In reviewing my posts so far (it has been a little while since I found time to blog) I realized I skipped talking about chapter 8 of The Pursuit of Holiness. I understand why, given the topic I was trying to cover in chapter 9. But I did find chapter 8 to contain a very good point in those 4 pages.
The title of chapter 8 is Obedience – Not Victory.
The point is that if we use language like “victory over sin”, then we tend to use language like “defeated by sin”. That is passive voice victim whining right there. (my words, not the author’s)
Romans 8:13 says “you put to death the misdeeds of the body” making it clear there is work for us to do too. With the help of the Holy Spirit, as chapter 7 made clear. But very specifically in our will as chapter 8 makes clear. Chapter 9 and 10 points out ways we do it.
The wording we should use is obedience and disobedience. This put the responsibility squarely on our shoulders. We are defeated because we have chosen to disobey.
Chapter 9, covered in the previous post about this book, talked about the need for conviction and commitment.
Chapter 10 is all about discipline. If we are going to become obedient, it requires planning and effort. We don’t stop sinning overnight. There aren’t 3 easy steps to righteousness. There’s no pill or miracle machine that we can use. We have to just do it, and do it over and over until we start to get it right.
Discipline is not easy for me. Hard work and training even when something is hard is not my cup of tea. But the Bible is clear that we need to exercise discipline, we need to train, we need to put in the time and effort and perseverance necessary to change our patterns of living. In 1 Cor 9:25 says that like the athletes we must exercise self-control. Then 1 Tim 4:7 says we must train for godliness.
Bridges points out that all discipline begins with the Word of God, see 2Tim 3:16. That means a disciplined plan for intake of the Scriptures and for applying them to our lives. That means we need a planned time for being in the Scriptures every day. And we need a planned method of intake – hearing, reading, studying, memorizing are all different and are all necessary (not every single day maybe, but regularly).
And we must meditate on it – think about it and its application to life. This can be done during blocks of minutes throughout the day – a commute (not my short one down the hall) or while waiting for service somewhere. Remember that the objective of meditation is application – obedience to what the Word says. This requires discipline to change the patterns in our life.
He suggests that as you read ask these 3 questions
- What does this passage teach concerning God’s will for a holy life?
- How does my life measure up to that Scripture; specifically where and how do I fall short? (Be specific; don’t generalize)
- What definite steps of action do I need to take to obey?
And he ends with the fact that a necessary ingredient of discipline is perseverance. We will always fail at the start. But we cannot stop, we have to get up and keep going. Know that it will take time, have a plan for getting back in the game. It’s like changing eating habits, just because you blow one meal isn’t reason to blow the rest of the day. And just because you blow one day doesn’t mean you might as well give up on the whole week, or month, or year. You start again from right now. Sinning is the same way. If you sin, acknowledge that you did, repent, and get back to your plan for working toward obedience in this area.
He also points out that the more we read and see God’s law, the more we will see just how far we fall short. Romans 7:15 describes our struggle. This isn’t meant to discourage us or make us give up. It should reassure us that what we are going through is normal and part of the ongoing daily battle. Keep working at it.
My last post about this book was Feb 11. In that post I confessed my attitude at work and my intention to to fix that. Since the Holy Spirit is convicting me of this in just about everything I read lately, there is good reason to expect ready assistance from Him any time I cry out. And I do mean everything I am reading. This blog post by Octamom was just another place where the Holy Spirit was speaking directly to me.
So, I know I need to work on it, I’m actually keeping up with my Bible reading and memorization plans, and I even shared some plans with a friend for “catching” myself each time I have a fit. All of that means I have surely seen great success since then, right? Welllll, not exactly. Things have been busy and work is crazy, and really, if people would just read the documents I’ve written I wouldn’t have to repeat all of this to them over and over.
Now you know why I write these blog posts – to keep myself honest. I’m starting (again) and I’ll start (again) as many times as necessary. I will cry out to the Holy Spirit, I will pray for myself and the others that I’m frustrated with, I will stay in the Word. And there is no telling how long it will all take before I see victory. And even then I promise you there will be something more to work on.
It’s a lot of work, it’s hard, and it is worth it!