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A Life of Self-Discipline

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
January 16, 2024 12:00 am

A Life of Self-Discipline

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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January 16, 2024 12:00 am

Honor God through diligence and obedience as you walk with Him each day.

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Tuesday, January sixteenth. If believers in Jesus want to be spiritually mature, we have to be controlled and focused. Let's listen to the necessity of self-discipline as a part of living the extraordinary life.

Do you want to do your best, be your best and live a life that is fulfilling? Well, you can, but there is a price to pay. But on the other hand, if you don't live that kind of life, there's still a price to pay. You see, the Christian life's not easy. Nowhere in the Bible does it say once you trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, life will get easier.

There are difficulties, there are hardships, there are trials, but it's still the best way to live. And oftentimes people do not realize how very important a particular aspect of the Christian life is. Because you see, the real secret or the real key to living an extraordinary Christian life and the real key to living a life that you do your best, be your best and fulfill the dreams or the goals that God has set for your life, there is a key.

Think about it. And the key is self-discipline. And the reason prisons are overflowing is because people will not bring their desires under control. Why is it that students are dropping out? Because they're not disciplined enough to complete the task. And why are people so in debt?

They can't watch all the advertisements and commercials without yielding to the enticement to have one more of this or something larger, something better, or something like my neighbor has. Self-discipline is an absolute essential in the Christian life. The truth is, it's essential in any kind of life, but especially in the life of a person who wants to live a godly life. So, I want you to turn, if you will, to First Corinthians chapter nine. And I want you to look at this passage of Scripture when Paul discusses this whole issue of discipline.

So, let's think about this. In this ninth chapter beginning in verse twenty-four, Paul is likening the Christian life to a race, like the race in the Olympics or in the Isthmus games in Greece at that time. And so, here's what he says, verse twenty-four, Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

Now, he's talking about the Christian life here. Everyone who competes in the games, exercises, self-control, and all things, he says, they then do it to receive a perishable wreath. But we, an imperishable. Then he says, Therefore I run in such a way as not without aim, I box in such a way as not beating the air, and we'll explain that. But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified or cast away.

Now, think about this for a moment. He's talking about the Christian life being a race. And he simply says that we run in a way that we ought to win. That is, we ought to live our lives in such a way that we win. That is, that we fulfill the purpose for which God created us.

That we fulfill His will and reach the goals and the dreams that God has set for us. Then he says, Everyone who competes in the games, exercises self-control. And notice he says, in all things. Because in those days, just like today in the Olympics, a person trains for years and years and years in order to win a gold medal. And he says, They exercise control in all things. That is, a person who is running a race or competing in some goal, they couldn't be very disciplined, for example, in what they eat, but then stay up all hours of the night and not get enough rest.

So, that's just one example. He says, in all things. Then if you'll notice he says, I run such a way not as, as not without aim. That is, he says, I live the Christian life with purpose, with aim in mind.

That is, I discipline myself for a specific purpose, for a specific aim or goal. He says, I'm not like someone who's just, for example, if one were training to box. He says, I'm not just boxing in the air just to be boxing in the air.

He says, I have an aim. Then he says, But I discipline my body, I bring it under control, and make it my slave instead of being a slave to the body. So that after I preach to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

In those days, if someone violated the rules, they were automatically disqualified that is cast out of the games and therefore could not run or could not qualify. And so, he says, in the life of the believer, discipline is absolutely essential. Now, I want you to notice a couple of words here, if you will. And because he says, if you'll notice, I discipline myself. Now, the word he uses for discipline means I train myself. I train my mind. I train my body.

I bring it under control. And then, for example, in First Timothy, he says in this fourth chapter, he talks about discipline again. And here's what he says in verse seven.

But it have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. Now, the first word for discipline in First Corinthians chapter nine is a word which literally means in the Greek, I treat my body roughly. That is, he disciplined his body and brought it under control. And the truth is, if you and I are going to live a godly life, we must bring our body with all of its senses, its desires under control. Then he says, for example, in this First Timothy chapter four, he says, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. And the word he uses there is the word from which we get gymnasium, and that is to train yourself.

Train yourself in such a fashion that you and I can live a godly life. For bodily discipline, he says, is only of little profit. But godliness is profitable for all things since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. Now, what Paul was saying is all this bodily discipline, getting ready to run in the races and all the different games that they had, he says, now that's all right. But more important than that is the discipline of the mind and the soul and the spirit.

Because whereas bodily disciplines is good for this life, spiritual discipline is not only good for this life, but the life to come. And if you'll notice, he says in this passage back in First Corinthians, he says now, those, for example, who run in the race, they win, for example, only one wins in the race. And what do they win?

