Romans 8: 1-17
Using the analogy of a race, a marathon, there is so much that we can look at that applies to the Christian life.
We are called to a new life, a life that is led by the spirit, Paul says is that we need to be led by the Spirit of God, as we run the race that God has for us.
Now human nature is that we make rules, and when we disciple new believers, we inadvertently make rules for them to follow, because of the mistakes we made when we were in their position. Sometimes these guidelines can be made to look like laws. Romans 8:2 says; “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death”. When we run the race that is the Christian life, we do things differently, we are not under the law that leads to condemnation and death, but we are led by the Spirit which leads to life and peace.
Our disciplines and our training for the race are not governed by law, but they are governed by the Spirit and this brings life. Verse 11 tells us that the same Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you and me! Our old way of viewing time, money, family, possessions all changes, and we see things from the perspective of heaven.
And then there is the unbelievable promise in God’s word in verse 14, we are called the children of God! I know our minds cannot grasp that, we have no idea what it means to be adopted into the family of God. We are called children of the creator of the universe. And verse 17 says that as a result of our adoption as God’s children, we receive an inheritance. We have an inheritance simply because we believed that Jesus died for our sins. He did it all, we die to our old way of life and begin to live by the Spirit, and we get to receive an inheritance from God.
But as we read verse 17 a little further we read these words: “if indeed we suffer with Him…” Suffering? That is not the wonderful Christian life the Walmart book aisle speaks about? Going back to the analogy of running a marathon, if any of you have run a long race, you will know that there are periods of suffering that you go through, occasionally you will “hit the wall”, using running terminology, when your tank is empty. But you push through, others encourage you, and you reach the finish line. Immediately the suffering becomes something you joke about because it is so small in comparison to the joy of the finish line. Verse 18 sums it up; “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us..”
Suffering and discipline are a part of the Christian race, but we must not shy away from them, they are building us and growing us to be more like Christ.
Let’s look at four Christian Disciplines that will help us run the race that is set before us:
- Reading and meditating on God’s word
This Bible is contains your heavenly Father’s love letter to you– it is your daily bread – it is your sword of the spirit – it is the truth that gives light to your path.
It is no ordinary collection of pages and ink. It is supernatural in its authoring, it is supernatural in its reading and it is supernatural in its application (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
If you are led by the Spirit, you will need the sword of the spirit.
Do we daily discipline ourselves to read, study, meditate on the word of God?
Prayer is a discipline, it is hard work, when we don’t discipline ourselves to spend time alone with God we limp along in the Christian race, missing out on so much that God has for us. Discipline yourself to pray, it will transform your life and the race God has called you to.
Tithing is something we seldom view as a discipline, but the way we handle our finances is either worship or it is idolatry. Either God is more important than your money, or your money is more important than God in your life.
We don’t tithe because God needs our money, he already has all things. No, we tithe because it is worship. Tithing is an act of worship, because many times we look at our income and our expenses and wonder how we can afford to give 1/10 of our income to the Lords work. Well if the Bible is correct, and we know it is, how can we afford not to give to the Lord, knowing that he is our provider and that he will take care of all of our needs (see 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8). You will have all you need to do the will of God for your life.
Evangelism is a spiritual discipline that we are all called to participate in. Evangelism that is led by the Spirit is a joy and a blessing, but we make it out to be a fearful chore.
Evangelism that is fruitful and effective is evangelism that is led by the Holy Spirit. Daily discipline ourselves to pray: “Lord bring someone into my path today who needs a touch from heaven, let me be used by you, almighty God, to bring a miracle to someone’s life” That is the discipline, being available, daily being led by the Spirit to look for the person that God wants to touch through your life story (see 2 Peter 3:15).
Notice two aspects in this verse: firstly – it starts with “revere Christ as Lord”. If Jesus Christ is truly Lord of your life, it will be evident to those around you and your life will be a testimony for Jesus.
Secondly: “always be prepared to explain the reason for your hope” – because, if you are living by the Spirit, people are going to want to know why you are different.
Remember not everyone is gifted as an evangelist, but we are all called the spiritual discipline of sharing the story that God has given us and the reason for our hope.
Remember that the Christian life is a race, it is not a stroll or a wandering along the pathway, there is a very definite end goal. And to keep us running diligently we need to develop Spiritual disciplines, Prayer, Reading God’s Word, Tithing and Evangelism are just a few of them.
But why do we do them?
Because they are good for us? Or because we become more fruitful and lead others to Christ? Yes, but there is a greater reason.
We develop Christian disciplines, because our lives will bring Glory to God.