Practice to Prepare

2 Timothy 3:5 (NASB) says, “Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”
Before you can ever get in the match or race, you have to practice and exercise. Your body must be in proper shape and physique in order to compete in the race. However, you can cheat the system in the weight room or the practice field just the same as you can cheat and break the rules in the race. One of those ways can be best exemplified when discussing baseball players and steroids. The word “steroid” means “having the form or appearance of a solid.” (Merriam Webster’s) Athletes like to take steroids so they, in their point of view can become stronger and do what they do better, such as having more power to hit a baseball much further. In steroids today, psychological effects include edginess, impatience, severe mood swings through depression, paranoid feelings, obsession with body image, having to work out, and food, and having angry and violent outbursts. Physical effects include liver and kidney damage, increase blood pressure and cholesterol (risk for heart disease), depressed immune system (risk for infections), headache and stomach ache, nosebleeds, severe facial and body acne, and decreased joint flexibility. ( Now, I must ask, is it worth it?
Spiritually, we try to cheat the system and prepare for the faith marathon unrighteously. A lot of Christians appear “strong” and “solid”, but inside, they are cheating the game. Paul says it best in 2 Timothy 3:5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” They appear holy, but inside they bear a destitute soul. They are as chameleon Christians, always blending with the very things that surround them. These spiritual steroids tries to look good outwardly, but inwardly they do not see how this hypocrisy is destroying them! 2 Timothy 2:5 in the NASB says, “Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.” In any sport, such as baseball, you cannot win if you cheat or break the rules. Even if you get all of these victories and try to cover up your spiritual steroid intake, the truth will eventually win out. Your will be reprimanded, punished and even disqualified. Your crown will be stripped away from you. You cannot cheat the system. The only way you can win is by abiding in God’s Word! Instead of taking these steroids, we must work out, or exercise, our spirits. 1 Timothy 4:7b-8 in the KJV says, “And exercise yourself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8 in the Message says, “Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.” You can become spiritually fat when you continuously eat and sleep, never building up metabolism. Spiritual exercise, which is living a godly and disciplined life, will make your more spiritually fit and equipped to run the race.
Godliness is holiness, or clean living, just living clean, unleavened lifestyle, sanctified unto God. Godliness is the weight that you lift to make you stronger, and in order to be holy as God is holy, fulfilling His complete image. It is a hard work out to be godly, but when I come out of that weight room, people will notice that I am stronger whether than weaker. My weight room is my prayer closet, and people will take notice of a greater strength in my life when I am in there in a consistent basis! It will show without me saying a word! That word “exercise” means to “afflict”. It is through the affliction of your body that you gain muscle and lose fat! So many people will gain muscle by eating nutritiously healthy food and by working out, while you can become fat by always consuming and never working out. The problem with so many Christians is that they are spoon fed in the house of God, but they never want to “work out” a godly lifestyle outside of the 4 walls of the church. Instead, when they get out of the church, they consume so much junk food from the TV set and Internet and ungodly music, etc. We need to build spiritual muscle rather than allow garbage to come into our spirits! James 5:13 says, “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.” It is through affliction that you are “working it out” in prayer! Prayer, a mutual relationship with your heavenly Father, is what builds spiritual muscle! When you work out, your muscles tear because there must be a tearing before there is a building of stronger muscles, and eventually, you are enabled to work out your soreness! Do not attempt to try to lift more weight than you can bear because when you do, instead of growing stronger, you will injure yourself, pulling muscles that were not meant to! If you have not lifted weights in 15 years, you cannot expect to go in there and lift that same weight you did then, or you will definitely hurt yourself! Exercise and train your spirits as you grow into godliness and prepare for the faith marathon. We should not only exercise our spirits unto godliness, but we should also use spiritual protein to build our spiritual physique. “Protein” literally means “of first importance.” (Merriam Webster) Our spiritual protein is making God our first priority, but spiritual steroids are when we have a greater relationship with church that we do God! We know how to look and talk the part, but we refuse to acknowledge how to live the part, with a powerless and unloving Christianity. You can get disqualified before the race ever begins when you take in spiritual steroids. As Jentezen Franklin says, “If you put God first, He will put you first.” “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you!” (Matthew 6:33)