The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Self-Discipline: the Key to Personal Freedom! Part 2

Posted on: December 12, 2017


Many of us identify with Oscar Wilde who famously said, “I can resist anything but temptation.” But temptation needs to be resisted. That’s where self-discipline comes in.

In last week’s blog, we talked about the fact that self-discipline is the key to personal freedom. We defined it as

the ability to do what is right when it would be easier not to.

This week, we want to look at the fact that self-discipline is important for two reasons:

  1. It guards us against disaster.

Proverbs 25:28 declares that, “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” If we have no control over our spirit, we are vulnerable to whatever temptations Satan might place in our path to sabotage us.

Matadors know that bulls cannot resist charging a dangling cape. So, to demonstrate their skill and bravery, they dangle the cape in front of the bull knowing it will charge every time. They toy with it for a while, and then kill it.

Christians are in a perpetual spiritual war, and if Satan knows that we have no self-discipline against anger, pride, lust, fear, materialism, alcohol, then all he has to do to sabotage us is to dangle something sufficiently tempting in front of us – like a matador dangling a cape in front of the bull – knowing that we will not resist!

If bulls could expand their thinking to understand what’s going on, they might say to themselves, “When my friends charge the cape, bad things happen to them. So I’m not going to charge the cape.” In doing so, they would save themselves from disaster.

If Christians can expand their thinking to understand what’s going on, we might say to ourselves, “When I respond to the temptations that Satan puts in front of me, bad things happen. So I’m not going to respond to those temptations anymore.” In doing so, we will save ourselves from painful consequences.

Here is an affirmation that Christians would do well to master:

I am in a perpetual spiritual war and whenever I am tempted to self-destructive behavior, I will expand my thinking to recognize the spiritual deception involved and I will choose to do what is right.

Until we master the truth in this affirmation, we are like a city that is broken into and without walls. As we master the truth in this affirmation, we build walls around ourselves, and protect ourselves from the painful consequences of bad decisions and behavior.

2. It helps us achieve our potential.  

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

We can easily grasp this in the realm of athletics. The more disciplined an athlete is in his training, the faster he can run, the higher he can jump, the more weight he can lift.

We are often not as quick to recognize this principle in our daily lives. But even in the secular world, self-discipline is being increasingly recognized as the key to life success.

  • An article in Inc. Magazine shouts: 6 Ways to Develop the Self-Discipline You Need to Reach Your Goals.
  • In Forbes Magazine we see the headline: 5 Proven Ways for Gaining Self-Discipline.
  • In Success Magazine, we read: The Key to Getting All You Want? Self-Discipline.

From that last article, we read:

“For every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards. That’s one of life’s great arrangements. If you sow well, you will reap well. Life is full of laws that both govern and explain behaviors, but the law of sowing and reaping may well be the major law we need to understand: For every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards.

“What a concept! If you render unique service, your reward will be multiplied. If you’re fair and honest and patient with others, your reward will be multiplied. If you give more than you expect to receive, your reward is more than you expect.

“But remember: The key word here—as you might well imagine—is discipline. Everything of value requires care, attention and discipline.”

Yes, self-discipline is a core character issue in life. Self-discipline will keep us from self- inflicted disasters and will enable us to achieve our potential in life.


Mischa Elman, one of the greatest violinists of the twentieth century, was walking through the streets of New York City one afternoon when a tourist approached him. “Excuse me, sir,” the stranger began, “could you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” Elman sighed deeply and replied, “Practice, practice, practice.”

We smile because the tourist was referring to physical directions, whereas Elman was referring to the effort required to perform there.

But the principle is a parallel to success in the Christian life, or all of life, really. How to you get to your highest level of success? “Self-discipline, self-discipline, self-discipline!”

Next week, we will begin to explore ways we can increase our self-discipline.

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