“ABUNDANT LIFE (4): DISCIPLINE” By Pastor YAU
Text: Romans 12:9 April 17, 2011.
1) Basis of a disciplined life: In Romans 12:9-21, Paul gives us a comprehensive list of the basic characteristics of a disciplined Christian life. In essence, he is giving the same admonition he had given to the Corinthian Christians about a year earlier: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinth. 7:1) It is because of all that God has done for us and all that he has equipped us we are to respond by faithful, obedient and disciplined living.
2) Nature of a disciplined life: It is a life that .....
a) Worthy of the call: A disciplined Christian life is conducted “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Phil. 1:27) Disciplined living is “to have this attitude in our life which was also in Christ Jesus.” (2:5) But the work of discipline is not more accomplished in our own power the power of God in us. “It is God who is at work in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (2:13)
b) Conforming on outside: A disciplined life is conforming our outer lives to our inner lives that had been regenerated by the power of God. So we will live out the redeemed, purified and holy nature we have in Jesus Christ, becoming in practice what we are in position as a new creation.
c) Practical way of living: A disciplined life is not a mystical, un-defined life based on elusive good impulses or craving of some extraordinary experience. It is practical living that results from conscious obedience to God’s standards of righteousness, a life lived within the divine-ordained parameter. It is thinking and speaking and acting in daily conformity with God’s word.
d) Freed but bound again: A disciplined Christian life is a life that was freed from the bondage of sin. But it is also a life enslaved by an unalterable bound to the righteous will of God. “Thanks be to God,” Paul has declared earlier in this letter, “that though we were slaves of sin, we become slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18)
THE DISCIPLINE OF GENUINE LOVE: (Romans 12:9)
1) The true love: The word “love” is the most used word in human relationship. It is also the most misused word in expressing human feeling of passion. We all know from experience that human love is very conditional with fragile nature. But God wants us to live our life with love, the kind of love God loves us, the agape love, unselfish, self-giving, willful devotion and sacrificial. Since God loves us with that true love, we also need to love God and people the same way.
2) The source of love: “God is love and the one who abides in love abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) Either you are seeking for love or the way to love others, God is the center of your focus. We read and heard heart-breaking stories on the hurts of trying to find love in the world without God. We need to know that no one can provide the love we need except God. No one can give us the right way to love except the way God loves us. When you know God, loved by God, filled with His love on the inside you will have the power to love the right way.
3) The objects of love: “Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 5:37,39) This is the answer the Lord gave when asked what is the greatest of the law. With all the worthy object of our love, Jesus gave us 2 distinctive objects we should devote our love to: love God and love people. Most of us find it easier to love God than to love people, especially those who are less lovable. But think of it: If God only loves those who are lovable, will you be qualified for his love?
4) The expression of love: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father.” (John 14:21-22) To love God is not about how many times you pray in a day or how much you have given to him through tithes. Jesus laid out one simple rule: obey his commands. Do what He told us to do Live as He wants us to live and treat others as he wants us to treat them. Express our love to the Lord in our everyday life.
THE DISCIPLINE AGAINST EVIL:
1) The definition of evil: Evil, in Greek, is poneron, which is from ponos. Ponos means evil disposition of the mind, wickedness, mischief, malignity and others. Evil is not that much about what one does but about what one thinks in his heart. All evil things one does are from that evil heart in him. So, evil is the heart condition of a human being, the wicked nature of that man. That was what God saw in men in Genesis 6:5, “The Lord saw how great wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”
2) The struggle against evil: “For the good I wish, I do not do, but I practice the very evil I do not wish. I find the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.” (Romans 7:19-21) Evil is real and is in every heart of us. We were born with the evil nature from that rebellious nature of Adam and Eve. Do not be surprised to see evil in small children or in adults whom we thought are well trained and of good manner. We all have that sinful nature and are doomed to eternal loss. If it were not the power of God and His mercy, we will never be good enough to be saved.
3) The search of inner evil: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any evil in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) In This prayer of King David, he realized that there is no where he could runaway from God. (139:1-12) He also acknowledged that God knows his deepest part when He created his life. (13-16) Then he pleaded God to search in his heart if there is any evil thoughts in him so God can cleanse him on the inside and lead him on the path to eternal life.
4) The runaway from evil: “Hate what is evil” is very important in our self-discipline. Hate or abhor is from Greek apostugountes which is from apostrepho that means to run away, to remove, to reject, repulse, and others. In the Greek/English Bible, to shrink from. This word means: “to run away from evil with horror” just as you will run away from a poisonous snake. No one would play with a rattlesnake. But many Christians will play with evil without the sense of horror. We need to see evil with more than just a feeling of hating it, but with action of running away from it. Peter warns us that the devil, “plows around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Do not play with a lion and do not play with evil.
THE DISCIPLINE FOR GOOD:
1) The definition of clinging: Cling, in Greek, is kollwmenoi which is from kollaw that means to glue, weld, adhere together, to attach oneself to another, to unite with, and others. God is not talking about, ok, get close to what is good. He was telling us to glue, to weld or to unite ourselves to what is good, to become inseparable from good. God wants us to be good. The Greek word is in middle position that mean “do it yourself” instead of being pushed to or forced upon. God wants to see in us a strong desire to “become good,”
2) The definition of good: Good, in Greek, is agathw, which is from agathos that means good profitable, beneficent, generous, right and virtuous. It is in dative, which means specific, pointed, clear, unambiguous. God wants us to become unambiguously and clearly good in nature, beneficent and generous on purpose and upright and virtuous in our everyday relationship to others. The way we define “good” reflects the nature, purpose and the effects of our life. This is very important compares it to how the corrupt and selfish way the world defines “good” all for the self.
3) The challenge of good: When Paul tried to explain to the Jews on their futile efforts to please God in order to be saved, he said, “We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles are all under sin. As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:9-11) The Bible concludes all men are no good, not even one, in their nature, purpose, and focus. In 3:23, he continued to say, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (3:23) There is no hope for men to be good, to do good or to understand what is good.
4) The guarantor of good: Paul finally found rescue for his helpless situation after he struggled in vain to do good. In Romans 7:24, 25, he cried, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is never what we can achieve anything good or right. Our depraved nature can only drag us down. God has sent the One who is capable to deliver us from all the sins in this world. “Apart from me, you can do nothing,” Jesus said in John 15:5.
1) Values and prices: Anything of value, there is a price. This is true in the world, it is also true in spiritual life. We all want to live a vibrant, dynamic life with great honor to God and blessings to other, then we need to be ready to pay the price, and the price is a life of good discipline. Paul admonished Timothy “Endure hardship with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets tangled up in civilian affairs, he wants to please his commanding officer.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4) You can’t earn something of great value without paying the high prices.
2) Choose good, not evil: King Solomon advised, “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Pursue the discipline of your heart is the starting point of an abundant life. Show genuine love to God and to people. Run away from evil and all its agents. Bond yourself to the goodness of God so He can work out His purpose in you for His glory. Stay in Him and He in you, so you will bear much fruit as God wants you to do.