Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4
1 Timothy 4:7-10
But refuse [avoid] profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach [strive—painful and strenuous effort], because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
Exercise to godliness—strive earnestly to become godly, a healthy, active, and practical piety. Vigorous training in a gym. Training using labor, vigor and diligence. Godliness benefits into next life.
Bodily exercise—we have body goals, we celebrate those who maintain their bodies and use them for our good. Paratroopers’ Prayer:
Give me, O Lord my God, what is left Thee, that which no one asks of Thee.
I do not ask Thee for rest or tranquility, either of soul or body.
I do not ask Thee for riches, for success, or for health.
So many ask Thee for these, my God, that none must be left Thee.
Give me, Lord, what is left Thee. Give me what the others refuse.
I want risk and anguish; I want fight and pain.
Give me these, my God, once and for all.
Give me the certainty that these will always be my portion, for I will not
always have the courage to ask them of Thee.
Give me, O Lord, what is left Thee. Give me what others do not want.
But also give me courage, strength, and Faith. Amen.
Should this be our view of our Spiritual growth too? Or is this “legalism?”
2 Timothy 2:1-4
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Endure hardness—suffer hardship. Warreth—in active duty. Entangleth—entwined, involved with.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
One wins a race, yet all strive, in salvation, you can win along with others, so all should strive. Striveth—contends in the arena. Temperate--using the most rigorous self denial in food, sleep, and every other sensual indulgence. So fight I—punching with the fists. Paul knows what the end is and how to obtain it. No hesitation. Vs. 27--Beat your body into submission, a practical mortifying of the deeds of the body.
Paul seems to think we should use spiritually what we know we should use physically. When you read believers of the past, you get the sense that there is something more, something modern Christianity has cut out.
Workman of God, by Frederick Faber
1. Workman of God! O lose not heart,
But learn what God is like;
And in the darkest battlefield
Thou shalt know where to strike.
2. Thrice blest is he to whom is giv’n
The instinct that can tell
That God is on the field, when He
Is most invisible.
3. Blest too is he who can divine
Where real right doth lie,
And dares to take the side that seems
Wrong to man’s blindfold eye.
4. Then learn to scorn the praise of men,
And learn to lose with God;
For Jesus won the world through shame,
And beckons thee His road.
5. For right is right, since God is God,
And right the day must win;
To doubt would be disloyalty,
To falter would be sin.
“A true believer is one who signs up for life.
IT means taking up the cross daily, giving all for Christ each day.
IT means no reservations, no uncertainty, no hesitation.
It means nothing is knowingly held back, nothing purposely shielded from his lordship, nothing stubbornly kept from His control.
IT calls for a painful severing of the tie with the world, a sealing of the escape hatches, a ridding oneself of any kind of security to fall back on in case of failure.
A genuine believer knows he is going ahead with Christ until death. Having put their hand to the plow, they will not look back.
The saint must walk alone--Tozer
Most of the world's great souls have been lonely. Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.
Sometimes we react by a kind of religious reflex and repeat dutifully the proper words and phrases even though they fail to express our real feelings and lack the authenticity of personal experience. Right now is such a time. A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, `I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and `Lo, I am with you alway.' How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"
Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved to be true by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God without the support and encouragement afforded him by society. The sense of companionship which he mistakenly attributes to the presence of Christ may and probably does arise from the presence of friendly people. Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook Him, and fled."
The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful "adjustment" to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.
Practical Religion--J C Ryle
A zealous man in religion is preeminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, strong, uncompromising, meticulous, wholehearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies–whether he has health, or whether he has sickness–whether he is rich, or whether he is poor–whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offense–whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish–whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise–whether he gets honor, or whether he gets shame–for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing, and that one thing is to please God and to advance Gods glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he does not care–he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God has appointed him.
Such an one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, and work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh, and pray. Yes: if he is only a pauper, on a perpetual bed of sickness, he will make the activity of sin around him slow to a standstill, by continually interceding against it. If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will do the work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill. If he is cut off from working himself, he will give the Lord no rest till help is raised up from another quarter, and the work is done. This is what I mean when I speak of zeal in religion.
From The Weight of Glory by C S Lewis
“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Modern Christianity is easy. 74% of Americans claim to be Christians. Compare the Sermon on the Mount to modern Christianity. Who are we more like: The world or Christ? 2 Corinthians 4