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Spiritual Growth - Living a Life of Faith

Spiritual Maturity – Building Faith and Your Spiritual Muscles!

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Do you desire more spiritual maturity? In this post, we will learn how to begin building faith and how working those spiritual muscles can help you grow deeper in your walk with God!

There is such a focus all over social media on physical workouts!  There are health and fitness coaches that you can access instantly online! “I’m going to the gymSpiritual Maturity - Building Faith and Your Spiritual Muscles! 1” has become a mantra in society, at least it was before the shutdown!

But what about working out our spirit? Do you work out your faith to build spiritual muscles as well as physical ones?

An image of a woman lifting a dumbbell facing away from the camera in a gym and text that says Spiritual Maturity - Building Faith and Your Spiritual Muscles!

My Self Defense Training

You might be surprised to learn I was a martial artist!

I used to co-own a martial arts facility where I trained in Tae Kwon Do, Jeet Kune Do and Israeli hand to hand combat and knife fighting. 

In fact, I not only trained in the Israeli martial arts, but I also taught it.

I was training these big guys, including some high-ranking officers (one of whom went on to be an Admiral), from the Naval Submarine Base near the location I had! 

But I also taught women’s self-defenseSpiritual Maturity - Building Faith and Your Spiritual Muscles! 2 classes and worked with women who had suffered physical abuse. 

I loved Israeli martial artsSpiritual Maturity - Building Faith and Your Spiritual Muscles! 3Spiritual Maturity - Building Faith and Your Spiritual Muscles! 4 but it has been a long time since I practiced. It’s been a VERY long time; about 14 years now.

Recently I was talking to my husband about when I taught those classes and decided to see how much I could quickly recall if I was physically threatened.

So, I had him come at me in a mock attack and, sure enough, my training kicked in and I was able to easily and readily recall the techniques I had learned to use and teach.

My mind may not have been able to recall what each step was when I sat and thought about it, but my body certainly remembered.

Spiritual Maturity and Muscle Memory

My body was able to react that way, in part, due to procedural memory, often associated with muscle memory.

Even though it had been a long time since I practiced, my muscles knew what to do with my body as the “attacker” came at me.

I didn’t even have to think about it. There was no hesitation in my actions. My body took over and did what it needed to do.

Hebrews 5:14 says:

“But solid food is for the mature, who through practice have their senses trained to discern both good and evil.” NASB

Exercising your senses “through practice” is similar to an athlete’s muscles developing memory.

When you work the same muscles over and over again, those muscles gain memory and adjust to the exercise or actions required of them. As you train, your body develops procedural memory and recalls steps in the process.

You can train your spirit as well as your body!

Exercise Your Spiritual Muscles

When we study the Word and pray, we work out our faith and exercise our senses, increasing our spiritual muscles so that when trouble comes or a need arises, we know what to do. 

We can quickly recall Bible verses about that very thing we are struggling with at that moment.

We can recall a teaching about that topic. We can recall what God says to us about it. This all leads us to greater spiritual maturity and a deeper walk with the LordSpiritual Maturity - Building Faith and Your Spiritual Muscles! 5.

When the enemy attacks us, much like a physical attacker for someone trained in martial arts, we can immediately counter the attack and send him running! Work out your faith for spiritual maturity so you can…

“…submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 TLV

The Greek word for ‘resist’ is “anthistēmi”, which means to stand against, oppose, to set oneself against, much the same as someone would stand against a physical attack.

Grow in Spiritual Maturity

I quoted Hebrews 5:14 previously, but let’s look at it again along with the preceding verse.
Hebrews 5:13-14:

For anyone living on milk is inexperienced with the teaching about righteousness—he is an infant.

But solid food is for the mature, who through practice have their senses trained to discern both good and evil.” TLV

Spiritual immaturity is the result of not being acquainted with the teachings about righteousness. It is a lack of training per se.

Keep in mind, it says “by constant use”!


 

Building Spiritual Muscles From a Blank Canvas

When a student starts off in martial arts, they start as a white belt. White represents purity and innocence. In other words, the student is a blank canvas.

New believers are the same! They are starting off their walk with God as a blank canvas, ready to learn the ways of the Kingdom of GodSpiritual Maturity - Building Faith and Your Spiritual Muscles! 6.

