Selwyn now moves on to his sixth life conviction: ‘there will be little or no advance in the Christian life without a disciplined spirit’.
He makes a number of good points:
- ‘Many who have received the free grace of God then let it leak out because of a lack of discipline.’
- ‘The acceptance of God’s grace is a privilege, but it must be tied in with discipline.’
- ‘The Christian life is blessedly balanced. Discipline plus dependence makes dependable disciples.’
To illustrate his message, Selwyn uses Galatians 5:1-15, in particular verse 13: ‘You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.’
Further on, in Chapter 5 of Galatians, Paul expands on the conflict that all Christians are caught up in, verses 16 to 21 follow: ‘So, I say, live by God’s Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so you do what you want. But if you are led by God’s Spirit, you are not under (Jewish) law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.’
I think you would agree that a certain amount of discipline is required to serve one another in love – for, it’s natural for us to want to be served rather than serve – that is, we tend to want to put ourselves first.
Yet, as Paul says – those who let themselves be ruled by their sinful nature will not see heaven – discipline is a matter of life and death.
In 1998, I heard a sermon in Jerusalem that has stuck in my mind because I believe it captured a very important message: the fellow giving the talk covered three phases of Christian maturity: first, when we are young in our faith we are like children going through the ‘terrible twos’ phase. Our relationship with Jesus can be best summarised, by: ‘I want that!’,Â ‘Give me more toys, more lollies and more play-time.’ Then, as we grow older, our relationship changes – we have gained a lot of knowledgeÂ and some discipline isÂ also practised – it’s the teenage/young-adult phase. We would like a better relationship with God, but we still want to decide how/when/what – there is still a remanent of former independence in that weÂ try toÂ serve God and our neighbour, but in our own way.
Finally, as we mature in our faith – we allow God’s Spirit to totally guide us,Â we seek an understanding of the Father’s work with the help of His Spirit and then we undertake His workÂ according to His will and we try toÂ keep in step with His directions. This ‘adult maturity’ require discipline and total dependence on Jesus – sadly, there are manyÂ Christians who after many years, are still in the ‘terrible twos’ phase. Do you agree with this view?
So, you can see – I fully support Selwyn’s conclusion – ‘Discipline plus dependence (on God) makes dependable disciples.’