Forward in Faith #35
The dictionary gives several definitions for discipline. The first is punishment, but the dictionary’s second definition is richer: Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.
Discipline, then, is training in virtue and self-control. If we say someone is disciplined, we mean they are self-controlled.
How important is self-control? Proverbs 25:28 says: Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control (NIV).
A strong, safe, well-guarded city in biblical times had high, thick walls to protect against invaders. Enemies had to camp in the vulnerable open and send troops rushing toward the gates with battering rams. The city’s defensive forces could shoot well-aimed arrows and deal with the enemy. The people felt safe, because the walls were secure.
However, if the walls collapsed, like Jericho, the enemy could go right in, terrorize the women, loot the stores, kill the men, massacre the children, and burn the town.
Proverbs 25 says that a person’s self-discipline is his defense in life. The devil can’t touch a self-controlled, well-disciplined person. But if we’re undisciplined, prone to indulge our appetites, doing what we feel like doing, exercising little self-control, then Satan doesn’t even have to fire a shot. He can stroll into our lives and do whatever he wishes. That’s why Peter wrote: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.
<Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (590). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.>
So, let’s go back to our journey “forward in faith” and pick up where we left off in chapter 12. Let’s back up one verse to verse 6 where we finished last week.
Discipline – we don’t really like that word because we only think of it as negative. Let’s be honest when we read these verses, satan gets in your spirit and says “see, Jesus just wants to beat you down.”
We hear it this way: “the Lord punishes those he loves … For what son is not punished by his father … If you are not punished you are not sons … we all have human fathers who punished us … Our Father punished for a little while … God punishes us for our good … no punishment seems pleasant at the time but painful.
Isn’t that they way we hear it?
Now, folks I’m not saying that God doesn’t correct us. But is that really the image here?
Do you see how satan comes, like a bird, and wants to snatch the seeds of truth that God is sowing to keep them from taking root in your life? Remember Jesus said that when a sower sows sometimes it falls on hard ground and the birds of the air snatch up the seeds before they can take root.
Well, when you saw/heard this topic … satan made you think of punishment and is trying to take the truth and good from you. But let’s reclaim the truth.
Every time the word “discipline” or a variant appears here, it is the same word or variation of it in the Greek
The noun is paideia- pahee-di-ah = time, chastisement, training, instruction, correction, upbringing, the whole training and education of children (relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment)
Do you see it more clearly now? Our Father is teaching us. He is transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ. Remember Romans 8 says “those he foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ”.
Guess what? You don’t look like Jesus yet and neither do I, but God is working on us. And that transformation process is multi-faceted. Not all of it is pleasant. In John 15 Jesus talks about this process when he says we are branches and Christ is the Vine and the father is the gardener who sometimes has to prune, cut back, the branches where we aren’t productive.
So, if we want to be believers walking with Christ with strong Spiritual Defenses, thick walls to protect us from the attacks of the evil that comes against us, we must be taught, corrected, and brought up correctly by our loving Father.
Let’s look more closely, then, at what these verses say
1. Admonition to Endure Hardship as Discipline
God uses many things to teach us, mold us, as he transforms us into the image of Christ. And I don’t know if we like this MODE of Discipline
Hardship? Wait, I didn’t sign up for those. Were you here 2 weeks ago? I reminded of the song “I beg your pardon I didn’t promise you a rose garden.” But it’s not just that difficulty comes our way it is that the difficulty has a purpose of teaching, training and correcting us. And he says
Endure Hardship – hypomeno- hoop-om-en-o = remain, stay, hold out, continue
We saw this word last week when Jesus remained / endured opposition … and so here WE are admonished to endure hardship.
How do we respond to hardship, whine, cry, run? But we are told to remain, hold out, stand firm, bear, put up with.
Stay - don’t run from hardship because there is a purpose in the hardship.
SAY - “There is a purpose ___ __ ____ in hardship”
That’s kind of hard to say isn’t it?
