Paul said the following to young Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:6-8. "In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."
Paul wanted Timothy to beware of the damage that bad teaching can have in a Christian's life. What he desired for Timothy is that he would be "constantly nourished on the words of the faith" as well as "sound doctrine." The words of the faith are easy enough to discern. We know that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ." The words of the faith are Scripture - the Word of God. The sound doctrine that Paul speaks of here is simply good, biblically sound teaching that comes forth from the Word of God. Thus, what Paul was telling young Timothy was that he needed to be CONSTANTLY NOURISHED on the Word of God - and good teaching which springs from the Word of God.
Having established a need to be CONSTANTLY NOURISHED on God's Word - Paul then makes the statement one verse later that he is to have nothing to do with worldly fables - but to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness. This godliness is of far greater profit than bodily discipline - because it blesses both now and for all eternity. Therefore, one of the most important things we should have is some way that we are disciplining ourselves to become godly - with a major emphasis on being constantly nourished on Scripture and sound doctrine that is founded in it. Let me boil that down to a simple statement. We are to be disicplinging ourselves to be in the Scriptures so that we can be constantly nourished by them and what they teach to us.
The spiritual goals of which I speak of simply goals that we set so that we can practice "nourishing ourselves" on the Word and on good, sound, godly doctrine. What kind of goals and practices of discipline do you have to do this? What kind of practices are you wanting to adopt and grow in this coming year so that you are being constantly nourished on the Word of God?
Let me use an example from your everyday life to illustrate what I mean. Pretty much everyone who reads this has a habit of eating breakfast, lunch, and supper. These are ingrained habits we have to make sure we are constantly nourished physically. If we were to lose those habits - or if we are practicing terrible nutritional habits in them - we are going to be in physical trouble before long. I am not hearing anyone complain about the habit of breakfast, lunch, and supper as some sort of legalism that we are in bondage to in our lives. They are helpful habits that can truly bless us if we eat proper nutrition during them. The reason I say this is simple - just as breakfast, lunch, and supper are physical habits to help nourish us physically, the habit of a quiet time during which we invest in reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture is vital to us being nourished (might I even say, CONSTANTLY NOURISHED) on a spiritual level. Without proper spiritual nourishment, we will languish spiritually, be weak when confronting temptation and trial, and will be susceptible to every spiritual malady and sickness that comes our way (read here false doctrine and sinful lifestyles that do not glorfiy God - among other things).
By spiritual goals - I refer to things you want to do each day - like maintain a quiet time. I refer to things you specifically do to be nourished on God's Word - like read through the Bible this year or read a chapter or more each day. Other things that help here are to say that you will take time to study through Romans to learn about salvation better - or memorize one verse each week with an emphasis on important passages of the Bible. Then you plan to meditate on one of those passages every day in free moments. Another spiritual goal may have to do with "obeying" the Scripture you read. Outreach to a couple of people you want to see come to Christ may be in order. Getting trained to share the gospel effectively by the end of the year might be another. You may want to read a book on basic Bible doctrine to be better grounded in your faith. The possibilities are endless - involving your own growth - the growth of your family together - the growth of others you know in basic discipleship - or even stepping up to a ministry in the church and committing to do it for a year. All these might be ways of growing by "discipling yourself for the purpose of godliness."
So . . . what are you going to do this year to discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness - to make arrangements to be constantly nourished on the faith and sound doctrine? Your willingness to sit down and write out some serious goals as you ask God what to do may mean the difference between an awesome year of spiritual growth and effectiveness - or just another year wasted thinking that one day you'll get serious about following Christ. Oh dear saints of God - let this year be the former! My love to all of you as we follow our Lord Jesus Christ for God's glory in this coming year!