Holiness is not something we obtain instantly. We cannot pray for God to make us holy and expect Him to make us holy immediately. Years of sinful habits must be dealt with first. Holiness is obtained through consistent discipline. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 “People tell silly stories that don’t agree with God’s truth. Don’t follow what these stories teach. But teach yourself to be devoted to God. Training your body helps you in some ways. But devotion to God helps you in every way. It brings you blessings in this life and in the future life too.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one runner gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win! All who compete in the games use strict training. They do this so that they can win a prize—one that doesn’t last. But our prize is one that will last forever. So I run like someone who has a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something, not just the air. It is my own body I fight to make it do what I want. I do this so that I won’t miss getting the prize myself after telling others about it.” The only way for such training in godliness to be accomplished is through regular intake of God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching and for showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live. Using the Scriptures, those who serve God will be prepared and will have everything they need to do every good work.” Our moral character must be molded to God’s way of thinking. After we learn what God expects of us, we then take definite steps to put these new attitudes into place.
The natural process goes like this: first the Holy Spirit gave us His Word to follow, we are responsible for learning what He says about Godly living, next as we are making decisions, the Holy Spirit brings to mind what we have read, and lastly we apply His teachings.
“Every Christian who makes progress in holiness is a person who has disciplined his life so that he spends regular time in the Bible. There simply is no other way.”
Here is where our discipline is tested. Satan will no doubt do everything he can to distract us from spending time in God’s Word. He will convince us we are too busy, too tired, or distract us with entertainment. To be consistent, set a time that works for you and stick to it. Meet with God every day for Bible reading and prayer.
Another way of disciplining ourselves is through memorization and meditating on Scriptures. Joshua 1:8 “Always remember what is written in that book of law. Speak about that book and study it day and night. Then you can be sure to obey what is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything you do.” Meditation here is referring to spending time thinking about what we have read in God’s Word. Thinking about how it applies to our lives. This is in no way referring to the new age form of meditation, which is a false religion. That kind teaches the practice of blanking out your mind. God’s way of meditation deliberately focuses on His Word. We are only able to break the habits of disobedience through applying God’s Word. James 1:22 “Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves.”
As an example, let’s imagine a friend at work who has just been offered a promotion. Maybe you were hoping for this position, and now the news has brought about feelings of envy and jealousy in your heart toward your friend. To keep these feelings from becoming a sinful area for you, stop right now and confess your feelings to God. It’s ok to feel sad and let down. But to harbor bitter resentment and move into angry feelings is sin. So before this happens, deal with this situation Biblically. Ask God to replace the negative thoughts with happiness for your friend, words of encouragement you can share with them, and pray for their new position that God would enable them to do a good job. Look up verses that pertain to this situation and spend time memorizing them and meditating on them.
You have now been trained by disciplining yourself in holiness. If you take these steps, you will not allow sinful thoughts to take root and grow into more sinful actions. If you stumble and let bitterness and resentment take up residence in your heart, confess this and bring your thoughts under the power of God. Proverbs 24:16 “Good people might fall again and again, but they always get up. It is the wicked who are defeated by their troubles.” This verse reminds us that those who are desiring to live a Goldly life will not give up even if they fall into sin’s trap. It is those who do not have their mind set on what the Spirit desires who give up when trouble comes. God always wants us to keep moving toward a life of holiness.