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  • The Spiritual Disciplined Life

    2 Timothy 2: 2-6 The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, entrust to faithful men, who are able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore bear suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one serving as a soldier meddles in the affairs of this life, so he may please him who enlisted him. 5 Similarly, if an athlete competes in races, he receives the crown only if he competes according to the rules. 6 The farmer who works hard should be the first to enjoy the fruits of his labor

    Before getting to the heart of this text I would like to give you a little historical background of this epistle, so that we can better understand what Paul is saying to Timothy and how that is actual and applicable to our lives today.I must say that the letter in question is after Romans and 1 John one of my favorites, mainly because it is the last letter that Paul wrote before being executed by Roman authorities.

    This is a letter from a man who knows that soon will be with the Lord and I recommend you read it, after all, is quite a short letter, in a half hour or less you can read it all.The historical background and the environment in which all this takes place is the following.

    The letter is written to Timothy who is the main elder or pastor of the church of Ephesus,

    Ephesus, who was in the country we know today as Turkey.

    Ephesus was an important city at that time because it was one of the largest commercial centers in that area. Trade was the greatest thing in this city for three reasons,

    1-Ephesus was a main sea port of that important area which greatly facilitated trade,

    2-Ephesus was also on a main route that ran through that area so that also by ground transportation it became a main commercial area becasue to cross over that area you had to pass through Ephesus.

    3 – Ephesus was a major center of pagan worship and idolatry of the entire area, Ephesus had a great temple dedicated to the goddess Diana also known as Artemis. This brought great commerce in that city.

    We must understand that a large proportion of trade that developed in Ephesus was due to this very fact, that is, people from all over came to celebrate the worship of this goddess at Ephesus.

    You can find all this described in detail in Acts 19

    How is it that these things can apply to us today?

    Simple, I do not think we should think very long and hard to get to the conclusion that almost any business, commerce if not all, in our society also is based on idolatry.How?

    1 – There is trade in abundance and idolatry in religion.

    2 – There is trade in the idolatry of sports.

    3 – There is great commerce in the idolatry of the world of show business and fashion.

    4-There is trade in every way possible and imaginable for all the sinful desires of man, which are placed above the desires of God, replacing God and so they are at the end of idolatry.

    These are all things that man devotes his life to serving these things instead of serving GodAs you can see very well apply to our situation in Ephesus today.So Timothy is a pastor in a society like ours, ill-treated and completely surrounded by paganism and idolatry.

    Timothy also had another thing that was battling against him as head of this Christian community, the persecution against Christians was beginning to be felt and in fact Paul had to encourage Timothy several times not to be afraid, not to be ashamed of the Gospel, not to compromise because Timothy was beginning to falter under this pressures.

    Timothy was a young man and for this I urge the youth but NOT LIMITED TO the youth, do not waver, do not be afraid, do not be ashamed of the Gospel, AND ESPECIALLY DO NOT COMPROMISE with IDOLATRY and SIN.

    In fact already in the beginning beginning of this epistle Paul had urged Timothy saying:

    2 Timothy 1:7-8 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and discipline. 8 Do not be ashamed then of testifying about our Lord, nor of me, who is in prison for Him, but share in suffering for the Gospel, aided by the power of God

    This is where we take now the text that we read.The point of all this message is –

    THE CHRISTIAN, MUST LIVE A LIFE OF FAITH AND FAITHFULNESS AND A DISCIPLINED LIFE, EVEN STRICT DISCIPLINE.This Scripture gives us examples of this type of discipline and commitment.

    This is the discipline that every believer is to practice for themselves first and then to teach their children.Paul’s three examples are, the soldier, the athlete and the farmer.

    These are examples from which it becomes logically obvious by observation of the subjects what we are talking about what it means to be spiritually disciplined.All three of these subjects must live a very ordered and strictly regulated life in order to reach success in their practice.

    The soldier.

    Epecially the soldier, at the time of Paul, lived a very tough, disciplined life, regarding physical exercise and the use of its weapons and his nutrition.

    The soldier had to live a seriously disciplined life, not alife distracted by things of the civil world, a disciplined life, because when he went into combat he could not afford to be distracted, out of practice out of shape and not knowing how to use his weapons effectively.Do we use our spiritual weapons and how? Are we trained properly, or at least are we training, disciplined to use the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God?

