For the Purpose of Godliness… Discipline

Donald Whitney has written a book on spiritual disciplines. It is quite good. Here are my reflections on the first chapter.

Just opened my new book on discipline by Donald Whitney. This is a great book I’m looking forward to it. I will be writing more about it.

1 Timothy 4:7 says “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” NASB. (ESV says “train yourself for godliness’). Godliness needs training. You don’t fall into. You don’t trip over godliness when you walk down the street and take it home with you. You must be disciplined. “The spiritual disciplines are those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth.”

God uses 3 main things to help us grow, to make us more mature spiritually. He uses people. Iron sharpens iron. He uses circumstances. Pressures, conditions, even weather. Opened doors. We have no control over these. We do have some control over spiritual disciplines and how they affect our lives. However, even in this, spiritual growth is a gift from God. But the disciplines are our means of spiritually “working out.” Consider Blind Bartimaeus who never gave up or Zacchaeus. Neither affected their own spiritual growth. But both did what little they could to work toward it.

1 Timothy 4:7 is a command. Holiness is not an option but a mandate. The means of obtaining holiness is not a suggestion but a command. Christ modeled discipline for us, his disciples. Fruit follows discipline.

One thing I like about this book is at the end of every chapter, there is a “more application” section. It is usually a great addendum to each chapter. It usually has some emboldened statements and then some elaboration. There is danger in neglecting the spiritual disciplines. Whitney then elaborates with a story about the author Coleridge who was apparently undisciplined. There is freedom in embracing spiritual disciplines. Quoting a man who compares spiritual discipline to athletic discipline, he says “Discipline is the price of freedom.” But it takes time. There is an invitation to all Christians to enjoy the spiritual disciplines. Discipline without direction is drudgery. So practice for the purpose of godliness. “Jesus was the most disciplined man who ever lived and yet the most joyful and passionately alive. He is our example of discipline. Let us follow him to joy through the spiritual disciplines.”


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