THE CHARACTER OF DISCIPLINE

HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

Discipline allows us to be corrected by God so we can learn and grow and not become conceited or go astray. It lets us learn from our mistakes yet combines self-control with determination in order to give us confidence. It is literally throwing off what hinders us so we can be more firm and orderly in the faith. It gives us an understanding of what we are not to follow or do, such as myths and desires, and then keeps us from doing it. It is holding onto self-control while we learn and grow even through hardships and sufferings. It is not allowing ourselves to be distracted, no matter what, so we can line ourselves up with His goals from His precepts and excelling onward to His glory (Proverbs 10:17; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Colossians 2:4-5; 1 Timothy 4:6-8; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 12:1-13).

Undisciplined, Disorder, Decadence, and Hedonism are the opposites. These traits will prevent you from listening to correction so you will give in to doubt and fear or look to lust to rule your mindset. These types tend to influence leadership and may be the common approach, so it seems, to life and rule, but they will tear down and even destroy the Church. Because we will refuse correction, we will not learn from our mistakes. This is a form of Hedonism, exchanging truth for a lie for the sake of pleasure as it seeks its own and not the Word. We will become the “fool” of Proverbs’ fame and never learn from our mistakes.

Discipline is different from self-control because it is allowing ourselves to be corrected by God, and this correction is what hones us. It helps us learn from our mistakes and grow in our faith and obedience. This gives us a “heads up” to what may lie ahead in life so we can control ourselves and think through our situation as well as its resulting actions and consequences. The Spirit will give us the warning; we have to be willing to listen. When we do fail, God, through His Spirit and Word, will give us grace and He will still instruct us; it is up to us to listen! He prepares the path. We must walk on that path by faith and not allow ourselves to be distracted. We will then be able to reject our wrong desires and, instead, do what is right.

Discipline is essential to help us remain obedient and trustful of our Lord. Without it, it is very hard (if not impossible) to keep our lives and mindset on the path God has for us. How do we remain on His path? By keeping our eyes on Jesus! When our eyes are on His desires, we can maintain a well-ordered life and be consistent in our devotions, character, and growth. We will see the value of discipleship and training to help keep us on track. We will know that the Christian life cannot be done on sheer determination alone, but by also relying on faith and others sharpening us. It is what Paul is saying in 1 Timothy, to train yourself to be godly; this means to exercise godliness as an athlete prepares for a race (1 Timothy 4:7). This gives us the perseverance, from the building up of our faith, to run the race. We gain more discipline by being open and willing to allow the Father to disciple us by disciplining us because God disciplines us for our good (Hebrews 12:10). It strengthens us for all eternity! We will be able to not only detect the wrong desires but be able to thwart them away.

Is Discipline important for the Church? If the Church decides to no longer discipline her members, they will go astray. I do not mean to chastise, belittle, manipulate, or cause some form of spiritual abuse; rather, to enforce a set of rules in the parameters of the Fruits of the Spirit that ensures compliance to Church standards. Such as, if a leader cheats on his spouse, he must step down and a system of care, discipleship, and restitution must be exercised. If not, the person will get away with it, and the people will observe that values are no longer upheld and thus must not be important. If a person gossips, he or she needs to be lovingly told not to and encouraged to communicate in a more positive means. If the person continues to gossip, he or she needs to be disciplined because of the heinous nature and distortion it causes. If the person is not disciplined, then the sin continues, becomes cancerous, and rots the church.

Without discipline, your anger, fear, doubt, and guilt will betray you and lead you and your society to ruin! In modern society, we are now seeing the quest to fulfil sinful desires with the connection of it being a “right.” Homosexuality, gay marriage, even paedophilia are being rallied by groups that say this is OK and we have the right to pursue them. Real, godly rights will never cause others to harm or stray from His precepts. If they do, they are not godly rights but personal desires which we may think are rights, but, they are not!

How can you do this? Do not allow your curiosity and weakness to get the best of you. You can use Discipline to help set up your own boundary limits in dating, for example; stop one step above where you may sin. This may mean not to touch in the bathing suit areas, or to hold off on kissing until you are engaged. This draws the line to stop, a line of demarcation that helps prevent you from slipping away to touch those areas that lead to sexual activity. God desires us to control our desires so we will desire Him (Psalm 37:4). He will speak; we must listen to His correction. Be willing to ask our Lord to help you and think through your situation and the resulting possibilities so you can make the right decisions. When you feel like acting impulsively, stop and pray.

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