Not too long ago I began a study on the means of grace. The means (or steps) through the salvation process which are Grace, Faith, Confession, Forsaking sin, Baptism in Jesus’ name, the infilling of the Holy Spirit evidenced by speaking in an unknown language, and pursuing godliness. Rev. Simeon Young has a similar, and better-written study entitled ‘the Seven Steps of Salvation’. I suppose this last phase, if you will, of the salvation process is the focus of the study that I am currently embarking upon … ‘Means of Godliness’.
Once an individual reaches a conversion experience, i.e. repentance, Baptism in Jesus’ name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost, there is deeply more to pursue in this journey with Christ. Receiving the Holy Ghost is not the point of arrival, but a point of transition. The Spirit serves as the enablement to do ‘all things through Christ’. Strength. Provision. Peace. Comfort. Intercession. ‘Gifts-operation’. These are components of godliness all; the evidence of the unction as well.
‘You shall be Holy, for I am HOLY.’ (1 Peter 1:16) Godliness is the reflection of His holiness. How do we get there? Is it a simple faith issue? Like the salvation process, God has provided a means to attain this ‘godliness’.
The apostle Peter admonished us to add to our faith virtue. He then continues to add knowledge to virtue, to knowledge … temperance. Further add patience to temperance and to patience … godliness. He states that we need to give all diligence. We actually need to work to grow in God. (2 Peter 1:3-11)
Paul writes in I Timothy 4 to ‘refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.’ The New American Standard Bible translates it this way, ‘But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.’ We actually need to discipline ourselves unto godliness … a daily exercise regimen, if you will. This means the ‘C’ word … yes, we need to ‘change’.
It has been said that God uses three things to work change in us. 1) Other people, 2) our circumstances, and 3) spiritual disciplines are what God uses to work transformation in us. Note that the first two originate externally, whereas the third is something that works from the inside out.
Holiness (godliness) is a God thing. This is not something that can be legislated or regulated. It is not something that is worn or not worn. Holiness is the reflection of a Holy God that we are in covenant with. He works holiness in us. He has, however, given us means to attain holiness. Tangible application of biblical principal and spiritual disciplines to add to our patience godliness. It is not faith OR works, but faith AND works. (James 2:17)
“the job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be” – Tom Landry
Although Proverbs 23:12 speaks specifically to parents, it applies to our discussion when is says, ‘Apply your heart to discipline’ (NASB). It actually takes effort, ‘W.O.R.K.’, in order to grow into what God has called us to. Being holy is not an option to the one who walks with Christ … it is a command, a result of fellowship with Him. “BE YE HOLY: FOR I AM HOLY,” Peter quotes (1 Peter 1:16).
In side every seed is power … power to push through the soil and power to become what it is “called” to be. When we receive the Spirit we receive something like a seed. It has the power to push through any difficulty, sin, and bondage … in order to transform us into what we’ve been called to be. There is incredible potential inside of us … but that potential needs to be nourished.
Some might cry that spiritual disciplines are just another form of “bondage”. Using that mentality would be like saying that anyone who practices an instrument is in bondage. That someone is being a legalist by asking him to practice when he’d rather be playing ball. The musician, however, trades in the “freedom” to play baseball for the liberty to skillfully express himself when inspired. Hearing a skilled musician should remind us of what we are striving for … the ability to be free to soar unto godliness. This is not a road that is popular, but still available to the individual who will “discipline himself unto godliness.”
I Corinthians 12 ‘let us understand that all believers have spiritual giftedness. The presence of the gift does not mean the realization of its fruit … theses gifts need to be developed. The practice of spiritual discipline is the means to not “neglect the gift” that is in us.’