But if a martial arts student doesn’t come to class, if a student doesn’t practice their forms continuously, they will remain a white belt.

Build Spiritual Maturity by Getting in the Word

When a believer doesn’t get in the Word and study it, if they don’t attend church or synagogue (if you are a Messianic Jew) to receive fellowship and instruction, if they don’t pray, they will remain a babe on milk, a white belt if you will.

If you don’t continue to work out your faith, you cannot progress to that “solid food” or that spiritual maturity the Word speaks of.

If a believer is attacked and has not developed that spiritual maturity, they don’t have the “training” to call on to defeat their enemy.

When they go through struggles, they don’t have the “training” to know how to lean on GodSpiritual Maturity - Building Faith and Your Spiritual Muscles! 7 and trust Him during those times, to recall what His Word says about the situation. They may not know how to pray for His help and His guidance. They may not even know that they can!


 

Work Out Your Faith in the Training Ground of the Bible

The Bible is your training ground! It is your teacher! It is your help in times of trouble!

God speaks to you through those pages and gives you help in times of need! You work out your faith in the Word!

The Bible shows you who God is! It tells us what he expects from us and what he promises to us. It tells us how to live our lives and how to relate to others.

It is your instruction manual!

Practice Building Spiritual Muscles!

When I was training in martial arts, I had to practice and practice and practice. And when I was done practicing, I had to practice some more! I had to keep doing this until my body knew what to do without me even thinking about it.

We need to get in the Word and stay in the Word until we know how to live our lives for Him and how to respond to situations in life!

We need to memorize verses the same way I had to memorize techniques so that you can recall them at any moment when needed.

Building spiritual muscles involves learning to walk in obedience to God, but if we don’t know His Word, if we have not hidden it in our hearts then how can we do that effectively?


 

You need to stay in prayer and ask God for help when needed, the same way I had to have an instructor physically show me how to position myself and do the required steps to defeat my “enemy”.

God can “position” you through prayer and His Word! When you turn things over to Him, He will place you right where He wants you to be for that time, that situation, that temptation, that season, when we cast our cares on Him!

Create a War Binder

One way to help you stay in prayer AND document the amazing things God is doing in your life and how He is answering prayer is with a War binder! 

You can turn any space in your home into a War Room! Having a binder like this one will help you deepen your prayer life and grow in your walk. 

A War Binder is a faith journal, or prayer journal with multiple sections that you use to document your walk with God. It’s like having an entire war room in one convenient place that you can have with you anywhere!

This course from  Sue Nelson of Woman of Noble Character will not only teach you how to use a War Binder, but gives you all the printables you need!

Keeping a prayer journal like that has helped me look back and see all the ways God has moved in my life and it has strengthened my prayer muscles so much more!

Work Out Your Faith and Run Your Race

I know it may seem silly to compare our walk with GodSpiritual Maturity - Building Faith and Your Spiritual Muscles! 8 to training in martial arts, or any other sport for that matter. But remember, Paul did that as well.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says:

Don’t you know that in a stadium the runners all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win!

Every competitor exercises self-control in all respects. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we do it to receive an imperishable one.

So I run in this way—not aimlessly. So I box in this way—not beating the air.

Rather, I punish my body and bring it into submission, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” TLV

Run in such a way as to receive the crown that lasts forever! But make no mistake, it does not come without hard work. Paul mentions here “strict training” for that crown!

Every competitor exercises self-control in all respects. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we do it to receive an imperishable one.

So work out those spiritual muscles and allow the Word to be your training ground!

Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society.  Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.

81 Comments

  1. Love the idea of training your spirit. I really feel like this is something I need to focus on. Your blog has really inspired me – thank you.

  2. I think people who train physically have a better understanding of the kind of training Paul talks about in the New Testament: running the race, bringing every thought into submission.
    Thanks for this great post!

  3. I love this!! Especially the idea of building up spiritual muscle memory – when we are intentional about trusting God in the hard times, it’s more likely to become our default. Great post!

  4. This is a great metaphor for how we must be prepared and know how to fight in the spiritual war we face every day, Diane! And you have quite the varied background and interests! Love it! Thanks for the linkup and, most of all, thank you for challenging us to get into and memorize God’s word so we can be prepared too! Pinned!

