Holiness: A Gift of God’s Grace ~ Part 20

“I am Adonai, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:45

 “Following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; since the Tanakh says, ‘You are to be holy because I am holy.’” ~ 1 Kefa 1:15-16

In my last post in this series, we looked at how we determine God’s will and develop conviction in those areas where God’s Word is not specific.  In this post, we will begin to look at the place of personal discipline in our journey to becoming holy.

Discipline … Really?? ~ Part A

If you’re anything like me, the word discipline meant punishment.  From swats with a metal fly-swatter to loss of privileges or my allowance, my grandmother and mother would discipline me with what I perceived to be an assortment of punishments.  It was until I became a parent myself that I began to understand the oft repeated phrase that “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.”  Fortunately, I have learned that discipline in the Scriptural context is not punishment at all.

The Holman Bible Dictionary has this to say about discipline:

“Discipline comes from a Latin word “disco” which means to learn or get to know, a direct kind of acquaintance with something or someone.  Discipline refers to the process by which one learns a way of life.  A disciple was like an apprentice who was learning a trade or craft from a master.  Such learning required a relationship between the master who knew the way of life (discipline) and a learner (a disciple).  Within this relationship, the master led a learner through a process (the discipline) until the learner could imitate or live like the master.

Discipline, biblically understood, results in blessing.  God’s people learn how to serve Him.  Through praise and correction, their lives are shaped into a pattern of consistent obedience and love.  Within “the discipline of the Lord,” expressed in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, one can live the kind of life which is pleasing to God and of benefit to others.”

My heart is to fulfill the Great Commission in making people of all nations talmidim (disciples) and teaching them to obey everything that Yeshua has commanded us.  I spend a good deal of time in God’s Word, reading godly teachings and researching issues of interest to me and then sharing what I have learned with you.

Sha’ul says we are to train or discipline ourselves to be godly (I Timothy 4:7 NLT).  Sha’ul also said, “Every athlete in training submits himself to strict discipline….” (I Corinthians 9:25).  He said this was an attitude of his life, and one that each Believer should have (see I Corinthians 9:24-27).  If an athlete disciplines himself to obtain a temporal prize, he said, how much more should we Believers discipline ourselves to obtain a crown that lasts forever?

Discipline toward holiness begins with the Word of God.  Sha’ul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living.” (2 Timothy 3:16).  The last item he mentions is training or discipline in doing righteousness.  This is what the Scriptures will do for us if we use them.

You read in Scripture that “You must strip off your old nature … you must let your spirits and minds keep being renewed, and clothe yourselves with the new nature created to be godly, which expresses itself in the righteousness and holiness that flow from the truth.” (Ephesians 4:22-24).  Where are we taught these things?  Only in the Word of God.  Discipline toward holiness begins then with the Scriptures – with a disciplined plan for regular intake of the Scriptures and a disciplined plan for applying them to our daily lives.

Here our cooperation with the Rauch is very clear.  A diagram [1] of our interaction with the Spirit looks like this:

Interaction with Spirit

Clearly, we have a critical role to play in the sanctification process to become holy.  The Ruach has already done a good part of His work by providing us with the Scriptures to discipline us.  And as we learn them, He will faithfully bring them to our minds as we need them to face temptations.  As Yeshua said to His talmidim, “The Counselor, the Ruach HaKodesh, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything; that is, he will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)  As we seek to apply His Word to daily situations, He will work in us to strengthen us.  But we must respond to what the Ruach has already done if we are to expect Him to do more.

So we see that we must discipline our lives for a regular healthy diet of the Word of God.  We need a planned time each day for reading or studying the Bible.  Every Believer who makes progress in holiness is a person who has disciplined his life so that he spends regular time in the Bible.  There simply is no other way.HaSatan will always battle us at this point.  He will try to persuade us that we are too sleepy in the morning, too busy during the day, and too tired at night.  It seems there is never a suitable time for the Word of God.  This means we must discipline ourselves to provide this time in our daily schedules.  For the last three years, I have disciplined myself to rise at 0430 by going to bed a little earlier at night.  I have found the early morning hour to be the most profitable time for me to read the Bible and devotionals and to pray over areas of concern and need.

You need to find what time of day or night works best for you.  Whether before breakfast or after, morning or evening, the point is we must all arrange our schedules to provide for this daily intake of the Word of God.

A disciplined intake of the Word of God not only involves a planned time; it also involves a planned method.  Usually we think of methods of intake as falling into four categories – hearing the Word taught by our pastors and teachers (Jeremiah 3:15), reading the Bible ourselves (Deuteronomy 17:19), studying the Scriptures intently (Proverbs 2:1-5), and memorizing key passages (Psalm 119:11 NET).  All of these methods are needed for a balanced intake of the Word.  Pastors are gifted by God and trained to teach the “whole counsel of God.”  Reading the Scripture gives us the overall perspective of divine truth, while study of a passage or topic enables us to dig more deeply into a particular truth.  Memorization helps us retain important truths so we can apply them in our lives.

There is yet one more key category that we need to add to our methods of intake of the Word of God that I will reveal in my next post. 

Click here for PDF version.

[1] As displayed in “The Pursuit of Holiness” by Jerry Bridges

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