In this letter we will cover a self-disciplined life. Christian living, calls for a self-disciplined life. What is self-discipline? Self-discipline is that of training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, usually for personal improvement. The discipline of a Disciple of Christ does not come from another person. It calls for self-discipline under Christ. In other words, disciplining yourself under Christ.
Paul said to Timothy, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness”
(1 Tim. 4:7-8). Here Paul was encouraging Timothy not only to spiritual discipline but to self-discipline. Again in (Acts 24:16) Paul committed his discipleship to the Way of Jesus, “I discipline myself to always maintain a blameless conscience before both God and men”.
In ancient times, the walls of a city was its main defense; without them the city was easy prey to its enemies. So is a man without self-discipline an easy victim when attacked by his desires and impulses.
- David says in Proverbs 25:28 (NLT) A person without self-control (self-discipline is like a city with broken-down walls.
We all desire to have a strong testimony, to live a victorious Christian life. We would like to spend time each day in the Word of God and prayer. We would like to be involved in the fundamental disciplines of the Christian life, but we don’t feel like doing the work at the moment, so we put it off, and all too many days, it doesn’t get done. Without self-discipline we as believers will not have effective results in our lives.
- Proverbs 13:4 (NLT) “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”
This scripture can relate to anything in life. But in regards to Bible reading and Prayer, many Christians would say, “I just don’t have the time to read my Bible and pray as I would like to.”
But the truth is, we all have time. If we have time to do other things like; read the newspaper, magazines, internet or watch television, we have time. Society today is into relaxation and recreation. What we lack is self-discipline.
Most people don’t know how to control themselves. They do whatever they feel like without the concern for consequences. Now, for the believer, we can define self-discipline as the ability to regulate your conduct by the principles of the Word of God.
It means bringing my desires and emotions under the control of the Spirit of God so that I can live a life of obedience to the principles of God’s Word. Our character from within will show outward conduct.
God’s Word speaks of 3 important points to be considered on this topic of self-discipline:
1. Self-examination. “Examine yourselves to test that you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). In other words… are you obediently following Godly ways… His Word.
2. Self-applying. “Give diligence to present yourself approved before God”
(2 Tim.2:15) Work hard reading/studying the Bible and steadfast in His Word.
3. Self-accountability – (Romans 14:7) – “So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God” .
Personal relationship, daily fellowship with the Lord is the key. Every Christian should practice self-discipline in this way. If they would, there would be no need for any other form of discipline.
Notice what Jesus says “it is enough” “to become as his teacher” (Matthew 10:24-25). Christ wants his disciples to be as he is, and to follow his discipline. Since “it is enough for a disciple to be as his teacher”, it is enough to conform to Christ’s rules. Avoid subjecting yourself to man-made rules. (Matt.11:29) Take no other yoke or burden than Jesus has laid upon you.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a very good thing to follow the fine example of other Christians and let their example encourage you. For Paul said to the Philippians, “join in following my example” (Phil 3:16-17, 4:9). However, this was only because he himself was imitating the example of Christ. “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor.4:15-16, 11:1).
After saying, “…make disciples of all nations…” Jesus concluded by defining what was to be taught to these disciples: “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 8:19-20). The Disciples of Christ are to follow His word, and their teachers are to impose His commandments. The rules we are to follow are the scriptural rules which make us adequate, equipped for every good work and we need no addition (2 Timothy 3:14-17). The love of God and Christ, the mark of a true disciple, is to “keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Is self-discipline really that important? I think it is. We are to pattern our life after Christ, a life of self-discipline. The followers of Christ in the Bible, all had disciplined their lives and insisted upon the need for this; and obviously it is something that is thoroughly scriptural and absolutely essential. There is a prize at the end of this life to win and we must finish this race here on Earth to receive that prize. It will take both spiritual and physical discipline to win and receive that prize.
A self-disciplined life will begin with knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Christ in us and the work of the Holy Spirit changes us to want to live a disciplined life. A new life, a new beginning, a fresh start. A life of obedience in His Word.
One of the greatest examples of a self-disciplined life was Apostle Paul.
- 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NKJV) Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
“Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” Paul interjected this like a coach urging a runner on to victory. Life is not a sprint; it’s a long distance race.
What does it take to be a winner? “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things” And the word used for “temperate” isegkrateuomai, to exercise self-restraint.
Spiritual growth is the result of developing Godly habits: that of Bible study, prayer, sharing the Gospel and what God is doing in your own life, including fellowship with other believers. We must schedule these things until they become habits. Discipline not only involves goal setting, developing good habits but also endurance.
Discipline is from the Greek word, hupopiazo, which means to “bruise the face under the eyes” or to buffet. In the Greek “to bring the body into subjection” literally means making it my slave.” We must control our bodies and make them serve us, not let them control us. This is not a onetime battle, daily, you must have endurance. Our bodies cry out for their rights.
Most believers are slaves to their bodies. Their bodies tell their minds what to do. Their bodies decide when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, when to sleep and get up, and so on. Failing to endure under pressure shows how limited one’s strength is. “Let’s quit” are household words because we are desperately lacking in discipline and endurance.
If you are living your life in your own strength, you are sure to fail. Self-discipline or self-control is a virtue of the fruit of the Spirit and is manifest in our lives as we live in dependence on the Lord.
- Galatians 5:22 – 23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
We can endure when we are trusting in Him. Paul put it this way:
- Philippians 4:13 (NLT) For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Do you see yourself as a Christian athlete who is striving in the race of life in order to glorify God? Too many of us are spectators who need to get out of the stands and in the race.
- Are you a disciplined believer?
- Are you denying yourself for the advancement of the kingdom? Apart from self-discipline, we will never accomplish much in this life.
- Are you disciplined to live a godly life for advancing the cause of Christ?
I am accountable to God for the way I control my body under His authority. Paul said he did not “set aside the grace of God”—make it ineffective in:
- Galatians 2:21. I must exhibit in my own body the life of the Lord Jesus, not mysteriously or secretly, but openly and boldly.
- “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection …” (1 Cor. 9:27). Every Christian can have his body under absolute control for God.
- God has given us the responsibility to rule over all including our thoughts and desires for our body is:
- “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” as stated in 1 Cor. 6:19.
We are responsible for these bodies, and we must never give way to improper ones. But most of us are much more severe in our judgment of others than we are in judging ourselves. We make excuses for things in ourselves, while we condemn things in the lives of others simply because we are not naturally inclined to do them. We are created with a body soul and spirit.
- We are to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice …” as stated in Romans 12:1.
We are to present our body soul and spirit unto the Lord. In other-wards, we have to make our body soul and spirit conform to the obedience to God’s Word. It will take sanctification, our part in choosing to live Christ like. Sanctification means more than being freed from sin. It means the deliberate commitment of myself to the God of my salvation, and being willing to pay the price…whatever it may cost.
If we do not sacrifice the natural to the spiritual, the natural life will resist and defy the life of the Son of God in us and will produce continual turmoil. This is always the result of an undisciplined spiritual nature.
We go wrong because we stubbornly refuse to discipline ourselves physically, morally, or mentally. We excuse ourselves by saying, “Well, I wasn’t taught to be disciplined when I was a child.” Then discipline yourself now! If you don’t, you will ruin your entire personal life for and with God.
So you can say a disciplined life is twofold:
1) That of a natural discipline of the body (physical, morally, mentally) and
2) That of a spiritual discipline (Bible study, prayer, sharing the Gospel, and fellowship).
Let’s start today, be determined to be self-disciplined to both our self and to God. A vessel for God’s use…for the glory of the Father through His Son Jesus in us.
Love in Christ Jesus,