Tilling The Soil of The Soul July 9, 2006
The Spiritual Discipline of Worship
As we’ve been looking at the classic spiritual disciplines over the last year, I’ve talked about how the disciplines help us “till the soil of our soul” so that the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – Gal 5:22-23) can grow and so that the weeds are pulled much more easily.
This is what Richard Foster says about how the disciplines deal with the sin in our life:
“Our ordinary method of dealing with ingrained sin is to launch a frontal attack. We rely on our willpower and determination. Whatever the issue for us may be—anger, bitterness, gluttony, pride, sexual lust, alcohol, fear—we determine never to do it again; we pray against it, fight against it set our will against it But it is all in vain and we find ourselves once again morally bankrupt or, worse yet, so proud of our external righteousness that “whitened sepulchers” is a mild description of our condition. Heini Arnold in his excellent little book entitled “Freedom from Sinful Thoughts” writes, “We… want to make it quite clear that we cannot free and purify our own heart by exerting our own ‘will.’ “
In Colossians Paul listed some of the outward forms people use to control sin: “touch not, taste not, handle not.” He then added that these things “have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship” (Col. 2:20—23, KJV). “Will worship”—what a telling phrase, and how descriptive of so much of our lives! The moment we feel we can succeed and attain victory over our sin by the strength of our will alone is the moment we are worshiping the will. Isn’t it ironic that Paul looked at our most strenuous efforts in the spiritual walk and called it idolatry: “will worship”?
…When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God’s work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot
attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given.
…The apostle Paul said, “he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8). A farmer is helpless to grow grain; all he can do is to provide the right conditions for the growing of grain. He puts the seed in the ground where the natural forces take over and up comes the grain. That is the way with the Spiritual Disciplines – they are a way of sowing to the Spirit. The Disciplines are God’s way of getting us into the ground; they put us where He can work within us and transform us. By themselves the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done. They are God’s means of grace. The inner righteousness we seek is not something that is poured on our heads. God has ordained the Disciplines of the spiritual life as the means by which we are placed where He can bless us.”