2 Timothy 1:7
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love, and of self-discipline”
Most people love parts one and two of the Spirit God gives us, but part three tends to be their least favorite, and likely it is glossed over because we have already heard about the good stuff, power and love. We are, however, forced right here to deal with the naked truth that God’s gift of the spirit to us is also on of discipline, or being of sound and sober mind.
There are two major points that I want to address with this particular verse that inform us about the nature of Spiritual Discipline.
1.) The Spirit of Discipline is God given, not man derived.
-This flies in the face of much of the preaching around Spiritual discipline. The end of the view of spiritual discipline as something we do ourselves ultimately leads to self-righteousness and robs God of His due glory.
-The spirit of discipline is not reading Scripture daily, having a quiet time every day, and fasting regularly. These are specific manifestations of the spirit of discipline. When we confuse acting out the fruit of the spirit of discipline without the spirit itself is exactly the point when we become Pharisees, holding the letter of the law and not the spirit.
I would encourage you, rather than to go on a crusade for a week saying “I’m going to get up tomorrow at 6 a.m., read my bible, and pray for an hour and a half”, to instead begin humbly asking God that He would begin to reveal in you the spirit of discipline, and give you the ability to fix your hope on His grace. Pursue the inward heart change rather than the outward expressions of that heart. As long as we continue to pursue the outward expressions of discipline devoid of the spirit of discipline, we will continually fail.
Ultimately, as we begin to experience this spirit of discipline, the result will be the centering of our life on the grace of Christ, and a mind tuned moment by moment to the will of God, ready for the action of sharing the Gospel.
2.) The nature of the Spirit in us is one of discipline, and our process of sanctification should exemplify this truth.
-God has given you the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is disciplined, therefore you should exemplify these traits as you work out your salvation.
-As we grow in our faith, the Spirit is more manifest in our lives, and therefore fruits of the spirit ought to be more manifest as well. If discipline is not evident in your life, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions.
-Quite simply, discipline is not inherent in our nature, which leads to most of us really disliking the idea of discipline, I think because it carries a lot of baggage with it by intoning the idea of drudgery and boring work. Most of us think of our failed quiet times, our inconsistent Scripture reading, and our inability to memorize Scripture.