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Discipline

<<controlling behaviour>>

This is requiring people obey rules and standards of behavior with punishment or consequences for disobedience or failure to comply as, left to our own desires, we instinctively revert to laziness with resulting chaos. Discipline creates stability and structure that leads to desirable behavior through wise choices to actively pursue and achieve worthwhile goals – by taking responsibility to do what needs to be done through establishing good habits.

Appropriate chastisement is a proof of love, and is good for the offenders – to train their wayward spirit, just as a horse’s immense ‘wild’ power is redirected for constructive use. Although correction is necessary the focus should not be the punishment but rather restoration by a change in conduct – whether between God and humanity, parent and child, state and citizen, church and member or employer and employee. Loving discipline results in healthy respect, while harsh, unjustified discipline leads to rebellion and bitterness. If there is no addressing of the wrongdoing we can question the nature of the relationship and especially the future prospects of the one left to their own unrestrained ways as a lack of discipline leads to sin and failure. The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret.

Guidelines and routines provide stability and security to function productively within clearly defined boundaries that need to be established and maintained in many areas of life. However, rules and regulations are not very effective in restraining the sinful nature resident in us; there needs to be a change of heart and a deliberate “reckoning ourselves dead to sin” (Rom 6:5-7,11; Col 2:20-23). 

 Divine discipline

God has given humanity His standards in the Ten Commandments, which Jesus summed up as loving God with all our being and our neighbour as ourselves (Mk 12:30,31; Lk 6:31). David stated that there is great reward for living by the Lord’s decrees so faithfully act on what the Word teaches and “do whatever He says unto you” even if doesn’t make much sense (Ps 19:7-11; Jn 2:5-11; Jas 1:22-25). To progress in the Christian walk it is vital to obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings for without obedience a successful spiritual life is impossible. Be disciplined to spend time reading and meditating in the Word, in prayer, and the outward disciplines of giving, good works, and sharing your faith, while being content with a simpler lifestyle.

As our sin hinders the close relationship He desires with us, when there is a blockage the Holy Spirit will bring conviction, indicating a need for repentance and often some measure of correction. This is initiated by His love and justice, desiring to bring us back into a right relationship with Himself, because we have strayed from His ways (Isa 59:2; Jer 46:28). Don’t despise God’s discipline, for it is to our advantage, aiding us in growth in right living, and enabling us to be partakers of His holiness. “No discipline is pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Job 5:17; Prov 3:11,12; Isa 38:16; Heb 12:5-11; Rev 3:19). View it as short-term pain on earth but long-term gain for eternity!

Face up to your sin before God and others as you bring all your desires under the Lordship of Christ.

While the eternal consequences of our confessed sin are covered by the death of Christ, the earthly results normally remain – as tools God uses to teach us and remind us of His grace. The Israelites were continually disobeying God’s commands. When, after repeated warnings, they failed to turn back to Him they were chastened (Num 14:21-23; Jdg 2:1,2; 2 Kgs 18:11,12; Jer 40:3). Moses, David and Solomon are a few of those in the Bible whom the Lord disciplined after having made a mistake (Deut 32:51,52; 1 Kgs 11:11; 1 Chr 28:3).

The means God uses to discipline us is not as important as the discipline itself. We can’t choose the method nor should we complain that He is trying to turn our heart back to Himself. Two wrong reactions to God’s dealings are despising and giving up; these indicate an attitude of rebellion and a lack of character. His discipline is always appropriate to the wrong, and with grace, He always forgives the truly repentant heart, resulting in restored relationship (Prov 28:13; 1 Jn 1:9). Such discipline can range from unpleasant circumstances, a loss of inner peace, and fractured relationships through to physical illness and even death (1 Cor 11:30). Humbly walk with God so you know if the adverse experiences are a trial of your faith, an attack from the enemy or discipline from the Lord, which will be confirmed by a conviction of sin.

To live a blessed life conform to the required regulations or principles of life as God wishes and accept His discipline when you fail. The purpose of the Lord’s correction is not to destroy, but to lead to repentance and a restoration of God’s blessing (Ps 94:12, 118:18, 119:71; Jer 31:18,19). This is the recurring theme of the book of Judges (Jdg 2:11-15, 3:7-10,12-14, etc). God, who always is in control, often uses evil men (inspired by Satan) to carry out His purposes, including judgment on those who have sinned, yet these ‘instruments’ in His hands will be ultimately judged and His people delivered (Isa 10:5-12; Jn 19:10,11; Rev 20:10).

 Self-discipline

Being disciplined is doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, in the best way it can be done, and doing it this way each time it needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not. Being self-disciplined gives the motivation to persist and complete what is started, rather than giving up when the novelty of a new venture wears off. To make your life count for God be self-disciplined, making all things serve your calling and enrich the growth of Christ within. This will require you to push beyond your comfort-zone and continually raise the standard.

Know what the Bible says and live by its teachings, submissive to your conscience and the Holy Spirit within.

