Today’s Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:7
“Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
There’s no doubt that disciplined people, both believers and unbelievers, can effect change in themselves. But in the self-discipline approach to holiness, a major temptation is to rely on a regimen of spiritual disciplines instead of on the Holy Spirit.
I believe in spiritual disciplines, and I seek to practice them. But those disciplines are not the source of our spiritual strength. The Lord Jesus Christ is, and the Spirit’s ministry is to apply his strength in our lives. To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 3:7, we can plant and water, but we cannot make things grow. Only the Spirit can do that. We must plant and water if we’re to make progress in holiness, but only the Spirit can change us more and more into the likeness of Jesus.
Jonathan Edwards compiled a series of seventy resolutions to govern his own spiritual disciplines and conduct. Talk about spiritual discipline! His resolutions would make most of our present-day disciplines look like spiritual kindergarten. But at the beginning of his list he wrote these words: “Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.” Edwards was disciplined, but he was also dependent.
I’m sure those of us who tend toward the self-discipline school of holiness agree that we must depend on the enabling power of the Spirit. We give lip service to it, but do we practice it? Do we each day and throughout the day acknowledge our dependence on him? Or do we in fact seek to pursue holiness in the strength of our own willpower?
Source: Your Holiness Day by Day | A Devotional by Jerry Bridges