Spiritual Discipline and True Teaching
Jesus brings life change.
We know that. If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. He’s born again spiritually, so I have a question. Why are some people who have put their trust in Jesus Christ caught up in the sorrowful epidemic of depression, personal emptiness, and escapism through drugs and alcohol, consumerism, sex, and violence?
Let me suggest one reason is because growth in godliness comes through self-discipline; more specifically, Spiritual discipline. One of the things growing in the faith presumes is good, sound teaching. In 1 Timothy 4, Paul warns us about false teachers and false teaching – people who say they’re servants but they’re really not.
In 1 Timothy, chapter 4, verses 1-5, there’s a warning about false teachers and false servants, and in 1 Timothy, chapter 4, beginning in verse 6, Paul describes a good servant. He tells us a good servant eats right and exercises spiritually. We know how important eating right and exercising is in the physical realm. It’s the same in the spiritual realm. Take a look at 1 Timothy 4:6. He says, “If you instruct the brethren in these things…”
What things? The things he just talked about in chapter 4, verses 1-5, about false teaching and false servants. He said, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister [a good servant] of Jesus Christ…” What will you look like? “…nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.” Paul says a good servant (we’re all servants of Jesus Christ, if we’re believers) is continuously being nourished in the Word of God. He’s feeding on God’s Word and sound doctrine continuously.
Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law [the Bible] shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way…” successful. David said the blessed man’s “…delight is in the law of the LORD, and in his law he meditates day and night.” He stays in the Word. David also said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
Feeding on the Word of God is the key to our growth. We hate this D-word, discipline. However, discipline is the means to godliness, and it’s not an option. Discipline is at the heart of discipleship.
Our discipline has an end in mind. With spiritual discipline, there’s an end in mind here. We just read it in 1 Timothy 4. The end is godliness. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness, because discipline without direction is drudgery.
Elton Trueblood says, “Discipline’s reward is freedom. The athlete who is unwilling to discipline his body by regular exercise and abstinence is not free to excel on the field or on the track.” He goes on to say, “His failure to train rigorously denies him the freedom to run with optimal speed and endurance. With one concerted voice, the giants of the devotional life apply the same principles to the whole of life. Discipline is the price of freedom.”
What’s the best example you can name of a disciplined person, whether it’s in sports, or in the arts, or business, or politics, or in the faith?
What are your barriers? What are your distractions to being more self-controlled and more disciplined?
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