Let me clear something up. If you read the KJV it says “IF you endure” But in 1611, they were working from a later manuscript. Our modern translations use older manuscripts which say, simply, “endure” (NIV) or “AS you Endure” (NLT) or “It is for discipline THAT you endure” (NASB)
The point folks is that it is not a question of whether or not hardship WILL come our way but it WILL, so see it as fitting into God’s purpose for your transformation.
So, let’s change our perception of hardship. God doesn’t directly cause it all but he certainly allows it and 1 Cor. 10:13 teaches because of his faithfulness, he won’t allow it if you can’t handle it and you can “stand up under it” or ENDURE it
We have a faithful Father so in hardship, we have to ask, “God, what are you teaching me? Help me learn it so I can move on”
So then the Second Principle is
2. Submission to a Loving Father
Don’t miss this Truth. God loves you and God is GOOD!
Every time satan attacks us he calls into question the goodness and thus the love of God.
- V9 – Submit to the Father and LIVE
Can I put it this way, most people spend their lives resisting God and trying to live their own way, fighting against his instruction and direction of God and spend their time in mere existence that is dead and heading to eternal death. However, when we submit to the Father, we find life, REAL life
The word is zao = live, live again
Folks when we do it our way it’s DEAD but submission brings us back to LIFE!
Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39-40 “you study the scriptures … you think that by them you possess eternal life … yet you refuse to come to me and HAVE life
WOW folks, that means that even Bible Study and worship is dead if we don’t come and submit to Jesus and our loving Father.
If God is teaching and training you it is evidence that you are genuinely his child and he loves you
- Submit – hypotasso- hoop-ot-as-o = to arrange under to subordinate, to subject oneself, to obey
Submission, it’s a verb in the future, passive, 1st person tense. Can I bring this grammar lesson home?
It is 1st person meaning you have to do it yourself.
And submitting is not something we TRY to do in the heat of the moment. If you TRY to submit you will often fail. No, this is future passive tense, that means submission to God is already acted on before the moment of action in obedience.
We have to decide beforehand that we are going to surrender, to the teaching and training through encouragement and instruction or even hardship, before the opportunity comes up. Why? Because we are recognizing that he is FATHER and we are his CHILD. And our Father really does KNOW BEST. And More than that, he genuinely loves us. He is always good, always loving, and always transforming us. He doesn’t just stop all of that to discipline us. It is in his love and goodness that he trains us to transform us.
Transformation leads us to the 3rd Principle
Discipline understands the principles of …
3. Delayed Gratification
Delay, what does that mean?
It means that what you get now isn’t as good as what comes at the end of the process
- - <ILL> Chocolate Cake – Show … raw egg, flour, sugar
You know what this is? It is CHOCOLATE CAKE … do you want it now or after it is mixed and cooked?
Discipline is all about delayed gratification. No one becomes an instant disciple. You don’t become instantly like Jesus. Look at the 1st Disciples. They argued, they envied, they fussed, they doubted, they denied. One time Jesus commissioned them and sent them out. They came back and say “How come we couldn’t cast out demons” and Jesus said “It comes with great faith.” i.e. “you aren’t there yet.” But they stayed with it and kept following and they got up after failure and got there.
Did you see this delayed gratification in our passage? There is no such thing as “microwave transformation and sanctification”
- V10 – God trains, for a little while.
That’s good to know that whatever God is doing or allowing to transform us is just for a little while, amen?
“little” – oligos- ol-ee-gos = few
“while” – hemera- hay-mer-ah = DAY
It’s for a FEW DAYS … that’s all
- V10 – “for our good”
there is something good coming from this – Romans 8:28 – “all things work together for good to those who have been called according to his purpose”
“for our good” - symphero- soom-fer-o= bring together
We are just chocolate cake mixing and cooking it is all going to come together to what God intends
- V11 it is “painful at the time”
we won’t always like it the but we can’t have our eyes on the now but on the future delayed gratification.
Two weeks ago, I was talking about Mike Tyson and how he was beaten by Buster Douglas. Well it was because he changed. I was watching an interview with him. In the early days he said he was very disciplined. But leading up to that fight he didn’t train, he left his disciplines, and instead he partied it up and he got beat.
