Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
I have to be honest: I really want to give up around the last week of every plan. My flesh says to me “Well good job, you’ve memorized enough.” The tendency for me to go half way or three-quarters the way feels “good enough” for my flesh. This is why I love Paul’s letter to the Corinthians so dearly. He compares what an athlete does to spiritual disciplines. The athlete cannot do anything “half-way”. They either train to win the prize or they are simply “beating the air”.
Hidden Word’s two core values are DISCIPLINE & GRACE. I want to make a few distinctions about both that may help us understand how these two work together.
When discipline is mentioned in the scriptures it is referring to two things:
- Discipline that comes through the sanctification in a believers life. This is directly related to the attitude or position of our heart towards God.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
- Spiritual disciplines are both individual and corporate practices that promote spiritual growth. These are not attitudes but activities that are practiced.
Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7)
Both of these disciplines are necessary and are accomplished through work of the Holy Spirit. The position of our hearts towards God directly affects our activities. However, our activities can influence and change the attitude of our hearts.
Because of the work at the cross, we live under grace and not under the law. We are welcomed into the family of God, freely and fully loved. There is NOTHING we can do to earn God’s favor. He has freely given it to us through Jesus Christ.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8,9
At the very core of our faith is the grace that God has freely given us. However, if you read Romans 6 and 7 a few times, you will also know that grace is not given us in order for us to continue in our sinful nature. In the contrary, we are to “put to death” our sinful natures. How does this happen? Discipline. Discipline through sanctification and spiritual disciplines that promote spiritual growth.
Purpose of Godliness
Discipline without grace becomes religion. Grace without discipline becomes futile.
Discipline & grace are most effective when working together. When we make these two core values compete against one another then you have the condition that Paul speaks about it Romans 6 & 7: we use grace as a means to relish in our sinful nature or we may want to do good but our sinful nature is working against us. God has freed us from our sinful nature and has given us a new nature. This new nature calls us into a deeper intimacy with God, disciplining ourselves to “put to death” (Romans 8:13) the sinful nature and in turn, offer ourselves over to be instruments of righteousness (Romans 7:13). This “offering” is the heart of spiritual discipline. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we have everything we need godliness. Grace is the fuel that allows us to withstand and engage discipline.
Without grace we would be crushed but without discipline we would be without fruit!