No other form of discipline is as truly effective as the ability God gives us to discipline ourselves (Gal 5:22,23; 2 Tim 1:7). Those lacking self-control (self-discipline) need support from sources outside themselves besides being in accountability relationships but, at best, these only provide a limited measure of control and influence. It is essential to develop personal values and restraints so you become mature and can be self-regulating, not relying on others who can’t always be there to guide and chaperone you; the Bible’s counsel is “Train yourself to be godly” (1 Tim 4:7). This applies particulary to the inner thought life. Jesus stated the temptation of lustful desire is mental adultery, and just as wrong in God's eyes as the physical action (Mt 5:27,28). 

Self-discipline plays a vital part in guarding the input into our heart, what we think about, the words we speak, our emotions, attitudes, appetites and our actions and reactions (Ps 119:101,173; Prov 4:23; Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 10:31; 2 Cor 10:5; Jas 1:26). Our emotions should not run wild, our bodies should be under control and we should spend our time

  Goals are only reached through                               personal discipline  

wisely (Ps 90:12; Rom 12:1; 1 Cor 6:19, 9:25-27;  Eph 5:16). Both the input into our lives and its outward expression need monitoring, as they have an inter-related effect (Prov 6:27,28; Mt 15:18,19; 1 Cor 15:33). Understand you do not have to express your views on every matter but “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent” (Eccl 5:2; Jas 1:19-21). “Do not love the world or anything in the world…” instead “love one another” (1 Jn 2:15, 4:7). Developing strong self-discipline is one of the essential components of Godly character, so principles, not emotions or hormones, determine our behaviour. Without self-discipline, you will succumb to the dictates of ‘the flesh’ that are opposed to God’s values, so our body must always be in submission to our soul and spirit.

The meaning and direction of our lives emerge out of the commitments we make. To be victorious requires diligence and hard work to bring them into reality, not giving up when the first obstacle arises. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, will receive the crown of life…” (Jas 1:12). Do I have the willpower to go the distance, remaining firmly convinced of my future hope in Christ, especially in times of discouragement when things seem to going against me?  “The grace of God teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives…” (Gal 5:24; 2 Tim 2:22; Tit 2:11,12). It is our responsibilty (while relying on God's help) to put off the old sinful self, and put on the new Christlike nature (Rom 6:11,19; Eph 4:22,24). Do not be controlled by impatience, possessions or peer pressure. Be careful to acknowledge God’s blessing on your life and your dependency on Him rather than considering you are self-sufficient.  Lay your life down on the altar and express your love to God. Self-discipline has the greatest influence if we do well spiritually or not. Defeated Christians are undisciplined Christians.

 Earthly discipline

The Bible states, “Obey them that have the rule over you and submit to their authority” (Heb 13:17). The only time we are to disobey human authorities is when they instruct us to do what is clearly prohibited in Scripture, and then we must be prepared to accept any punishment. In general, as representatives of Jesus, believers should be exemplary citizens of society, and especially in their employment situation.

Training that produces obedience, self-control or a skill should also involve accountability, with a penalty or unwelcome consequence to correct a person or enforce obedience and changed behaviour. Rather than focusing on the wrong and undesirable points that need correcting, reinforce the positive and good aspects to encourage

  Discipline is of immense benefit                  to character development

perseverance. Positive discipline requires a commitment to the one being corrected, a desire for improvement in their actions. Any discipline administered because of known misdemeanors should be done in love and is important for our character development otherwise we will bring disgrace and be of reduced benefit to society (Prov 13:24, 29:15).

Discipline is to a person’s (especially a child’s) advantage if accepted correctly because through it they become wiser and more sensitive to His ways and purposes for their life, a more other-focused person and a better citizen in society, otherwise it leads to lawlessness if resented. “Anyone who is willing to be corrected is on the pathway to life. Anyone refusing has lost his chance” (Prov 10:17).

Loving, consistent and correctly administered discipline leads us to self-discipline. 

Punishment (especially physical) should never be given in anger, but must be in love and enforce the correct attitude, so bring correction by guiding – telling what is acceptable and what is not acceptable or showing the right way (Eph 6:4). Humbly apologise and confess when you have done wrong and accept the discipline administered (1 Pet 2:20).

 Parental discipline

The Bible’s instruction to, “Train up a child in the way they should go” includes appropriate discipline (Prov 22:6). It must be firm, fair, consistent and administered in love, not anger or frustration. Remember, you must also be modelling the qualities that you are trying to instill in them (Eph 6:4).

Setting limits or boundaries for children, helps prepare them to be self-disciplined in adult life. “It is good for a young [person] to be under discipline” so they will develop good habits (Lam 3:27). “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you physically chastise him he will not die and you will deliver his soul from hell” because “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (Prov 23:13,14, 22:15). However, in many countries physical discipline is an offence, thus, any warranted penalty must be expressed in another way such as withholding some pleasurable activity (but not necessities of life) to reinforce that there are consequences to wrong actions.

 Church discipline

If there is sin within the church fellowship (either in an individual’s life or in a small group) this must be addressed otherwise its influence will spread and affect the whole body of believers (1 Cor 5:6). Loving and humble restoration without condemnation is to be the motive for holding others accountable in matters of doctrine and lifestyle, not personal preferences or in disputable matters.

See also: church (discipline), comfort zone, commandments, consequences, correction, crime and punishment, dealings of God, disciple/discipleship, divine judgement, justice, obedience, punishment, put off/put on, self-discipline, spiritual disciplines, thinking/thoughts, training, undisciplined, wrath of God.

 


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