Counseling One Another

Helping you grow in God's all-sufficient truth and grace

Counseling One Another

The Activity of Self-Discipline

God’s holy calling for the believer in Christ includes personal responsibility for self-discipline, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live in a manner worthy of his or her high position as a new creature in Christ. God’s vision of discipleship, moreover, requires recognition of the war that rages within the believer as indwelling sin fights to maintain the dominance it once enjoyed prior to conversion. Therefore, we must recognize that the transformation the Holy Spirit continues to make in our lives involves the renewing of the mind by the Word of truth, the repenting of inner desires by the indwelling Spirit’s power, and the replacing of sinful habits by the practice of godliness. In a nutshell, a return to the apostolic pattern of maintaining a connection between sound doctrine and the discipline of godly living is indispensable to the ongoing process of sanctification. However, the late James Montgomery Boice observedthat Christians are lazy and unwilling to persevere on the hard road of godliness. Instead, we tend to look for the easy way out. As a result, spiritual growth is often lacking. Boice suggested three ways in which we try to avoid the struggle against sin.

  1. We tend to seek out formulas, simple recipes for spiritual success. Slogans such as “Let go and let God” or “Just let Jesus take control” are attractive to our spiritual slothfulness.
  2. We are prone to look for a new experience, a charismatic-type of “second work of grace” that immediately transforms us from being a defeated Christian to a victorious one.
  3. Total avoidance of the struggle against sin is a common response.

All these have one thing in common: they are ways of seeking to find spiritual victory in the Christian life without the daily grind of discipline, but that will never happen. Scripture repeatedly links progress in godliness to the disciplined effort of the disciple:

  • “…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7).
  • “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge …” (2 Peter 1:5 ).
  • “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you” (2 Peter 1:10).
  • [Jesus said] “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24).
  • “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace …” (2 Tim. 2:22).
  • “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

Instead of passive slogans, the Bible uses words like “discipline,” “strive,” “flee,” and “pursue.” In other words, the Christian life is a call to a disciplined warfare against sin—a struggle to resist temptation and simultaneously apply God’s practical righteousness—a battle that will last until the day of the Lord Jesus, when “we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

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8 Comments

  1. This is so important. I find myself trying a lot of the stuff you mentioned under item 1.

  2. This was a wonderful reminder of my position in Christ. The philosphy taught in so many churches is one that advocates a works-based focus in Christianity. I am so thankful that the full wrath and judgment of God was finally poured out on His Son at the cross. When I now do wrong, in love God disciplines and corrects me with the purpose of drawing me in greater dependence to Him. That process is painful yes, but it happens because God loves me. It’s like a father who chasten’s his son; he should chasten in love and not out of frustration or vengence.Because I am His child, my heavenly Father now accepts me because of the work of Christ, His Son. Now, God views me righteous as I am covered and washed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

  3. This post goes right along with what we’ve been learning this week at school. In our chapel services we have been reminded that the struggle with sin is not a bad thing, in fact, when we want to do the right thing because we love God, this proves that we are Christians.

  4. I am so thankful for God’s grace that enables us in spiritual discipline, because in my flesh dwells no good thing…

  5. I know that self-discipline is a vital part of the Christian walk. However, for so long I have believed the lie that self-discipline is based on my own doing and my own strength. It is Christ who enables me, who gives me the power. And only when I allow Him to work in my life in each and every decision I make can I then truly have victory. I am thankful for the grace He gives.

  6. I need to constantly remind myself of the truth that I cannot be passive in my walk with the Lord. The action words were helpful for me: “discipline,” “strive,” “flee,” and “pursue.” It is an encouraging thought to know that God promises to preserve me as I persevere.

  7. I have found these same things to be true in my life – the desire for God to do the work of change in my heart. As I’ve grown in the Lord, though, I’ve seen my need to personally do battle daily with my sin! This daily battle makes the reality of heaven so much sweeter, though, because of the promise of an eternity where we will no longer have to fight sin.

  8. I appreciated this emphasis throughout class that OUR duty is to be disciplined in our spiritual walk. In particular you mentioned how often we ask God for things He has already given us…almost as if I’ve forgotten that He already HAS enabled me. Instead I had grown to expect Him to do all the work in my life – No wonder I was seeing no growth or desire to grow!