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I think self-discipline is the area of the Christian life where I see most people struggling. Yet it is not necessarily the most difficult. Without self-discipline we don't achieve much in our Christian life in relation to our potential. This is one of the areas where satan goes to the greatest lengths to deceive people. 

 

The amazing thing is that few people are aware that they have a self-discipline problem, because lack of self-discipline is rooted in immaturity. We all are, or have been at some point, immature. Any child who will begin to think (from) after birth will be in immaturity. Well, the new birth in Christ is no exception in this respect.

So if you find that you obviously don't do things on time, that you have difficulty making decisions, or that you make personal decisions without keeping them for more than two or three weeks, or that you are very often late, if you regularly forget things, or that you commit yourself to your word and you don't keep it or you don't keep it very well, then you have a problem of personal discipline.  And if you have this problem of personal discipline, it is because you are still immature in certain areas of your life.

 

So some people might say to me, "Yes, but Frank, how do all these things you mention affect the way my life with God works?"

The problem is that until you have self-discipline, you will never be able to live a Christian life as God intended for you. You will not be able to fully enter into the plan He has for you, nor will you be able to have results in your prayers, in the spiritual expression of your authority in Christ, nor in the personal transformation you agreed to enter into after your new birth.

The two main causes of a person not being satisfied with their life with God are lack of knowledge and lack of self-discipline. The lack of either cannot produce a good result.

As far as knowledge is concerned, we at LVBN can remedy this problem for you, by offering you free teachings of all kinds and on many subjects.

As far as lack of self-discipline is concerned, we at LVBN can also help you in various ways. However, it will be up to you to take action by firmly deciding to come out of a certain immaturity in certain areas of your life, being ready for whatever is necessary to come out of it. This is the only thing you will have to do in order to see success in these parts of your life: bring your motivation and determination. The Holy Spirit will do the rest as a team with you, once you have asked Him to do so with a firm understanding of the depth of your request.

There is a demonic technique that is found in many cases. satan tries to make anyone believe that if they have a certain character trait such as lack of self-discipline, it is because they were born that way and there is not much they can do. This kind of thinking is a lie that goes against the whole spirit of the gospel. If you think that there is not much to be done because after all this is your personality and you were born this way, then I announce to you that your old nature is supposed to have died, and that you are born again as a new person.

Don't believe any more lies like that, thinking that you were not born under a lucky star as far as self-discipline is concerned.

Then there is a second point that is quite often used by satan to lie to Christians.

I sometimes hear phrases like: "I don't have the strength, I can't do it!

Again, this is a demonic deception. God in His perfect love for us has planned to solve this problem once and for all by deciding to come and live in us.

Galatians 5:22 (AMP) But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control.

What Paul describes here is one fruit, one thing that is in us. It is not possible to say, for example, "I have patience, but I don't have self-control!"  No, God has put all these things in us with His Spirit in a single fruit that is indivisible. 

So from a biblical point of view, I can't say that I can't do it, that I don't have the strength to demonstrate self-discipline. Demonstrating self-discipline is an equally personal decision.

If you have a problem with self-discipline, you must look for the source of that problem in yourself, not in others, not in the circumstances of your life, and certainly not in God.

This is a third point that we are going to address, and which unfortunately can be seen in many Christians: the fact of putting the blame on something or someone other than oneself. This kind of attitude is very common, sometimes it is conscious, but other times it may be unconscious. So if you are reading this, don't be too quick to think that you are not necessarily affected, you might be surprised.   

The practice of exculpating oneself when one has made a mistake, by pointing to something external to oneself as the cause of one's mistake is as old as time, if I may say so. I would even say that it was the first sin committed on earth outside of the fall.

Genesis 3:11-12 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”  Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

Today this attitude has become so widespread that it has been given a name: victimisation.

Not taking responsibility for one's mistakes is a lack of self-discipline that is generated by immaturity and sometimes even a little pride. The problem is that most people who are in an attitude of victimisation often do not realise it. Pride always obscures the truth. Immaturity sometimes breeds pride, which means that a person does not always realise that they are a victim. Especially as we are not necessarily victimised in all areas of our lives, some are, but not everyone is.

I need self-discipline here in order to stay in an honest attitude according to God, so that I don't fall into the trap of blaming someone else when I make a mistake. 

So self-discipline is also related to my attitudes and not only to the fact of triggering an action.

It is very important to integrate self-discipline into any attitude of victimisation, in order to remove it, because victimisation is a blocker of growth.

For example, if I think that the mistake I made was not my fault, then I am not going to change anything in my thinking or doing about it, which makes sense. No one is going to change their behaviour if they are sure that they are not involved in the problem. And that's the whole trap of this demonic deception, to make people believe that nothing is their fault whereas it is not the case, in order to keep them in a paralysis of their growths, so to speak.

One thing is certain, everyone is affected to a greater or lesser extent. We all have to have self-discipline. Do not think that you are the only one who has to have self-discipline. This is an important point to know, because satan wants to isolate people by making them believe that they are practically the only ones going through what they are experiencing. As a result, a person who thinks they are the only one going through the kind of problem they are facing, will feel much more down. 

