This is just a quick post on just a couple of thoughts that came to mind today regarding Romans 6:18.
“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:18 (NIV)
The word discipline sometimes carries a negative connotation. Discipline is equated to ideas of oppression, drudgery, and loss of freedoms. I, however, believe that the opposite is true. Discipline does require a type of bondage yet it is also the key to freedom.
Take, for example, the toothbrush. People discipline themselves in hygiene in the sense that they brush their teeth daily. In this way, we become a slave to the toothbrush, yet at the same time we become free from cavities, poor health, gum disease, etc.
Simply put, if someone decided one day that they no longer wanted to be disciplined in good hygiene then they would find themselves in bondage to bad hygiene.
It is much larger, yet similar when we look at discipline within the bigger picture, particularly when it comes to matters of Christianity and the spirit. When we become servants to Christ, we need no longer be slaves to sin. By becoming servants to Christ we are truly set free.
The Lord has provided us with a spiritual tool box that is full of wonderful things we can use to become good servants. These include things like solitude, prayer, journaling, meditation, study, fasting, chastity, confession, fellowship, submission, stewardship, sacrifice, service, worship, and witness.
The spiritual disciplines serve a variety of purposes. They can be considered as tools for Christian living, but they can also be a means by which Christians can get closer to God and to focus on His Word.
In many respects, the spiritual disciplines are nutrition for growing and maturing spiritually. We can accept Christ in a moment, but we don’t always magically wake up being willing servants that adhere to His commands.
I have but one word of caution concerning the toolbox of spiritual disciplines: Never succumb to the idea of works righteousness.
I offer this word of caution based on experience. Sometimes I fall into the trap of feeling like my work in these areas of discipline determine my worth to God, and this is not the case. My own works cannot assume the role of Christ’s redeeming work. We are saved by faith alone.
In conclusion, the spiritual disciplines coupled with the guidance of the Holy Spirit are a means by which we can grow in our faith, express our love to God, and learn to be obedient to Him. Ultimately, when we are bound to God we are truly free.