“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 NKJV
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 NKJV
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word discipline? If you are like most people, you will think of correction and its negative connotation. If you understand what discipline is, the opposite is true. Does it involve correction? Yes, but correction is only one aspect. You are called by God to live a life of self-control. The only way to live such a life is through the process of discipline. If you live a life that is undisciplined, you are allowing yourself to be governed by self-will and emotions; not by the Spirit of God. This government will have an undesired result and ultimately lead to destruction.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV
What is Discipline?
Discipline is training. Discipline or the lack of discipline is what forms your moral character and how you coexist with others. As you read what Paul writes in the verse above, you will see that discipline is a foundation to civil society. Without discipline, we would live in a world of chaos and anarchy.
God desires for His children to live a life with soundness of mind, moderation, and self-control. This is the definition of the Greek word, sophronismos. When you turn your life over to God for His discipline, to become more like Christ, you are saying that you no longer want to be governed by self-will and emotions, but rather by the Spirit of God. When you do this, you will receive liberty and the benefit of His government.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV
What a contrast to the earlier verses. Which do you prefer? What is the desired result in your life? The great thing about God is that unless you are dead, it is never too late to change. If you desire the fruits of the Spirit and to no longer live as a slave to your flesh, turn your life over to Him and live a life of discipline. As we continue on we will learn how to practically bring discipline into our lives and to be governed by the Spirit of God.
The Blueprint for a Life Of Discipline
The Word of God
The first thing that must be done when building a house is to have a set of blueprints and able to read and understand them. The blueprints have all of the critical information on building the house from foundation to finish. It includes the elevation, floor plan, and structural connections. The elevation and floor plan are what the house is supposed to look like when it is finished. The structural connections are how the house is secured to the foundation and how other critical components are tied together.
To live a life of discipline, it is much like building the house. We need to have a set of blueprints, which is the word of God. It has all of the critical information needed. It includes the elevation and floor plan. It tells us what a disciplined life should look like, with people like Paul, Timothy, and Christ Himself as examples to follow. It also has all of the structural connections that keep us connected to the foundation and keep other components tied together so that we can weather the storms and not be moved from our foundation.
If our blueprint is the word of God, then what is our foundation? Our foundation according to Hebrews is repentance from dead works and faith toward God. This is our salvation experience: when we say that we accept You, Jesus, and want you to come live in our hearts, no longer do we want to be governed by self-will and emotions, but by Your Spirit.
With our foundation laid, we then need to continue on in the building process. As we build, we are continually building according to the blueprint.
“Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” II Timothy 3:16-17 THE MESSAGE
The Tools for Building a Life of Discipline
Once you have your blueprint, the next step to building is to gather your tools. You cannot build a house without tools. In building a life that is dedicated to the purposes of God and governed by His Spirit, a life of discipline, what are the necessary tools so that we can build according to the blueprint? The uniqueness in this building process is that God has chosen to outline the necessary tools in the blueprint to help us be successful builders. Let’s take a look at these tools.
The blueprint has a dual purpose. It not only serves as instruction, it also serves as a tool. Below are the guidelines to knowing how to follow the blueprint and how to use it as a building tool:
- Read the Bible daily. We must set aside time daily to read the word of God. To be governed by His Spirit, we need to hear what He is saying and we do so through His word. Building a life of discipline is a continuing building process.
- Take time to Study His word. Take time to Meditate on the scriptures and understand the principles of God. Through understanding comes obedience, and through obedience comes understanding.
- Memorize scripture. We need to take the time to memorize scripture. Through memorization, we are planting His word in our hearts.
Remember, God is the architect. Reading the word of God, studying, meditating, and memorizing scripture will ensure that you are building a life of discipline according to His blueprint.
One of the most critical aspects of building is communication. You will find that through this process there will be things that come up that you have no answer for. You will have questions like “Where does that fit into the building?”… “I can’t find it in the prints anywhere. Maybe it belongs and maybe it doesn’t?” When these things arise, you must communicate with the architect. God being the architect of our lives, we need to have open and clear communication with Him. This is the tool of prayer.
Prayer is the way in which we communicate with God and it is a way that He communicates with us. It is true that He speaks through His word, but He also speaks directly to us in prayer.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 NIV
It is crucial during this process of discipline that you have friends that can encourage, uplift and build you up. Building is not an easy task and you were not meant to build alone. God placed in His blueprints the principle of friendship and fellowship.
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NASB
A disciplined life requires that you lead a life of purity, governed by the Spirit of God, separate and holy.
“Therefore prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16 NASB
The concept of holiness is two-fold: consecration and purification. Consecration means to set apart for the worship and service of God. Purification is the cleansing of any impurity or any undesired elements in your life. As we set ourselves apart for God, we are commanded to be holy, undefiled by sin. Consecration is the decision and the result of the process of purification.
We must understand that purification is a process. Here are some scriptures to help you begin that process:
- That you no longer love the world or the things in the world. 1 John 2:15
- Flee immorality. 1 Corinthians 6:18
- You set your mind on things that are pure, true and honorable. Philippians 4:8
- Consider your body dead to immorality, impurity and evil desire. Colossians 3:5
- Study the word of God. 2 Timothy 2:15
- Be a doer of the word of God. James 1:22
- Fellowship. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
As we look through the list of things that we need to do to have a disciplined life, one that is consecrated and pure before the Lord to do His service, you will find that doing these are not always easy. Jesus knew that there would be times that we could not overcome the enemy by our will alone. He knew that there would be times that we would need supernatural intervention. In John, Jesus prayed:
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-” John 14:16 NKJV
The term Helper is the Greek word parakletos, which means called to one’s side. It is a term for a legal assistant or defense counsel. It suggests the giving of aid. Jesus knew that you could not do it alone so He sent the Holy Spirit to be that supernatural intervention, to comfort, to aid us in the battle, and to be consecrated and pure before the Lord.
Praise and Worship
Worship is what puts our life in perspective. Worship is when we honor God for who He is. It is when we say to Jesus that You are the one in control of my life and I submit to You as my Lord.
Praise is when we honor God for what He has done. One of the words for praise in the Hebrew is yadah, which means to throw, shoot, or cast. When we praise God, we are shooting or casting down the arrows of the enemy. When the enemy comes to attack and you feel overwhelmed, lift your voice in praise!
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” Psalm 43:5 NKJV
As you seek to live a life of discipline unto the Lord, you will find that your life will become more liberating than before. You will no longer be a slave to yourself. Start today to live a lifestyle of discipline.