1 Peter 5:9   Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

Here Peter is talking to Christians who are going through problems that cause suffering. In other words, he is saying that unfortunately many of their brothers and sisters in the world are also going through the same kind of problems, and that they are not the only ones going through this. So never believe a thought that tells you that you are the only one with self-discipline problems, because it is a lie that is made to discourage you and make you believe that others are much more disciplined than you.  

The Bible is not short of passages that show us that self-discipline, sometimes translated as self-control, is an essential element of a successful Christian life.     

Proverbs 25:28  Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.

A person who shows no self-discipline is compared here to a city that has been invaded by an enemy because it had no protection, no fortification. The image given in the original text, gives the idea of a person who does not object to his thoughts, who does not know how to tame them, and let them go as they please. 

2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].

In the original text Paul is talking to Timothy here about: moderation, sound thinking, and self-control when he quotes self-control in this passage above.  

So it is now clear that lack of self-discipline will put me in a position where I will be defenceless against anything satan may try to do against me, like a medieval city without walls. We could illustrate this by saying that lack of self-discipline is a totally free highway that I leave open for the enemy to invade various areas of my life.

Have you found that satan too often takes advantage in your life? Decide today to activate your personal discipline!

I see too many Christians making exceptions sometimes. Often they absolutely agree that we need self-discipline, and even go so far as to encourage their fellow men to show self-discipline. But when you have the opportunity to see how they live in a more personal way, you notice that they often create exceptions for themselves. They do not practice what they advise. As soon as you point this out to them, the answer is always: "Yes, but it's not the same", or again: "Yes, but it's not the same for me". Objectivity about ourselves is very important. God teaches us to be objective about ourselves, do you know why? Simply because lack of self-objectivity was man's first reaction after the fall. "It's not me, it's the woman you gave me". Objectivity is one of the fruits of humility that allows us to see ourselves as we really are in a given situation. "But you see, in my case it's not the same, you can't compare". No, very often it is we who lack the objectivity that would allow us to say: "Yes, in this case I really lack self-discipline, I have to solve this problem quickly". This kind of answer is the result of my own objectivity, which in turn is fuelled by my humility.

In extreme cases, lack of self-discipline can sometimes paralyse people into never making a decision. But not everyone is in this kind of extreme case. However, when we look a little deeper, we can also see that when a person lacks self-discipline, he or she will often start by making rules in his or her own life. We could, for example, take the case of a person who decides to pray every day for a significant amount of time. Then, after a few days or weeks, he or she does not stick to this new rule that he or she has set in his or her own life.

Jesus describes this kind of attitude in the following passage:

Matthew 12:25-26  But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?

In the context of this passage Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed person who was blind and mute because of it. Here the Pharisees accuse Jesus of taking His healing power to cast out this demon through satan. This passage above is Jesus' response to these Pharisees.

It is exactly the same for a person who lacks self-discipline. Let's take our example from above of the person who makes it a rule in his life to pray for a consistent amount of time every day. This person makes a rule in his kingdom, that is, in his person. Then some time later he comes and destroys this same rule by deciding himself to no longer respect it. Well, Jesus says that such a person cannot stand. The original word translated as "stand" gives some very significant images.

We can see here what the lack of self-discipline generates in our own lives. This does not stop at our tangible life in this world, but includes many such effects also in our spiritual life.

 So how can I achieve self-discipline in my life?

The first thing, as mentioned above, is a firm decision on our part (for those who do not make decisions). Then we must manage to keep the new rule we have established, or our decision over time. This is where maturity comes in. Maturity is like the difference between a child and an adult. A child is in the process of development, and an adult has in principle attained satisfactory development. The main deception of satan in this area is to hide from Christians their potential. 

2 Peter 3:17-18 (NLT)  You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

Here the firmness of which Peter speaks is self-discipline. The word translated “secure footing” is in the original: a firm condition, constancy of mind, stability. We can safely see from this definition that it corresponds to self-discipline. Then Peter gives us the solution to manifest this self-discipline: Grow in the grace and knowledge of God.

The grace Peter is talking about here is the goodness and love Jesus showed in drawing people to God, the benefits of all His teachings that generate a transformation in us, causing us to become more like Him. 

Knowledge is the ability to know, to have understood and accepted what Jesus taught. 

I must therefore make the decision to do everything possible to know more and more of the goodness and love that God has given us through Jesus. Some may say to me, "Is that all?"

Yes, that's all, but this decision involves a whole lifestyle, and will have repercussions in all areas of my life. Here are some practical examples:

1 Peter 4:7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

1 Corinthians 9:27 (NLT)  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should….

1 Corinthians 9:25 (AMP) Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither].

So there is no question of standing still, quite the contrary. Deciding to activate the self-discipline that is already in us will require living an orderly life in self-control (according to the teaching of Jesus), without giving in to the lazy inclination of our flesh, using prayer as a team with the Holy Spirit to help us do this.

Not listening to our body in many areas, without being convinced, but standing firm without changing the rules I myself have set so that I remain standing, in my place, in my authority and in a constancy worthy of my position as a son or daughter of God.

Just as for a top athlete, nothing can be done without a battle in my thoughts, which, moreover, has already been won in advance by Jesus Christ. 

 

 

Bye for now...

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