Summary: Learn three disciplines for growing in godliness.
By way of review, we talked last Sunday about how to regain hope in life. The three steps were, 1) accept God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, 2) build your hopes on your relationship with God and 3) commit to living out the power of God’s Word, the Bible. You can get the message on tape if you are interested.
Hope in life without progress or maturity will eventually wither the hope. The person who is offered help to overcome his alcoholic addiction can have hope, but if he does not make progress toward sobriety, his hope will fade. The woman who is offered help to overcome her financial problem can have hope, but if she does not make sufficient progress toward paying off her debt, she can lose hope. The Christian who is forgiven and loved by God and trying to live according to God Word can have hope, but if he doesn’t grow in godly character, his hope may fizzle, soon.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
In other words, God does not give us the hope without giving us the "how’s" to making progress toward realizing the hope. Last week, we addressed the provisions of forgiveness, relationship with God and the power for progress toward godliness. This week, we will address the disciplines for godliness. So if you want a title, write down, "Disciplines for Godliness."
John gives us three disciplines that will enable us to grow in godliness. The text for this morning is 1 John 2:15-17. Let me go ahead and read that for us.
The first discipline for godliness is the discipline of affection. We read this in verse 15. By using the term, "the world," John is contrasting what is from God and what is from sinful humanity.
Most Christians I know are trying very hard to grow in godly character and godly lifestyle, but they are not making much progress. One of the main reasons is that Christians don’t understand how to discipline their affection, those things we love. The discipline of affections allows us to choose what or whom we will love.
When I was in middle school, my best friend and I decided to play a dirty trick on a girl. We decided to make her think I liked her and then dump her. I walked close to her, sat next to her, talked with her and bought her lunch at the cafeteria. Before I knew what was happening, I began to really like her. If that weren’t bad enough, she ended up with a crush on my best friend.
Matthew 6:21 tells us, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Most people don’t realize we can change our heart’s affection by deciding where we would put our treasures. Our treasures are our time, money, thoughts, energy, and any other resource we value.
Spiritually speaking, if you want to love God more, spend more time talking with God in prayer, listen to God by reading His Word, the Bible and give whatever resources you value to God’s work. Before you know what is happening, you will begin to fall in love with God.