God’s Spiritual Training Program

My Bible study class is discussing Chip Ingram’s book, The Miracle of Life Change. These few pages are my notes for that class.

Personal Integrity:

Without this area under control, there is no hope for personal transformation. This is what we are to do in this area (Ephesians 4:24-25):

  1. Put off – falsehood
  2. Renew – recognition of shared membership in the body (Ephesians 4:15, 25); the reason
  3. Put on – truthful speech

What do you put off and put on when you train for honesty (Psalm 15:1-5)? Start with little things, like little white lies and exaggerations. Curb the tendency to bend the truth. Chip mentions that we are to “practice confession.” Knowing you will have to go back and apologize might keep us from lying in the first place.

Emotional Control:

This area involves anger (Ephesians 4:26-27, James 1:19-20). There is an anger that does not lead to sin, but anger expressed will often lead to sinful behavior. Uncontrolled anger gives the devil an opportunity. Couples may go to bed mad at each other and the emotion smolders. No one wakes in the morning thinking that yesterday was fine, but today I think I’ll go and wreck my marriage with an affair. But that is how adultery starts, usually with unresolved anger. Chip called this anger vision, when everything she does sets you off and reinforces the reason you’re angry in the first place. Unresolved anger hardens the heart.

  1. Put off – anger that leads to offense and sin
  2. Renew – recognition of dangers that lead to retaining anger
  3. Put on – appropriate expressions of anger

Chip mentioned using “I feel” statements to identify the emotions and talk about the situation. Write the feelings on index cards… I feel angry when you… I feel hurt when you… I feel isolated when you… I feel left out when you…

Financial Stewardship: Work Ethic

Many people grow up with a poor work ethic: go in as late as possible, leave as early as possible, get as little done as possible and get paid as much as possible. Unless you’re the owner, then it’s go in before dawn, stay late because work is all there is. Paul tells them to steal no longer (Ephesians 4:28). This is not a hypothetical situation.

The idea here is that people always seek a short cut, and this mentality affects all areas of life. As an oak tree, things that grow well and last grow slowly. How is you work ethic (Colossians 3:23-24)?

  1. Put off – stealing
  2. Renew – think differently about your work ethic
  3. Put on – work

Diligence (Colossians 3:22) is a quality that comes from good mentors. A work ethic is caught not taught.

Positive Speech:

This area involves the tongue (Ephesians 4:29-30). It can give grace to those who hear, and it can also grieve the Holy Spirit. Words can be positive and negative influences (Proverbs 10:11, 15:1-4, 16:24, 27-28). How’s your speech? Recognize the power of words, that in them can be life or death (Proverbs 18:21), what comes out of the mouth can make or break a person’s day.

The heart is at stake (Luke 6:45) because if you really want to know what is in the heart of a person, listen to what comes out of his mouth. Examine your speech (James 3:2) and remember these haunting words of Jesus (Matthew 12:36).

  1. Put off – negative speech
  2. Renew – give grace to others and avoid grieving the Holy Spirit
  3. Put on – positive, encouraging speech

We ought to practice silence and solitude, get away on a retreat to allow God to transform your mind and practice talking less (Proverbs 10:19).

Holy Positive Attitudes:

This area deals with forgiveness. The putting off involves six different attitudes (Ephesians 4:31) embodied in hate:

  1. Bitterness – deep-seated resentments
  2. Rage – a blow-up type of anger
  3. Anger – describes resentment and negativity that permeates all of life
  4. Brawling (clamor) – shorting and baiting that incites violence
  5. Slander – involves stealth anger, defaming another person
  6. Malice – an evil intent that lies behind the other five

We are to put on three other attitudes (Ephesians 4:32) embodied in love:

  1. Kindness – practice on treating others the way you want to be treated
  2. Compassionate – one that deep down reaches out to help others in need
  3. Forgiving each other – being Christ like, responding to others like Jesus would

Practice the Matthew 5:24 principle. Forget who’s responsible and take responsibility for your own part. After all is said and done, track your progress, others will be (Philippians 1:6, 1 Timothy 4:15). Renew your attitudes to allow God to transform your life.

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