Spiritual Disciplines for the Purpose of Godliness
The only road to Christian maturity passes through the practice of the Spiritual Disciplines. These personal and interpersonal activities given by God in the Bible have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times. They are the sufficient means Christians are to use in the Spirit-filled pursuit of godliness, that is, closeness and conformity to Christ. Jesus modeled them for us and expected us to pursue them. In doing so, we will taste the joy of a spiritually disciplined lifestyle.
So why spend the next 10 weeks studying Spiritual Disciplines? If God has predestined our conformity to Christlikeness, where does discipline fit in? Although God will grant Christlikeness to us when Jesus returns, until then, He intends for us to grow toward it. We aren’t merely to wait for holiness, we’re to pursue it. “Strive for peace with everyone,...”we’re commanded in Hebrews 12:14, “...and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
How then shall we pursue holiness? How can I be like Jesus Christ, the Son of God? We find the clear answer in 1 Timothy 4:7, “...discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness...”(NASB)
Spiritual Disciplines for the purpose of godliness...
Bible Intake Part 1 - Hearing the Word, Reading the Word, Studying the Word
Bible Intake Part 2 - Memorizing, Meditating on Scripture, Applying Scripture
Fasting, Silence, and Solitude
Journaling and Learning
Pondering Spiritual Disciplines:
In the past, how have you felt about Spiritual Disciplines such as Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, and fasting? (Be honest.)
From 1 Timothy 4:7, what single purpose unites the Spiritual Disciplines?
The Importance of Holiness (Godliness):
What does 1 Peter 1:15-16 say about the importance of holiness in believers’ lives?
Describe a godly person you know. Do you know of practical Spiritual Disciplines they exercise regularly that have contributed to spiritual maturity?
Catalysts that God uses to make us more Christlike:
People: Often God brings people into our lives whose input leads to become more Christlike. Read Proverbs 27:17. Describe a time when God used someone to file away your rough, ungodly edges.
Circumstances: We’ve all faced trying circumstances that God used to make us more like Himself. What does Romans 8:28 say about our difficult circumstances?
How has God used circumstances in life to move you closer toward godliness?
Spiritual Disciplines: Rather than externally coming from people and/or circumstances, this catalyst works from the inside of our lives and goes outward. Describe a time when God used your prayer time or Bible meditation to change you from the inside out.
Spiritual Disciplines - A way to seek God and know Him better:
Today people place great emphasis on physical exercise as a means of staying healthy. Spiritual Disciplines are similar to physical exercise, in that when we exercise ourselves spiritually, we promote spiritual health and growth (godliness) in our lives. Read the following Bible story about Zacchaeus and how he placed himself in the path of Jesus and sought Him. As a result, his life was changed forever.
Read Luke 19:1-10.
- How did the tax collector pursue Jesus?
- What does this story tell us about Jesus’ mercy?
- How does this story encourage you to seek God?
The Spiritual Disciplines are like placing ourselves in God’s path:
Whitney writes “by means of these Bible-based practices we consciously place ourselves before God in anticipation of enjoying His presence and receiving His transforming grace.”1 Describe a time (or a period of time) when you placed yourself in God’s path, and His grace transformed you.
The Lord expects us to pursue the Spiritual Disciplines:
What do the following verses say about what it means for each of us to be Jesus’ disciples?
- Matthew 11:29
- Luke 9:23
- Galatians 5:22-23
The consequences of being Spiritually undisciplined:
Whitney, in Chapter 1, describes undisciplined people as faithful to the Church and demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the things of God, yet spiritually they “are a mile wide and an inch deep.” What are some positive and negative characteristics of these people? How does someone become like this? What does it mean that “they have dabbled in everything but disciplined themselves in nothing”? What would you need to do to ensure this never describes you?
Spiritual Disciplines bring freedom:
Freedom that “comes through mastery of any discipline...The freedom of godliness is the freedom to do what God calls us through Scripture to do and the freedom to express the character qualities of Christ through our own personality.”
In which areas of life have you experienced this freedom?
If you haven’t experienced this freedom, what steps will you take to bring yourself closer to this freedom?
Spiritual Discipline takes time:
Read 2 Peter 1:3-6. Why must self-control persevere before the mature fruits of godliness ripen?
God invites all Christians to enjoy the Spiritual Disciplines:
When you practice Spiritual Disciplines with the goal of godliness in mind, our discipline has direction. Jesus, our Savior and our King, is also our example of discipline.
Read the following verses: Matthew 4:2; Luke 2:46-47; John 13:2-6, 17:4. What does each say about Jesus and His pursuit of the Spiritual Disciplines?
Persevering in the practice of the Spiritual Disciplines:
Through the Holy Spirit, we have the power to persevere in the Spiritual Disciplines. Read 2 Timothy 1:7, and then describe why this truth should encourage us.
Focus on God’s deep love for you and on His desire to bless you through Spiritual Disciplines.
Ask the Lord to help you become willing or more willing to firmly commit to the practice of these disciplines during the coming weeks of this study.