When it comes to our Spiritual Formation, our conformity to Christlikeness, God uses three main catalysts – people, experiences, and the Spiritual Disciplines.
One of the catalysts God uses in the work of our transformation is people. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” God uses our family members, our friends, our acquaintances, and yes, even our enemies to bring about the needed change in our lives.
Another catalyst God uses in the work of our transformation is our circumstances. We need look no further than Romans 8:28 to find this truth.
Employment concerns, financial crises, health issues, relationship stresses – all of it, every circumstance, is used by God in the deep and holy work of our transformation.
People, circumstances, and the Spiritual Disciplines. The third catalyst God uses in our conformity to Christlikeness is unlike the other two in that it is largely under our control. We often have very little say in the people and circumstances God allows into our lives. However, we do have the ability to decide whether we will practice the Spiritual Disciplines, and if so, which ones we will engage in.
Before we consider what the Spiritual Disciplines are or think about which ones we will engage in, it’s important that we explore the reasons why we need to practice the Spiritual Disciplines.
3 Reasons to Practice the Spiritual Disciplines
1. WE SHOULD PRACTICE THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES BECAUSE, AS CHRISTIANS, WE HAVE ALREADY BEEN SANCTIFIED IN CHRIST.
The Spiritual Disciplines do not earn us new life. This gift is ours through faith in Christ alone. In and of themselves, the Spiritual Disciplines have no power. Rather, our practice of them flows from the newness of life we received through Christ’s redeeming work on the cross – His death and resurrection. The Spiritual Disciplines are the fruit of our new life in Christ.
The new life we received is granted to us by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. Not only does He dwell in us, He strengthens us with the ability to live in a way that pleases God. In Romans 8:3-8, Paul affirms that all who are in Christ now walk according to the Spirit. Thus, practicing the Spiritual Disciplines is part of what it means to walk in the Spirit.
2. WE SHOULD PRACTICE THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES BECAUSE WE NEED TO GROW IN CHRISTLIKENESS.
We are called to be Christlike.
Conforming to the image of God’s Son means God has called us to be like Jesus. This transformation does not happen instantly the moment when we are saved, nor does it occur automatically. Spiritual transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit in us (Titus 3:4-7) as we practice the Spiritual Disciplines.
My pastor often reminds our church family that we live in the space between the already and the not yet. We have already been sanctified in Christ Jesus, however our sanctification is not yet complete and will only be complete at His return.
Just before giving up His spirit, Jesus uttered those powerful, life-altering words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The work of the cross is complete!! Believers in Christ are completely, totally forgiven, transformed, ransomed, and saved. Nonetheless, the imperatives of the Bible urge us to live in a way that honors God. Therefore, we have work to do. We need to make progress in our sanctification growing more in conformity to the image of Christ.
Our goal for life is Christlikeness, and practicing the Spiritual Disciplines is a means for reaching our goal.
3. WE SHOULD PRACTICE THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES BECAUSE OUR HOPE OF GLORY IN CHRIST IS CERTAIN.
“We shall be like him!” What a glorious, mind-blowing thought! When Christ returns, we shall be like Him. We can be assured. Our hope is certain.
This precious hope of glory in Christ should motivate us to pursue Christlikeness and the practice of the Spiritual Disciplines.
CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP – How to Grow: Growth Rooted in Christ, Class 1: Biblical Spirituality and Sanctification, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, February 2020.