HABITS: GOD'S GIFTS
When a Christian daily orients his life toward Godliness through discipline, something happens; something truly amazing takes place. There was a time in my life when it was no longer necessary to think about which finger should go on which row of the typewriter to find each letter I needed to type my crazy propaganda. It had become as natural as walking down the street. That is the way that God made us.
God gave man a marvelous capacity that we call habit. Whenever we do something long enough it becomes a part of us. For example, did you button your shirt up or down today? Ah, it took you a minute to think about that, didn't it? Maybe you don't even know yet; you don't think about where to begin any more; you just do it. You don't consciously say to yourself, "Now, I'm going to button my shirt this morning; I shall begin at the top." You don't think about that at all. You just do it without thinking about it. That is the capacity that God gave to us.
Take another example: think of the first time you sat behind an automobile wheel. What a frightening experience that was. There you sat, thinking, "Here is a wheel (it looked about ten times bigger than it was), and here is a gear shift, and here is a complex instrument panel, and foot pedals down below. I have to learn how to use and to coordinate all of these at the same time! And at the same time I must look out for stripes painted down the middle of the road, and signs along the road-way and pedestrians and automobiles, and. . . . How will I ever do it?" Can you remember back to that time? But now -- now what do you do? At midnight, on a moonless night, you slide into the car seat as someone else slips into the seat beside you. Deftly you insert the key into the slot without scarring the dashboard, turn on the motor, shift the gears, use that one pedal (if it's still there on your car), back out of the driveway into the street and start down the road, all the while arguing some abstruse point of Calvinism! What an amazing feat that is when you think about it! Well, just think about it. You have learned to perform highly complex behavior unconsciously. Think of what computer programmers have learned to do in the same way. How did you learn? How did they? By practice, disciplined practice. You drove the car long enough that driving became a part of you. It became second nature to you. That is what Paul was talking to Timothy about.
"But," you protest, "I can't seem to be able to do it." You already have. You have practiced something; you have developed some unconscious patterns. As a sinful human being bent toward sin, you have practiced sinful practices so that they have become a part of you, just as they have become a part of all of us. There is no question that the habit capacity is there. The problem is that it has been used for the wrong purposes. The capacity of habit works both ways. It operates in either direction. You can't avoid habitual living, because this is the way God made you. He gave you the ability to live a life that does not demand conscious thought about every action or response. It is a great blessing that God made you this way. It would be unbearable if every time you did anything you found it necessary to think consciously about it. Imagine yourself each morning saying, "Now, let's see, how do I brush my teeth? First, I have to get the toothpaste tube and roll it from the bottom, etc., etc." It is a great benefit that you don't have to consciously think about everything that you do, or your probably would not get to breakfast by midnight.
But practice itself is indifferent; it can work either as a blessing or as a curse, depending upon what you have practiced. It is what you feed into your life that matters - just like the data fed into a computer. A computer is no better than the data with which it operates. The end product is good or bad according to the raw material provided for it. That is just like habit capability. In II Peter 2:14, Peter speaks about pole whose hearts are "trained in greed." Trained is the same word that Paul used (gymnazo), the word from which "gymnastics" comes. A heart that has been exercised in greed is one that has faithfully practiced greed so that greediness has become natural. Without consciously thinking about it, such a person"automatically" behaves greedily in various situations where the temptation is present.
Since God has made you this way, with the capacity for living according to habit, you must consciously take a hard look at your life. You must make conscious -- and carefully examine your unconscious -- responses. You must become aware of your life patterns and evaluate them by the Word of God. What you learned to do as a child you may be continuing to do as an adult. Pattern by pattern you must analyze and determine whether it has developed from practice in doing God's will or whether it has developed as a sinful response. There is only one way to become a godly person, to orient one's life toward godliness, and that means pattern by pattern. The old sinful ways, as they are discovered, must be replaced by new patterns from God's Word. That is the meaning of disciplined living. Discipline first requires self-examination, then it means crucifixion of the old sinful ways (saying "no" daily), and lastly, practice in following Jesus Christ in new ways by the guidance and strength that the Holy Spirit provides through His Word. The Biblical way to Godliness is not easy or simple, but it is the solid way.
You have made two realizations:
Now that you have taken the first steps to understanding the doctrine of Total Predestination, you are ready for the Third Realization: Meditation brings Conformity to Christ. This will take you off the Total Predestination website onto a new website
All of the material on this page was stolen from Jay Adams' wonderful little booklet Godliness through Discipline. You should get a copy. You should get another copy for a friend. Read more here.
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