1 Timothy 4:7 tells us: “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness.”(ESV) So how do we discipline ourselves for the purposes of godliness?
The apostle Paul uses an athletic image to tell us we must train ourselves to live godly. Disciplining yourself for godliness requires a willingness to go outside of your comfort zone and to make a commitment to live a godly life. It begins in the mind with a Right Understanding of God. You must set your mind to it. Before any outward actions, you must first inwardly commit to pursuing godliness. Without a mindset on glorifying God, your efforts at discipline will lead to nothing more than empty pursuits. Paul warns Timothy to have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. These things distract us from the truth contained in the word of God. We must commit our minds to God’s word if we are going to be successful at disciplining ourselves for godliness. The Bible admonishes us that there are certain things we have to do for ourselves.
E.g.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time,” (1 Peter 5:6),
“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine.”(2 Corinthians 13:5),
“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. “ (1 Timothy 4:16) and then it says
“Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.” (1 Timothy. 4:7 NLT) In other words, “Discipline yourself for godliness.”
Today’s society is plagued with a spirit of disobedience and rebellion (Matthew 24:12), but the Bible teaches submission and self-surrender. We are living in the last days. Remember that Generations come and go, but the Word of God stand forever. When we rebel against authority, we’re really rebelling against God and his word. (Romans 13:1-5) We must respect authority, even when that authority is unworthy; this is not necessarily respecting the individual, but respecting and submitting to the authority God has placed over us. We do not blindly obey ungodly leaders; there are many examples in Scripture where prophets preached against the wickedness in the kingdom. However, we are to have a spirit of humility, gentleness and submission for loyal confrontation and correction.
Just as an athlete would discipline himself with vigorous exercise in order to win the athletic games, we too have to exercise in such as way as to excel in godliness. Being a godly person requires self-discipline. Godly self-control is not human willpower, but power from God that enables us to govern our lives.
Self-discipline is the training that is mandatory for the unhindered pursuit of Godliness. In the New Testament, we find the word “discipline” used in two different senses. Sometimes we read of God disciplining His children. In that sense, the word “discipline” means “chastisement”. However, at other times the Bible speaks about Christians disciplining themselves. In this sense, the word “discipline” refers to the believer forming godly habit patterns.
In 1 Timothy 4:7, the word “discipline” is the Greek word “gymazo”. We get our English words “gymnasium” from it. It means to exercise or put yourself through training. Why is it so important? The next verse tells us “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” It has immediate pay offs in this life, and eternal rewards. “Just as physical exercise is good for the body, our mind, emotions, will and spirit also needs vigorous exercise as well.
Discipline, as Hebrews says, is painful for a moment, but it eventually yields fruit. Parents can learn how to best discipline their children by taking note of how the Bible says God disciplines us. Our culture would benefit greatly from parents disciplining their children God’s way. The job of raising children does not belong directly to the school, society, church or the youth group. It belongs to parents. According to the Bible, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a godly dad and Mom. The whole book of Proverbs is an example of how parents ought to regularly be teaching their children the wisdom of God through the various experiences and situations—both good and bad—that life offers.
Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to continue acting as we have acted in the past. Like a river flowing through a canyon, the longer a habit continues, the more deeply it becomes ingrained, and the harder it is to change. This is true of all habits, good or bad. God’s word is the best source of guidance for godliness. To pursue holiness, a believer must intake God’s word and participate in praise and worship, Bible reading, meditation, prayer, and fellowship. Further, he must deny many legitimate pleasures if he is to victorious Christian. In first Corinthians 9:24-27, discipline and self-control are very closely related. In verse 27 Paul gives us the meaning of discipline, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9: 27). It is to subordinate our fleshly desires to the will of God. It is to control your body, so that you make it do what it ought to do, rather than what it wants to do. We are in a race against corrupted culture, against sin, against Satan and against self.
Godly families are the bedrock of any spiritual community, and having godly children is a blessing that many parents long for. God instituted the family to help us learn about Him. Children learn about God, the Heavenly Father, from their earthly father. It is so much easier for a child to understand their need of salvation when they have a good family unit and they understand consequences for their sin. A child who never receives discipline in the home will have a harder time understanding and accepting their need of salvation. Godly Families Begin with Godly Marriages and Family begin with the marriage of a man to a woman. Marriage is a covenant relationship and it is God’s idea—it was not just a good idea thought up by someone down the centuries. The permanency of such a covenant, in an age where marriage is anything but permanent, is the primary foundation to create a good bedrock for a godly family. One important family discipline , which we have built in as a value, has been that we do not violate God’s word —Did you know that God tells us to “flee fornication” at least 27 times in the Bible? The Bible is very clear that all sexual involvement outside of marriage (before, after or during) is a grievous sin against Almighty God.
