A lack of Discipline is not a minor issue. Some people won’t realize their dream in life because they lack the necessary discipline. They may have the intellect to accomplish their goal, they may have all the resources they need, but these can’t compensate for a lack of the necessary discipline.
One of the definitions for discipline I found in my dictionary is “training that is expected to produce a specific type or pattern of behavior.” That definition suggests that our patterns of behavior can be changed through proper discipline.
Some people try to justify their bad habits or objectionable behavior by saying; I can’t help myself; that’s just how God made me. First of all, we can’t attribute such offensive conduct to how God made us. We may have been born that way—which is far different from how God first created us. Or we may have picked up those bad habits in life. But the fact remains that our bad patterns of behavior can be changed through proper discipline.
Nearly everything in life that’s worth achieving is going to require discipline. That is true in both the physical realm and the Spiritual realm. Paul the apostle touches on this important area of Christian living in his first letter to Timothy.
Bodily Discipline versus Spiritual Discipline
Timothy was a church pastor. Paul advised him to make discipline a priority in his life. “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness,” Paul writes (1 Timothy 4:7, NASB).
Now the word from which we get discipline here is an interesting word. The KJV renders the word exercise. The corresponding Greek word means to exercise or to train. It’s the word we get our word gymnasium from.
That word conveys the right idea because that’s what discipline is all about—training or exercise. And here Paul is talking about a special kind of training or exercise. He says discipline or exercise yourself for the purpose of godliness. And godliness, in simplest terms, is just having a deep reverence for God. This verse tells us how we accomplish godliness—by discipline.
We are spirit and body. Accordingly, we need spiritual exercise and bodily exercise. The more important of the two, however, is spiritual exercise or Spiritual Discipline. “Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, Paul writes” (verse 8).
So what does spiritual discipline entail? It involves prayer, Bible study, fasting, being a worshiper and mortifying our non-Christian conduct and conversation.
The reason spiritual discipline is important is because that’s the only way we can become more life Christ. We have to train ourselves; we have to discipline ourselves to become more like Him. It’s not going to happen just because we have been born again.
Why We Don’t Like Spiritual Discipline
To understand why we don’t like being subjected to discipline, follow me through here. According to Galatians 5:17, “The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh” (NASB). That means our flesh and the Holy Spirit diametrically oppose each other.
According to verse 23, an attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is “temperance,” or self-control. So if self-control is an attribute of walking in the Spirit and the flesh opposes the Spirit, then our flesh opposes self-control.
The point is that as humans, we are wired in such a way that we don’t like being subjected to self-control. We like liberty, we like our freedom, we like having no restraint. Since self-control is a function of walking in the Spirit, the stronger we become in the Spirit, the better we will be able to exercise self-discipline.
Spiritual discipline is the only way you are going to become strong and to stay strong. And my friend, God wants you to be strong and to stay strong. But you must put your time in. Just like in the gym for bodily exercise; you will get out of your spiritual “work out” what you put into it.
So how committed are you to spiritual discipline—especially during this pandemic?
Copyright © 2020 by Frank King. All rights reserved.