We all know exercise is good for the human body -- even Paul confirms it (1 Timothy 4:8)! If you are disciplined and train consistently, you’ll get stronger.
Now, I know from personal experience that exercising once or twice a month is not helpful, if it does any good at all. Consistent, regular exercise is what makes a difference. If you don’t persevere, it’s no good.
Just like physical training, spiritual training takes persistence and consistency. And while physical training is only valuable on earth, spiritual training is valuable both on earth and in the life to come, resulting in our godliness (1 Timothy 4:6-8).
Source of Godliness
Godliness is not the goal, nor something we create in ourselves. Our godliness, Paul says, springs up from this mystery:
“He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.”
Our godliness relies on Jesus. When centered on Jesus’ saving and transforming power, gospel-truths like these nourish Christians and help us persevere. They help us stand up against lies, myths and idols. Paul warns us,
“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly." (1 Timothy 4:7)
He tells us we have a choice: focus our energy on myths and old wives’ tales or focus our energy on spiritual training that results in godliness. Paul clarifies that, despite spiritual training, our hope is in “the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10) We don’t train to be saved (that kind of thinking is a lie), we train because we want to be more like our Savior.
A godliness training program that centers on one’s relationship with God is much more Spirit-dependent than a checklist. Trust that God will finish what He started in you (Philippians 1:6), that He wants you trained in godliness even more than you do, and that He is transforming you into Christ’s image (2 Corinthians 3:18). It is a partnership! It will take obedience on your part and being familiar with God’s heart and His ways, which takes a lot of self-discipline (1 Timothy 4:10).
Accountability, time in Scripture, time in prayer and time with other Christians talking about things above will all be helpful -- even essential.
What training do you find to be helpful as you practice godliness? Drop a comment below.