“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5: 17
The Holy Spirit has put it inside of you to desire godliness, putting a new focus on everything in your life; that’s why true children of God ache for holiness and godliness. But that doesn’t instantly make you godly. It’s very important to realize that while Christ gives us a new life, many practices of our day to day routines don’t reflect godliness. Our “old man” (old ways of living) is constantly fighting against our “new man.” Seriously think about this… being godly takes DISCIPLINE (you can bet I’m preaching to myself)! Godliness just doesn’t happen overnight – Period. “But how can I discipline myself?” you ask.
Discipline means work – no way around that! My Bible dictionary tells me that the word discipline means to train by instruction and control.
“I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9: 27
Gotta love Paul’s many comparisons to athletes (ex: running the race of faith). An athlete becomes an expert only by years of hard practice. There’s no such thing as an instant athlete. It takes years of practice to acquire skill. Athletes must work daily, day after day, until what they are doing is second nature to them. Continued daily effort is an essential, if not the most essential element of discipline. So to answer your question on how to discipline yourself…
“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. “ Luke 9: 23
Jesus didn’t mean denying something. He didn’t mean “For Lent, give up sweets.” What He did mean is to deny self (old desires, old ways, old practices, old habits we had before we were born again). We were born sinners, but it took practice to develop our particular styles of sinning. Our old lives were conditioned and disciplined towards ungodliness. I know I’m not writing anything you didn’t read before, but I beg you to really stop and consider that God is commanding us to deny self-He’s not asking!
“Taking up our cross” doesn’t mean carrying some heavy burden (I posted earlier about this, Taking Up Our Cross). It doesn’t mean having to endure some trial. Taking up the cross means putting to death the old life patterns of the old man. But that’s not enough, taking Biblical Counseling has taught me that whenever God tells us to “put off” He also says “put on.”
to be continued…