Contribuor: Anthony Matthews
The New Testament teaches that there are three types of discipline at work in the life of a believer: The first is what we might call ‘church discipline’, the second is “self discipline” and the third is the Lord’s discipline.
The church is a community of believers called and united together by the grace of God - a Covenant people who share the Covenant promises of God to the Jews in the Old Testament (Ephesians 2:11-16). Within each local expression of believers comes an acceptance of our responsibility for one another. Part of that is to accept discipline, if necessary, as a means of correction to bring us back into a right and fully Scriptural relationship with God and other members of the fellowship. The New Testament church was taught to warn, rebuke, exhort, encourage and build one another up in love. Where discipline becomes necessary, it can be difficult, and the bible teaches that it is most often the responsibility of the leaders. We are called to pray that they might be given discernment, wisdom, scriptural insight and great love. Paul wrote to Timothy:
“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2).
In his second letter to Timothy Paul writes:
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline/control” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Paul is not encouraging us to seek after power, love and self-control, but to draw upon these gifts which were given to us by Holy Spirit when first we gave our lives to Christ. Think of the ATMs we use whenever we need to draw cash from our bank account. In God we have a constantly refilled ‘bank’ balance of ‘Power, Love and Self-Control’ from which we can draw whenever the need arises.
THE LORD’S DISCIPLINE
The Bible also teaches us about the discipline God exercises directly into our lives (Hebrews 12:5-11). In verse 5 the Greek word ‘Taideia’, translated ‘discipline’, not only means rebuke and correction, but also training and guidance. The writer declares that we should not miss the encouragement of knowing that discipline means we remain the sons and daughters of God. May we never react to discipline by shrugging it off and making light of it, when it is essential to God’s plan to make every believer mature in Christ, and help us understand the Father’s love and concern for us. (v.6).
The Lord’s discipline has two purposes. Firstly that we may not be condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:31-32). Secondly that we may share God’s Holiness (Hebrews 12:10). However, when we encounter difficulties, it can also be the result of Spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:11-18), or to test and strengthen our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7). It also enables us to comfort others going through similar troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Prayer: Father God, Thank You that Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. Help me to embrace it joyfully through every season of my life. Amen
2 Timothy 2:2
1 Timothy 1:7
1 Corinthians 11:31-32
1 Peter 1:6-7
2 Corinthians 1:3-5