Don’t Neglect Discipline
I do think the idea of discipline has been neglected by modern Christians. It comes out, in one sense, in a very healthy emphasis on grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9).
We hear “works” kind of transmuted over to “discipline.” We think of discipline as a type of works. But that’s not what we’re really talking about with discipline because the discipline comes from a total desire to please God. In fact, it flows out of grace. Working for God—perspiration and sweating—flows out of grace.
Grace Drives Discipline
The apostle Paul, the apostle of grace, speaks of grace three times in 1 Corinthians 15:10, but he mixes it up with his labor. He starts out defining what the gospel is and he talks about the resurrection, but in the middle of that, in 1 Corinthians 15:10, he says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” We all hear that.
Working for God—perspiration and sweating—flows out of grace.
“His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15:10). So Paul is saying that grace produced sweat. Grace produced his labors for the gospel. Grace produced his discipline. We have to understand that they are very compatible.
If you really have experienced the grace of God and you are in fellowship with him, your heart will desire to discipline itself for the purpose of godliness to become like the Lord, Jesus Christ, for the sake of the gospel.
R. Kent Hughes is the author of Disciplines of a Godly Man.
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