Intro: Do you struggle with self-discipline? The Bible defines self-discipline as having the ability to control one’s thoughts, emotions, words, and actions. Self-discipline reveals lordship—basically to exercise power over one’s self. Discipline has to do with the training we gain from the Holy Spirit who guides us into living the Truth—like Christ. We need help training our thoughts, emotions, verbal expressions, and actions in order to stay focused on the power and love of God to save us moment by moment from our innate selfishness. If there is no self-discipline happening in our lives, we are not disciples of the Lord of lords.
The opposite of living with self-discipline is to live a self-indulgent lifestyle; a life lived to please our selfish and sinful natures or flesh. Our present culture is demanding this form of “liberty;” freedom from exercising self-discipline and it is making its way into the Church. This is a very twisted and evil view of liberty that carries no spiritual truth for the Christian and does not belong in genuine disciples.
This false idea of God-given liberty is really indulging self-rule—which leads us into bondage and satan’s plan. When we stand, declare “liberty in Christ,” and live like nothing in us has to change because of grace, we are simply not willing to allow our flesh to suffer for the sake of Christ. The spiritual liberty believers have been given in Christ allows us to live, serve, and proclaim the Lord’s holy purposes for his human creation. The fruit of self-discipline [self-control] reveals and empowers Christ in us (Heb 12:5-6).
In our passage today, Paul has been imprisoned and appears to be awaiting death. Persecution seems to be intensifying for those preaching the gospel of salvation and self-discipline; more and more believers in the early Church are being arrested for sharing their faith in the power of God to transform sinful humanity. So, Paul takes this time to encourage Timothy; to remind him God will provide the strength they each need through the Holy Spirit to remain faithful as they proclaim victory in the Living God who takes an old nature and makes it new (2 Cor 5:17). I encourage you today to invite the Spirit to guide you into a greater measure of self-discipline, because beautiful and righteous fruit will feed your soul.
2 Timothy 1:8-12 NLT
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
8 So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. 9 For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. 10 And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. 11 And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News.
12 That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him [what he has entrusted to me] until the day of his return.
Prayer: Lord, without the Spirit, it can be difficult for your disciples to share the truth of the salvation you offer. So, please pour more of your Spirit upon your disciples, so we can boldly proclaim genuine liberty and be witnesses of the truth with our changed lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.