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.
The same is true of your relationship with your spouse. Spend time talking and listening to your spouse. Think about her; serve her with your energy and spend money on her. You will fall in love with your spouse all over again.
The first discipline for godliness is the discipline of affection. The second discipline for godliness is the discipline of adoption. We read this in verse 16.
The discipline of adoption allows us to choose what we would progress toward. John points out three areas where we need to apply the discipline of adoption. They are the areas of our cravings, our vision, and our recognition.
Ephesians 4:22-24 tells us, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." We are to adopt new objects of craving, vision and recognition.
To overcome the cravings of our sinfulness, we need to adopt new benefits to crave. By 4 am this morning, I was craving sleep, but I overcame the craving by adopting a new craving, the craving to complete this message. A helpful exercise is to set goals toward which you want to progress and take action on reaching the goals. Goals create cravings. New goals create new cravings. Godly goals create godly cravings.