Grace For The Journey
Yesterday we looked at some general truths regarding the biblical teaching of self-discipline. We saw the need of it and how some have tried to combine human effort with heavenly grace to accomplish this task.
Every Christian is responsible to pursue holiness,
Yet the Bible teaches that
God must work within us to produce personal godliness
In today’s blog we will look at what God can do through our lives as He produces the Spirit-controlled life that we need.
Only God can produce authentic self-discipline in the believer. So, let’s answer the question . . .
Who Produces Self-Discipline?
This quality of “self-control” is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
As a vine produces fruit,
Self-discipline is created
Exclusively by the Spirit.
Self-control is never self-generated;
Rather, it is a work of grace within us.
Though we are active in practicing it,
We simply bear this fruit of self-discipline.
We never produce it.
Jesus maintained, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
In our own willpower,
We cannot do anything
That pleases God.
Only by God’s enabling grace
Can we exercise self-control
In our ongoing war against sin.
The Bible affirms this in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That is . . .
Christ must be mightily working within us.
As sap flows into the branch, producing fruit, divine grace must fill the believer, producing self-control.
The self can never produce self-discipline.
Only as Christians live under
The Holy Spirit’s control
Can they live self-controlled lives.
In Galatians 522-23, we read that there are nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit.
Self-discipline appears last on the list.
By occupying this final position,
A place of strategic importance.
In reality, self-discipline
Is the summation of the previous eight qualities
That the Spirit produces.
The work of the Spirit reaches
Its consummation in self-control.
This virtue enables us to realize
Every other aspect of spiritual fruit.
What Does Self-Discipline Look Like?
The Apostle Paul compared the self-discipline required in Christian living with an athlete training for and competing in the ancient athletic games: “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in small things” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
If a runner would win the prize,
He must bring his entire life
Under the strict discipline
Of rigorous training.
The strenuous workout of the athlete demands that he seriously restrict his personal liberties. If he is to be victorious, he must refuse many individual freedoms. Liberties are largely for spectators, not a champion athlete. He must pursue a proper diet, sufficient rest, and arduous conditioning and drills. Every area of his life must be brought under control.
So it is in the Christian life. Paul urges, “Train yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). To pursue holiness, a believer must hear biblical preaching and teaching, and participate in corporate worship, the Lord’s Supper, Bible reading, meditation, prayer, and fellowship. Furthermore, he must deny many legitimate pleasures if he is to win the prize.
This kind of self-discipline is a rebuke to half-hearted Christians
Who do little to train for spiritual victory.
They are out-of-shape believers with flabby faith.
They are spiritual couch potatoes with bulging spiritual waistlines.
Their lifestyle is self-indulgent due to their lack of self-control.
Paul adds, “I box in such a way, as not beating the air” (1 Corinthians 9:26). A champion boxer must have a clearly-focused aim in the ring. But an undisciplined fighter throws wild punches, never landing a blow on his opponent. An undisciplined believer suffers great defeats in his bout against sin. To the contrary, a believer must live with self-control in fighting against sin.
A champion athlete must beat his body into submission. If not, he will be disqualified from the race. Paul warns: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (verse 27). The Apostle urges us to discipline our bodies and resist sinful desires. If we do not, we will forfeit the prize.
What Is the Price?
Believers have liberty in Christ
To pursue what is not forbidden in Scripture.
But we cannot afford for anything
To gain mastery over us.
Victory always comes at a price.
The Christian life is no different.
This necessitates that we exercise self-discipline in areas like food, drink, sleep, time, and money. We must exercise self-control in the entertainment and recreation in which we engage. We must restrict our liberties in whatever would hinder us from winning the prize.
If we are to exercise self-control,
We must relinquish
The control of our lives
To Jesus Christ.
Here is a paradox of the Christian life:
We must give up the control of self
If we would gain self-control.
May God enable us to exercise self-discipline, an absolute necessity for victory over sin.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”