So why all the emphasis on, and talk about Spiritual Disciplines (and the involvement of discipline) in Christian life?
Is it not true that God has predestined our conformity to Christlikeness? (Rom. 8:29) The fact is that although God will grant Christlikeness to believers when Jesus returns, until then He intends for us to grow toward that Christlikeness. We are not merely to wait for holiness, we are to pursue it (Heb. 12:14).
It is clearly stated in 1 Timothy 4:7: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (NASB). The only road to Christian maturity and Godliness passes through the practice of Spiritual Disciplines; they are the habits of devotion and experiential Christianity that have been practiced and observed by the people of God since biblical times.
But when we come to practice, many find it a drudgery and a boredom. However, if we understand what all the disciplines will help us to become and achieve, then the disciplines take on a direction. The illustration is given regarding a young boy practicing his piano day in and out, and finding it a chore and something he abhorred. But suppose he has a vision of himself years later performing in a concert hall as a pianist widely acclaimed, and he becomes captivated by this vision – then the daily practice at his piano is no longer a boring session, but a goal to realise this vision in his life.
Although this is just an illustration with limited application, our vision of what God wants us to become can make a tremendous difference in our attitude towards Spiritual Disciplines and discipline in general. Our effort (in dependence on God) then has a direction and goal, and surely it no longer is looked upon as boring and drudgery. Someone rightly said, ‘The gold of godliness is not found on the surface of Christianity – it has to be dug from the depths with the tools of Spiritual Disciplines.
More than that, the Lord Jesus expects Spiritual Disciplines in HIs disciples and holiness is not an option ( Matt. 11:29; Luke 9:23;1 Peter 1:15-16). Christians are called to make themselves do something they would not naturally do – pursue the Spiritual Disciplines -in order to become what they have always wanted to be, that is, like Jesus Christ.
Nothing was ever achieved without discipline – this is true also in our world.But the goal many pursue in life is like a mirage, a vapour, transient and not truly satisfying ultimately. But God gives a goal that is fully satisfying, full of joy and true pleasure, that will last eternally. Sadly, many believers do not see this goal clearly and vividly in their Christian life; they turn aside to worthless, transient, and temporary goals which will destroy their walk with God and end in negative eternal consequences.