Jon Hilder reminded me last night of something John Piper once said. With his seminary class he gets them to read just one book. Just one. Why? He wants them to understand that one book. Its as simple as that.
Well I have started reading ‘Disciplines of a Godly Man’, after stealing it from Pastor Thomas’ office, and I think if there is one book I want to know, and know well, then it is this one. I want to be a Godly man.
I would like to refrain from merely repeating the book so instead I will look at what struck me the most and what I think it means to my life. […]
First, what is the difference between legalism and discipline? Outwardly they can look very similar, if not the same. But the difference is of the heart. To be legalistic is to use my actions for self gain, to be self centred. To be disciplined is to be Christ centred and a reaction to Gods love for us. Do we fear being disciplined to avoid looking legalistic? Christians today seem to avoid looking legalistic at all costs, some even use grace as a cop out for resisting temptation or an excuse for not being disciplined. His grace is all sufficent, but scripture is clear that we cannot carry on sinning willy nilly. Sin is serious stuff.
My second point links very clearly with the first. We need to be disciplined if we are to resist sin and temptation to sin. David took Bethsheba because of just a moment of lust. He looked when he should have turned away. In doing so he broke all ten commandments.
First he coveted his neighbor that led to him committing adultery. In order to steal his neighbors wife he committed murder, and also bore false witness. This all brought dishonor on his parents. He broke all of the commandments related to loving ones neighbor and in doing so dishonored God, and by doing so broke the first four commandments. The result is that all the ten commandments have been broken.
To add to this, David’s baby died, his daughter Tamar was raped by her half brother Amnon, Amnon murdered by Tamar’s full brother Absalom. Then Absalom came to hate his father and led a rebellion against him. David’s reign lost the smile of God and would never reach levels of stability that he had enjoyed before.
All this because of a moment of weakness. We need to start taking sin seriously. It is serious, so serious that God would send his own son to die. If I realised the consequences of my sin would I still be weak in that moment of temptation? Would I allow myself to believe that sin is enjoyable, and God wants me to enjoy myself. Man up, start listening to God. His Word is clear, sin is disgusting. 1 Thessalonians tells us to avoid sexual sin and three times tells us to be holy. That is clear, we cannot argue. But knowing does not seem to help us. We know so many truths about God. We know the Bible is His Word, but how often do we treat it as so?
I don’t have all the answers, I am still plodding along, slipping up with the same silly mistakes, still struggling to make Christ the centre of my life, to cling to the cross at all costs, but we cannot be satisfied with screwing up. Because of grace we have this amazing luxury of being able to turn to God, repent and ask help from him, from his Spirit, to help us. But I truly believe we are in desperate need for Him to help us. Discipline is vital for our relationship with Him.
Remember that discipline is a reaction to Gods love, it is being obedient, but it is hard. The best athletes have to be disciplined, and it is not easy, but is is vital. The same surely applies in the Christians walk.
As I close I would recommend this book, and I would also recommend Mark Driscoll’s latest talk on men and marriage.