A DISCIPLINED LIFE
Notes of a lecture at Evington, December 2001
It is a universal fact that the most useful lives are disciplined lives. Real Christians are people under discipline.
Our great example is Jesus Christ. 1 must be about my Father’s business? Luke 2.49. 1 delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. Psalm 40.8.
Paul is another example. But by the grace of God I am what 1 am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but 1 laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 1 Cor. 15.10.
1. The Principles of Christian Discipline
These are all to be found in the Bible, especially in the New Testament. There are two aspects, both positive and negative. For example; Jesus says, `Follow me.’ But then He also says; `If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’ Matthew 16.24.
2. The Areas of Life in which there must be discipline a. The body.
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 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, (literally, I bruise my body) and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, 1 myself should be a castaway. 1 Cor 9. 24-27. Here there are the two pictures of the race and the fight. There are often problems over gluttony, laziness, sexual abuses, time spent on sport, entertainment, and the media. There needs to be care and balance. For bodily exercise profiteth little (or for a short time): but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 1 Tim. 4.8.
b. The mind.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philip. 4.8.
c. The eyes.
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matthew 5.28.
d. The affections.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2.15-16.
He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame. Proverbs 10.4-5. f. Money and possessions.
And 1 will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Luke 12.19-21, the parable of the rich man.
3. The Discipline of Christian Activities
The need to maintain a life of prayer and the prayerful study of God’s Word. The importance of making time for the `means of grace’. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. The importance of a prayerful and practical church membership. Hebrews 10.25.
4. The Discipline of the Family
My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. lf ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12.5-11. Chasten or chastisement is from the Greek word paideia which means training, discipline, correction.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephes. 6.4. Nurture here is the same word discipline which means training by correction, by the rod if necessary – see scourge above. Admonition means training by words.
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Cor. 6.20.
Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. l Cor. 7.23.