We need to live according to God’s Word in order to protect our homes. Marriage is a lifetime matter, and sexual discipline and faithfulness is the primary key that holds a marriage together. A marriage is a union not just between two people, but between a man, a woman and God. Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” (Job 31:1). Did you know that adultery a terrible sin?
To adulterate means to make impure. When one adulterates marriage, then he or she has made impure something that God values very highly and wonderfully. Adultery is a sin against one’s own self.(1 Corinthians 6:18) There’s no sin that will do more personal damage spiritually, mentally and physically than immorality. Adultery is a sin against the home and against the children in that home. The lives of innocent children are impacted through immorality. Adultery is a sin against the church.(1 Corinthians 3:17) None of us live unto ourselves or die unto ourselves. As believers, we are part of one family – the family of God. When a church member is sexually immoral, he or she sins against the body of Christ. Adultery is a sin against one’s nation..Historians tell us that the sin of immorality caused the downfall of once dominant Empires like the Roman Empire, Greece, Egypt and Ancient Babylon.
The enemy of the home is the enemy of society and Nation. People who treat morality lightly will treat other people lightly, and the society falls. Remember that above all Adultery is a sin against Almighty God.(Exodus 20:14, Psalm 51:4, Proverbs 6:32) The Ten Commandments are not advice, but they are commands and laws. Law without penalty is only advice. A pure life is not simply an option one might choose as a discipline Christian.(1 Corinthians 6:9, Ephesians 5:5, Revelation 21:8) If we are followers of Jesus Christ and disobey His commandments, then there will be chastisement.(Hebrews 12:8) moreover no man is morally fit for leadership who is sexually impure (Proverbs 13:34, 16:12, 20:28) .
The Apostle urges us to discipline our bodies and resist sinful desires. If we do not, we will forfeit the prize and ruin our life. In Ephesians 4:22-24 Paul says “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Notice the terms: “put off the old self” and “put on the new self,” Paul says old practices and attitudes must be replaced by new ones and the desire to be like someone we admire is a powerful motivation. 1 John 2:6 says, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” Oswald Sanders said; “Only the disciplined person will rise to his highest power. He is able to lead because he has conquered himself.”
If we are to exercise self-control, we must relinquish the control of our lives to Jesus Christ. Here is a paradox of the Christian life: We must give up the control of self if we would gain self-control. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Becoming a godly person requires change. We must remove old habits and develop new ones. William James said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” Discipline is that determined effort on our part that corrects molds and perfects the character of a person. This demands a desire, dedication, determination and discipline. Our disciplines will determine our destiny. Remember that the biggest source of objections to Godliness will be our own sinful nature. In order to engage in the spiritual disciplines, we must become self-disciplined people.
Jesus said, “It is not what is on the outside of a person that defiles them, but what comes out of their heart. This is why Bible says “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Apostle Paul says in Romans 12: 1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We need to present ourselves to the Lord. We are to be a sacrifice. When we are consumed upon the altar, we are transformed. The inner nature comes to the surface. The inner nature of Jesus is Deity. The inner nature of a Christian is Jesus. The church is not an organization with Jesus as the president; it is an organism with Jesus as the head. When we are transformed, we are given the mind of Christ. We need to come to, the Lord, giving Him our lives anew and afresh as a living sacrifice.
Discipline for godliness requires that we make seeking God in prayer, reading his word, studying, and meditating on Scripture a priority. It means we say no to sinful desires and impulses in order to obey the Lord. The result will be a life transformed into Christ likeness, a clear conscience, pure heart, sincere faith and a spirit that is joyful and peaceful. In fact, the benefits extend even further. This earthly life is a mere breath in time, but godliness goes with us into heaven and leads to the eternal rewards of a life lived fully for Christ. To sum up, discipline is training yourself to do the right thing when you do not feel like it. Jesus said,” I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”(John 13:15) May God enable us to exercise self-discipline, an absolute necessity for victory over sin.
Pastor Lalachan Abraham, Patna