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Becoming Like Christ

The Journey of Spiritual Formation

· Spiritual Journey,spiritual growth,Spiritual Formation,Lifestyle Blog,Faith

Sheltering in The Most High

The journey of spiritual formation can be summed up like this, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” – Romans 5:3-5 [1] For one to grow spiritually, and become like Christ, it means striving each day to emulate his character. Essentially, Paul describes the spiritual formation process—the process of being transformed from our temporal perspective to an eternal one. [2] This is not an easy walk, considering we live in world which has fallen so far from God’s grace beginning with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3). Thankfully, God is rich in his mercy and has poured out his grace upon us to help us grow spiritually so that we may be unified as one body, fully equipped for service (Ephesians 4:7-16).

First and foremost, if not be for God’s word, there would be no model for spiritual formation. For it is by studying God’s word that mankind is able to come into God’s presence, get to know him and learn what it means to worship him in spirit and in truth.

Conceptually, here is what spiritual formation looks like:

Spiritual formation is divinely enabled by God through three essential resources: God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people (the church). The first essential resource is exposure to God’s Word. By its truth our thinking is renewed, and we are able to break free from the anti-Christian mold the world seeks to press us into (Rom. 12:1-2). God’s Word is the primary and objective source of truth about Christ and what it means to follow him. It is a lamp to the feet and a light to the path (Ps. 119:105), alive and active (Heb. 4:12), sweeter than honey (Ps. 19:10), more precious than gold (Ps. 19:10), perfect and trustworthy (Ps. 19:7), and true and righteous (Ps. 19:9). Exposure to God’s Word provides many benefits to our journey of spiritual formation, such as stability (Eph. 4:12-15), in-sight/guidance (Ps. 119:9-10; Prov. 3:5-6), and spiritual maturity (1 Peter 2:2-3; cf. 1 Cor. 3:1-3; Heb. 5:14). [3]

As one grows spiritually and communes with God daily by studying his word, there must be an act of obedience that which proceeds one’s initial calling and commitment to following Christ. In the faith walk, it is essential to incorporate character formation by emulating the Christ in every way. With the help of the Holy Spirit becoming like Christ is easier than one thinks. The problem is freewill. Mankind must desire to be like God with his help, not on our own. It simply takes a willing heart, and daily habits that evoke spiritual transformation, from the old way of living to the new life in Christ. In his view of spiritual formation, Paul Pettit in his book Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ writes:

The term spiritual formation is not a biblical term, but then neither is the word trinity. Nevertheless, both are expressions we use in referring to important teachings that are most certainly found in the Bible and, in fact, are central to biblical theology and the Christian life. The meaning of the term spiritual formation and a biblical understanding of what it is and how it works is best taken from passages in the Bible that refer to the Holy Spirit in the context of forming, transforming, or conforming a person’s life toward Christlikeness ("until Christ is formed in you," Gal. 4:19b).1 For example, Romans 8:27-29 states, "The Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. … For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son" (cf. Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:17-18). All three persons of the Trinity come together in this passage. Spiritual formation consists of the Trinitarian work of God in the lives of genuine believers in Christ through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The verbal idea in the word formation (i.e., to form, transform, conform) emphasizes the active focus of spiritual formation. This includes, first, the dynamics of the interaction between the Holy Spirit and our human spirit, and, second, the activities, or ways and means, by which we purposefully engage in the dynamics of spiritual formation individually in our private lives, in relationships with others of like purpose in the community of faith, and in our missional engagement with the world. Worship of the triune God is the most spiritually formative practice available to us as Christians. [4]

In order to become more like Christ (for the purpose of godliness), the following daily habits (taken from the Donald S. Whitney’s Book, Spiritual Discipline for the Christian Life) are helpful and must be implemented:

1. Setting a specific time for prayer (Meditation – Prayer)

2. Setting a specific time to read God’s word, and do it often (Bible Study)

3. Answering the call of worship, and service by being a vessel for change (Serving)

4. Seeking ways to obey God’s commands which means to reject false teachings, old habits and stop communing with those who are ungodly (Spiritual Growth)

5. Seeking the nurture and support of fellow believers who want to worship God in spirit and in truth (Worship)

6. Make every effort to share the gospel (Evangelism)

7. Making intentional use of our time (Stewardship)

8. It is for believers in Christ, for the Discipline must be rooted in a relationship with Christ and practiced with the desire to become more like Christ. Believers should fast according to biblical teaching and with purposes that are God-centered. (Fasting)

9. Simply to focus your mind upon God and to “set your minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2), resting your soul in the love He displayed through Christ (Silence and Solitude)

10. For evaluating one’s growth and expressing thoughts, (Journaling), is important.

11. According to a book of the Bible written specifically to give us practical wisdom, one of the characteristics of a wise man or woman is a desire for learning. We read in Proverbs 9:9, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” Wise and righteous people can never get enough wisdom or knowledge. Unteachable people or those prideful about their learning only expose how shallow they really are. The truly wise are humble because they know they still have so much to learn. And according to this verse, wise and righteous people remain teachable. They can learn from anybody, regardless of age or background. Give one of them instruction, and “he will be still wiser ... and he will increase in learning.” The biblically wise are always looking to learn.

12. (Learning) Struggle is inevitable, so don’t lose hope. Although “trust” and “rest” are core values of the Christian life, so are “discipline” and “struggle.” Many forces combat the spiritual progress of those still on this side of heaven. Now, the way of Christ is not always an inner struggle or every moment a battle, but neither is it without lifelong opposition. Therefore, don’t be misled into thinking that if you drink of the grace God offers through the Spiritual Disciplines then living the Christian life will be easy. (Perseverance) [5] 

 

[1] Petitt, Paul. Foundations of Spiritual Formation. (2018), 143. Kregel Publications. Retrieved from https://app.wordsearchbible.lifeway.com.

[2] Ibid, 144.

[3] Petitt, Paul. Foundations of Spiritual Formation. (2018), 44.

[4] Ibid, 51.

[5] Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. (2017), 79-296). Retrieved from https://app.wordsearchbible.lifeway.com

[6] Petitt, Paul. Foundations of Spiritual Formation. (2018), 48. Kregel Publications. Retrieved from https://app.wordsearchbible.lifeway.com.

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