William Hague once said, “Let’s not be afraid to speak the common sense truth: you can’t have high standards without good discipline.”
I can’t help but believe there is a lot of truth in that statement. But as a God fearing Church going man, I might have said it a little differently – let us not be afraid to seek and speak Gods Truth: you can’t have high standards without good discipline. For I know that God is the standard setter. He alone discerns what is good and what is evil. That which is moral or immoral. What is Right and what is wrong. And yet scripture says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and “the wages of SIN is death”.
From this one cannot help but see if we have any hope of fellowship with a Holy and Righteous God we need a heaping helping of two things Grace and loving Discipline. Grace because we cannot self-justify our sins for Christ alone can atone and justify our sins and loving Discipline to help us keep from backsliding once grace has begun its redemptive work.
Now as Disciples in the Body of Christ we well know that we are called to a higher standard. “Walk in the light as he is in the light” and “Be ye holy for the Lord your God is holy” immediately come to mind. I don’t think any Christians would argue this point. So what in the world has happened to discipline? How have we arrived at this juncture where discipline is either absent or despised in the Church. How have we arrived at this juncture where the Church has lowered its high calling and standards to mirror the worldly? I will tell you – no accountability and lack of discipline, pure and simple.
Godly discipline strengthens the heart and soul so that it may be protected from the corroding influence of Sin! Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”
In the verse above, Jesus is telling the church at Laodicea that He loves them enough to discipline or reprove them. Jesus’ discipline is a gift to them so that they would zealously repent. Those whom Jesus loves – He disciplines. This shows us that God will discipline us in order that we might repent of some enduring sin we might have in our life. Now it can be tough to endure discipline at times but apathy or indifference by the Church is even worse because it says no one cares enough to discipline them and that reveals a lack of natural affection or love which Paul wrote would be typical in the latter days (2 Tim 3:3).
“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Heb 12:7-8)
Isn’t it wonderful to be treated as beloved sons and daughters? “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:” Proverbs 3:11
For the Church to have any real appeal to the the world it is imperative we both know and resemble Jesus Christ. For us to get where we need to be, Christ likeness, it will require plenty of both grace and loving discipline. Don’t fret it – just remember, Discipline is part of Gods love language!
How’s your credit? What’s your credit score? I had these questions asked of me recently when I purchased a new to me vehicle. I had no idea, but I found out both my wife and I had a better credit score than 95% of folks. But it got me thinking about debts and who we owe for what. And the gut wrenching, character revealing question, do you pay your Debts?
The apostle Paul hits on this topic in Romans and proclaims we are all debtors.
8:12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh–
8:13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
But the revealing issue is not that we owe, but who we owe a debt to – not to the Flesh! We owe nothing to ourselves, our bodies, our physical wants and desires, which gratify the flesh. We owe no debt to the flesh, such that we should live according to the flesh, and be driven by the flesh and its desires. Rather it’s the Spirit to which we are indebted, to which we owe our lives and our living, and the energy and days of our lives. As Christians, we all should be ones who pay our debts, especially our debt of gratitude to God.
But Paul reveals the frightening truth about life and whom we choose to live it for in verse 13. “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die.” Well, yes, everybody dies you might think. But the death of which Paul speaks is an eternal death, where the grave is victorious and the sting of death is eternally painful. If we give our lives to living for the flesh, living selfishly, self-centered and me-only focused, in the end we fail to repay our debt to God. We fail to repay our debt to Christ for the grace we have been shown, to the Spirit for its indwelling presence, and in the end we tragically lose everything.
No, Paul exclaims it’s the Spirit to which we are debtors, for its indwelling, for its presence and power in our lives, and for the pardon and grace we have received. And heavenly truth is revealed to us – “but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” If by the Spirit, we live our lives leaning on the Spirit, with its guidance, strength, and power, we can crucify and put to death the desires and deeds of the flesh which do not please God. We acknowledge our indebtedness by submitting the living of our lives to the Spirit thereby pleasing God. In doing so, though it seems contrary, we truly live and experience life in abundance with peace and joy.
But there is more, there is a greater truth at play here, we become more than merely ones who pay our debts. We become more than just ones who have a good credit score and reputation. Paul saves the best for last and slams the gavel down and shouts, as if to say, don’t you understand – “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” We move from debtor to family member. Through the Spirit we are reborn and are adopted into the family and become children of God. We become joint heirs to the kingdom and just how awesome is that?
So my dearest brothers and sisters, quit living for and serving the flesh – that brings only death. Choose instead to live in and by the Spirit. Life, joyously abundant life, and an awesome family awaits you!