Week 9 God’s Love for Us
Discipline is Another Word for Love
Because of God’s love, sin is a load you carry rather than chains that bind. Through Jesus Christ, you can set down the load.
oddlers will put things into their mouths that they should not, can climb up steps but not down, and often run when they should walk. In order to keep children at this stage safe, a responsible adult must watch them constantly. This was brought home to me one afternoon when my middle grandson, Logan, was a few months short of his second birthday. I watched as he ran pell-mell toward the open door to our basement steps, his vigilant mother close behind. Her outstretched hand caught him before he could run through the door, and as I watched him kick and cry in protest it came to me that the physical body is like an unruly child that must be monitored by the Christ-directed mind.
As Christians we tend to believe that spiritual discipline comes ahead of discipline of the body, but it is mental discipline that must precede physical obedience. We often are quite disciplined spiritually with our prayers and studies of Scripture, but these things don’t necessarily convert to action. Our bodies won’t do sit-ups by themselves. We must first determine to do sit-ups (or any other physical exercise) in our minds, and then our bodies will obey.
Christ is the head of the body, His church.[i] As a part of His body we should submit to Him in all things, in other words, our Christ-controlled minds should direct our individual bodies as well as the corporate Body of Christ. When we avoid conforming to the pattern of this world—it’s standards and false promises of happiness—and instead renew our minds with God’s truth, we are enabled to determine God’s will.[ii] Our hearts and minds are guarded by God’s peace as we learn to give up anxiety and pray about everything.[iii] With minds and hearts thus prepared for action, our Christ-influenced minds are equipped to bring our unruly flesh under control.
Dying to sin can be an agonizingly slow process, and may happen in increments too small for us to discern. We may think no progress is being made at all when, in truth, every small act of obedience removes another obstacle to the transformation we long to experience. Meanwhile, God’s mercy and grace cover us as we undergo the metamorphosis set in motion when we accepted His payment for our sins.
Sometimes though, we fail despite our best efforts to focus on Jesus. We may continue in sin even when we have prepared, prayed, and striven toward obedience. When this happens, our Father doesn’t leave us struggling under a load of sin. He steps in to free us, and the vehicle he may use to usher us to safety is discipline. When we’ve given obedience our best efforts and have failed, it is important to recognize that God may use circumstances that seem unpleasant to help us conform to His will.
Our God will do what is necessary to save us completely[iv] from the sins that for too long have allowed the self-focus of self-condemnation to have its way in our lives. May we have grace to submit to His discipline even when it is unpleasant in the short term, because as every good parent knows, discipline is just another word for love.
Pray: Lord, please enable me to become mentally disciplined as I determine to follow Your will. Help me recognize Your hand even in circumstances that are unpleasant, and to submit to your discipline. Show me how to bring my physical body into submission to the direction of my Christ-controlled mind, in Jesus' Name I pray, amen.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober- minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.
1 Peter 1:13-15