Have you ever encountered someone whose approach to the Christian life appears a bit too extreme? You know, the kind of person who seems overly disciplined, strict, and somewhat intimidating. They’re always talking about battling sin, striving, and denying themselves certain pleasures, all in pursuit of a deeper relationship with Christ. It can be a bit unnerving, and you might find yourself wondering if their strictness is a form of legalism or asceticism.
Interestingly, the apostle Paul, who once exemplified a disciplined life, experienced a transformative encounter with a grace that refined his approach to discipline. Paul’s journey teaches us that the grace of God can lead us to a more committed, disciplined, and joyful Christian life.
As Paul’s life and writings reveal, discipline can be fueled by new power, purpose, and pleasure, all derived from our relationship with Christ.
Paul’s unredeemed discipline was rooted in his own strength, which proved ineffective against the sins of the heart and displeasing to God. However, upon encountering Christ, Paul received a new power that came from God working within him. As a result, he was able to conquer sins and press on with renewed strength. Christians embracing a disciplined life should rely on God’s power rather than their own, recognizing that laziness denies His presence and His grace.
After his encounter with Christ, Paul’s purpose for discipline changed. No longer was he striving for self-righteousness based on the law, but he pressed on toward the goal of experiencing the resurrection from the dead. Paul understood that God-empowered discipline was Christ’s way of bringing his people to glory. As disciplined Christians, we must cast off the hindrances that slow our journey toward heaven and focus on the power of God within us to overcome sin.
Paul’s transformed understanding of discipline also included a new sense of pleasure. His desire to know Christ Jesus as Lord fueled his discipline and he was willing to count everything as loss for the sake of gaining Christ. Christian discipline should not be a joyless, grim necessity but rather a pursuit driven by the delight found in Christ. The discipline that truly honors God is one that seeks to know and experience Christ more deeply.
In conclusion, the apostle Paul’s life demonstrates that God’s grace can transform our approach to discipline, enabling us to press on with renewed power, purpose, and pleasure. As we embrace the gospel’s message of grace, we also discover that a disciplined life is not a contradiction but an essential part of our journey toward spiritual growth and deeper intimacy with Christ. So, let us run with perseverance, trusting in the grace of God to empower and guide our efforts.