Saturday, February 1, 2014

Spiritual Workouts by Martin Wiles

What begins from good intentions is often lost in the shuffle of life.

The pastor said it, and I have no reason to doubt its validity. He’s been there and done that. Go to the local YMCA at the beginning of each New Year, and the exercise equipment will be brimming with eager participants seeking to work out New Year resolutions. Visit three months later, and you can have your pick of the machines. 

I’m one of the guilty ones. I’ve never visited the YMCA or any other fitness organization, but I’ve had a few of those exercise machines lounging around in my house. And true to form, I only used them for a few months before I tired of them. They became yard sale items or stations to lay clothes. 

Just as physical workouts take time, energy, fortitude…and most of all gut commitment, so do spiritual workouts. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12 NKJV)

Nowhere in the Bible is salvation through works taught—and Paul doesn’t teach it here. There’s a great difference in working out my salvation and working for my salvation. I can work it out, but I can’t work for it. Grace and forgiveness can’t be earned; they’re only received.

Once I’ve received God’s forgiveness, the work out begins. The process is known as sanctification. God sets me apart for holy living and declares me righteous in Christ. The remainder of my life is spent learning to live out in practice who I am in position. 

Salvation is instant, but sanctification takes a lifetime. Through experience, spiritual disciplines, and an abundance of difficult work, God teaches me to act like his Son. What type of spiritual workouts are you doing?

Prayer: Master in heaven, guide us to the spiritual exercises that will conform us to Your image.

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