In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” Dr. Allan McKechnie andI have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians. One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ. This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION. The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”
I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ. Let’s look at that passage and continue investigating those ten steps.
I Timothy 4 says,
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
The FIRST STEP we saw in this text was simply: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)
The SECOND STEP we notice is: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL LIFE (v. 7)
Verse 7 reads: “rather, train yourself to be godly.” Self-training is lacking these days in the lives of many followers of Jesus. Some expect spiritual growth to happen, uh, magically. Others look for a perfect church or an omni-competent pastor to meet their every spiritual need. Paul puts the burden of sanctification, of becoming more like Jesus Christ, squarely on the shoulders of the individual believer.
Years ago I read a controversial, but helpful, book entitled The Gospel of Coincidence by John Boykin. He basically said that most of what happens to us in life is a result of choices we make, choices which come out of the priorities which we set for ourselves. Are you taking responsibility for your own spiritual life? How’s the training going?
1. In physical training, there are exercises which must be practiced. What would be some of those exercises in “spiritual” training?
2. How do we even know what “godly” looks like? Why is studying the earthly life of the Lord Jesus so critical here?