An International Center for Fellowship and Learning

Abiding In God – Lesson 8: Getting in and Staying in Spiritual Shape

Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:13-21; 2 Peter 1:1-10

Memory Verse:I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:14

Introduction:

By considering ourselves in spiritual development as a member in God’s army, many of us are very careful to stay in good physical shape. The methods may range from a good diet to a rigorous exercise program. There are, of course, many variations of the two. The reasoning though, is usually the same. We desire long life, better daily health, and yes, sometimes the doctor gives us no choice; but when we transfer these concepts over into the spiritual life, we become fearful of getting caught up into works or methodology, which can include tactics, methods or even attitude.

The Bible has many passages that encourage us to get into, and to stay, in spiritual shape. Our spiritual development through proper conditioning is an important aspect of the Christian Walk. We must always keep in mind we are justified through Christ only, but this is not an excuse to be lazy, slothful Christians. God envisions for each of us an attractiveness, vitality, and adequacy that will far surpass our highest expectations for ourselves. Whatever we have attained spiritually and morally we still fall short of the glorious, loving ideal He has in mind for us. More than we know, and perhaps in different ways than we know, our potentiality has been stifled and our personalities inhibited by sin.

“Whatever our present state of development, God is neither disillusioned with us nor content for us to remain as we are. He wants to liberate us more and more from cords of hostility, resentment, self-blame, regrets, anxiety, fear, and feelings of inferiority or superiority. His plans for us include the realization of our personal uniqueness plus an excellence of character beyond the reach of our human powers.” (1:p. 53)

Christ has done everything necessary for us to endure in our faith. He is our model, our example, a pattern which indicates an exact representation. And one of our goals should be that we can lead others to Christ by our own example as well. This can be done if we focus on Christ as we will reflect His image to others.

Perseverance, patience, and prayer are essential to be a faithful witness for the Lord. And a person who exercises self-control will not easily succumb to discouragement or the temptation to quit.

Study Questions:

  1. What is the result of a Christian who remains a spiritual weakling? Hebrews 12:1-2; Matthew 26:40-41.
  2. Do you think it is practical to speak of conditioning in a spiritual sense? 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
  3. Where is our source of strength in our conditioning process? Isaiah 40:28-31; John 15:5.
  4. Define and discuss these inquiries of practical applications for spiritual development.
    a) Ephesians 6:18; Romans 8:26-27; and Colossians 4:2-6.
    b) 2 Timothy 2:15 and Ephesians 6:14.
    c) Galatians 2:9-10; Acts 2:41-47; and Hebrews 10:23-25.
  5. What are some inner qualities God wants to cultivate in our lives? 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10; 1 Corinthians 13:11-14:5; Ephesians 6:14-18.
    Note: Pursue, carries such meanings as run, run after, and aspire to.
  6. How does practical discipline and inner quality enrichment blend together? 2 Peter 1:5-10.
  7. In our spiritual development, what must we keep in mind? James 1:4-6.
  8. When Paul was around 60 years of age, what were his feelings on getting in, and staying in shape? Philippians 3:12-16.
    Note: Paul was not speaking of moral perfection but of reaching the state of completion as a Christian.