Christian Living
8 Disciplines to Train Us for the Spiritual Battle
Nov 2, 2023
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NEW FROM DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF

It is absurd to think that good intentions and warm, fuzzy feelings toward God will turn us into fruitful Christians. Although today we might hear the word discipline and recoil, it is not the dirty word society has made it out to be. Rather, when we exercise self-discipline, submitting our personal desires to God's will, we will bear glorious fruit by the power of Christ working in us—and develop a closer relationship with our Creator that will prepare us to stand firm whatever the spiritual battle.

In Romans 12:9-21, the apostle Paul gives us a full list of disciplines for the Christian life—eight means of offering ourselves as living sacrifices to God.

In Romans 12:9-21, the apostle Paul gives us a full list of disciplines for the Christian life—eight means of offering ourselves as living sacrifices to God. Each is an outgrowth of genuine, Biblical love taking root in our hearts:

  1. HATE EVIL (v.9). Genuine love hates the compromising of God's Word. Therefore, believers must stand firm on the one true Gospel—even when it is unpopular to do so. For, sin enslaves souls, but the Truth of Christ sets us free eternally.
  2. GIVE HONOR (v. 10). Honor is showing respect and acknowledging the faithfulness of those who minister to us. It is a sure way of eliminating envy and jealousy from our lives.
  3. BE PASSIONATE ABOUT GOD (v. 11). Passion for God does not mean mindless activities or emotions. Passion for God means we have zeal for Christ and His Word despite the godless environment that surrounds us. It means we thirst for the living God and praise Him in word and deed with abundant joy for the new creation He has made us to be.
  4. HOPE AND PERSEVERE IN PRAYER (v. 12). When you're trusting in the only one who can truly answer your prayers, then you can rejoice in hope ahead of time and wait steadfastly upon Him. Don't give up praying in the face of resistance. God will answer at the right time.

  1. LOVE TO GIVE (v. 13). Believers must remember that we are not the owners of everything God has given us; we are managers. God longs for us to come into the joy of being a cheerful giver, trusting Him in our generous giving.
  2. SHARE THE BURDENS AND JOYS OF OTHERS (vv. 14-15). In the midst of your trials, give thanks for the gifts others are receiving. Rejoicing with others even at our own expense is a uniquely Christian response. Likewise, bearing the burdens of others with compassion emulates the love of our Savior.
  3. REFUSE TO EXACT REVENGE (vv. 16-19). The bottom-line motivation for revenge is pride. But if we truly grasp the grace of God poured into our lives, we will be humble in heart. We will live in such a way that even when others treat us unjustly, we yet intercede for their blessing.
  4. REJECT WORLDLY STANDARDS (vv.20-21). In our fallen nature, we naturally seek out our own justice. But believers reverse this social norm by practicing the lovingkindness of Christ, who died for us while we were yet His enemies (see Romans 5:8-10). We are to treat people as the image-bearers of God they are.

 
We could never accomplish these commands in our own strength. It is the in-dwelling Holy Spirit who empowers us to persevere in loving as Christ loves. In fact, it is only after believers have been deeply moved by the grace of God that they can experience the kind of spiritual transformation that makes them effective spiritual soldiers for Christ's Kingdom. So, dig into the Gospel. As you do, its wondrous Truth will take shape in you and arm you for battle each day.



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