Olympic champion Missy Franklin was born to swim. Her profile on the Olympic website describes her as “built for success.” Missy is six-foot one and wears size 13 shoes. Her dad jokes that his daughter has “built-in flippers.” Add in her six-foot, four-inch arm span and it’s no wonder she’s a swimming machine.
In the 2012 summer Olympics in London, Missy won four gold medals and a bronze. She also broke two world records in the London games.
Missy is young enough to take part in possibly three more Olympic games. With time and talent on her side, she has the potential to become the most decorated female Olympic swimmer of all time. Move over Michael Phelps!
Although Missy is physically equipped for swimming, she could never achieve this kind of success without rigorous training. Missy began her swim training when she was just seven years old. Now at the age of 18, she trains eight times a week during the school year and nine during the summer months.
Missy’s physical traits and dedicated training combined make her an Olympic champion. Without the disciplined workouts, her size and inherent strength alone would not be enough. Likewise, no matter how great her commitment to training, if Missy was not built for swimming her success would be limited. Missy needs both the physical characteristics and talent God gave her, plus the intense, purposeful training. This combination of physical power and disciplined effort creates a highly successful partnership.
A believer’s pursuit of holiness is also a partnership. We cannot do it without the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And He demands our obedient, intentional cooperation.
Today’s New Start 15 passage, 2 Peter 1:3-11, shows how our pursuit of holiness is a God-designed partnership. God supplies the power:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life … so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4, NIV
And we supply the obedient effort:
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith…” 2 Peter 2:5a
The Power of Dynamite!
We have no excuse in our pursuit of holiness. God has equipped us with everything we need. The English word “dynamite” is derived from the Greek word translated as “power” in 2 Peter 1:3.” The power of the Holy Spirit living within believers can be explosive!
“Make Every Effort”
God has equipped us to obey His call to holiness. We have everything we need. But He will not do it for us. We must “make every effort” or diligently work to add the characteristics of holiness to our faith.
In 1 Timothy 4:7-8, the apostle Paul likened this diligent effort toward holiness to physical training. Holiness won’t happen by accident or haphazard effort. Our holiness requires a disciplined, conscious effort.
In his book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life,” author Donald Whitney emphasizes the vital function of spiritual disciplines in a believer’s holiness:
“The only road to Christian maturity and godliness passes through the practice of the Spiritual Disciplines… Godliness is the goal of the Disciplines… They are the God-given means we are to use in the Spirit-filled pursuit of godliness.”
God works through our disciplined efforts such as prayer, Bible reading, study, and Scripture memory to bring spiritual growth and shape us into the image of Christ. The correct practice of these kinds of spiritual disciplines is not legalism, but a heart-felt submission to the Spirit’s refining work.
Our Holiness is a Team Effort
Our holiness is wrought by the Spirit’s power working through our obedient cooperation. Our salvation is solely God’s work, but our sanctification is a joint project, a partnership between each of us and God. We can’t do it without God’s power and God chooses to do it through our disciplined effort. God gives the power we need for our efforts to affect the condition of our faith.
In what ways have you committed yourself to the pursuit of holiness? What spiritual disciplines do you practice regularly? What might God have you add to your efforts?
This post is part of the New Start 15 emphasis on holiness. Want to learn more? Here are a few things to help you join in!
- Original Invitation to New Start 15
- Bible reading plan
- New Start 15 Facebook group
- Daily Blog Schedule
- List of Suggested Resources