Reading Reflection:

The Fruitful Life, Jerry Bridges (NavPress, 2006) We are using this book for a small group study in church.  Here was one of my favorite sections in the first chapter, Taking on God’s Character:
Growth in godly character not only is progressive and always unfinished, it is absolutely necessary for spiritual survival. If we are not growing in godly character, we are regressing; in the spiritual life we never stand still. The word train in Paul’s admonition to Timothy, “Train yourself to be godly,” occurs only four times in the New Testament: 1Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 5:14 and 12:11, and 2 Peter 2:14. In three of those instances, the result of such training is positive and God-honoring. But consider the fourth passage, 2 Peter 2:14. The context is Peter’s sharp denunciation of and warning against false teachers. He refers to them as “experts in greed.” The word expert is the same word translated in the other three passages as “train.” In fact, the English Standard Version renders it, “They have hearts trained in greed.” The implication of Peter’s use of the word train is very sobering. It is possible to train ourselves in the wrong direction! That is what these false teachers had done. They had practiced greed so well that they had become experts in it—they had trained their hearts in greed (23-24)!
So often we deceive ourselves into thinking we can reach an acceptable plateau in our spiritual lives. Bridges reminds us that this is not so. Although our sanctification is in full dependence on Christ through his Spirit, we are commanded to train ourselves. This reminds me so much of the analogy it lends to physical training in fitness. Our fitness level is a testament to our aptitude. As we look to the One who was completely fit to bear our sin on the cross, propitiate the Father’s wrath, and procure our salvation with his own righteousness, we have complete confidence that the author and finisher of our faith will take us to the finish line.  When I first started this blog, I did a four-part series on theological fitness. You can find it here. One article is on aptitude, and one is on training.