Are Spiritual Disciplines Ungodly?

Chances are you have sat in a small group or had a conversation in passing where you've been asked, "How are you spiritually?" or "How is your walk with the Lord?" or "how is your quiet time?"

If you're anything like me, your response to this question is a stuttering, stammering, guilt-laden "well...not as good as it should be."

This guilt will point us in one of two ways. It will either put the onus on us to do better, to work to gain approval before God, or it will remind us that we are incapable of goodness apart from God's grace.

While professing Christians would claim the latter statement, our hearts often fall into the temptation of the former. We say that we are saved by faith alone through grace alone, but we act as if we are saved through faith and grace and our "quiet time".

Your approval before God is only in the finished work of Jesus Christ, not your Spiritual Disciplines. When we act as though we can earn our righteousness through our efforts, we have rejected the Gospel, God's Word, and thus God himself. When we elevate Spiritual Disciplines to the position of "savior", we have categorically done the ungodly.

This is not to say that Spiritual Disciplines on the whole are unworthy of our time and efforts. The Bible has lots to say on the topic or discipline, diligence, and self-control. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul evokes the image of an athlete training as a metaphor to the Christian life. And an athlete is nothing if not rigorously disciplined.

So discipline yourself in prayer and the word of God and in fellowship with other believers. Prayer is vital to the life of the Christian. The Word of God is vital to the life of the Christian. However, the life of the Christian is no life at all if it does not start with the work of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit bringing Christ's work to completion.