Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Disciplined Disciples

“[B]ut I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Living in a world that has no concern for disciplined living makes it hard to be a Christian. And this difficulty is only compounded by people who call themselves Christians embracing this undisciplined philosophy. The Bible is a book of truth (John 17:17) written to reveal God’s purpose for ones He has drawn near to Him sojourning through this wilderness we call Earth. A worldly view of this inspired book will only lead one away from God and not draw them nearer.

Like anything in life in which we want to be good at, we must discipline our minds to focus on the things that bring success. It is the same with our spiritual life. Satan is in opposition to anything that leads us to God’s reward. God’s truth has illuminated His path of righteousness (Proverbs 6:23), but Satan uses our weakness in the flesh to lure us away from the path that is illuminated through truth. The result is the battle going on for our soul: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Abstaining from fleshly lusts will take every bit of self-control we can muster, and even when we find ourselves ready to give in, we have God with us to strengthen us for success.

Without discipline being a disciple of Christ would be impossible: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). These are the three steps of discipleship with each one of them requiring a disciplined mind to embrace. If Jesus wanted us to believe in an undisciplined theology then this statement could and would have been stricken from the Scriptures. Jesus knows this decision to follow Him will be extremely difficult. But He also knows that God will always be there to assist us in our times of trouble: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). The trials we face are meant to strengthen our faith in God (4). God wants us to rely on His power through obedient faith so He can give us victory to show the world that is failing in their own ability. To ignore the flesh and trust in God requires a disciplined mind.

Satan uses our weakness in the flesh to get us to grab onto something that will separate us from God. It will take a disciplined mind to let go of the ways we are comfortable with and grab onto God’s way which is not a popular decision: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). The author of Hebrews goes on to show that we do this by disciplining our minds to remain focused on Jesus. He also shows us that through this self-control we will find the same victory that Jesus found as He humbled Himself under the authority of God. He now sits and awaits our entrance.

An element of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23). Fruit of the Spirit means proof that God is working in us. God sent His Spirit to guide us in a disciplined mind. Jesus left us an example of the treasure of living in submission to God’s will. To live in submission to God one must be humble and this requires discipline. Without self-control we are slaves to our flesh and not servants of God. We must make a daily decision to follow God at all costs and Satan is out to make this decision tough by tempting us with our own desires. Resist his efforts.

In His Grace,

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