What am I Practicing to Become?

What am I Practicing to Become?

“Your whole life ought to be disciplined (i.e., structured, set up, organized,and running day by day) toward the goal of godliness. Everything that happens and everything that you do should contribute something toward reaching that goal. Monday through Saturday, not only Sunday, you must move toward the goal, one step, or two steps or ten steps further down the road. You will become that much more like God only because of what you have done and thought and said each day.”  – Jay Adams,  Godliness Through Discipline.

I ran across this quote in this little book called Godliness Through Discipline by Jay Adams. It’s a tiny book, 25 pages,  but it packs a big punch.  As Christians, we talk a lot about godliness, we know our Lord calls us to holiness, and is conforming us into the image of Christ, but do we truly make it a point to literally practice  godliness as 1 Tim. 4:7-8 says,  “Rather train yourself for godliness;  for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Simply said, we become what we practice. Aristotle once said,  “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” For those of us who practice lying, we will become better liars. Those who practice deceit, will become expert deceivers. Those who practice gymnastics will become great gymnasts and athletes. Those who practice body building will become great body builders. Those who spend hours practicing law, will become great lawyers.   When you practice something, you become better and better at it each time you repeat it.  Today we are devoted to practicing many things with our time and resources to become adept and proficient, but how many of us are devoted practicing godliness and set our goals toward it? Why not?

How many of us are becoming better and more hardened sinners because of our refusal to practice righteousness? If we are not focused on practicing righteousness, then the fact is, we are practicing something else, sin.  Sin is natural to us, righteousness is not. If we are not steering towards righteousness, we will be drifting into sin at any given moment. Ephesians 4:19 is a warning,  “They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity“. Here we see an anxiousness to practice sin, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But if we would only practice righteousness, even though it feels awkward at first and unnatural, we will become righteous God promises us.  “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7 ESV)

 1 John 3:4 states “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”  There is a wide difference between sinning and practicing sin. We all sin, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8 ESV), but we are not to practice sin, to do it repeatedly and continue in it making it our lifestyle.  To do so means we have neither seen Christ or known him. It means either the work of Christ was insufficient and failed to accomplish its purpose, [not possible] or we never have seen him or known him and are not of God.  We are not of God’s seed, of God’s image but instead portray another’s image as our Father. We will look like him who we imitate.

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:6, 8-10 ESV).

Speaking of imitation, I listened to an old great sermon last month by our late pastor Barry Keldie. It was entitled “Breadth, Width, Height & Depth.” I don’t think you can find it online anymore, I had an old downloaded copy I kept otherwise I would link to it.  From this sermon, I copied down my favorite quotes that really speak to the heart of the point I am trying to make about the importance of who we imitate by what we practice.

We are built to imitate. If we don’t place ourselves in front of God, we will imitate that which we are in front of. Your boss at work, friends that you look up to. You will imitate what you are in front of.”

“We don’t just hear from God one time at salvation and then in obedience walk in it forever. We are consistently shined on by God to shine on others. We consistently need to receive from God, let it take root, and give to others. That is a daily, hourly routine. To the end we stop seeking revelation, we will cut off the source for everything else. That is why we press the scriptures so hard. It is the fuel for the rest of your Christian life.”

Barry ended his sermon with a few relevant questions that are relevant to us also in learning to set goals to practice righteousness, step by step, to become like God,  Monday through Saturday as Jay Adams challenges us.

In order to hear what God is calling us to imitate and practice, Barry asks,

  • What are the implications for my day-to-day routine?  What are the implications for my heart and how I should repent?
  • What did I learn? What is God saying to me or revealing to me through this lesson?
  • When am I going to come back and look at it again? Review my notes, meditate and pray over this revelation?
  • What actions are fueled by prayer? What actions in our life can we connect directly to time in prayer? I know I am supposed to do this …no matter what happens, what temptations, what persecutions,  what obstacles, this conviction will never go away.

If we want to become righteous, and as Christians we must pursue righteousness, there is no choice in the matter, we must make a point of it; a goal of it, that we steer ourselves towards every moment of every day. In every activity we  should be able to answer how this draws us closer to God, helps us to grow in love for others and put off sin.  We must make conscious decisions to practice hospitality, to practice love, to practice forgiveness, to practice charity, to practice grace, to practice order, to practice humility, to practice self denial even when we don’t want to, when it seems unnatural to us and takes all our effort and requires much prayer. We must make it a habit to imitate Christ, not our culture, not our friends and the influences of this world who are not worthy of our imitation.

What new holy habit is God calling you to practice?  

Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15 ESV).

One Reply to “What am I Practicing to Become?”

  1. I just came across your blog while looking for info on John Baille books. I was moved by your thoughts and will keep viewing.
    Peace throuh Christ
    Kathy