granting forgiveness?

It is safe to say that repentance is always to be desired when it comes to ownership of sin. All sin is first and foremost against God. Repentance accords sin its weight before a holy God. It also admits not only the wrong but acknowledges a degree of personal responsibility for the wrong and laments over it.

“I REPENT.”

But is Jesus saying that we need to hear the actual words, “I repent,” or does He mean that we must always endeavor to somehow discern or elicit contrition before granting pardon? Or could it be that our Lord is not speaking of repentance so much as He is of return? The brother who was adversarial and moving away is now conciliatory to some degree and moving toward even if he has not fully acknowledged his sin. In this case, repentance would refer to a turnaround by the offender, and the one offended would acknowledge that and receive the offending party rather than rejecting him.

Part of the challenge in nailing down our Lord’s instruction is grasping the biblical nature of repentance. What is it and how is it measured? Repentance has three elements: sorrow, change of mind, and new obedience. Ideally, the sorrow is a godly sorrow that grieves because of sin against God and neighbor, the change of mind is one that conforms to the assessment of God’s Word, and the new obedience is the heart-driven fruit of that change of mind. But in the scenario Jesus gives in Luke 17, how would the earnestness of that expression of repentance be determined?

Forgiveness is the ready disposition of the heart of one forgiven.SHARE

We can envision a scenario wherein we impose our own standard for a person’s expression of repentance and determine that it doesn’t quite measure up. We may well be inclined to put up hoops for them to jump through or impose arbitrary measures to test the repentance. Such an approach flies in the face of how God granted forgiveness to us.

On top of that, the time frame that Jesus lays out—seven times in one day—speaks against the authenticity of the repentance. Usually we know someone is truly repentant if there is a change in behavior that bears witness to a change of mind. Conduct validates contrition. But if someone repeats an offense seven times in one day, that suggests the repentance is not real. Yet Jesus says that forgiveness is mandated if the person repents. There seems to be more going on here than hearing the word “repent” or attempting to evaluate the authenticity or earnestness of the repentance.

“INCREASE OUR FAITH!”

Perhaps it is the disciples’ response that gives us the best bearings for understanding our Lord’s teaching. They don’t ask for more specifics about repentance or question Him about a threshold before forgiveness is granted. Luke goes on: “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ ” (Luke 17:5). In effect, they are saying that such continual forgiveness is not natural for them. They are not sufficient for the task. They need to look to God for His help to demonstrate such extravagant grace. Jesus goes on to encourage them in that faith, giving them hope and courage: “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6).

Supporting this conclusion are the opening words of Jesus’ address to His disciples: “Pay attention to yourselves!” (Luke 17:3). Not pay attention to your brother, so much as pay attention to yourself in the matter of multiple offenses against you. Focus on your responsibility. Keep your bearings about how you have been forgiven. Jesus emphasizes this personal responsibility apart from transaction and apart from repentance when He says: “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).

Certainly, repentance is desired and to be pursued, as expressed by my pastor friend who said, “I forgive him and I pray that he will one day repent.” That pursuit can be with the person in terms of Matthew 18 and in prayer with God who alone can change the heart. For our part, though, we should be eager to forgive even before signs of repentance are forthcoming. Our private inclination should be to let go and to give grace. When and if we are given the opportunity in person, we should be ready to extend the forgiveness we have already fostered in our hearts. Freely we have received, freely we are to forgive. Forgiveness is the ready disposition of the heart of one forgiven.

 




Our ultimate desire at Calvary Baptist Church is first and foremost to bring glory and praise to the Sovereign LORD [Father, Son, & Holy Spirit] and to raise up mature believers so that we can fulfill the Great Commission. We will seek to achieve this by following the guidelines that God has put in place for prayer, worship, communion, Christian fellowship, Bible Study, and most of all the expository teaching of God’s Word.  We desire to provide the proper teaching of God’s Word so that fellow believers can grow together and edify one another with love and compassion.  

Please come join us,

as we look into how God has composed a unique storyfor each of our lives.CBC is a place to call home as we ......Magnify the Lord, Mature the Believers, Make prayer a priority, Meet the lost with Christ

Our Church Service Time @ 9:30am.

Adult Bible Study Wednesday Nights @6:30pm

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We are located @
148 Queen Street,
Killaloe Ontario
613-757-1618 
 


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