They won a laurel wreath of leaves placed on their, over their heads and hanging around their shoulders. And he says, that is a crown or a win that only lasts for a short period of time because the leaves withered. He says, but look, what you and I win has eternal consequences. It's not just for this life, but also for the life to come.

So he says the Christian life is the kind of life that is like a race. And it is required of us that we discipline ourselves. And the person who lives an undisciplined life not only will live a settled for kind of life, far less than God requires and far less than God desires for every single one of us. And so Paul says, I do not beat the air in vain. He says, that's not what I'm doing. But he says, I am bringing myself under control for a purpose. And that purpose is to live a godly life, as he says in First Timothy and also here. So, let's think about, for example, why is it necessary for you and me to live a disciplined life?

Because the truth is, most people don't. Here's what I want you to do in order to get the most out of this message. I want to challenge you to do something. I want you to look at your life for a moment and ask yourself the question, what area of my life is undisciplined? What area of my life is out of control? What area of my life is really giving me a difficult time? What area of my life do I find myself almost a slave to that desire? It could be one of a number of things. I want you to think about just a moment.

What area of your life is out of control? And with that in mind, let's look at the rest of this message. Because you see, if you can identify something, then you can apply it and you can be thinking about how does that relate to what is a problem in my life.

So what are the essentials? Well, and why is it necessary? First of all, it's necessary because you and I are confronted every day with a threefold enemy. That is the world, the flesh, and the devil.

First of all, the world system in which you and I live is indeed opposed to the Christian life. Secondly, He says the flesh are our naturalness. So when we talk about the flesh or carnal, that means those desires that we have, that unless they're under control, they enslave us. Listen, someone who is addicted to drugs is a slave to drugs. That drug absolutely controls them. Think about this. A person who's an alcoholic, they are a slave.

How foolish, how absolutely foolish. If you don't bring your body under control, you become a slave to those things that control you. Sexual addiction, or addiction for example, and relationships. A relationship or person, or friends, and before long they become emotionally so attached to the other person, it's almost like an addiction, and they find themselves so dependent upon the other person that that relationship dissolves because you can't just lean and cling to someone else.

We become addicted to all kind of things. Remember this, whatever it is in your life you can't control. you can't control, you are a slave. That people don't want to admit it, well, I'm not a slave to anything, I just do what I want to do.

No, you don't. When you're a slave, you do what your master says. Think about this. It's enslavement. More people are enslaved than realize that they are. And most of the time, they'll be the ones who boast that, well, my life's under control and don't tell me about Jesus and don't give me all that stuff because I don't necessarily need all that.

Let me just say this to you, friend. If you're not a child of God, if you have not trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are enslaved by something. It could be doubt. It could be unbelief. Or it could be something that you desire in your life that you know that if you become a Christian, you may have to lay it down. And so, before you boast of your freedom, ask yourself the question of what area is it of my life that war is against me? When I want to do what's right.

Remember what Paul said in Romans chapter seven? Talked about his past. He said, when I, the things that I want to do, I find myself not doing. The things I don't want to do, I find myself doing. He talked about this struggle, this war that went on inside of him before he understood and before he claimed and began to work in the way of the Holy Spirit. So, we all need self-discipline.

So, let's talk about that for a moment. What are the requirements for living a disciplined life? First of all, very important. You have to have a definite, specific goal for doing it. An aim for doing it. That's why Paul said, and he made it very clear, he says in this passage, therefore I run in such a way as not without aim. I have a purpose, I have a goal. You're not going to live a disciplined life just because I said so. You're going to live a disciplined life because you have evaluated your life, you look at the goals you have, you look at the dreams you have, you look at to see what God says and God says it is His will. It is His good pleasure that you and I live a disciplined life. So, my first aim is because I'm going to please the Lord. The second aim may be because I want to reach that goal or I want this to come true in my life or I want to be able to enjoy this in life. If you, listen, if you don't have a definite goal or aim, you know what, you know what discipline will be? The same thing it'll be in physical exercise. If a person physically exercises and they just do it because they ought to do it, they won't do it very well and they'll become a drudgery. Well, I have to go exercise.

No, listen, when you understand what your aim is, then you exercise because you want to, because you desire to, because it's, listen, one more day of physical exercise is one more day of getting you out there to be able to do what you want to do. So, you've got to have a definite aim. You have to have a specific purpose and without that, first of all, without that it's not going to last.

That's absolutely essential. And of course, write this down, identify and detach. What does that mean? It means identify that place or those things in your life in which are warring against your soul, those areas of your life that you know that you're undisciplined in or that you're a slave to and then here's what you do.

