8 Rules for Growing in Godliness

By the end of first grade, every child has learned to grow a plant. They fill a cup with soil and press a seed into it. They pour water over their cup, place it in a sunny window, and wait. Sure enough, within days there are stirrings of life. First, roots begin to emerge, then a sprout, then a stem. Finally, a plant shoots up out of the soil and its tiny leaves unfurl. There is something wonderful about this, …

Rule #1: Trust the Means of Grace (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

The great goal of the Christian life is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The Christian longs to be influenced by Christ to such an extent that every thought is one Jesus would think, that every action is one he would take. Such conformity depends upon a renewed mind, for it is only once our minds are renewed that our desires and actions can follow (Romans 12:2). The Christian life, then, is one of taking off the …

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Rule #2: Guard Against Worldliness (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

There are certain words and ideas that, over time, fall out of favor. Once they have fallen out of favor, it is not long before they fall out of common parlance. Sometimes, when words are archaic or their ideas unbiblical, this is the church’s gain. At other times, though, this is the church’s loss, for words may be useful and their ideas key to the Christian life and faith. At such times we do well to reclaim them, to introduce …

Rule #3: Think Holy Thoughts (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

The Christian life is one of continually growing in obedience to God, of diligently working out the salvation Christ accomplished on our behalf. This work of sanctification begins at the moment of justification and ends only at the moment of final glorification. Between these moments, we are engaged in what one author has insightfully called “a long obedience in the same direction.” This obedience begins first in our heads and then works itself out into our hearts and hands, for …

Rule #4: Watch for Temptation (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

It is the deep longing of every Christian to be like Jesus, to imitate the one who perfectly obeyed God and perfectly fulfilled all righteousness. We long to be “transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is our longing because this is our purpose. According to Calvin, God means to “bring our lives into harmony and agreement with His own righteousness, and so to manifest to ourselves and others our identity …

Rule #5: Ponder the Brevity of Life (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

The Bible uses a number of metaphors to describe the Christian life, and among the most prominent is that of runners in a race (e.g., 1 Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:1). The “race” is a vivid image meant to remind us that Christians face competition, need endurance, and require diligence. Life is not a leisurely stroll, but a grueling race. From this metaphor, we also learn that just as each step brings runners closer to the end of their race, each …

Rule #6: Redeem Your Time (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

Our digital world is both a blessing and a curse for our growth in godliness. Today’s Christians have more sound, biblical resources at the tips of their fingers than all of our forefathers could have imagined. Through our phones, we can keep in constant touch with distant fellow Christians and benefit from the spiritual gifts of believers all across the globe. But our digital world can also hinder our growth, for godliness requires diligence and focus—qualities that are rare today. …

Rule #7: Fellowship with Godly People (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

An ember left alone will soon grow cold, but embers set close together will continue to glow, to burn brightly, and even to set others ablaze. Christians resemble embers, for we, too, must be set close together to thrive. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise” (Proverbs 13:20), which means that those who walk with the godly become godly.” In fact, whoever longs to be godly must walk with the godly, for God has decreed that godliness will not be …

Rule #8: Purpose to be Godly (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

We cannot overstate the importance of knowing our purpose. There is no doubt our lives will go awry and even go to waste if we neglect to learn the purpose for our existence and the purpose for our salvation. And central to understanding our purpose is understanding why God placed us on this earth. This is why the old catechism begins with the question of purpose: “What is the chief end of man?” This is the question that has provided …