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Summary: THE ROLE OF SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES IN SPIRITUAL GROWTH

LESSON 8: THE ROLE OF SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES IN SPIRITUAL GROWTH

“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.”

Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Introduction

• The Christian life has been described as a battle to be fought, a race to be run and a building to be constructed. In each of these cases, certain disciplines must be followed if the goal is to be reached.

• One cannot be a disciple without learning discipline!

• If I am going to develop Christ-like character in my life, there are certain disciplines, or habits I need to practice as part of my lifestyle.

". . . Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." (1 Tim 4:7b)

• Discipline was the key to our Lord fulfilling the will of His heavenly Father.

". . . even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience." ~ Hebrews 5:8

The goal: For us to become more like Jesus.

The Holy Spirit’s part: He is the change agent, acting with power and purpose to grow us up into Christ.

Our part: We need to be changed but we cannot change ourselves. We can, however, cooperate with the Holy Spirit in changing us by choosing to put ourselves in places and staying put in places where the Holy Spirit can transform us.

The means: The disciplines are the conduits/channels for the Holy Spirit’s power, the God-given means we are to use in our pursuit of growing into the heart of God.

In-Depth Study

a) To become like Jesus, we must "learn obedience" through developing disciple habits.

• 1Corinthians 9:25-27

Paul says that just as an athlete gives priority to habits that will develop him as a champion, a disciple gives priority to habits that develop Christ-like character.

• A disciple is one who disciplines himself to do the right things!

We have to be:

- discriminating in what we do. (v 25)

- deliberate in what we do. (v. 26)

• A disciple is one who disciplines himself to do the right things, the right way!

We must be:

- determined in what we do. (v. 27)

• Paul understood the level of commitment that Jesus requires of those who would be a true disciple.

“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.’" Luke 14:25-27

• Jesus made it clear that the nature of the commitment required of a disciple is two-fold:

i) Our supreme delight must be our relationship with Jesus. (v. 26)

- Paul says that since he was spiritually alive, he was not going to allow his flesh to determine the course of his life.

- He was going to make sure that his body was the servant, and his inner man was the master.

- The desires of his body were not going to rule over himself!

ii) Our supreme desire must be to become like Jesus. (v. 27; Luke 9:23)

- Paul expressed this commitment when he declares that he was determined not to be "disqualified for the prize."

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."(Phil 4:13)

- Paul was committed to win the prize – the prize of being just like Jesus.

• The primary requirement to spiritual discipline is a longing after God.

There is a temptation to take on the disciplines with a legalistic approach. You begin to think that it is an act of work; it is something that you can accomplish.

• We will look at three basic types of spiritual disciplines:

1) The inward disciplines cultivate the inner spiritual life.

2) The outward disciplines govern the individual activities we pursue to encourage spiritual growth.

3) In corporate disciplines, we join other Christians in mutual ministry for spiritual growth.

Inward spiritual discipline: Meditation

a) Meditation is one of the ways that you can open the door to God, to have that intimate relationship with him, to know him better, to let him take your worries and bless your life.

- Meditation allows the Holy Spirit to renew the mind and provide deep illumination of spiritual truth.

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