"Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!"
The Satanic Bible
Between the push and shove of kids and work, in those quiet, reflective moments of life, I often think back to my Bible College days. There stood a skinny energetic 21 year-old first year student who was on the brink of changing the world for Christ. With the clothes on my back, a 10 speed bike, tent, books and a well-used bible, nothing stood in my way. Friday nights found me down town Toronto, talking to the homeless about Jesus’ love. Everywhere I went, I shinned an irrepressible enthusiasm for life.
Today I am forced to ask, what happened. Good job, two teenage daughters, a beautiful apartment furnished with all the latest technology and, yes, a desire to serve God diluted into the mix of the modern complex lifestyle. Eighteen years of gradual change and I am only a remnant of the man I once was in my youth. Desires for better things, car, home, vacation, fears for my girls, worries of job security, have all choked the blazing heart dream which once burned bright and clean. So I must ask myself another question. How can I rekindle my first love, fulfill the heart dream I was born with, while living in my present responsibilities? Are they reconcilable?
The answer is yes!
Discipline is a fixed resolve to daily say no to wrong and yes to right no matter the cost or pain. It steadfastly swims against the relentless cultural current which swells around and over us, babbling soft compromise in our ears, promising weary flesh easy warmer waters if we would only surrender to its unremitting flow.
Discipline turns off a great movie when it goes where you do not want to. Spending important time with the kids when a favorite game is on TV. Greatest of all, discipline faithfully swims toward the heart dream, to fulfill who you want to become.
Without discipline there can be no freedom. You will be enslaved to fickle emotions, capable only of functioning within the thin margin of how you feel moment by moment. There will be no confidence, consistency or capacity to meet goals, and for some, an inability to do even simple tasks like dishes or cleaning the house.
Some Pain Is Healthy
"Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin."
Our inner radiance can only be birthed in the pain of discipline. It is the labor of faith breaking the hold of flesh. But when dreams are fulfilled, pain is forgotten.
But this is the age of grace; Christ bore our pain on this cross. However grace does not mean pain free living. In fact courageous discipline will bring pain. That is because discipline does not come naturally. Weight training is an example of a will-war against the body’s natural tendency toward the path of least resistance. The last thing a body builder wants is to be comfortable. Pain is a sign of a successful workout. No pain, no gain, and the eventual gain will result in physical strength and fulfillment of a personal goal.
A fallen world constantly summons our fallen nature to give up the good fight, give in to the flow. "I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let's drink deep of love till morning; let's enjoy ourselves with love! (Proverbs 7:15-18)" It can be painful to say no to the soft warm bed of compromise. When you starve the flesh-hunger there is pain. Feed it and you will secure an immediate rush of gratification and well-being which can bring relief from depression and emptiness. Consequently, so many find it impossible to overcome addiction and compulsive behavior and move on to live productive, disciplined lives. Changing a pattern of living involves time, the emotional rewards of accomplishment and joy may not be felt for weeks. The quitting process can be filled with periods of emptiness and meaninglessness. A loss of vision and hope.
Discipline Results In Freedom
Within you there are two opposing forces, fighting for control over the decisions you make throughout your life. One pleads for instant gratification, the other to fulfill the good dreams of the heart. Everyone is born with heart dreams; they come from a human aspiration for distinctiveness, the hunger for personal purpose and are seeds planted into the fetal soul by the hand of God. Our dreams are what make us individual in a vast anonymous world, a self-portrait painted by an inner yearning to be complete. Opposite to this is the hunger for instant gratification. The flesh instinct for immediate fulfillment reduces us to mindless animals in a numberless herd, shepherded by rudimentary impulses of fear and desire. Flesh hunger requires no faith, needs no dreams or thought, simply the sacrificing of the will to a barbarous appetite for gratification.
Discipline is an activity of faith toward the heart dream. It sacrifices momentary pleasure and establishes a lifestyle rhythm which defines our difference from the communal. Sometimes it stands alone and cold—sweats and groans whilst others lay in comfort or revel in pleasure. It says yes to the hard and no to the easy path. The cost of a disciplined life will always force us inward where the blazing spirit cries for release, burning down the walls of mediocrity so our inmost features can shine through for all the world to see.
Related Article: Vision Energizes Discipline