  5. We are encouraged to always excercise our spiritual part and most people ignore this which is a shame. Wonderful to read how you are encouraging people.

  6. Wow! I’m impressed. Years ago I was very much into working out, even with a bad back. What has seen me through though is the spiritual workouts. Too much focus on the temple in the wrong way is not spiritually beneficial. The Holy Spirit is a good teacher.

  7. I love the analogy with martial arts; it’s not silly at all! My mom put me in karate class when I was six, but neither my sister nor I stuck with it, though now I wish we had. Do you have any suggested study plans for the Bible?

  8. This was really interesting Diane. But I have to admit a lot of that was to do with discovering you did martial arts. Was it Krav Maga? I did martial arts as well when I was younger, so I can relate to this a lot. But it wasn’t as part of any armed forces but very much as a means of self defence against racist bullies at school, of whom there were too many to fend off with regular fighting skills. But since Jeet Kune Do is essentially a combination of all the most effective bits, you could add Krav Maga in there too!

    Anyway, before I go off on a long discussion off the main topic, I totally agree that we can train ourselves in different ways to fight off the enemy’s attacks. Just as it becomes instinctIve after a while to automatically block a punch or a kick, we can train ourselves to automatically hold up the shield of faith or use the sword of the Spirit. But it takes practice for that to become second nature.

    1. Actually I trained in Haganah and I also trained with my former pastor/rabbi and good friend who was, before he was saved, a nazi hunter for the Mossad and he actually trained the IDF. So I developed my own style from what I learned from all my training…pulling in aspects from all of it.

  9. How cool to learn this about you! And amen to the truth here. It reminds me of the verse that says we have all been given a measure of faith, and my thought is that we just need to exercise it!

  10. There is so much goodness in this post!! I know that there were many years in my past that I did not do my spiritual work outs. During that time in my life it did not go so well for me. It is so vital in our walk with Christ that we are strengthening in spirit. The enemy is no fun to wrestle with when you are weak…..when we are healthy and strengthing daily then we can stop the enemy before the wrestling match even begins!!

  11. Such a great post and reminder! I want to get back into a regular routine. But you know…now I want to train my faith muscles too. Good good stuff! Blessed to be your neighbor at Tell His Story this week!

  12. Yes, we need to make a commitment to work toward spiritual maturity as believers. Salvation alone is amazing, but it is not enough for us to just attend church whenever and stay immature. We must be in the word, in prayer and growing stronger, giving an account of our faith to the lost world, furthering the Kingdom of God.

  13. First off – I had no idea that you used to practice mixed martial arts! Whoa! I learn something new everyday! Second, I love this post for so many reasons. Hubby and I were just talking about how we need to plan action steps to grow in our faith. Perfect timing! Thank you!

  14. Diane,
    You’ve encouraged me to continue in my quest to get a “Black Belt” in the Word. I love the Greek word for the word “resist” in this scriptural context. One of the ways I stand up against, or oppose the enemy is to have an “Emergency Kit” (much like the binder you described). It has all of my “Go-to” verses to refer to. Better yet, is to commit them to muscle memory so that they are at the ready when the enemy attacks. Great reminders this am!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  15. “The Bible is your training ground! It is your teacher! It is your help in times of trouble! God speaks to you through those pages and gives you help in times of need! You work out your faith in the Word!” Yes! Yes! Yes! I love this statement. We can not have faith and not be in God’s word. Our faith will dwindle and diminish with the first sign of struggles or trials. I love your writings and hope you are feeling better.

  16. You fascinate me, friend. Even more so, I find myself fascinated with the richness, power, and wisdom of God’s Word. Total head nod here of “yes!” with the importance of God’s Word in building our faith. Loved this post!

  17. I really loved the way you linked physical training with spiritual training. As believers, we are in a spiritual war every day and we need to be ready to combat the enemy! Thank you for help ways into implement this into our lives!

  18. I love this concept! The tie in with muscle memory, and working out our spiritual muscles is SO apt! It reminds me of Philippeans 2:12, when the Bible tells us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

  19. Wow, a martial artist…impressive! I wrote about faith today on my blog. I love all your tips here about exercising our faith muscles and especially how the Bible is our training ground! Amen!

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