Discipline isn’t "pleasant" it is "painful". Those are two opposite words meaning “rejoicing” and “sorrow”. Rejoicing at 1st usually means sorrow at the finish. But sorrow upfront pays off in rejoicing in the end.
Then it says
- V11 “later on”
– hysteros- hoos-ter-os = lastly after
- V11 “Harvest” –
Planting happens in the Spring … Harvest DOESN”T.
There are 3 principles of the Harvest and Delayed Gratification
1) You Reap WHAT you sow -
you don't reap peas if you plant corn. What you sow is what you will reap, good or bad.
2) Reap MORE than you sow,
you plant one kernal but you get a huge return again good or bad you reap MORE than you sow ... and you can't expect it right then, it might seem nothing will happen but you will reap what you sow and more than you sow but the last principle that we have to understand is that you
3) Reap LATER than you sow – that is delayed gratification -
And what is the Harvest that the Lord Promises us?
"Righteousness and Peace"
So, let me close with some of the Practices of Discipline, that we need in our lives to move us toward Righteousness and Peace.
4. Practices of Discipline
This is good stuff, FIRST
A. "Strengthen Feeble Arms"
Pariemi - par-ee-ay-mi = hang down, drooping, weakened
Ever have drooping, weakened arms that just hang down?
Two things will strengthen our arms and get them up.
1) Worship and 2) Service … they go hand in hand
When we worship, our hands raised figuratively or actually, we are strengthened for service.
Both worship and service are incomplete without the other.
We are taught not to forsake the gathering together of believers
We are taught that we were recreated in Christ FOR good works
If you don’t serve others, i.e. serve in ministry, then your worship is meaningless and insincere
If you serve, but don’t worship, then your service is misdirected and self-serving
So, Serve and Worship strengthen our hands that are weak and hang down and then the second discipline is
B. "Strengthen ... Weak Knees"
"Weak" - paraluo - par-al-oo-o = loose, feeble, paralyzed
Nothing more useless than a shaky, knock-kneed Christian. Yet it is the norm far too often.
Over and over in scripture, God says to us “Do Not Be Afraid” “Fear Not””Take Heart”… we get loose kneed don’t we?
So, how do we fix that? … by getting on our knees in prayer.
A strong prayer life leads to a strong life. The more we pray the more courageous we will be. God always succeeds so when we know that when we are on his mission we need not be afraid.
If you don’t have much of a prayer life, then the best way to learn is with the simplest prayer of a disciple “Lord teach us to pray.” If you start asking in honesty, Christ will teach you.
And so finally
C. Make Level Paths for your Feet
The more you worship, serve, pray, and become bold in your faith … the straighter you will walk and reap a harvest of Righteousness and Peace,
and as you do, you encourage those around you who are spiritually lame to find the healing they seek.
What does that mean? Those without Christ are lame and can’t walk with God and if WE don’t live it in front of them, we hinder them from learning to walk. But as we allow God’s teaching to transform us, God uses our lives to inspire and draw the lame toward the healing of God’s salvation in Christ Jesus.
Isn’t that Good and Practical?
Can I close simply this way when we think of discipline, correction, training, and instruction, our natural instinct is to fight against it instead of conforming to it.
What tithe? I don’t want to.
Read my Bible, why?
Attend Worship Regularly? Don’t be so strict.
Serve in a ministry? That’s for other people
Witness? I don’t think I can
Pray? I don’t know how …
But our Father in Heaven wants you to become like Christ
And as his servant, my great desire is to see you be all that God wants you to be. I want to see you look more like Jesus each time I see you
I want you to serve him, talk to him, worship him, love him, … so that I will look at you and say “my how you have grown.”
Tom Landry, that great Dallas coach, said, “the job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.”
Would you submit to the Father today? Would you say “yes Lord, I will follow, I will do, I will obey, so that I can be what you want me to be.”
Martin Luther said “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth … nothing”