    If you were to go into battle would the enemy win or would you be sliced up or wourld you be able win that fight?So too must be the Christian’s life be, just like the soldier. We are in a spiritual war and we must be spiritually fit to fight and we must know how to use our spiritual weapons, it’s no accident that Paul has described this weapons in
    EPHESIANS 6:10-18 to the Church of Ephesus,

    I invite you to read and learn what your, our weapons are and learn to use them see also

    2 CORINTHIANS 10:3-5.

    Three of these spiritual disciplines that are essential and that we must learn to use

    1 – the shield of faith, namely, to exercise our faith in God, in His word and promises in every aspect of our lives, with which we shield ourselves from the fiery arrows of the devil.

    2-the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, without being trained in it we can not defend or attack with it. Imagine a soldier without a sword or a sword left in its sheath, a soldier who does not know how to use it. It would be an inevitable defeat.

    Reading, meditation, and study of God’s word and then practice it. Jesus gave His life as an example in using the sword of the Spirit, especially when he fought Satan in the desert

    LUKE 4:1-12.

    3 – prayer.In addition, the soldier has a specific and very important duty, a unique loyalty and obedience to those who enlists them.

    The soldier is owned by the army to which he belongs and can not do as he wishes. The soldier receives orders and must obey them.The Christian no longer belongs to himself but to God, TO CHRIST so we must live in obedience to the orders of God, we must be faithful to Christ and His word and no other.

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you and that you have received from God? So you do not belong to yourself. 20 For ye are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

    The high price at which we have been bought is the precious blood of Jesus and His precious life

    Let’s really meditate on this point.The second example Paul makes is

    The athlete.

    The athlete is much like the soldier. The athlete first must first compete doing so fighting by the rules of the sport in which it competes if he hope to be victorious and successful.Moreover, even the athlete must train just as the soldier does, strictly, eating in the right way to get in the best form with which it can fight and win.

    The athlete has to fight as Paul says, must compete obeying certain rules.

    Yes, there are definitely rules to be followed if we are to be victorious.These rules are faithfulness and obedience to the word of God and both in love.There is a description of how to run this race to win it in

    Hebrews 12: 1-2 We, therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, who creates faith and makes it perfect. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat at the right hand of the throne of God

    Not everything that prevents us from running the race that is set before us is a sin, there are many things that can hinder us in running our race with patience.

    Let us remember that even here there is given an example of how we are to run the race. Our part is to eliminate, that is, repent of sins that wrap themselves around us and also lay aside each weight that hinders us from running freely and effectively.

    Not everything is a sin but many things in our lives act as a weights that we carry painfully and that make us walk ever so slowly, weights that hold us back in our spiritual growth.

    Imagine if you were to race dragging weights. This in a race would even take away the chance to make the right time to qualify let’s not even talk about winning the race.How are we to run this race?

    With perseverance, patience, fixing our gaze on Jesus and not on the world, because ultimately it is he who makes us arise, Him who strengthens us and completes our faith, we must cooperate with Him in this.

    The farmer

    The farmer is the third example that Paul makes.

    The farmer he is a very disciplined person, persevering, patient and works hard to get a harvest.

    The farmer gets up early in the morning, works hard in the fields preparing the ground for proper planting.

    Works in the heat of summer in the sun, the cold of winter.

    It ‘a worker who is sacrificed greatly, can not be idle and lazy.We can not, we must not be idle or lazy if you want to progress spiritually. The farmer is an individual who knows he can not evade its responsibilities otherwise he will not collect a harvest.

    The farmer also is a worker who must be patient must wait for the right season planting, pruning and harvesting the crop in order to gain it in abundance.

    To avoid falling into the trap of idolatry, sin and compromise and to cooperate with God in our sanctification and consecration, we must have a very specific disciplined way of life.

    This is not an option or a suggestion, if we want well-defined results in our spiritual life, then we must live as Paul urged Timothy to live.

    Certainly we could not do this alone, God does not expect us to all this by ourselves, if we try to do it by ourselves we cannot and we will become discouraged and we will give up.

    We must pray that the Lord give us grace and strength to live this way and He will give us, we have also the church that should help us achieve this.

    So in the church we are here to help each other to achieve these results. Thus, the active ingredient in this step is the disciplined life, THE LIFE AND FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN SACRIFICE THAT MUST LEARN TO LIVE.

    This is the discipline that actually exercise our spirit to follow a certain path. And ‘discipline must be strictly practiced if you want certain results in our spiritual life.