Sunday, September 17, 2017
Thoughts on Discipline and Purpose
Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Jesus called us to be His disciples because we need discipline. Having a "purpose" may sound good, but it won't get the job done without discipline to follow through. Discipline is what it takes to do things when you're excited or when you're not, when you are motivated or when you're not, when you're full of purpose or when you're not. Discipline is what it takes to live day in and day out for the Lord. It's what is needed to overcome the hard things, to walk in victory, to walk after the Spirit.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Excitement, enthusiasm, and "revival" wear off. The meetings end and we go back to every day life. The trip to camp is over and after a few weeks it isn't as fresh and meaningful as it was when we were sitting there. The thrill of "conviction" and the emotion of the invitation doesn't go with us through the weeks and months that follow. These are not the things that make us strong to LIVE daily in the Spirit, to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Discipline is a way of living that reaches to every hour of every day. It is a way of life.
I am not talking about the so-called "spiritual disciplines." Those have their roots in mysticism and monasticism. They have more to do with the denying of the flesh which has a show of wisdom, but is not real. Colossians 2:20-23 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
We need to get under our bodies and bring them into subjection to Christ so that we can be doers of the word and not just hearers only (James 1:22). It is the thing that will carry us through the times when we are weary in well doing and all the enthusiasm, excitement, purpose, willingness, revival, etc. have died or lost their shine.
Someone once said something like this to me, "I don't want to have to have revival to live for the Lord. I don't want to get all excited and be up here and then it wears off and I'm down here. I want to live steadily for the Lord all the time." This is what we should want. The roller coaster of experience based Christianity will never truly satisfy or bring consistent progress in following Christ because it is a closed circuit and only repeats itself over and over - euphoric highs and miserable lows followed by sluggish climbs back to the highs.
To be Jesus' disciples we need to follow His example. Sitting at His feet, reading His word and learning of Him. Walking in truth. Being edified among the saints. Looking beyond this life to that blessed hope and not being bogged down in the moment, while still dealing with it.
Philippians 3:12-14 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
We should never think that we have "arrived." We should be continually pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Pressing requires consistent action. Discipline. It means pressing steadily through the things that make us want to quit, without the artificial stimulant of excitement, enthusiasm, etc.
A perseverance driven life is what we should be looking for, not just a purpose. One may acknowledge a purpose and yet not follow through in doing it, but if one is disciplined to persevere there will be a faithful forward movement over all in the Christian life regardless of circumstances or the struggles with the flesh. We will find Jesus Christ delivering us from the body of this death even when we feel like we are doing more that we don't want to do than what we want to do.
Romans 7:19-25 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
While having a purpose is a good thing, one also might find that the purpose one chose to follow was not a God-given purpose. There are so many apparently good "purposes" that are available today in Christendom - fighting abortion, political activism, exposing "conspiracies", caring for the homeless or suffering, and much more. If these things are not done with eternity and salvation in view, they can be and often are nothing more than a good purpose in an earthly sense. Whatever good they accomplish is "under the sun." It is not the gold, silver, and precious stones that will stand the fire at the judgment seat of Christ. There are many ways that people waste their lives doing "good works" that aren't really eternal in the economy of God. They tend more toward laying up treasure on earth than treasure in heaven.
1 Corinthians 3:12-13 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
Then there are the "purposes" of "following your dreams" and "doing what you love" and many similar worldly philosophies. These also are not things of eternal value unless it is something that we are told to do in scripture.
1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Strive to be a faithful and disciplined disciple of Jesus Christ and you will be one who more consistently walks after the Spirit and not after the flesh. When we follow his steps we can know that we are walking in purposes that are glorifying to God. All the rest of life will fall into order and take care of itself when we discipline ourselves do this.
Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
When we obey Christ and walk in the ways He has showed us, when we sit at His feet and hear His word (Luke 10:39 and 8:35), our lives will show that we are His disciples. But, it is something for which we must strive, and it requires discipline and perseverance. A quiet consistent life governed by discipline will go farther than one swayed by emotions and Christian fads.
Let's run the race before us with patience (Hebrews 12:1), and be temperate (not given to extremes) in all things (1 Corinthians 9:25), showing that discipline that is necessary fight a good fight and finish our course to the glory of God.
2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.