For whom He (God) foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,
that He (Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29 (NKJV)
This week we will continue our teaching on spiritual fitness by describing what it looks like in the believer’s life.
Examples of spiritual fitness can be found throughout the Bible and is generally synonymous with righteous living. In the Old Testament, Noah was described as “a just man, perfect in his generation, walking with God” (Gen. 6:9). Noah’s spiritual fitness insured his perseverance in completing the daunting task of building the Ark. Job was designated as “perfect and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil” (Job 1:1). Job proved himself spiritually fit for the challenges placed in his life by Satan. In the New Testament, spiritual fitness is connected to the renewing of the mind as a result of being new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Concurrently, the “new man” is being continually conformed to the image of Jesus Christ through his obedient love for God and the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:29; Phil. 2:5-8).
So what does spiritual fitness look like? How does the believer know if they have it? Spiritual fitness is not a list of “do’s and don’ts” nor is it a specific set of behaviors one can practice. From our earlier definition it is a condition of qualification or “readiness” for God’s purposes. It is a state of being. Based on that definition and the biblical examples provided in God’s Word, I have assembled some general principles for understanding spiritual fitness by using the acrostic “FIRST”. Why first? To be spiritually fit, you must put “first things first”. Spiritual fitness is necessary in order to continue on the path of righteous living even when the world would have you follow another path.
F-Have Faith in the truth of the Bible. “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Trusting the sufficiency of Scripture is critical for spiritual fitness. God’s Word is the anchor on which the believer’s reality and meaning is derived. Unlike postmodern followers, believers rely on the truth of God’s Word. It is relevant for 21st century living.
I-Take on the Identity of Christ “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:6). We know we are being conformed to the image of Christ—He is our model for spiritual fitness. Our identity with Christ causes believers to realign their thinking and behavior with His.
R– Develop a Relationship with the God of glory. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). Being in God’s presence is where spiritual change can take place. For spiritual fitness, the believer’s relationship with God must become a priority.
S-Walk as Sanctified people of God. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” (Col. 2:6) Believers choose a lifestyle of holiness controlled (filled) by the Holy Spirit. Spiritual fitness includes the pursuit of God and continuous development of the believer’s faith (Heb. 12:14). Christ will judge those claiming identification with Him but who are not actively engaged in holy living (Matt. 7:21–23).
T–Trust in the finished work of the cross. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). Spiritual fitness helps believers live as new creatures in Christ, even when it doesn’t “feel” right. The believer who is spiritually fit understands there is nothing they can do to earn their salvation nor is there anything they can do to loss it. They are confident that God will carry out His sanctifying purposes to the end.
Spiritual fitness is not a destination—it’s a journey. Let the Holy Spirit be your personal trainer. (1 Thess. 2:13-14)