The spiritual disciplines, or spiritual practices, are the pathways that God has designed to help us grow in our relationship with Him.
The spiritual disciplines, or spiritual practices, are the pathways that God has designed to help us grow in our relationship with Him. They are not optional but rather an essential part of being a disciple.
The word "discipline" comes from the Latin word disciplina, which means “instruction” or “teaching.” The word has come to mean something that is learned through instruction and practice (like learning how to play a musical instrument or how to speak another language). So when applied to spiritual growth, this means that these disciplines were designed by God Himself for our instruction and training in His ways so we might grow closer to Him.
The disciplines are "spiritual" only because they are the means through which the Holy Spirit works to transform us more into Christ's image.
The disciplines are the means by which we grow in our relationship with God, with each other, and with the world. The word "spiritual" is not meant to indicate that these disciplines are only for those on an explicitly religious path. They are spiritual because they help us become more like Christ in every area of our lives—which means that any person can participate in them, whether or not they're part of a traditional church community or another spiritual practice.
The disciplines themselves are simply activities or practices that focus us on certain aspects of life that tend to be neglected: prayer (talking to God), meditation (listening to God), service (doing for others), study (learning from others), fasting (living without distractions) and simplicity (living with fewer material possessions). These practices help us learn more about ourselves and the world around us so that we can better love those around us as well as ourselves.
1 Peter 4:2 calls God's choices for us "good" (KJV) or "beneficial" (ESV).
1 Peter 4:2 says that God's choices for us are good and beneficial—not our own.
"For he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God." (1 Peter 4:1)
The Bible makes it clear that God has a purpose for each one of us, and everything He does is ultimately good (Romans 8:28). We have to trust Him to take care of us in all circumstances.
The disciplines are a significant form of God's grace.
This kind of life is not work. It is not a burdensome sacrifice we make to please God, as if He were some sort of cosmic taskmaster who can't be pleased until we do what he says.
In fact, these disciplines are part of the good news that Jesus came to share with us—that our lives are not about suffering or sacrifice, but instead about joy and freedom (John 8:32).
The disciplines don't come from you; they come from God's grace in your life!
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells us that seeking after the kingdom of God and His righteousness is the primary thing we must do.
The Apostle Paul tells us that God is our only hope (1 Timothy 4:10), and He must be our primary focus. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells us that seeking after the kingdom of God and His righteousness is the primary thing we must do.
While it’s true that Jesus did not say that seeking after the kingdom of God and His righteousness is the only thing we must do, He did say it was more important than anything else—including going to church on Sunday. If you really want to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then you will find yourself growing in holiness, which means turning away from sin and learning how to obey God as much as possible.
Our growth in these areas is not optional; they are part of being a disciple.
As a disciple, you are called to grow spiritually. There is no other way to grow spiritually except by following the example of Jesus Christ. He is our teacher and the one who sets the standard for our growth in these areas.
Jesus’ disciples followed him because they were willing to give up everything they had in order to follow him (see Luke 9:23). They were also willing to die for him (see Matthew 26:35-36; Mark 14:31-32; John 13:37). And lastly, they were willing to do whatever he told them to do (John 2:5-11).
We don't get to bypass Jesus' words and say, "That's nice advice, but I want to be a Christian."
In Mark 4:20-21, Jesus says, "Let the one who has ears to hear listen!" We don’t get to bypass Jesus' words and say, "That's nice advice, but I want to be a Christian." The disciplines are not optional for Christians. They are part of being a disciple.
The disciplines aren't a suggestion; they're something that we must do if we want to grow in our relationship with God and others. Having discipline in our lives means allowing God's Word to shape us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). The goal isn't just lip service or feeling good about ourselves; it's actually becoming more like Christ each day (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Some people will tell you that if you're born again, then you're in a saved relationship with God and your sinful nature can't stop you from growing spiritually.
Some people will tell you that if you're born again, then you're in a saved relationship with God and your sinful nature can't stop you from growing spiritually. But the Bible says: "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate." (Romans 7:15)
It's clear from this verse that we all have an enemy of our spiritual growth. This enemy is called sin or the flesh. The flesh refers to whatever it is within us that wants to sin and act selfishly rather than following God's commands for our lives.
If we allow this battle between good and evil within us (our spirit) to go on unchecked, then eventually we will be overcome by our sin nature—we'll become unable to distinguish good from evil because it's all one big gray area in our minds! We won't know who we really are anymore; nor will we care what happens once there are no consequences left for poor choices made along the way...
But as with many kinds of relationships, there's an ongoing commitment involved on both sides.
But as with many kinds of relationships, there's an ongoing commitment involved on both sides. Discipleship means being committed to growing in the right direction—and that can only happen when we have a person or people who are helping us walk toward God. And just like any good relationship, discipleship has its ups and downs: sometimes we'll feel like we're making progress, and other times it may feel like all our efforts are going nowhere.
But if you're serious about your journey toward God, you need to be willing to stay committed to this process for life—even if it gets difficult at times.
The disciplines are many paths that lead to one goal.
The disciplines are not something you do, they are something you are.
The disciplines aren't a checklist, they're a lifestyle.
And the disciplines aren't a set of rules; they're a relationship with God through Jesus Christ as your Savior that empowers you to live according to His will for your life (Ephesians 5:1-10).