You know what? You choose to walk away from it. Detach yourself from it. And this is why I say, you know, if you don't want to eat certain things, don't go to the grocery store, buy them and take them home and put them in the refrigerator and say, well, just in case.

No, you've already planned to fail, if that's what it is. Or it may be some relationship and you don't want to get too involved in it, you better walk away. So, you have to identify what the issue is and then as we said, detach yourself from it. A third one is this, and that's you have to pursue it with diligence. A person isn't sort of disciplined. In other words, you can't be sort of disciplined. You can't be a person who's not as disciplined as you are. You can't be a person who's not as disciplined as you are. You can't be a person who's not as disciplined as you are.

And what that means is, I'm really not, but I'd like to be. Discipline, you have to pursue with diligence. That means you have to keep your focus on the goal. There has to be an aim.

And to do that, you have to pursue with diligence. Listen to this. You can't go by your feelings. I don't feel like it. You have to ignore the feeling. The feeling has nothing to do with that. You just have to do it anyway.

Most of the good things, the best things in life have been achieved by people who did not feel like it. So, you can't go by feelings. You have to pursue it diligently. Then you have to be consistent.

That's why you have to have an aim that is valid, that is valuable enough to you, that you're willing to pay the price. You're willing to be consistent no matter what. You have to ignore your feelings in order to be consistent. I'm going to read the Scriptures every morning no matter what. So, if I'm going to do that before I go to work, I'm going to bed early enough so I can get up early enough to do what God wants me to do. And somebody says, well, you know what? I just don't have time.

Don't tell me you don't have time. You sit up till eleven or twelve o'clock and watch TV, then you don't have time to get up in the morning and talk to God. That's so foolish, and it's unacceptable in the eyes of God. I mean that says it, because here in the New Testament is where the Starichendment's been Eternal.

It is outside of us, it's outside the mind Number One. This is here in the New Testament on your TV. It's where we're spending time with God versus spending time with all the junk on the Television that's absolutely, listen, framing your mind to think a certain way when God will speak to your heart, give you strength, give you energy. Listen, give you a sense of direction, give you joy in your But it's interesting what Jesus said, and He said it for a little different purpose here in the sixteenth chapter of Matthew and here's what He said, twenty-fourth verse. Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. Now, when He said deny himself, that is, not allow self to control his or her life, but that the Spirit of God control their life. If you and I are going to live a disciplined life, we, listen, we have to deny ourselves of certain things. I may have to deny myself of something that I may desire, but if I know that that will interfere with my relationship to Him, or interfere with what I'm supposed to do the next day, I have to decide what's most important, doing my best the next day, or spending time doing thus and so, whatever that might be.

So, I have to practice self-denial. And most folks don't want to do that, but Jesus said, You know what? If you're going to follow Him, you have to deny yourself.

And He wasn't saying necessary things, but just self. I have to deny myself of whatever, listen, watch this, whatever wars against your soul, He says, deal with that. Then we have to learn to say no. And some people just can't do that. For example, let's say that you're with your friends and they want you to do thus and so, but your spirit tells you don't do that.

And so, what do you do? All of a sudden, you're caught in this temptation to do what they want you to do. You know it's not right. But you don't want to hurt their feelings and so you say, Okay, well, all right. What you've done, watch this carefully, you have chosen to please your friends rather than please the living God.

That is not right. And so, we have to learn to say no. The truth is, all of us have to learn to say no to the devil, no to temptation, no to those people who would entice us to do things that we know are not right.

All may be good for somebody else, but it's not good for you. So, we have to learn to say no. God isn't going to call us to live a godly life and then say, Well, do the best you can. He knows how these things war against our soul. He knows the strength of temptation. That's why He sent the Holy Spirit.

He sent Him to enable us, listen, to say no when we need to say no. Then, last thing I'd mention here is to, listen, to allow yourself for failure. Now, watch what I mean by that. Not going to be perfect.

Nobody is. So, here's what happens when we fail in a given area. We look at what we did.

We ask ourselves the question, Why? How can I avoid this the next time? If it's a sin of some sort, then you ask God to forgive you. And listen, watch this. Then, you refocus on what's my goal. My goal is more important than indulging in that, which will keep me from reaching my goal. And so, you move on. See, here's what happens.

People say, people say, Well, you know, I start reading about what's going to read through the Bible. But I missed a couple of mornings and I got so discouraged, I just quit. Listen, Satan is always there. One of his choice tools is to discourage you. Just because you failed one morning or two mornings or week or whatever it might be, don't let that throw you off track.

Refocus on the goal and move on. And in such a fashion, you will find yourself being very disciplined. Thank you for listening to A Life of Self-Discipline. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or InTouch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-16 05:57:51 / 2024-01-16 06:09:12 / 11

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