Discipline

This entry is part 52 of 57 in the series Holiness Matters
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It’s the one thing nobody wants to deal with. One of the most misunderstood actions that any parent, and God himself, does. When I was a kid, I hated when I had to be disciplined. I haven’t met too many people, if any, that haven’t been disciplined at some place in their life.

Discipline is often used as a word to describe punishment. But I want to touch on some of the positive uses of discipline. You’d be surprised how the Bible talks about it. Let’s take a second look at discipline together.

A Love Language?

It may surprise you to discover that one of God’s love languages is discipline. When he disciplines us, it’s for our good. The Bible uses the human example of parents disciplining their children because they love them (Proverbs 13:24).

Discipline provides a path to godly character and more success in life. Parents who don’t discipline their children aren’t preparing them for life in this world. So it makes sense that the Bible uses the discipline of parents as an example of love.

And God is no different. As our heavenly Father, he also uses discipline in our lives. The writer of Hebrews points out how important discipline is in our growth as the children of God. In Hebrews 12:7-10, he uses the image of a human father to represent the heavenly Father.

He tells us that God disciplines us because he sees us as his children. And any good parent who loves their children will discipline them. They want their children to have success in life and to be able to handle everything the world throws at them.

Discipline is a tool to form us into the people God wants us to be. If he didn’t discipline us, we wouldn’t be his children (Hebrews 12:8). God’s discipline toward us proves that we are his children. It’s a mark of identification, like being sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Even though we may take it at the time as punishment, God’s discipline is different than punishment. He disciplines us for our good (Hebrews 12:10). God’s punishment is for those who break the law and sin against him. But discipline leads us to holiness. Punishment is much harsher than discipline.

The Spirit of Discipline

Because the Holy Spirit is directly involved with our path to holiness, he has a large part in our discipline when it is required. When he disciplines us, it’s because we have turned to the right or the left on the straight road to holiness.

He doesn’t discipline us because he enjoys seeing us veer off the path to holiness. He’s not vindictive, mean, or rude. He does it in an encouraging way to build us up. If you ever feel like you are being yelled at or put down, that’s not the Spirit. It may be your own view of your progress, your inner voice, or the devil accusing you.

The Holy Spirit guides us through encouragement. Even the times he must direct us through correction, he does it in love. You should never feel discouraged even during God’s discipline. If the Holy Spirit disciplines us, he is teaching us God’s way. Everything he does is for the final product he’s making us to be.

Discipline Drives Us to Holiness

As the Holy Spirit disciplines us to run the race of holiness, we may not enjoy it. While discipline is not punishment, it’s not a rosy walk down the street. Discipline doesn’t feel good at the time. It’s hard to take correction, even from the Holy Spirit.

Discipline yields training in holiness and righteousness (Hebrews 12:11). The end result of discipline is holiness. We are learning how to follow God’s highest expectations for our lives. This is why obedience is so important in our walk with God.

As the Holy Spirit disciplines us, if we do not obey him as he teaches discipline, our character will not develop the way God has planned. We will suffer setbacks and even have to address the same character flaws the Holy Spirit doesn’t transform again.

Although discipline can be painful as the Spirit molds our character and person, it leads to a godly result in us. Through testing and trial he transforms her character into the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” that God desires (Hebrews 12:11).

We may even refer to the Spirit’s discipline as growing pains. As we grow in godliness, we suffer pains like we do as we mature physically. The process of holiness may not always be pleasant, but the end product, the result of all of the Spirit’s hard work in us and our submission and obedience to him, yields the result in us that pleases God. We will find our discipline worth in the end.

Discipline for Success

When the Holy Spirit addresses our character or actions, we must not be wishy-washy about our response. We can’t act like it’s business as usual in our lives. Even when we worship the Lord, there is a marked difference between the times we are obedient and disobedient.

We must take the Spirit’s discipline seriously. In Proverbs, a book on wisdom, Solomon warns his son (and us) to not despise the Lord’s discipline (Proverbs 3:11). When the Lord speaks to us through his Spirit, his only goal is for us to growing godliness.

Proverbs 3:12 goes on to tell us that the Lord disciplines us out of love, as we have already discussed. Because he cares for us so much, he is putting us through discipline for our later success. Discipline prepares us for everything that will happen in life. Our success and pleasing God is directly affected by our ability to take and apply his discipline.

The more we are willing to listen to the Lord when he disciplines us, the greater success we will have and the faster we will grow in godliness. When the Lord disciplines us, we must be grateful that he loves us enough to address the problem areas in our lives and hearts.

Conclusion

The Spirit administers the Lord’s discipline to us. He doesn’t do it in a mean way that does it for good. We have one of two options. We can despise his discipline and ignore it. But we will find that it takes much longer to become more like Jesus.

Our other option is to accept the Spirit’s discipline and feed off of it to grow in Christ faster. He will challenge our hearts, attitude, character, and actions. When they don’t line up with Christ’s desires for us, discipline comes our way.

God loves us so much that he’s not willing to leave us where we were when he found us. He wants to make us holier and conform us to his son. Leave a comment and tell me how you deal with the Lord’s discipline in your life.

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